After a long journey, Jorien and I arrived at Santo Domingo airport. We decided that I would take responsibility of the luggage while Jorien would give it her charming best to get us through customs assisted by her never ending legs, blonde extensions, and gleaming smile.
‘Mission completed’ I sigh with relief as I fly into the arms of Jorien M. (a friend of ours who we met during a beauty pageant) and greeted her driver. The next two weeks we would be living among the rich and the famous at her home in Casa de Campo.
Arturo, her fiancé, gave us a tour through the house. "Here's your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, swimming pool, jacuzzi ...” “Well I can definitely see myself having a good time here!” I thought. There wasn`t a lot of time to relax as the neighbour had organized a 'house party'. When I asked what the dress code was, Jorien chuckled; "Well Sanne, maybe you should consider leaving your hiking boots at home." Closing off her remark with a wink. There was no other option left than to get into make-over mode. 45 minutes later, I had squeezed myself into a tight green dress I borrowed from Jorien, braided my hair and wiped away every sign of jetlag with a thick layer of makeup.
Once we arrived at the party venue, I could not believe my eyes. Ladies dressed in beautiful outfits with high heel super-smooth legs underneath. Here and there a doctor-Rossi-cleavage worth a few thousand euros. There were even some faces I recognized from tv! They didn’t serve pieces of cheese or bowls of chips, but toasts with caviar. And to drink? No BaCo, but champagne, which was served elegantly by one of the dozens of servants, dressed in black and white. The dance floor was lit and the garden was resembling a laser show, whilst the DJ seemed to support every activity with his smooth mixed up beats from the latest tunes.
The guests had their own businesses, good jobs, were born rich or simply charming and beautiful enough to strike a match with a rich man. So, how does one tell these elegant folks that you are jobless and ready to explore the world with nothing more than a backpack? Fortunately, I soon came to the word 'Sabbatical'. While it was not always understood, a warm smile and nod was usually its response.
Tired, but satisfied, after a 32 hour day, we crawled into our luxurious beds. The next day I was woken early to the tune of singing birds. I jumped into my bikini and snuck through the living room to the garden, where I swam in the refreshing pool. Leaning with my elbows on the pool edge I gazed across the field. There were horses galloping past with their riders flailing polo sticks. My thoughts are suddenly interrupted; "Perdon, sinorita Sanne, would you like to have some tea?" It's Jolanda, the housekeeper. I answer back with a grateful smile, "Si, gracias Jolanda.
After the swim, I slumped into a sofa in the garden whilst sipping my tea. "I think I might survive out here till January the 11th."
All best wishes for 2015!
My coach, Corine, sits in front of me at the kitchen table. "Well Sanne tell me, what are we going to talk about this week?" A few weeks before, I had contacted her. It has been several years since I had felt ‘balanced’, which eventually resulted in burnout. I decided that things had to change. I contacted Corine so, together with her, I could get my life back on track.
"I booked a ticket to the Dominican Republic. I want to travel for four months through the Caribbean, Central and South America". I state proudly, pleased with the feeling that I finally got my life back on track. Corine looks surprised; "Wow, you`re really jumping in the deep end aren`t you? So you are taking a nice four-month break, recharge your battery, and then back to your old life?" I lean back in my seat, contemplating this view point. To really change my life I had to take drastic measures.
I look at the customs worker, he looks at my passport, then glances back at me. I smile as friendly as possible. Jorien's gone through customs and waits with her perfect Barbie-figure and her perfectly styled outfit. I look back, my parents are behind the fences together with my good friend Isabel. They wave and are throwing air kisses. Now it's really happening. I quit my job, all my belongings are sold or given away. Only my dearest possessions are now stored in cardboard boxes in the attic. I'm single again, after seven years. Here I am, standing with a backpack and a plane ticket to the Dominican Republic.
"Ms. de Groot ... Ms. de Groot!" terrified I look up, it's the sergeant. “You may proceed.” I put my ticket in my passport, and step across the border towards Jorien. One last time I turn around and wave to my parents and Isabel. The adventure is about to begin!
After a burn-out it was time for a change. I quit my job, sold my stuff and bought a one-way ticket to the Dominican Republic. What was supposed to be a 4 month adventure turned into 2,5 years and counting......
Photo by: Vanessa Marques Barreto