On hot summer days, my neighbors would break open the fire hydrant on my street to unleash torrents of ice cold water into the air. Families and friends often gathered around in picnic chairs, while chicken sizzled on grills and bachata echoed throughout our block. My brother and I, with our noses stuck against the window of our fifth-floor apartment, would watch as we listened to the muffled rain of laughter from the children playing by the water. Small droplets would often splash against our window as if to tease us. “Why can’t we go downstairs and play with our friends?” we would demand of our mother, a woman who never budged from her strict Dominican household rules. “Hanging outside on the streets is for drug dealers and hoodlums!” she would fire back in Spanish.
Perhaps it was the very adversity of my limitations that drove me to want to uninhibitedly explore the world. Or maybe it was because I grew up in a unique neighborhood within a special city that made me appreciate the differences between other places. Although I was born and raised in the U.S., I didn’t learn English until elementary school. I grew up in a Dominican diaspora community located in The Bronx, New York. These types of communities and cultural hybrids are not as uncommon as you may think. What is uncommon is being able to achieve prosperity and mobility from within them. But nevertheless, these sorts of environments almost always cultivate a special hunger and appreciation to discover the rest of the world.
While studying in Spain at 19 years old, I noticed how different my travel experiences, as a racially ambiguous American Latina, was to those of my non-immigrant less culturally diverse friends. Ethnic minorities, especially of immigrant parents, I realized, have a different way of processing multicultural interactions and adapting to different environments. Realizing this contrast, I’ve decided to share my unique perspective on unique places and experiences.
These are the journeys, inspirations, and musings of a Dominican-American traveler, writer, photographer, and now the founder of a Dominican travel & lifestyle business from the Bronx, New York.