So Long República Dominicana, Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow (Part Seis)

We had one more full day in the D.R. before reality set in. Didn’t do much on this day except exactly what we wanted. What a drag, to do whatever you want. I guess that could get old. Think it might take a while, though.

I’ll leave you with a few random pictures.

Johnny actually had to work a few hours the last day we were there. The rest of us slept late and well, as I said before, did what we wanted, meaning not much. Here’s Johnny’s office for the day, under a little cabana in a quiet section of the resort. We strolled by to visit the poor working guy. Not a bad little office. I think I could work here.

Chess anyone?

Somehow I managed to walk around poolside for a number of days before I spotted this huge chess board. Nothing slow about me, no sirreee.

Sara and I were strolling the beach and whaddaya know, we ran into some celebrities! In full finery, balloons and all! Ladies and Gentlemen, below is a fuzzy picture of Sara and The Spice Girls…

Such a nice group of girls, and so shy, too!

I haven’t mentioned yet all the entertainment in the evenings. After dinner, we went to see the shows, rain or moon shine (not moonshine, remember this is the land of Mama Juana). Every show was entertaining. We saw The Spice Girls, a Jazz show, and a couple of others. The best one was a Michael Jackson revue. It was raining that night, and we were late and had to stand in the very back of the audience, our butts barely out of the rain. The guy was fantastic, but I did not get a picture of him, unfortunately.

Here we are having fun at one of the evening shows.

Sara and Alex loved the D.R. because it was “legal” for them to drink alcohol. Sara was just shy of 21 on this trip, and Alex is 18. So, poor sober Daniel had to put up with all of us all week. Actually, we behaved ourselves for the most part, and in reality, we pooped out most nights and shut down kind of early. Long days on the beach and running from the storms combined with a couple of afternoon toddies every day just made us want to check in early.

Check it out – Alex is stylin’!

Love Sara’s necklace – and such color coordination!

Here are the old farts…

We all had our new bling on except Johnny. He didn’t want bling, but we’re glad he comes along to buy us bling! Daniel decided to heck with us that night and went back to the room for peace and quiet, and a couple of apple pie à la modes from room service. We actually let the kids order room service on a few nights. We have NEVER done that, but figured WHY THE HECK NOT?

Here are a few pictures of the resort…

Inside one of our rooms… the one with the bed still made.

In the lobby area. The huge lobby area.

Thought this was a neat shot…

I loved this carving. Think he needs some coffee,though.

The World Cup score board…

Unfortunately, vacations have to come to an end. Such a beautiful place, and in spite of the rain, what a lovely vacation we had. All five of us together is a rare treat these days in any location, but so fabulous to spend seven days together in paradise!

Here we are at the airport again.

Passing underneath a Big Ass Fan. That is its name, if you can see in the picture above. Although it looks like you can’t read it without enlarging it, Dumb Ass Camera. There were an abundance of Big Ass Fans in the Punta Cana Airport, and I’m convinced there’s not a more deserving place in the universe for them to be.

A little serenade before boarding the plane. I don’t know what they were singing, but they sure seemed happy to see us go…

Bye-bye, República Dominicana! I hope to come back some day!

That’s It. That’s All She Wrote. That’s The End of This Story. Finally.

And the Rains Came Down (R&R Part Four)

Oh, the rains came down and the floods came up.  They really did.  All day long the day after our trip to Saona Island, Tropical Storm Alex let loose on the Dominican Republic.  If you’ve ever wondered what rain looks like coming off of a thatched roof, well, here you go. 

  

I loved the thatched roofs.  What’s even better, they don’t leak!  We sat under them all day and watched the weather.  A couple of us even enjoyed the weather!  If you’ll notice in the background, the workers are sweeping the rain water into drains to keep it from coming into the dining area.  By the way, Daniel was NOT looking at the camera, but rather at something incredibly interesting over there

and again, Daniel was NOT looking at the camera, but this time at something fascinating up there… and Alex was NOT enjoying the rain, and was likely bummed at the prospect of little or no beach time in his immediate future.

Daniel is wearing his official USA World Cup jersey.  If I didn’t mention it before, our vacation began shortly after the World Cup started this year.  We saw World Cup jerseys from many countries, and we heard plenty of World Cup banter in various languages.  Interesting week to be in the D.R.!  

Here’s a little crab who was unfortunate enough to cross our path that morning.  He was kinda pissed at us, a bit crabby, in fact, but we didn’t have so much to do so we had to play with him.

Poor Sara was a little under the weather on this rainy day… get it, she was under the weather?  Weren’t we all?  She more so than the rest of us, though.  In fact, she stayed in the room most of the day.  We checked on her from time to time when the monsoon eased, and brought her medicine.  She finally emerged in the late afternoon, still feeling a little iffy.

