Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Parents Visit - Recap 1

I havent blogged in over a week because its been vacation time for me!  My parents were in town for 6 days; here's the recap.

Week Highlights: Part 1

Thursday: The Day my Parents Met Boyfriend's Family
That evening there were about 20 of us indulging in a big parrillada [BBQ] in the backyard.  We ate churrasco [skirt steak] and big bowls of habichuela con dulce for dessert [a creamy, cold sweet & spicy soup made out of red beans and condensed milk].  Of course, dancing started and boyfriend danced merengue with my mom.  Her new thing is that she wants to learn how to dance "Dominican style" - merengue, salsa, and bachata.

{Not our best pic, but the only one for now!}
Friday: The Day we Visited Casa de Campo
En route to our resort, Barceló Dominican Beach in Bávaro, we stopped at Casa de Campo.  We walked, took pictures, window shopped at the overly expensive boutiques, had drinks, admired the yachts, and rested our feet in the calm waters of Playa Minitas.  

{Overlooking the river at Altos de Chavón}
Saturday: The Day my Dad fell off the Banana Boat
On our first full day at the resort, the four of us rented a banana boat.  And my dad fell off the end of the banana!  As he couldn't lift himself back onto the banana, it took a good ten minutes to hoist him out of the water and into the boat that was pulling us.  The poor driver had no idea what to do because none of us were strong enough to lift him.  I thought he would have to be dragged to shore with a rope tied to his life vest.  After many failed attempts (and lots of flopping back into the water after getting halfway onto the boat), he made it into the boat and safely back to the shore.

It was a pee-in-pants-from-laughing-so-hard moment, and not just for me!

{Our beach}
More beach pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Carnaval Vegano


No, Carnaval Vegano does not mean Vegan Carnival, it means Carnaval in the city of La Vega, Dominican Republic.  Carnaval is celebrated during the month of February in a few major cities in the DR.  Its a celebration, a parade, and an excuse to eat, drink, and be merry while watching people of all ages dance or jump around in elaborate, colorful costumes.  You also get to hear some not so great Reggaeton and Dominican rap music for a good amount of hours, and let me tell you, the beats will stay in your head for well after Carnaval is over.

If you walk on the main road where the parade takes place, the people dressed in costumes are allowed to smack you (usually on the bottom) with a papaya shaped rubber ball that hangs off a string.  A's mom told me that back in the day, instead of being smacked by a rubber ball, they used cow bladders for the smacking!  I'll take the rubber ball, thanks.  If you don't want to go home full of bruises on your behind, then you must stay on the sidewalk.

We only ventured out of our tent and on to the main road for about 10 minutes.  I received a painful smack by a little kid, but no bruising, thank God.  My coworker on the other hand, spent the day on the street and came in to work the next day complaining about his purple derrière.  I can only imagine!

Along the main road, companies set up large tents so that invited guests can sit and watch in comfort.  A friend of ours is a radio/TV host, and since she was the voice behind the Brahma show, she gave us free VIP tickets.  Not only did we spend our day in the VIP tent with unlimited food and Brahma beer, but we got to sit with her during the show in her own private, fenced off area.  I'm pretty sure we had the best seats in the city!

Our View to the Left
This was my first carnaval and I hope there will be many more to come.  
Like in Brazil..  Wishful thinking..

Monday, February 20, 2012


Why do I blog?

I started my blog last July while living in Barcelona [read my super awkward first post here].  At the time, I had just quit my job because I was leaving Spain in one month's time and I wanted to spend my last days soaking up as much as I could.  I began blogging in my down time, to document and never forget all of my favorite places in the city [see my Barcelona page here].

{Barcelona, La Xampa}
But of course, blogging during that first month grew on me, and I couldn't quit my blog after just one month.  I decided to keep going so that my friends and family could read about me and my adventures after leaving Barcelona and moving to the Dominican Republic.

{DR, Juan Dolio beach}
Oftentimes I get stuck and don't write that often.  But what I love about blogging is that its something you can always come back to.  Its like a diary for grown ups.  It also inspires me to learn, especially if I'm writing about touristy things.

These are a just a few of the blogs I've fallen in love with along the way:

Glocal Girl - A good friend, fellow expat, and the first blogger I ever followed.

A Girl with a Stethoscope - My BFF, referred to as "super nurse" by others. 

Fancy That Fancy This - Her sarcasm makes me laugh out loud. 

Shades of Monet - A girl with a unique style and amazing headpieces.

Drastic Plastic - A fashion/design blog with lots of inspiring collections. 

Cup of Joe - A blog truly about everything under the sun. 

Bouffe e Bambini - A very honest and open blogger + drool worthy baked goods.

My Beautiful Adventures - A world traveler who's blog I just found; can't wait to read more.

Why do you blog?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Do Something Scary

The other week I stumbled across this quote on Pinterest:
Its inspiring, but how would it be possible every single day? I asked boyfriend.  That was a mistake.  Because after asking him this he came up with something every day, like, "You could kill that bug as your scary thing for the day.." Or "Even though its 11 PM and you're really tired and its really dark outside, you can go take all of your dry clothes off the clothesline.." [maybe in less words].  

But after a few days of A's nonsense talk, I finally did something that scared me.  Out of total frustration (which I've had for months), and without any type of job or job lead lined up, I attempted to quit my job.

Maybe I was crazy for doing it, but in the end, this scary thing turned out for the best.  In the end I didn't quit, but I got myself a promotion.  Instead of managing my company's headquarters store, I am now the Operations Manager of the entire company.

