Dominican Republic

Museo de las casas reales
Welcome, Santo Domingo is waiting for you.

I've spent a great deal of time reflecting over the past few months, and I've been deeply troubled by some racist encounters I've had with Jared's family. What pushed me over the edge was someone indirectly using a racial slur (N word) towards me in front of Mario and disguising it. According to this person,it was just "a fun fact" in case I didnt know. I guess having a degree in Ethnic studies to fight for social justice, specifially racism based on unconcious biases wasn't enough and experience racism for the last 20 years in the United States hasn't been enough. It's difficult to put into words, but this was a significant turning point for me, and I've come to the conclusion that I need to distance myself from individuals with such beliefs. I've felt a growing sense of urgency about leaving the USA. While I can understand classism, racism is a bitter pill to swallow, and I've simply reached a point where I no longer wish to tolerate it.

I was going through a tough period. Jared wasnt thrill with the idea of me leaving but he couldn't refused to buy a ticket for me to the Dominican Republic. I honestly didnt want to stay long but looking back, I wish I stayed a week longer. It was the first time I felt the need for some solitude since we got married. Unlike previous instances when I needed time to recover from surgery, this time around, I craved the company of my Dominican very close friends and family who could make me feel loved, valued, and genuinely cared for.

Ready for my solo adventure

It was a very long day. Two flights and I was so tired that I slept on the floor for a few hours in Florida. I am also meds free from my anxiety and ocd. I am very proud of myself. This was my hotel. When I got to the airport, my phone and credit cards were not working. Very weird...but I always have at least 50 dollars on me so I made it through.

After attempting to get some sleep, I prepared myself to visit my dad. Navigating the traffic in Santo Domingo felt like driving in Los Angeles in rush hour. To add to the challenge, my Uber account wasn't functioning properly at the time. Fortunately, a kind gentleman at the hotel helped me arrange an Uber ride through his account, and I settled the fare in cash.

My dad had no idea I was in the country; my visit was entirely unexpected. When I arrived at his place, he initially mistook me for a "girlfriend." Well, he was very happy to see me and I got him a few presents. He also gave me tons of cash and lend me his personal driver. My dad is getting really old but the man has all his hair! I really hope Mario and Milo got my genes and won't lose their hair.

This is Luisa who used to be my dad's main girlfriend.He is obsessed with her. She is my favorite! After visiting for a while, we headed to Tia Angela's house to see her and my step grandma Eduvigis. My grandma is 90 years old.

Barra Payan for dinner with my dad and Tia Angela

I honestly felt that Jared was sabotaging me because nothing was working. My dad and aunt came to the rescued. My dad gave me a bunch of money and my aunt lent me her pepper spray and her mobile internet router for me to use. My dad also assigned his driver/security detail to keep me company. I didn't stay with my dad because he has the opposite of my ocd. I could never stay at his place. As soon as I had a backup plan, I told Jared and miraculously all my credit cards and phone started to work again...

My hotel was in my favorite place in Santo Domingo: La zona colonial. I love that area. Everything is so old and beautiful. The atmosphere is of a romantic city with many fun restaurants, bars, museums, and places to just sit to think about life.The lights look like flickering candles. I avoid the main downtown because I don't like the vibe there but the zona colonial is my dream. It feels like walking in Santa Fe, NM (the plaza.)

I held a profound desire to revisit the temple, as it represented a personal goal of mine to reconnect with Heavenly Father. There was a pressing need for me to forgive certain individuals, and I found it challenging to release the lingering hurt. However, I was determined to make it work.

In the lead-up to my trip, a series of unusual circumstances seemed to conspire against me. Despite these obstacles, I couldn't shake the feeling that I needed to be there. It was imperative for me to find closure and "cerrar ciclos" (close chapters). The initial setback was falling seriously ill just before my planned departure, coupled with the loss of my temple recommend. These unfortunate events transpired while I was away at the cabin, leaving me increasingly frustrated as visiting the temple remained a deep-seated desire.

In my determination to overcome these challenges, I reached out to my bishop and explained the situation. He conducted my interview over the phone, and I later contacted the 2nd counselor of the stake presidency, who also conducted the interview remotely. Remarkably, by the time I returned home at 6 pm, my temple recommend awaited me in the mailbox.

I didn't sleep that much that night. I got myself ready to go to the temple. When I arrived at the temple, it was close! I am so used to living in Utah that I assumed they opened the temple early. Well, I was there at 11 am and the temple opens at 5:30 pm. What to do? Well, I went to a few museums close by, listen to classical music meanwhile I walked around. A few hours later, my bestie Leslie Pichardo picked me up for late lunch. By the time it was 5pm, we were on our way to the temple.

That wasn't the craziest thing. This trip was full of weird coincidineces. We got there and I asked Leslie to take a few photos of me and I see this guy far away taking photos of a couple. I heard this voice in my head telling me to go to him. Well, I did it and guess what? It was my cousin Raul Sandoval!!!! I haven't seen him in 23 years because when I got marry he was on his mission. He wasn't recognizing me but when he did, he lifted me of my feet in the warmest hugh of my life. Raul is the one that Mario looks like.

