A Rising Town in the Dominican Republic

People outside

Whenever you travel back to your hometown, you always seem to notice a couple of changes here and there.  In my case, it is a little different.  I visit the Dominican Republic every summer, which is my home country.  I am from a very small town and it is amazing how such a poor area has grown into a pretty decent looking town.

I can remember as far back as when I was a toddler; all the roads were dirt and success seemed possible.  Kids would play out on the street, as if they had not a worry in the world.  The soothing, fresh air breeze that would surround us is nothing like the kind of air I breathe where I live now.  My friends and I use to play in open fields of grass. That land, which is currently being built upon, has become a neighborhood lined with fancy homes.  The friends I used to have also changed.  They have started families and moved farther away.  The roads are now made of cement, changing the feeling of the town into more of an urban area. Motorcycle shops have replaced what use to be corner stores.  It’s amazing to see how drastically my hometown has evolved over the last ten to fifteen years, growing from a poor rural area to an almost modern-looking city.

When I was younger, at night, I would always go stargazing in that field of grass my friends and I would play baseball in during the day.  The sight of stars never ceased to amaze me.  Compared to the night sky in Pennsylvania, the stars were much more visible in my town. Now, it’s almost rare for me to see any at all because of the amount of air pollution that blocks the night sky.

Looking at my hometown now has made me realize that money changes everything, even the beauty of nature surrounding us. The fact that those homes were built in a place where I have good memories means that I won’t ever be able to go back there and relive my childhood.  All of my past experiences have been taken from me like they mean nothing. Just like that. I love keeping these memories because without memories new ones can’t be reborn.

The people living in the Dominican Republic have also seemed to changed. All they care about is money, how their house looks, and how they dress. I guess when I was younger I didn’t realize it how much material things meant to people.  However, as I’ve matured,  the perception I have of my surroundings has broadened and allowed me to see things that I didn’t notice before.

New people have begun moving into my hometown, starting their own businesses, building parks, and adding new employment opportunities. When I was younger, the schools would only require kids to attend class for four hours a day. Now, school starts at eight in the morning and ends by four in the afternoon.

The food industry is also very different. In the past, most people raised their own animals for food and harvested their own fruit and vegetables.  I would always ask my father why the food in the Dominican Republic tastes so delicious. He would tell me it’s because everything is freshly grown and raised without any added preservatives and chemicals.  I remember after each meal, I would feel so full. One meal would last me almost an entire day. Then, about five years ago, businesses added preservatives to the chicken so that they could sell more and provide more jobs. Since then, whenever my Grandma would cook chicken, I would be able to taste the difference in the meat. I told her honestly how nasty it was, and she would laugh and tell me, “I won’t cook you that type of meat anymore”.

There used to be a river I would swim in every morning.  Its cold, refreshing waters would wake me up every morning at the start of my day. I spent hours at a time in this river, playing with my friends and family; it was the chill spot for everyone.  Every weekend, groups of people would get together to cook, play music, swim, and have a great time.  But that’s just a memory to me now. The river is still there, but now it’s even better than before!  Money donations have made it possible for a stage to be built so that live bands can play. Walkways now extend across the river, so that people can walk over the water and enjoy the sights.  There’s also a parking lot and a few stores nearby, supplying even more jobs and making tons of money.

Looking back, if my town in the Dominican Republic had stayed the same I wouldn’t have been so impressed about the progress that it has made. It is amazing how fast different societies are developing, even the poorest of ones.  The world is always changing all types of societies and evolving the way poor countries adapt to these changes.  The memories I have from when I was younger I will always treasure as everyone does, because the memories when you are younger are always the ones that keep you in awe and wonderment.

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