So why am I telling you all this now if it happened a few weeks ago?  

Because I'm 99% sure that today was my last working Saturday.  

In addition to the promotion, I changed my six-days-a-week job into a Monday-Friday job and I couldn't be happier.  My weekends are now doubling!  I hope the extra-long-weekend feeling lasts for a year..

Do something that scares you, you won't regret it.   

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Chocolate is for Lovers

{From my Valentine}
Last night, my friend Anahi and I cooked dinner for our boys.  Well, she pretty much cooked everything while I learned.  Who knew that Caesar dressing only calls for mayo, parmesan, and olive oil?!  I can do that!  We ate sizzling churrasco and a bit too many mashed potatoes.

I did, however, master a dessert of my own.  Well..  I found it on Pinterest.  Although I'm a pinning queen, this is probably only food #3 that I've conquered.  Nutella Cheesecake with an Oreo crust.  Decadence.

{Nutella Heaven}
I followed this recipe and it turned out perfectly rich and creamy.  Next time I'll try it topped with chopped strawberries.

Hope your Valentine's Day was filled with lots of love and chocolate. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Casa De Campo

Casa de Campo is one of the most exclusive properties in the DR.  A friend let us borrow their entrance card, and boyfriend and I were lucky enough to spend our Sunday there.  The resort is home to a world leading hotel, residences, the leading design school in the country, many golf courses, a marina, shopping, movie theater, supermarket, and restaurants of all cuisines - in other words you never have to leave the complex if you're a millionaire that lives there.  Many celebrities have homes there; including Dominican designer Oscar de La Renta, Shakira, Donald Trump, Vin Diesel, and Brad Pitt.  Unfortunately there were no celeb spottings yesterday.

Restaurants overlooking the Marina
A and I spent the day strolling past the multimillion dollar homes of all shapes and sizes, many of which had SmartCar or golf car collections in their open-air garages.  Boyfriend admired the Ferraris while I admired the yachts - I don't think we would ever agree on what to buy if we won the lottery.  

Top of the Amphitheater
At one corner of the land is Altos de Chavón, a replica of a medieval European city, with a large Roman amphitheater, beautiful views of the river, a church, and lots of small artisan shops and museums to fill its cobblestone streets. 

Altos de Chavón
There wasn't a cloud in the sky, so after lots of walking on this very hot day we rested at Playa Minitas.  The water was so clear I could see all the little fish swimming around my legs.  Of course, boyfriend was the only sun-loather fully dressed while laying on the crisp white chaise lounges at the shore. 

Standing thigh-deep 
It was awfully difficult to leave Casa de Campo and come back to reality, but I've begun my countdown to return to the beach in just 2 short weeks!  Life is good..


Friday, February 10, 2012


On my finger
To remember
To eat
To teach my children someday
On my passport
On my shoulder
To change
Thanks, Pinterest.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Daily Life

We are 1/4 of the way through February and I've only written a single post this month!  Bloggers, do you ever feel uninspired?  For two weeks at a time?!  My days have been filled with routine this month, and for me, routine = boredom.  I'm thinking I need this encouragement every morning: 

Today someone told me that I should see my day to day life as an experience.  Its easy for me to think that nothing exciting happens in my day to day expat life, but if I think real hard to find intrigue in my days I somehow do.  Examples: 

I fought a mentally unstable woman over a frothing pitcher at work.  Imagine me and a screaming 45 year old battling over a pitcher full of steamed milk..  At least she didn't spit on me like she did on my coworker the other day!  I guess this kinda thing doesn't happen every day.  

Boyfriend and I were mid tennis match when about 20 people jumped out of a helicopter with multicolored parachutes right above us!  We had to stop playing as I just stood there in awe looking at the sky and wondering how they all ended up in the same place.  I don't know how people have the guts for these things.

Wednesday (Today)
I got nothing for you.  I had to fire someone and interviewed a few others.  Blah.

But..  Fast forward to Friday and we are going to a live music bar for an Adele tribute!  Cant wait.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Food from America

Have I mentioned that I love getting packages in the mail?  Because I do.  
And friends in the US: you only have to pay shipping to Miami and I pick up the cost from there - mail.  me.  stuff.

Aaaanywayyyy, living abroad the last few years and not having Whole Foods Market and Trader Joes at my leisure has been a difficult adjustment.  Oh, how I miss shopping for new organic snacks and Trader Joes $4 bottles of wine!  Good thing Julia of Girl with a Stethoscope shares my love for granola bars and sent me a pity package which I received today!  It was the perfect mid-week pick-me-up.  Yes, thats right, Thursday is only mid-week for me.

The goodies

Pretzels with sesame seeds - I had never tasted pretzels like these before 10 minutes ago.  They completely alter the typical bland pretzel taste.  The bag's contents are slowly diminishing away.

Ginger Chews.  After leaving my college part-time job at Whole Foods I somehow forgot all about these things.  They are sweet & spicy and the perfect alternative to sugary candy chews.  Ginger is also good for stomach aches/indigestion so I'm convinced that eating a whole bag is nothing but good for me. 

Organic fruit leather.  Just like adult Fruit Roll-Ups.  Another reason why living abroad is hard. 

Z Bars, Clif Bars and Luna Bars.  Z Bars are my favorite ones - hint hint to those who feel inspired to send me things - but I can't wait to try the Chocolate Almond Coconut Mojo Bar.  Yum!

Thanks, Juliasters!