Monday, October 31, 2011

A's Birthday in the Spring

He ate almost all of this
Boyfriend's birthday weekend started with dinner with friends at an Argentinian restaurant where we ate lots of meat - his favorite.  We finished off the night singing Happy Birthday with brownies smothered in Nutella and peanut butter.  

On Sunday, we road tripped to Jarabacoa to do something that deserves its own post.  Jarabacoa is a mountain town where the climate always feel like Spring.  Driving there is gorgeous, as you're surrounded by lush greenery and lots of palm trees.  As you ascend the mountains your ears pop and the palm trees turn into taller trees with brown bark.  The brisk temperature and the sight of pine trees seemed so foreign to me - I felt like I was in a new country altogether.

Besides the *activity* that we managed to survive, we spent the day at 
Rancho Baiguate wandering around their estate and relaxing in the sun.  

Alejandra & Elvin
A & I
On our drive back to the capital we hit Sunday traffic - thank God we had bought arepa and Johnny Cake (oily Dominican snacks) on the side of the road.

Pit Stop

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Weirdo Boyfriend

{Mentally still the same age}
Today is my weirdo boyfriend's birthday.  I call him weird because he really is.  He hates his birthday because he doesn't like being "the center of attention," and he kept his phone in Airplane Mode today so that he wouldn't have to say thanks for the birthday wishes

You'd assume that this would come from one depressing person, but he's not at all, which makes him even weirder.  He also asked me on Tuesday - TUESDAY - to please por favor not write a birthday post for him.  Well sorry mi amor, but I just couldn't help myself.
I'll be short and sweet and say that although he is extra special, he sure is one of a kind.  And that he's my favorite person in the whole wide world.

and I'm sorry if I burn your birthday brownies.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

10 Things I ♥ about the DR - Part 2

Here goes Part 2..

6.  The beach.  I mean just look at it.

Juan Dolio beach
7.  Living close to family.  In Barcelona we were both continents away from home, but here its nice to have a place to visit, home cooked meals, and big hugs from A's 9 year old nephew when I walk in the door.

Alan & Cindy
8.  Coconut water.  How many people I know can drink water straight out of a coconut on a relatively normal basis, or pick it up from the supermarket as easy as a diet Coke?

9.  $2 manicures and under $3 pedicures.  I admit its awkward without the fancy pedicure chair (propping my limbs up on some lady's lap and all), but I bring my own Essie polish and pretend its professional.  My newest addition is the color in the middle:

10.  Knowing that there is still so much left to explore.  I can't wait to spend a weekend in Punta Cana, and visit the "spring" in Jarabacoa.

Its so much easier for me to complain about the daily inconveniences I have, rather than think about the positive in my life.  Living in a developing country is definitely not all sunshine, but I have to remember that there is always a little sunshine in every day.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10 Things I ♥ about the DR - Part 1

So to make up for my most negative post yet, here is Part 1 of "10 Things I heart about the DR" (I do hope I can reach the whopping number of 10!).

1.  Sunshine.  Although it is hot hot hot, I'm glad that the sun shines and it isn't grey and miserable like it is in Chicago nearly year round!  I especially love when the sun shines through the rain.

2.  "Tropical" fruit and fresh veggies.  The mangos, passionfruit, and avocados in this country are to die for, and I love how much I can incorporate them into my daily diet.

3.  Living with boyfriend.  We lived together in Barcelona, but this is the first time we live together just the two of us.  He's a good roommate and probably does the dishes more than I do.  Oops.

4.  Good radio, limited TV commercials, and channel E!.  I never watched TV in Europe and I'm now savoring every moment before A prohibits E! due to hearing more of the Kardashian voices than anything else.

5.  American food at the supermarket.  I have yet to splurge on Almond Breeze, Ezekiel bread, and Amy's meals but I love being able to start my day with Kashi cereal or a dollop of Peter Pan peanut butter on a banana.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

So Not a Softy

Growing up I always thought my dad was a total softy as a manager.  I always told him that he needed to fire everyone and find better employees.  But now that I'm a manager, I realize its much easier said then done.

Giving a written warning and taking away daily incentives from my coworkers was uncomfortable to say the least.  Very soon, I will need to fire someone.  Someone I work side by side with 6 days a week.  Someone who I've gotten to know and someone who I like as a person, just not as an employee.

Its especially hard to let them go knowing that it will be difficult for them to find their next job.  I'm kind of terrified of doing it - and in Spanish!  Do I even know the words for that?  Ha!  

I think as a woman, its harder to earn respect in the workplace as theres such a fine line between "pushover" and "psycho boss lady".  How can you be strict but maintain a friendly and fun work environment?  I think I'm learning that strict comes first, and friendly needs to come later.  I don't know..  

How do you find the balance?  
Advice please! 

This is going on my Christmas list

Friday, October 21, 2011

yogen früz

Rather than doing much needed loads of laundry, cleaning our apartment, or working out, today we opted for going to yogen früz instead.  Its one of my favorite places in Santo Domingo, and lucky for me there's about 10 within a 5 mile radius.

What this froyo place does is mix their soft-serve plain frozen yogurt in a blending machine with tropical fruit and other mix-ins of your choice.  With fresh [and no sugar added] mango, papaya, kiwi, peaches, coconut, pineapple, all sorts of berries, cherries, (the list goes on..) its hard to choose every time.  I usually mix berries, chocolate chips, and coconut in mine, whereas boyfriend abandons all healthy options to have toffee and Oreos mixed into his.  Its fun to see what color yours turns in to, unless you eat one like boyfriend's which turns into a pukey brown.

Yogen früz is spreading like the plague, so if you live in the States you probably now have one near you.  Your mango and papaya probably won't taste as good as mine {muahaha} but its still worth a try.

