Last day in the Dominican Republic sparks good memories


Courtesy of Mizuki Kai

Sophomore Mizuki Kai (right) smiles with her host family.

I checked my phone for the time. The bright screen blinded my eyes in the unawakened darkness of the morning. It was 4:27. The bus was to come at any moment. Today was July 10, my 28th day in the Dominican Republic. I had stayed with a host family for the entirety of June, and today was the day that I bid adieu to my second family, my new friends and this country I had learned to love. I looked at my bedroom one last time. This was where I had cried when I missed the comfort of my room and my family back in Houston. This was where I had hid myself when I couldn’t take any more Spanish. This was my 120 sq. ft. haven where I spent 28 nights. I turned off the light switches and then the fan switch that kept me relatively cool in the hot Dominican weather. I pulled my heavy suitcase with a month worth of clothes and souvenirs, and I trudged through the house, glancing one last time at the living room and dining room.

The living room was where I had sat the night before, with my host parents seated on the couch across from me. I had said, “I wanted to say thank you for everything this month”. Even my host father, who I was somewhat afraid of, told me, “When you return to Santiago, you need to call us.” Big teardrops were racing down my face, and I let the humid breeze brush across my face and dry my moist cheeks. My host mother was crying also. We took a picture, and I had said my last buenas noches and retreated to my room.

Six hours later, I was sitting under the yellow lights of the salon that my host mother owned, which was at the front of the house by the door. I waited patiently in silence until I heard a screech coming from the front of the house that I knew had to be the bus with all my friends in it. I opened the wooden door, saw the vehicle parked in front and looked at my host mother. I was grateful that she had woken up this early to say goodbye to me. I hugged her, knowing that this may be the last time I will ever see her again. I walked through the front yard like every other morning that lead up to this day and unlocked the white picket-fence gate with ease as someone who called this house a home for a month. But this time, I wasn’t walking to school or the closest mall. I was going home. Home home. I looked back. My host mother was standing outside on the porch, her back leaned against the door as if not to close it. The bright yellow of the salon lights contrasted the still-young morning, and I saw her silhouette waving at me. I waved back, gave my suitcase to the bus driver and climbed onto a bus that already had 18 of my companions who lived through these moments with me on it. I smiled. It wasn’t bitter, just sweet. I thought to myself as the bus rumbled on to the airport, “adios Calle 2 #21, until next time”.