I'm on the other side of a hysterical crying fit, in my suite bathroom of El Beaterio. It wasn't from the scars of cliff jumping (or rock climbing up said cliff), or the realization in looking upon my bank account, yet it was the face of a little angel, with the name Mariela.

NomadnessX trips hit a new high this afternoon. It's been a goal, for every trip, to have a volunteering portion to the itinerary. Truthfully, we've attempted and never beenable to pull it off in a group setting. This is not because of us, but because of previous organizations we've attempted to do service within. Today was different.

Seven members were able to spend time at La Casa Rosada, an orphanage for HIV infected children in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Located in the most drug infested of all areas in Santo Domingo, this oasis is a welcome refuge for children who have been abandoned.

All members on the DR trip brought items along to donate to the children, ranging from clothes to toys. Only a select few were able to volunteer time...

Today I met Mariela. This little girl, around 2 years old, who almost made me a mother today. My mind, and emotions raced at the prospect of adopting this little girl. I have always saw adoption as a viable option, in conjunction to having my own children. Mariela made it real. She put a face to the concept, for me.

My tears flow because of the depth of the connection we made over an hour. I was there as she was changed, sporting a fitting white dress, and orange headband, she let go of the neutral face for laughs and smiles. Reserved, yet she latched onto me and didn't fancy being held by anyone else...even when we tried. She latched onto my shirt with the same tenacity she'd latched onto my heart.

Watching her, knowing this little soul was sick, had me unsuccessfully fighting tears as she guided me to the Christmas tree and started pointing at her favorite ornaments. Repeatedly, I'd smile and pull my head to the side and allow another tear to fall. I almost became a mother today.

I will respect the wishes of La Casa Rosada, and not post photos of Mariela. But just know she's gorgeous. Huge bright eyes, and light sandy blondish hair. A smile that lights up her face, as bright as the blinking glow on her old school lightup sneakers.  I am in love with Ms. Mariela, and there's nothing to compare to the compassion I have for all these children. Respect due to La Casa Rosada. We plan to work closely with them. And this...is my ode to Mariela.