In 2015, as I tiredly made my way to my half point of high school, a friend showed me this prompt which a school she was applying to had uploaded for an essay. I had kept this prompt in the back of my mind and had found myself occasionally wondering off into deep thoughts as to what X was. That very summer my X was found. Luckily, no mathematical calculations were needed to find it given that math has never been my strong suit. My X was found in the middle of a mountain in the Dominican Republic in a small town or as they call it "campo". The summer of my sophomore year I traveled on my first BLUE Missions trip, where I aided in building latrines and delivering sanitation to the underprivileged families of the Dominican Republic.
Filled with joy and excitement I loaded my duffle bag with about 30 pounds of snacks, a few scrub pants, old soccer T-shirts, and the ugliest blue and pink boots my mother could possibly find at Walmart. I boarded the plane with 22 of my fellow classmates, some scared out of their minds and others overwhelmed with so much happiness that they couldn't sit down. We finally landed and piled on to a bus where it took us two hours to get to our campo. As we arrived to our small 1 room school we tried, as hard as possible, to fit 23 cots, 23 mosquito nets, 23 duffle bags, and of course 23 girls into the room and in a condition in which we could live for ten days.
When we finished settling in we headed out to see the town and meet the people. The first person I encountered in the campo was David. David was a 10 year old boy with big brown eyes, a muscular figure, sun kissed skin, and always had a machete by his side. Quickly following David came his two younger cousins, Emily and Evelyn. Emily was a nine year old girl with a petite figure but a strong attitude, she became very comfortable with us very quickly and could beat anyone who challenged her in Connect Four. Unlike her sister, Evelyn was more to her self, she always wore her hair in four pigtails scattered across her head which she would twirl and tie at the end with a rubber band that had beads attached.
Our friendship with this group of cousins began all over a game of baseball. (Tip: Dominicans have two very very special talents and you should never challenge them in baseball or dominos). David surprised us all, never missing a pitch and in fact always hitting a home run. He took it very seriously and coached his little cousins to the point where it may have become a bit more competitive than the World Series. Baseball became a frequent game that we'd play with the locals and often got very competitive.
For breakfast, lunch, and dinner we would meet at Chacho's house. Chacho was a small but muscular man around the age of 75 and was in better shape than probably all the volunteers. His permanent wide smile, crooked glasses, and lack of teeth made him well, him. Chacho was the most caring man I have ever met to this day, he cared for each of the volunteers as though we were his grand daughters and he was more than grateful to have us there. At Chacho's house we would gather with the locals and talk, play dominos, and eat. Our meals consisted of rice mixed with the vegetable of the day and if we were lucky we would get tostones. I probably consumed more rice on that trip than I had before throughout my entire life. However, the experience made it worth it.
I have never been so open to waking up before sunrise, mixing cement, and hammering in nails for hours on end ever before. Each house we worked at welcomed us in with open arms and smiles that could reach from the campo all the way back to Miami. After we finished each project, we would took a photo of the family alongside their new latrine and I have never seen people happier.
Through the work I realized how much I had back at home and how much happier I should be. Each home averaged at about two bedrooms, no bathrooms, and a small living room with a TV if they were lucky. Most homes were constructed of wood which was falling apart day by day and had chickens constantly running through, along with a hovering stench of dirty pigs. The children, who lived in these homes located further up the mountain, spent their days chasing chickens, gathering fruit, and running up and down the mountain. All while having a constant smile on their face.
The difference in living conditions opened my eyes to the world. It made me notice how other people are living and how they are so happy with so little and I complain with all I have. I was not the only one who was impacted by this. On this journey with me were 22 of my classmates. Over a period of ten days strangers became my sisters, as corny as it may sound. A girl I would see in the hallway and just brush past became someone I talk to everyday. I was able to connect with not only people from the campo but people from my hometown that I probably would never have talked to had I not gone on this trip.
Ten days. It took me ten days to find my X. Between baseball and building and children and chickens I found my X. My X is Blanquito because through out my journey of life, I had been lost not taking in fully what I have. Blanquito marks the spot where I finally noticed what I have and how precious life is and it will forever be my X.