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Shoeless

A local encounter I’ll never forget.

Julie Robinson

Dominican Republic

I tied the laces of my new black and white Nike shoes, and anticipation started pulsing through my veins. Sunday, March 20th, 2016, day one in the Dominican
Republic. I inserted one bright pink headphone into each ear as, “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” by Caged Elephant, filled my head. The humidity was something else even though it was only 5:30am. I bounded down the walkway from my resort style, tree house, tucked deep in the Samana jungle, and set out for my morning five-kilometer run.

My momentum slowly picked up, and I soon reached the road that led to the deserted “El Valle Beach. My surroundings were surreal, towering, palm trees encircled by leafy jungle greens and a clear sky above. A thick aroma of fresh earth and exotic flowers encompassed my nose with each inhalation.

Movement caught my eye a few hundred meters ahead. After another 30 seconds of running, I came up behind a little Dominican boy, no older than 5 years, walking down the road barefoot, shirtless, and holding an empty gallon jug. “Hola, qué estás haciendo?” In my broken Spanish, I questioned the little boy as to what he was doing . It was a Sunday morning, no later than 5:45am, and he was walking alone in the jungle. There wasn’t a chance that my parents would have ever let me out of their sight like that, especially shoeless.

With a sparkle in his eye and a smile across his face, this little Dominican boy proceeded to tell me that his mother does laundry on Sunday’s. It was his job to walk about 800 meters to the river, fill his gallon jug, and carry it back to his mom. Here I am in my new Nike shoes, an expensive Lululemon tank top and even pricier running shorts, with my waterproof iPod and ear buds dangling from my ears; while this little boy wandered alone in the jungle in search for water just to do laundry. I was awestruck.


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