After my ass-tendering experience in Vega, we headed to Santo Domingo – the capital of the Dominican Republic. For two nights we stayed by the beach. I swam, ran and slept…a lot. The beach was filled with native Dominican’s which made for a fun experience. Fisherman caught octopus and oysters and served them on the sand, raw and fresh. Children flew kites, taking advantage of the breeze coming off of the ocean and occasionally challenging one another to a fight, in which they would tangle the stings of their kites together, crashing the flying colors to the ground and running to see who could retrieve the kites first.

As exotic as I found all this, the Dominican’s were equally entertained by my pale complexion. I swam deep out into the bay beyond all of the other swimmers and traversed my way down the beach. When I came ashore a group of dark Dominican’s were playing Futbol in the water. They looked at me laughingly as one of the beautiful Domincan women demanded, “Blanco, lleva me!” Embarrassed, I hurried ashore tripping over some rocks and landing hands first into a group of sea anemones.

After I had extracted the anemone’s thorns from my fingers Luis took Rich and I to the most beautiful restaurant I have been to…ever. The restaurant was a pier that stretched out into the turquoise waters of Boca Chica. With white coaches and flowing white sheets, the restaurant was something you would only find the Caribbean. All of us agreed, had we any women with us we would have sealed the deal. Instead, Luis and Rich’s uncles tipped back the bottle of Johnny Walker while Rich and I tried to entertain ourselves with intellectual banter.

The next day we drove across the center of the country, fields of palm trees and small villages, led us to Samana – where I found heaven. Cayo Levantado is a small island off the coast of Samana. It has two white sand beaches and a single hotel. With us on the island were no more than 100 other travelers. During the days I swam in the clear waters, laid in a hammock on the beach, drank out of coconuts and pineapples and finally circumnavigated the island in a kayak. I have been dreaming of doing all of this for over the past year and in three days I made it all come true.

When it was time to leave, I felt sad. But not the kind of sad I expect most people feel at the end of a vacation. On the other side of my sadness lay an excitement, anticipation and eagerness for the adventures to come. Which is what has brought me right the way around the globe to Manila, where I am today.

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