Friday, September 23, 2016
Sand, Sun, and Fun - The Dominican Republic, Part 2
It’s a balmy 80 degrees. A meringue duo is playing in the plaza’s gazebo. Cocktails are being served to the guests at the tables spread across the square. At 9:30, the resort’s guests make their way into the adjacent theater. It’s showtime at the Riu.
After the winners of the day’s activities are given their certificates and the entertainment staff has prepped and the cocktails served, the show begins. An army of bodyguards marches to the stage and Michael Jackson…or at least a reasonable facsimile…takes the stage for an hour of dancing and lip-synching.
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A good night’s sleep in our room and we start the cycle all over again…
It’s a bit cloudy as we hit our time to go to the pool. We head in and as the sprinkles start the guests run away. Hell, a little sprinkle isn’t going to stop us so we get our spot, put out the inner tube, insert Tim and jump into the pool.
The rain lets up but a few minutes later it starts again. Tim and I head to the swim up bar. Letty joins us.
Once there, the sprinkle turns to a downpour as we take refuge under the small overhang of the bar. As the deluge continues on, the unneeded extra bartenders are called to relocate to the lobby bar, fashioning trash bags as raincoats to run across the open area.
After a half hour riding the storm out and seeing the heavy clouds offshore, we decide that the next break in the weather, we’re getting out.
An easing of the rain to a steady sprinkle gives us our chance. Usually, there is a strong man nearby that we can draft to help me lift Tim out of the pool. Not today…we’re the last ones there. It’s mainly just me, with a little help from Letty.
It’s tough, but we manage to do it.
Back in the room, we decide this is a good time for Tim’s shower as we have given up on the pool for the day. After dressing, we decide to explore.
Next to the hotel’s spa is Colonial Street, a small shopping area. While Letty looks at bikinis, the cigar seller strikes up a conversation with me. I ask if he sells Cuban cigars and he does. He clips one, hands it to me, and lights it up…it’s my sample.
Of course, next comes the hard sell, trying to sell me boxes of Habanos to take home but I keep telling him I can’t. Not Cubans at least with the embargo in place.
It’s a tough back and forth for a few minutes, then Letty comes over with her fluent Spanish to help me out. I finally get through to him that I just wanted to try a Cuban and we settle on some local Domincan cigars to take home. The large Cuban is my gift to keep smoking so I don’t have to worry about breaking any laws.
We have dinner at the Italian restaurant tonight. White fish and creamy chicken are our entrees but the appetizer bar ahead of time can be a meal in itself.
Salad, pizza, lasagna, spaghetti, cheese, are just a few of the items spread out there.
The next day, it’s time to hit the beach. We wander next door to the Riu Palace Macao where the paved beach path takes a detour close the water where we can get some lounge chairs and swim in the warm, Caribbean waters.
It’s not long before a waiter comes by and plies us with drinks from the beach bar.
There’s an old shipwreck just offshore, I ask him what the story is. He doesn’t know the whole saga except that the ship crashed about 30 years ago and has been slowly breaking up on the reef every since. (A quick search reveals the fact that it was a Russian freighter called the Astron that crashed in a storm in 1978.)
We’re in front of the Macao, which holds the area’s casino. Tim wants to go see it. It’s a small place, surrounded by ongoing construction, and we’re the only 3 people in there aside from the staff. Tim and I wouldn’t mind playing some roulette but we’re told the tables don’t open until the evening. Oh well, it’s not the most lively place so we leave and head back to our hotel.
This evening would be spent in the Riu’s sports bar where we watch local Dominican League baseball (or beisbol, as it is here) on the large flat screen cheering on the action with the bartenders. Want to make instant friends with any local here? If you’re a baseball fan, just start talking about the sport…they love it here as Europeans do soccer.
The next night was a fabulous show featuring a lot of Dominican folk music and dancing.
Alas, the time has come to go home. One last drink in the lobby bar with our bags and our taxi driver finds us. It’s back to Punta Cana International Airport where one of the workers escorts us through all the necessary checkpoints before boarding our plane to Atlanta.
It’s Thanksgiving Day and both planes home are half-full. We are able to upgrade to business class and stretch out, looking back on a great week on that melancholy flight home.
Copyright 2011 – Darryl Musick
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