We arrived back home on Sunday night after six blissful days in the Dominican sunshine, and I'm still dreaming of all of those tropical stereotypes that I soaked up while there: lazy mornings by the beach, afternoons sipping fruity drinks poolside, and evenings dancing under the stars in the sand with friends (and their babies!). I came home with a nasty stomach bug, but it was worth it. Truly. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that the band my husband stage manages for a living has put on a festival every year around this time for the last eight years (first in Jamaica, then Mexico, and now the Dominican), and most of their significant others and kids get to tag along. Last year I was almost 38 weeks pregnant so I had to skip it (and Robbie actually had to fly home early because I was admitted to the hospital), so I think I appreciated it even more this year than in the past. The thing that ultimately made it my favorite so far though was having Essley there. I was so worried about bringing her on this trip, and now I can't imagine it any other way. She had the best time you guys. And in turn, I had the best time as well.
I made a last minute decision before we left not to bring our DSLR camera, because too often I find myself stressing about capturing the perfect shots on these trips rather than just enjoying them. I really wanted to be present this time and not obsess over visually recording everything. So aside from the few photos I'm including that were taken by the festival photographers (each of which are watermarked with their credits), these are all spontaneous phone shots, and they're more of people and the experience than beautifully staged scenes or intentionally captured details. They're not the highest quality images I've ever shared here, but they're real, and I think they genuinely capture what this trip ended up being for us - a fun and relaxing multi-family vacation that also happened to include some great music and a little work for my husband (although I'm confident he'd say that this is his easiest gig of the year).
I have to admit that the title of this post is a little misleading - I wouldn't exactly say that this trip was full of "adventures," at least in the literal sense of the word. These festivals are different than other international travel we've done because they're held at all-inclusive resorts. I'm incredibly grateful to be able to accompany Robbie, but I'm always left with a longing in my heart to get to experience more of the countries we're visiting. (Those of you who have been to all-inclusives know that you're pretty confined, and there isn't a lot of culture infused in the food or experience.) Really though, being where we were was perfect this time. The resort made it so that having an eleven month old with us was almost effortless, and the staff was seriously amazing with Essley (and all of the kids there). She slept better than she ever has at home. She woke up excited every morning. She adored the sand and ocean and the pools. She had so much fun playing with all of the other babies. She loved the music (I have a video I'll have to upload and share here of her dancing and waving her arms at the stage) and loved hanging out side stage with her daddy. Watching her experience so many things for the first time was really special for us.
Aside from watching Essley take everything in, which was by far the best part of the trip for me, highlights included the coffee (Dominican coffee is officially my new favorite), the weather (after lots of cloud and rain, we got three solid days of sunshine), the design of the hotel (this place was insanely gorgeous - from the layout of the resort to the details of the rooms), and getting to spend time with some of my best friends who I only get to see a few times a year. I'm also so glad that I allowed myself some time away to just be present and chill out a little. One of the greatest challenges in my adult life has been trying to separate myself from work and not feel guilty about it (and/or stressed the entire time about what I'd have to do when I returned). I'm getting better at this, and this trip in particular was probably my greatest achievement so far in terms of keeping my computer off and my mind focused on being in the moment. The older I get, the more I'm able to establish a balance between devoting equal time to work and play, and the happier I am as a result.
We're already talking about going a little early next year and renting a house with some of our friends for a few days in advance so we can explore outside of the resort. And I already can't wait to bring Essley with us again. Thanks for letting me share some pieces of our trip with you guys!
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