Inside the temple, everyone was soooo loving with me. I was home! I did an endowment session and later I asked if I could see the sealing rooms because I got sealed there. They gave me a tour and I did so many sealings with a really young temple worker called brother Cabrera. The Celestial room to me is still the most beauty room I have ever seen. Heavenly Father gave me the answer of what I have been looking for.

the same night

My heart was full. It was time for late dinner and walking around town with my bestie.

My boutique hotel in the Zona Colonial
You can tell the spirit is with me. You can't tell I am almost 40! 

The following photos are of my amazing nights, we tried amazing food, walks, and laugh until 4 am. Every night! I was sleep deprived most  of the week because there was so much to do, so much to talk about, and so little time.

I took a tour at the Museum of the Royal Houses to learn about the settlement of the island. I thought I knew everything about it and I was surprised to learn new things. My tour person was William. I also learned that Tainos used to do religious ceremonies using the seven variety of cannabies originals from the island. Dominicans look down on people that do drug,fyi.

Something really strange happened. Leslie and I went out for dinner and frozen mocktails every night. We would go dancing and people-watching. Leslie has been my best friend since the fifth grade, and I have to admit, I'm a bit possessive when it comes to my friends. I don't like to share them or hear about other people's friends; I just don't care. If you're my friend, you're mine.

Well, one evening at Columbus Park, a guy was walking with his family. He approached Leslie, and she told me, "He's been my best friend since 7th grade." I thought, "Okay, I've never heard of you, but that's cool. I really don't mind." As it turns out, Manuel and I were best friends in elementary school too! We had grown up together, but I couldn't remember him (he's bald now). Surprisingly, he remembered me. I started to cry because he recounted details from my childhood that no one else knew. I don't believe in coincidences, so I pulled out a photo from my elementary school years on my phone, and he named the teachers and my classmates from 4th grade! I had switched schools in 5th grade to a Catholic school where I met Leslie, but I never told her about Manuel, and she never mentioned him either. He had been both of our best friends at different stages of our lives. Can you imagine how strange that is? Santo Domingo has nearly 7 million people, and the entire island has 10 million. This just doesn't happen. Even his wife was freaked out. He's in the military, and she's a doctor (she didn't want to be in the photo because they had just had a baby).

After that day, Manuel joined us in some of our dancing adventures, especially when my dad's security couldn't make it a few times. Speaking of my dad, he was also a bit of a party pooper. He canceled on me so many times, and I thought he was avoiding me. The truth is, he's 75 years old, and bedtime for him is after 9 pm. My dinners usually started at 10 pm (very European of me), and I'd get back to my hotel around 4-5 am. I had forgotten how much fun it is to dance with friends who are as extroverted as I am. We would hit different dance clubs in one night, and it was just so refreshing to be with people like me. Plus, I got carded! Yes!!! At 38, I was passing for 20!

Leslie took me to Boca Chica which is my favorite beach in the city. You can walk three miles inside the ocean and the water won't get pass your waist. I orded so many food and drinks. I also got a massage (after my first massage the day before was awful, I don't want to even remember it)

That is Eddy. My dad's driver and security

That same night, I got Dominican ice cream (helados Bon). My dad security couldn't make it so we called Manuel to keep catching up. It was nice having someone there to watch out for us. Some men don't understand that dancing just mean that, dancing. When Manuel or Eddy were there, the men would ask them for permision to dance with us which weeded out the creeps.

Santo Domingo

Los Tres Ojos.

Nuestra Senora de la Encarnacion: It is a Stawarte 16th century Gothic Cathedral.

My dad picked me up early on Sunday and took me to his finca. Sadly, my dad has become a hoarder. I won't delve into the details, but it's a somber situation. This is how the finca looks now: the pool is in ruins, the house is in disrepair, yet he seems oblivious to it all. He has an unwavering love for his finca, and I've come to accept and respect his way of life.

During my visit, I also discovered that my dad owns a restaurant in Villa Mella that specializes in chicharrones. He graciously brought me to the quaint restaurant and introduced me to everyone there.

We traveled to Los Alcarrizos to reunite with my Francisco family, who may not be very affluent but are an incredibly enjoyable bunch. These individuals belong to my dad's side of the family, and what's remarkable is that they are all extroverts—every single one of them! I couldn't stop laughing; their energy was contagious. Additionally, it's worth noting that they are all strikingly good-looking: tall, with a rich brown complexion, and a strong presence.

look how happy! My party people!

I packed clothes but it was soo hot, I kept wearing the same dress. The owners of the restaurants had a photographer and he kept taking photos of us. The old men behind me in the first photo gave me his "card" so I could keep in contact with him. lol

Our last night in the city. We went out for more tapas and mocktails. It was a dream of a week. The joy I have in my heart. You can tell in all the photos how happy I am. I didn't want to leave but I will always cherish that week as the time where I connected with my childhood friends.

Jenny Hobbs

Jenny Hobbs

Salt Lake City, UT