DinDin - I'm so healthy

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I miss Barcelona.

La Pedrera

Sunday walk

I miss the perfect weather and dressing for different seasons.  I miss life without mosquito bites.  I miss my friends and my roommates - even PokerFace.  I miss my salary in Euros and having disposable income to spend on travel.  And on shopping - I miss affordable Zara.  I miss low cost airlines.  I miss free health insurance and cheap groceries.  I miss spending the evenings with a glass of wine on my balcony.  I miss Ciutadella park.  I miss walking everywhere and being in shape.  I miss having a gym.  I miss living in a city where I always felt safe.  I miss running on the beach.  I miss al fresco dining.  I miss the strawberry mojitos at La Fianna and the pink cava at La Xampa.  I miss laughing really hard on a daily basis with my British & Irish colleagues (even if it was about my American accent half the time).  I miss 38 hour work weeks and working only 5 days a week.  I miss the European lifestyle where its not all work and no play.  I miss high speed Internet and not having to worry about electricity and water shortages.  I miss tapas portions and Spanish food.  I miss castellano spanish.  I miss living in a place where its not "all about appearances" and where you're not constantly judged by what you're wearing and your social class.  

Late night tapas


I miss Barcelona. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nutella & Paradise

On Sunday we celebrated Denisse's birthday at her condo on Juan Dolio beach.  This balcony view, the nearly empty pool, and the moistest Nutella birthday cake I've ever tasted made for one fabulous day. 

The pictures speak for themselves.  A perfect Sunday.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

'Tis the Season

Our Cookies Last Christmas Eve
Yesterday I finally convinced boyfriend that it was about time we buy a scale.  I haven't weighed myself in over a month, which is crazy since I used to weigh myself every day.  We bought a high tech one that tells you your body fat percentage, muscle percentage, and hydration level.  But now that its up and running, I'm too afraid to step on it.  

Go figure. 

Scarf Stealer
Anyway, walking into Casa Cuesta to make the purchase was like walking into a winter wonderland (which felt quite strange considering my tank top and flip flop attire - I don't know if I'll ever get used to that).  With every holiday decoration imaginable on the shelves and nonstop Christmas music playing, its obvious that they skip over Halloween here.  Maybe its because its an American holiday, or because the people are generally more religious here, I'll never know.

Picture Opt Moment on our Walk
Last Christmas, A and I both stayed in Spain.  We ate dulce de leche cheesecake from Starbucks for breakfast and took an extra long walk through sunny Barcelona.  We even attempted to cook a Christmas dinner which didn't turn out half bad.

It was my first Christmas away from home, but I loved every second of it.  I don't know if we'll be frozen in Chicago or sweating in the DR this Christmas, but I know that it doesn't matter where we are as long as we're together [insert aww here].

Sidenote: We left Casa Cuesta with a scale and a Christmas cookie tin.  
I'm not sure that makes much sense. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Tacky Future Presidents

Elections in the DR aren't until Spring 2012, but the streets of Santo Domingo are already filled with obnoxious presidential ads.  I would guess 80% of the billboards and signs you see are for the presidential election next year, and the majority of them are for candidate Danilo Medina alone.  If its not Danilo's face plastered on a loud purple background, it is billboards full of happy Dominican people hugging his party's yellow star - can you say cheesy? 

As the government here has always been corrupt, I haven't really had a desire to know what each candidate says they "stand for", rather, I decided over a month ago that Danilo was not for me - I was tired of seeing his face (and 'stache) every time I turned my head.  I chose to go for Papá instead, because I didn't see him around as much and because he sort of reminds me of Chicago weatherman, Tom Skilling.

Then last week came and I found out that Papá's name isn't really Papá like I thought it was.  Now, please imagine President Obama campaigning with huge signs of his face with the text "Daddy's Here" written next to it: apparently this is what Papá's campaign is all about.  

I was heart broken to find out that my candidate of choice is equally as tacky as Danilo, but then I learned that his first name is Hipólito, which makes me think of hippo.  For this reason I chuckle in my head a bit and still root for daddy.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011


On Sunday, this little guy was baptized.

A's nephew
Gael was baptized by the Cardinal in the capital's Colonial Zone [one lucky baby].  It was my first time attending a Catholic baptism, and it was much more tranquil than the Greek Orthodox baptisms I've attended, where the priest completely drowns submerges the baby under water until they are flailing and screaming at the top of their lungs.  Gael didn't even shed a tear!

After the ceremony, there was a lovely outdoor reception where we ate Dominican hors d'oeuvres like kipe (fried meatballs), pastelitos (small puff pastries filled with chicken) and repollo (boiled cabbage filled with rice and meat).  The night was finished off with a gigantic blue cake - it was the perfect way to end the weekend.

{serious, "Just Baptized" face}

Monday, October 10, 2011

Boca Chica

Yesterday, boyfriend and I made it to Boca Chica beach.  Although we only live 3 miles from the water, Boca Chica is the closest beach at 30 minutes away with a fast driver.  Its quite the change from Juan Dolio, as this one is filled with hotels, restaurants, bars, and thousands of umbrellas.  Here, you always hear music playing and are constantly asked if you want to buy fresh fruit, a massage, or ceviche out of a fisherman's bucket. 

Crystal clear water, c/o A's iPhone
The sand isn't as powder white as it is at the beaches throughout the rest of the country, but the water is perfect for a leisurely dip.  Its one of those beaches that doesn't have waves; one where you can walk a mile out from the shore and still be standing in waste deep water.  

Slurp, slurp
Of course, I gave in and paid a dollar to drink coconut water.  I then attacked the inside of the fleshy coconut to try and dig out its meat, but my plastic straw wasn't the best tool.  I desperately wanted to bring it home and slash it open to eat the rest, but boyfriend is a little overprotective of his new knives.