Saudade is a Portuguese word that doesn’t translate to English. It pretty much means “the vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist.” Something more than nostalgia. I’m well acquainted with the feeling – the life and people you leave behind. Even returning to the same place and the same people can never be the same, because you are different.
When I’m here, it’s hard to imagine another life. It’s not that modern conveniences have become a foreign concept to me – I’ve visited home a few times, and I’ve gone to nice hotels in this country too. But the strange thing about the other life is how far away this one will become. When I’ve been away, Tabara Arriba has felt so distant from my reality. It is, in fact, distant from my other reality. And not just Tabara, but the entire Dominican Republic – this loud, hot, beautiful island where I can hop on a passing bus and be across the entire country in a day if I so desire; where I feel connected to everything and everyone, even when I would rather tune out.
Here, you realize how little you really need to live. And how happy you can be that way. The real difficulties over these two years have been psychological, not physical. For one thing, it seems that my immune system is super-human, and I haven’t really been sick, as a lot of others have. So that’s lucky. But also, while electricity and running water are really great, not having them all the time isn’t the tragedy you imagine it to be. (Well, not having water can be tragic, obviously, but gracias a Dios that’s not the situation where I live.) It’s just like… camping sometimes. I love my little blue house and my bucket showers. Of course it will be nice to return to conveniences, but I like camping too. Keeps you on your toes.
There are a lot of things that I absolutely will not miss about this country, and yes, I am beyond ready to get out of the campo. But there are countless things that I will miss. 26 months of my 27-month commitment have passed. Until recently, I didn’t spend much of that time thinking about the future. This is a great thing. Not thinking about the future does wonders for one’s happiness in the present, not to mention presence in the present. When I started this crazy adventure it felt never-ending, but here it is: The End. Almost.
So, it’s time to start planning next steps, even while I am still here finishing things in town. Word has gotten out that I’ll only be around for another month, and people keep lamenting that my boyfriend isn’t from Tabara so I’ll come back to visit. I promise them I will be back, of course I’ll be back, but some other Americanas have set a bad track record. I think they’ll believe it when they see it.