Friday, November 28, 2008

R&R in the DR

Sunday, November 23rd
I’m geared up for the “transitional” part of the trip. I’ve read about the 1.5 hour drive to the resort from the airport and have scored a better seat at check-in. I even managed to get in a security line that did NOT include a family traveling with strollers, car seats and children that are not half as cute as the parents think they are. At the gate the attendant announces that there will be NO special pre-boarding for children as there are thirty kids on the flight. She calls it a family flight, I call it penance for leaving my loved ones for Thanksgiving.

It’s hot when I step out of the plane. I still can’t get over the wonder of leaving a dry cold climate and landing in a tropical paradise in under five hours. It’s amazing.

I get in our nicely air conditioned van along with another couple with TONS of luggage. I assume they are staying here at least until this time next year. What the hell do they have in there?

“Do you get car sick?” The lovely long haired fresh faced woman says to me. This is not a good opener for a long car trip that you have read is riddled with lots and lots of potholes and twists and turns. Does she know this? I’m not going to tell her.

“Sometimes,” I say.

“Do you know how long the drive is?” I look at her husband, he knows. He hasn’t told her. Well I’m not gonna either.

“I know it’s a bit of a way,” I all I say.

45 minutes into the drive to take her mind of the rocky road she tells me they are Kosher and have brought all their food with them, including a hot plate to heat it up. Apparently there are pre-packaged meals you can buy for just this purpose. Who knew?

I’m queasy when we finally arrive and grateful for the cold towel that is given to us as soon as we get out of the van. The resort is lovely. I just have to get into my room and change out of my winter clothes (I dressed in layers and took as much off in the airport as I could, I’m still wearing long pants though) and get something to eat.

I changed rooms, mine was at the top of the stairs and ever since someone tried to break into my room in Frankfurt years ago, I don’t like rooms close to the elevator or stairs, plus when you opened the door there was a view of a dirty utility closet that had a door that didn’t close all the way.

Food is okay, just as reported in trip advisor. Drinks are good.

Monday, November 24
Weather is not looking good but I remember from my last trip to the DR with my sister almost twenty years ago that the rain comes in bursts and dries off quickly. I slap on SPF 70 and forage for breakfast. It’s a buffet. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got on traveling was from my dad, he said, “Always eat breakfast, it’s the one meal that’s really hard to fuck up.” He’s right. No matter where I’ve been I always eat breakfast. Bread is freshly baked and butter is unpastuerized so it tastes like real butter. This is bad. I decide I could live on bread and butter for the rest of my life.

I spent the day going in and out between rain showers and in the late afternoon decide the rain is nature’s way of telling me to take a nap. hmmmm…what’s better than a nap on vacation?

Forage for dinner, Mexican. It’s okay. Presidente beer is mui bien. Watch the Karaoke in the main lounge and wonder at the bravery of drunk people on holiday. Honestly, does that guy know he’s shouting into the mic? Stefan, does three numbers, the final is Michael Jackson’s beat it, which he adds his own choreography to. I am laughing so hard I have to stop when I can’t decide whether or not I am laughing at him or with him.

I haven’t checked work email all day. That deserves another beer.

Tuesday, November 25
Every time I go to a meal the hostess asks me how many and I say one. and they say, “Just one?” Every time. I feel like the guy in Forgetting Sarah Mashall. When they finally seat me they take away the place setting and sometimes the chair.

This is an adults only resort so there are mostly couples. Many of them honeymooners. I wish I could say I find them cute but I don’t. Especially the ones that walk around in t-shirts that say, bride or groom. Really?

I see the Kosher couple around and ask them how it’s going, the said it’s great but the water aunts got into some of their food so they don’t have cookies or bread. No bread? I would have to go home.

Weather is spectacular. I bake for as long as my pale Irish skin can take (that’s about 45 minutes.) Then I move into the shade.

There is a lounge chair competition that goes on at the pool in the morning. People get up at 6 and come out and claim the best chairs. Some people mark the chairs and never come back – how do I know? I was at the pool almost all day and saw chairs with books on them and no one.

They also grab the rafts and don’t give them up.

Yes these are the same people who bring take out containers to the buffets. I should tell a few of them about the Kosher couple, they’ll have free luggage space on the way back and might be willing to smuggle food back from the resort.

I met a nice couple who tell me their life story as we pass each other on rafts. I tell them I understand why they moved from Jersey to Florida and think their daughter is on the right track and don’t blame them for leaving her with her grandmother for Thanksgiving. I wish them well and realize I never told them a damn thing about my life.

I fall asleep in the shade by the pool and decide I should have stayed the week.

I feel tired but remember an old friend who used to tell me when we were on vacation that I wasn’t “tired” that this is what relaxed feels like.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I’m itchy. Don’t know why but it started yesterday around my neck and now I’m scratching everywhere. Took an antihistamine, thinking it might be my sunscreen. I wonder if you can become allergic to your own sweat?

Another gorgeous day. I celebrate by switching from drinking beer to Dirty Bananas. This reminds me of being in Bermuda and a promise I made to my nephew Christopher that we would bring him to Bermuda when he turned 18 so he could have a Dirty Banana.

At the gift shop I get into a long conversation with the salesman about Puerto Plata, he is from there and we chat about what it was like when I was there twenty years ago. He gives me “good price” on a cool ring. He squeezes my shoulder before I go and tells me he liked talking to me that I am a good person. I smile and as always it is returned.

Before dinner, I take a hot bath in the tub in the room that is as big as a small pool, I am finally relaxed and am leaving tomorrow.

Thursday, November 27th
I am itchy again and decide it’s a heat rash but head to the pool for a few hours before I have to leave for the airport.

The resort is called “Excellence Punta Cana” so whenever you ask anyone that works in the resort how they are they say, “Excellente!” It’s cute the first 500 times you hear it but then I imagine the staff meetings where managers are reminding everyone to say and it kind of losses it’s luster. Still, I give everyone credit for their commitment to Excellente!

I ride back to the airport with Kosher couple who really are very nice. Before we pull out the husband runs back to the lobby to get bottles of water and gets me one without asking. We’re also riding with a couple. The man has just had a shot of cortisone as he back went out as he bent over to pick up his suitcase. He also has a bad case of diarrhea (yes he told us, and we had to stop) but keeps talking about how much he loved the country and the people. Most people would never come back after that experience, he’s already booked a trip in February. I don’t think the woman is his wife, she fights off getting car sick on the bumpy ride back.

I’m sad, not ready to come back.

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