Paradise vs. Poverty

This weekend, I was Cinderella.

I grew up modestly.  My parents never had a lot of money but we didn’t suffer because of it.  We went on family road trips and would go out to eat on birthdays, but we were a typical family of the lower middle class.

But this weekend, I was Cinderella.

My boyfriend’s family took us on a vacation to the Dominican Republic.  All expenses paid, all inclusive, and every single need or want we could possibly think of was taken care of.

I had unlimited tropical drinks served by bartenders that always remembered my name and order.

I shot archery on the beach, danced in a nightclub, and gambled in a casino all in the same day.

I walked on the beach, went snuba diving, and swam in a freshwater-filled cave.

Every time I walked into my hotel room, there were new animals made of towels that were covered in fresh flowers.

When I broke my glasses, guest services took care of every single detail with only the small fee of paying for the super glue which was brought up to my room by a butler.

I didn’t deserve any of it.

I never expected any of this, but the saddest part was what I didn’t expect about the environment.

The second we drove off of the 5 star hotel’s land, garbage littered the streets.  Kids wearing clothes both far too big and far too small were begging and selling their drawings to tourists.  Stray cats ate scraps and cows that had their ribcages showing walked through intersections.

At an off-site beach, we were pestered by vendors.  Some would try to hand us bottles of beer.  Others sold paintings and jewelry.  One man, without my knowledge or consent, put an iguana on my head in an attempt to get me to take a picture–for a fee, of course.

When I went to the five star resort, I felt like the poor girl who was swept off her feet by a man and brought to the lap of luxury.

The Dominican Republic took me back to the sad reality.

Among the beauty of the palm trees and endless pina coladas, there was extreme poverty.

We were the exception to the rule.

We were the white tourists, eating gormet food to our heart’s content while a mile away, so many starved.

We spoke in broken Spanish to servers who knew that learning English and working in a resort was one of the best–and only–ways to make a living.

I was the Cinderella who saw the dark side of her fairy tale.

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