My first week in the Dominican Republic wrapped up just days ago and already it seems like only a blur of vivid colors and sensations in my head. Together with my mom, my grandmother, Austin, and his parents we spent 3 days in the capitol city of Santo Domingo before heading to the remote southwest region of the country to explore. The seven day ordeal was steeped in food, history, culture, and beauty both natural and not-so-much, but hanging over me the entire time was the nastiest, most miserable cold.
It figures: I spend 3 weeks on my butt at home, with plenty of time for colds and other not fun influences. But I’m healthy as a horse until the morning I wake up for our first full day in Santo Domingo. My head was pounding, my nose was stuffy, and my throat was sore. As we wandered through that beautiful colonial city it took all the control I had not to drop to my knees, raise my hands to the sky, and scream “WHY ME?!?!?!”
My grandmother observed me in my misery across the table as we settled in that evening for what would become one of the best dinners of my life.
“Wouldn’t you like just a little bit of rum?” she asked, referring to the Caribbean specialty of my dreams. Of course I would like a little bit of rum, I thought to myself, but you can’t drink when you’re sick. WHY IS THIS WOMAN TORTURING ME SO?!?!? Instead of saying that aloud, of course, I simply nodded and ordered a glass of water.
It didn’t take long before she asked again, this time recommending that I drink it with a little bit of lime juice. “It’s like a knife,” she told me, “it cuts right through you. It cures everything.”
I was skeptical, but we had a 7-course meal in front of us, and I was eager to enjoy it to the fullest. And besides, aren’t grandmothers supposed to know about these things? I relented. And thank god.
Just a few sips and my headache was gone, my sinuses cleared, it was a miracle! I ordered another. And another.
The next morning I braced myself for the repercussions. No way could a girl as sick as me have three glasses of rum and wake up the next morning without a seriously comprised immune system. I was fully prepared to wake up with my head pounding, nose congested as ever.
But miracle of miracles, it would not be! I can’t tell you that I was cured, but I felt better. Much better. I am happy to inform that I had at least one glass of rum with lime juice for several days after and my illness receded. I have to laugh now when I think about it: a seven day cold in the Caribbean. At first I was so sure it was a curse, but now I know that it was meant to be. That this was the only way I could have possibly learned the valuable lesson Dominicans have been preaching forever: rum cures all things.