This picture was taken in 2001 in the Dominican Republic.
I was on, what would be our last whole family holiday abroad. My younger sister, who turned 18 whilst we were away, decided she was too old for family holidays after this.
We were staying at a big hotel, all-inclusive, with its own private beach. It was very exotic for us. There were lots of free activities, pool games, tennis, archery, water sports, horse riding and the hiring of bikes. We had lots of good trips out and experiences, which I will probably share with you at some point or another, for now I’ll share one memory I have from this holiday.
My mum and dad, lovers of pointless walks in the midday sun, decided it would be a great idea for us all to hire bikes one afternoon. What possessed them to think this was a good idea in the Dominican heat is beyond me, after much grumbling we went along!
The bikes had no brakes, you had to pedal backwards to slow the speed down and brake! For a little tip the guy who was giving out the bikes said he would take us out of the complex on a bike ride to the surrounding areas. Again, I’m not sure what possessed them but my parents decided this would be an excellent idea!
I must point out here, that none of us at the time were very fit.
We set off, out of the complex and beyond. It was hot and it was dusty and the roads did not have bike lanes, although they remained fairly quiet the whole time. There was nothing for miles around us, all the hotels were along the beach and we were going inland and there was not a cloud in the sky, just the sun beating down as we rode.
The guide, I can’t for the life of me remember his name, had said he would take us to a traditional Dominican village, it turned out it was the village in which he and his family lived.
I cannot even begin to imagine how far we had actually cycled, The village was a shock, a real insight into people who lived in poverty, tiny shacks with families living in 1 room, with the bed for all of them in the corner and the stove and ‘kitchen’ in the other. We went on an organised trip with the hotel a few days later and they took us to a traditional Dominican village and let me tell you, it was nothing like the one we visited. They had houses with several rooms and TVs. Where we had been this day was a true Dominican village.
We were welcomed like old friends and shown around. Some of the kids from the village followed us on our bikes, only wanting to be able to push them up some of the hills and have a little ride. They were so excited and happy! We stopped at the bar for a rest, It was a tiny room with plastic chairs and tables under a canopy. We were given snacks and ice cold pop and there was music playing, our guide chatted to people and the got me up to do the Merengue.
We were sat for ages, the guide actually left us for a while ’cause he needed to drop something off with his mother. At one point, when he was back, a group of men came up and asked if we wanted to bet on and watch a cock fight. Not really our idea of fun so we politely refused.
There was no airs and graces, we were truly experiencing what life was like in the village. We were not harassed or asked for anything the whole time we were there, it was pretty humbling to be there knowing how much the holiday had cost, even though it had taken a while for my parents to save up to pay it off.
After a little rest, the guide took us further into the village, he wanted to show us a fresh water lake that was down in a cave. It was a fair climb down into the cave. My mum and sister stayed at the top, me and my dad climbed down and after all that climbing I wasn’t not going to get in the lake! Not really my dads thing as it was pretty dark down there, I didn’t hesitate. It was absolutely beautiful, so clear you could see right to the bottom. I have no idea how deep it was but I definitely couldn’t touch the bottom and didn’t even try to. Some of the kids from the village joined us, jumping in off the rocks at the side. Something I’ll always remember.
I felt honored that we had been allowed to have this experience and although by the time we got back to the hotel, my legs were like jelly and I was the reddest person ever to walk the planet, I would do that bike ride over again.
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