In my series, What They Know For Sure: Expat Truths which previously ran on Expat Village, my blog for Wanderlust and Lipstick, expats broke down their total truths. These were truths they felt were (consciously or subconsciously) center in running their lives. Now… resurrected, reconstructed, and revamped for Drinking the Whole Bottle, I am so excited to bring you Life Uncorked: Inspiring Truths from Everyday People, a new series highlighting awesome people (not just expats) and their personal truths about life, love, travel, and more. If I’ve learned anything in life & travel, it’s that no one way is the right way, that we all have something to teach and we could learn something from everyone. I hope this series can be a place for you to take something away, feel inspired, and uncork life. To contribute, read our guidelines. We’d ❤️ to hear from you. Without further ado, Whitney’s inspiring truths.
Whitney, an adventure seeker and humor finder who lives life wanting to experience it all – on why telling lies can be a good thing, unexpected surprises, and her kryptonite…coffee.
LIFE UNCORKED: INSPIRING TRUTHS FROM EVERYDAY PEOPLE
Pretty Little Lies.
When I read others’ adventures in photography, folk art design, or travel, they made me dream in color. I wanted a life as colorful as those that were out there living their brightest dreams. So I never questioned their hardships; I never questioned the full truth of it all. There had to be problems, right? By pushing routine aside I was inspired to live out of the box and that led me to Santo Domingo. Now I post stories of joy, delicious food, and magazine-worthy beaches – a life full of color – in hopes that I could return the favor to those who, read my adventures and share confidences about global pursuits of their own. I, too, might leave out the hardships or some of the uglier parts of our adventure. The sudden diarrhea or the parasite scar on my belly – those truths didn’t bring me abroad. The pretty little lies did. And maybe those pretty lies will entice others to someday join us.
Desperate to speak Spanish, I utilize Duolingo every night. I seek out amicable staff members at work each day who greet me with a simple lessons. I’ve accepted that I am an expat woman trapped inside a Spanish speaking toddler. I point at things and blurt out one word demands, “Agua.” It’s a struggle. But one day, I watched my patient Spanish speaking friend speak slowly to her own toddlers while enunciating and smiling. It looked so simple. That night I ordered the bottled water from the colmado over the phone and instead of speaking nervously fast and hanging up, I spoke slowly, simply. I waited for their response; they understood me. The water arrived, I greeted and thanked our delivery man, he chatted back. My husband was astonished and proud of my calm transformation. Ordering water has confounded us for months but by slowing down and being confident, I was able to conquer the beast.
All You Need is
Moving to a major player in Caribbean coffee production was pure genius. I leave bowls of grounds around the apartment for fragrance. The rituals are thrilling; spoonfuls of brown sugar stirred into steamed milk for a perfect cafe con leche. Solitary trips to a Santo Domingo Cafe nearby is a refuge. And invitations to homes with backyard kitchens for tiny cups of dark roasted java excite me more than visits to the colmado for cold Presidentes.
Life continues to surprise me.
I may never find that gas station along the highway again, but if I do, I might never leave. I walked in in search of a baño and instead met with the nutty scent of dark roast coffee and steam from a barista working the espresso bar. My eyes followed the line of people snaking through the store and stopped at a New York City style deli glass separating customers from piles of roasted meats, vegetables, and salads. Out behind the station ran a serious operation; a courtyard barbecue grilling for the masses and music playing as if this were a party. All of this from a gas station? I stocked up on Christmas gifts from the aisles offering gourmet KaKow chocolate and brownie mixes and typical Dominican treats before heading back out to the car, the normal world. This island is teaching me to seek adventure in common places.
Start Something All Your Own
Whisked off to camping adventures, beaches and sunset parties, dinner socials and dances; I wondered how our family could contribute to the generosity of time and knowledge that our new island expat community had shared with us. My daughter urged me to host a holiday party similar to the ones we would have in our former home in Vermont. With encouragement and social media tools, I planned a house to house Christmas walk. The hosts proudly served hors d’oeuvres and cocktails at each stop and Christmas gave us a chance to exude enthusiasm with Christmas trees and decorations. I watched the sunset from a veranda. This was a far cry from my wintry Vermont home with heavy snow and woodstove, but this place was beginning to feel like home and in that moment it felt good to have been a part in making that happen.