It’s Not a Vacation

In two weeks we depart our apartment. In three weeks, we will be in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The first few days, we will spend sight-seeing a city we skipped last year. After that, the fun ends. Well, not really.

It started in January. Hating the cold and disappointed about my lack of overseas teaching experience, I presented an idea to Jake. What if we subleased our apartment for awhile and headed someplace less cold, less English-speaking. I wanted to teach, which was what I was supposed to be doing in Spain. I wanted to further my Spanish skills. At the time, I was set on Costa Rica — one more notch on our Central America list and I know someone there teaching.

Jake agreed to my silliness, provided I found an opportunity and someone to sublease our apartment. I listed it on Craigslist and went on my merry way. Days went by without a single response. My pre-career crisis began to snowball after I received the very disappointing news that I did not get accepted into UW-Madison. Jake, worried that I was under too much stress, suggested we scrap the overseas plans for the time and just focus on me finishing my final semester of graduate school.

The next morning, I got an email from a very nice Finnish Ph.D. student who has research to conduct at UW-Madison. Reluctant to be so far from the University in the offered corporate housing, she wanted to stay at our apartment for her six weeks in Madison. She, her husband, and her 10-month-old baby thought our place would be a perfect fit. Eager to help a fellow traveling family, I told her that not only would we sublease to them, but I’d also dig out Lily’s Pack N Play and highchair and let her use my bike to make the two mile trek to campus.

We now had three choices: Costa Rica, Colombia, or back to the Dominican. I leaned towards the second two–both had great volunteer opportunities and it was easier to find non-gringo-price-inflated accommodations. Although eager to begin making a dent in South America, we opted for the “easier” option — a place we’ve already been.

Part of it was motivated by the opportunity. Displaced Haitian refugees. A need for English speakers. Inexpensive housing. An area we’d quickly fallen in love with in 2012. Affordable Spanish classes. A transportation system we already grasped.

Tickets have been booked. We look forward to eating Mofongo in Santo Domingo, before heading north to drink cheap rum and eat the inexpensive “Plato del Dias.” I plan on documenting my volunteer work through this site. Jake will be documenting his work through more lucrative means and occasionally bolstering the slippery slope of poor writing on Peaskis Abroad.

But, it’s not a vacation. Honestly. Jake will be working. I will be working, volunteering, and studying. Lily will have kids and fruit trees at her disposal. Of course, we’ll be on a river off the jungle, a brief walk from the Caribbean. It won’t be a vacation, but our free time sure won’t be boring.

 

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