Meanwhile, the rest of us had already drank our weight in alcohol for the day (well, not Daniel).  He’s only 14.  I’m not that bad of a mother.  My personal favorite was called a Banana Mama.  Not to be confused with the Mama Juana, which I’ll talk about next time.  The Banana Mama is practically fruit in a glass, with rum, of course.  See below for a possible recipe I snatched from this website:  http://www.gasblender.com/recipes.htm#BananaMama

Banana Mama

1-1/2oz. light rum
1/2oz. dark rum
1 oz. banana liqueur
1 oz. cream of coconut
1 oz. fresh or frozen strawberries
2 oz. pineapple juice

1.  In blender, combine light rum, dark rum, banana liqueur, cream of coconut, strawberries and pineapple juice with 3 oz. crushed ice.

2.  Blend until smooth

3.  Pour into goblet, and well, you know what to do next.

That’s one of the many recipes I found, but it sounds about right.  A wedge of pineapple on the side was the only visible fruit, maybe a cherry.  Should have taken a picture of one, darn!

So… we had a decent buzz going.  When it rains, you gotta do something.  Drink and play cards, I say! 

We purchased this card deck from the little store at the resort since our cards were in our room and we were not.  This deck was labeled Naipes playing cards.  Numbered 1 through 12, the cards had some funny pictures, and no face cards.  I just thought it was a Spanish deck, but I now see several descriptions of Naipes playing cards on the net (including tarot cards) so who knows what we were playing with.  I’m not sure if I’m going to hell for playing poker, playing with tarot cards, or drinking excessively.  I’m pretty sure neither of those things are acceptable tenets of Methodist doctrine…

In between games and watching the rain, we took pictures and walked around when it wasn’t pouring.  Here are a couple of more pictures of a flamingo.

and a turtle…

Here’s a picture of Sara, feeling much better!  Or could be she was under some kind of spell after that card game…

Until next time…  Stay tuned for our snorkeling excursion!

It’s Not a Hurricane Yet, So Quit Your Beachin’ (R&R Part Two)

As we approached Punta Cana, the view was breathtaking from the airplane. Stepping off of the plane, the view was a little less spectacular. Not because it wasn’t beautiful, but because I couldn’t see squat. Or anything else, either.

My eyeglasses immediately fogged up, and turns out so did the camera lens. It had been raining, was raining even as we landed, so it was a wee bit humid. Just a wee. I tried to wipe the lens off a little because I really wanted a picture of the airport with its foot-thick thatched roof. This one is better, but I took several pictures, wiping off the lens each time, as we walked from the plane into the airport, and few turned out.

Made it through customs, and then boarded a bus. We were on our way to the Iberostar Bavaro, our home away from home for the next seven days.

Picture courtesy of http://www.twohigs.com/dominican_republic/hotels/iberostar_bavaro.html. It was also hard to get a good picture of the front of the resort because of the vegetation, so I stole this aerial view. Apparently, no one else has figured out how to take a picture of the entrance either. The water and the beach really are this beautiful, though. I have pics of the resort, the building we stayed in and some of the common areas, which I will include later on.

The purpose of this vacation was to do nothing, for the most part, at Alex’s request. He did not want a walking, sightseeing, or a learning type of vacation. Alex felt he had done all the learning he wanted to do for a little while having just graduated from high school, so eating, playing and soaking up sun were high on his agenda.

The sun proved somewhat elusive, but considering we arrived at Punta Cana just as a tropical storm was developing in the region, I guess we were pretty lucky it didn’t ruin our entire vacation. Yes, a tropical storm. Named Alex. We got some mileage out of that! It was overcast and rained every single day we were there, but most days we had at least part of the day to frolic or lounge on the beach. Ok by me. As the old saying goes, even a bad day at the beach is better than a good day at work. If you’re reading this, boss, that was just a little joke!

The first couple of days we just hung around the resort. We found out that the D.R. is primarily a European destination. Meaning two things. Multiple languages, and multiple boobs on the beach… and I don’t mean drunken fools. I mean real boobs. Bare Boobies. Not pictured here, of course. Some were even worth gawking at, but mostly, no. Plenty of thongs and speedos, too. Most just made me wonder. It’s a culture thing, I understand. I’m an uptight American and they’re boobloose, I mean footloose, Europeans. I get it.

Daniel and Alex played a lot of beach soccer. From what I understand, beach soccer is quite strenuous. It was fun watching them because the other kids didn’t speak much English, and our kids don’t speak much Spanish. Between them, they managed to play some pretty good soccer.

