I have a confession.
I have never taken my little ones to the Dominican Republic. I took my oldest when he was a younger, but he doesn’t even remember it.
I’ve been many times for work, for romantic getaways with my husband, but never with my kids.
I don’t know why that is. I am very proud of my heritage. I talk about it all the time with my kids. It’s a part of their cultural upbringing. It’s in the food they eat everyday. In the language we speak at home. In the dance lessons I give my teen (Here’s a video of me teaching him to dance merengue. He’s pretty good!).
Do you have those days when you throw your hands up? You wish you could transport yourself to someplace and just chill. No worries. No email. No Facebook.
My friend Lisa and I were asked go on the inaugural cruise of Princess Cruises’ newest ship, the Regal Princess. Talk about a respite!
There is a lot of information that I am still processing from the White House Travel Blogger Summit. What an honor that experience was.
Bloggers from all over the country and the world were present. From the moment we all came together the night before, conversations on study, volunteerism, and work abroad surrounded the space around us. It was clear that despite the fact that we all came from different parts of the world, different backgrounds, and different experiences, this topic was one we all were passionate about.
My travels started long before I could fully comprehend the awesome that my solo traveling mom was before I was born. I’ve traveled since I was a baby because I come from a family of immigrants who understood that to learn more and seek out better opportunities they needed to travel.
I traveled throughout my entire life for holidays, for moves, to study, in search of myself, in search of careers, and in search of a home. It wasn’t till later that travel became more of a luxury (to travel for vacation, but not necessarily to see family) and now for work, as a freelance travel writer and blogger.
And though I did study abroad and even sometimes lived in family friends’ houses to do so, my family would have never thought that this practice, this lifestyle they had for me and my siblings, was one that they would find support in from the US government. To them, those kids whose parents send them to study in Europe? Yeah, those kids were white and from wealthy families. So, a Latina girl of color from a working class immigrant family need not even think to apply. And I didn’t. But I should have been able to. Though these were not messages we ever received at my low-income public school either.
It always rains on my birthday. I’ve gotten used to this and on the very, very rare occasion it hasn’t, I’ve been surprised.
Some times, I stay home, under a warm blanket and enjoy the comfort of home, other times, I go out and make the most of it.
From the first few minutes into Wild, when Reese Witherspoon’s character starts hiking with her overpacked bag, through the beginning of the Pacific Crest Trail and starts questioning herself with “Oh my god. What the f*ck am I doing? What did I get myself into?” I felt my eyes tear up and a knot in my stomach. “Sh*t.” I thought, “I know that feeling.”
Just recently I was in my kitchen making Thanksgiving dinner for my family. My house was loud. I mean, really loud. We had two more children in addition to my own, as well as their parents visiting for the holidays. The laughter and noise of boys playing is not for the faint of heart, but I love it. Because it means everyone is happy and healthy. And that means that this holiday season, my husband and I can focus on the festivities. We’ve been very lucky in this way. Though my family experienced hard times once before, we’ve always been OK, and even when we aren’t feeling well, we have never had to experience the hardships of not being able to pay to find care for our sons.
Not being able to afford medical care when sick is something I saw my mother struggle with, and her inability to find affordable and quality healthcare allowed cancer to take her life. For as much sadness as losing my mother in this way has been for my brother and I, neither of us can imagine how much greater that pain would be were it our children. It’s a thought too painful to even fathom.
Not too long ago, I got an invite to an event being held in New York City from the public relation agency for a brand that a blogger friend of mine was working with. They were promoting a product where her creative content was front and center.
I hated the email. Not because I wasn’t happy for my friend and her success. Not because I wouldn’t have loved to have seen her and support her (though I was out of the country at the time of her event), but because what I received wasn’t an email from my friend letting me know that she would be in town and asking me to come support her event. No. It was an email, from a PR rep, telling me about this new celebrity blogger who was doing this amazing thing in partnership with their brand client. It was impersonal, cold, and arrogant (whether my friend intended to be presented in this way or not). I know several bloggers who also considered themselves this person’s friend and who were her mentors when she was a newbie blogger who did felt hurt and insulted.
I’ve been busy these past few days with family from out-of-town visiting and Thanksgiving. We rarely have family over for the holidays. It is almost always just the 5 of us, which is fine, but there’s something so much more special when you have others present to share the joy and memories with.
With my nephews from Texas growing so quickly, we’ve all found it so important to find ways for them to be together more.
At the same time, the people over at Lexus asked if I would be willing to take part in their #DecemberToRemember campaign and test out the Lexus GX460 during my annual Christmas tree hunt.
Two days are hardly enough time to visit Lisbon, but this is the part where my job gets in the way a bit. I would love to stay here longer and take in the city even more, but I must move on to cover other places. Were I to take a regular tour with Insight Vacations, my visit would be longer and the pace slower. But as a media guest invited by the company (full disclosure), I am seeing the highlights, which at least are enough to convince me that this is a city worth exploring.
I ended my last night in Lisbon having drinks by candlelight and resting from a long day, while listening to Fado in the trendy, night life area of Bairro Alto. The evening was cool and rainy and beautiful.