The staff at the Iberostar was second to none. They made sure we were fed, our rooms picked up, and that we never wanted for something to do. We were accosted at every turn to join this game or that, to come and make fools of ourselves for the sake of good fun. We obliged, no one was going to see us except all you people here reading this blog, so we did have fun, even as it rained. Below is one such game (this one on the beach). The good ol’ egg toss. Alex and Daniel paired up, and Johnny & Sara paired up. I took pictures.

The first toss about to begin, only a few feet apart this time.

A little further…

The stakes get higher, as do the tosses. Psyching up for the next throw…

Back at ya, cupcake…

A tricky backwards throw and Daniel making the dive…

… and ready, set, hike!

Yes, that is Sara getting ready to hike the egg like Dallas Cowboys Center, Andre Gurode (and yes I had to look it up) to Tony Romo. Only this Tony is about a mile away, and preparing to catch an egg.

After the game, I worried that we’d step in sandy rotten egg yolks or cut our feet on broken egg shells, but the beach just gobbled the eggs up. I never saw any egg goo on the beach.

Speaking of beach, can you believe this beach? Sand so white, and the beach so wide and 30 plus miles long in this area. Incredible. Lovely. Incredibly lovely. 🙂

Sara and Alex also arm-wrestled, well, not each other. They were beaten by beasts, I tell you, beasts!

They also took some Merengue lessons…

While Daniel and Johnny watched.

…and Mamma Paparazzi took pictures. That’s what Andre (an employee, except I don’t remember his name actually) called me as he tried to coerce me into arm wrestling. Me, arm wrestle? You really think that would even be a contest? Maybe if I pick my own opponent!

Here’s another shot of a couple of the beautiful flamingos that populated the resort. You’ll see more of these next time!

Stay tuned. Our trip to Saona Island coming up!

R&R in the D.R. – In the Beginning (Primero)

In honor of Alex’s graduation, we let him pick our vacation destination this summer. Well, we let him pick the kind of vacation we would have, because “I want to go to the beach” isn’t terribly helpful. So, off to the travel agent we went, thinking an all-inclusive resort somewhere so we wouldn’t constantly have to decide matters such as, what are we going to do? Go to the beach, of course. Where do we eat every day? How much alcohol can we afford to drink? Can we afford to eat like kings & queens for an entire week? When you pay for it all up front those decisions are, for the most part, already made. Sort of like a cruise, and we have so enjoyed the two cruises we have been on.

Playa del Carmen and Costa Rica came to mind, we never even considered the Dominican Republic at first. We ended up picking the Dominican Republic largely because of price! Our travel agent convinced us it was beautiful, and for a price tag of $2,000 less than other places we had considered, we felt like bargain hunters in a thrift store. Sort of.

Map courtesy of welcome-dominican-republic.com.

I knew that the Dominican Republic was in the Caribbean. It still is, actually :0). I don’t want to sound like a dummy here (duh, too late), but I’ve never been so good at Geography. I confess I didn’t realize at first that the D.R. is actually connected to Haiti. We’d heard all the stories about how callous the cruise lines were for docking cruise ships close to Haiti so soon after the devastating earthquake. We certainly didn’t want to feel like voyeurs to this tragedy, given that aftershocks had occurred not too long before we booked this trip. However, we were flying into Punta Cana located at the opposite end of the island. What if, OMG, what if another earthquake occurred while we were there? Not to sound callous like the cruise lines, but again, we would be on the opposite end of the island. So I crossed that worry off of my list.

The only worries that remained? What to wear, of course, and getting our 5 collective butts to the airport with all the stuff we needed in time to catch a 7:00 a.m. flight and, it goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway, the plane crashing. I have said a prayer over each and every plane I’ve ever flown in, and also flights that my significant others have taken without me. If I’m traveling on a plane, I must touch the outside of the plane upon boarding and say a silent little prayer before the flight attendant can pry my hand off and direct me to my seat. So, now you know my little ritual. It has worked for me every time…

As every trip must have a beginning, here we are in the beginning (except me, I’m on the other end of the camera), bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 5:00 a.m. boarding the shuttle to the airport.

A little desolate at D/FW Airport at 5:30 a.m.!

We saw this strange object and felt obliged to point it out to the kids. This thing here, kids, is a p-a-y-p-h-o-n-e, and back in the day… I mean, when is the last time you saw one of these things?

On the plane (after said touching-praying ritual described above)…

…and to make Sara happy, here are the goofy ones.

Daniel didn’t get the memo.

and shortly after takeoff…

We were on our way to some fun in the sun! Definitely fun. I’ll fill you in on the sun part soon. Turns out these terms can be mutually exclusive…