My wife, a South American beauty, needs to get sun every year, and no, the local sunbeds will not do. It’s a bit like a flower that needs sun rays to grow and live. Living in a somewhat grey and wet environment like Ireland, similar to Mordor in regards to clouds and rain, is not ideal for a white plumeria flower, like my wife.
The Latina flower (my wife) is the event manager for the family, and therefor in charge of organising the family holidays. In 2006 she planned a trip to the Dominican Republic, Punta Cana, taking place in early December 2006.Punta means Point, or rather a point, or location. Cana is a name used for a type of palm tree and the leaves that have been used for roofing for centuries, in that region.
There are no direct flights to Punta Cana from Dublin, so my wife found some tickets via Paris, flying wife Air France.
Let the adventures begin!
One thing to note about the Air France planes is that they are designed for tight arse French people, so a Scandinavian and South American arse (also known as Lopez) does not exactly fit comfortably into the narrow seat space…and the flight from Paris to Punta Cana is 8 hours. My left butt cheek was well sleep 22 minutes into the flight and I developed a slight limp when bringing the kids to the toilet. Toilets are terriblè small too.
Anyway, traveling with kids under the age of 3 always creates some fears, especially for the fellow passengers. You know, as soon as you board the flight, that the other passengers are somewhat sceptical and apprehensive about this. Their eyes and faces says it all “Oh no…please don’t sit close to me, please, please, please!” Our kids were 1.5 and 2.5 years old and were about to embark on a 18 hour journey; Dublin -> Paris -> Punta Cana (all in one day). God have mercy on us, cause our kids will not have when they get bored and hungry.
Another “interesting” fact about Air France is that they do not imclude infants under the age of 24 months when calculating food for passengers, hence they didn’t have food for my son. But, some people learn VERY quickly, especially when dealing with South American temper and my sons Scandinavian viking anger that erupts when he gets hungry. These little tight arse French stewardesses learn all about customer service, quickly.
The journey out went somewhat smoothly. No scenes or painful moments. Our kids were of course brilliant.
Upon arriving to the International Airport in the Dominican Republic, you have to get a tourist visitor card. This is all done in the impressive airport, queuing in 30 degrees (celcius) – before you get the luggage. We arrived around 19.00 local time, so it was still roasting, and we had to drive approx. 40 minutes with a local “driver” to our hotel. My wife always book our personal driver when traveling abroad, which is a luxury, but excellent. It saves us a lot of hassle with the wannabe drivers and helpers outside the airport, as we were collected from the arrivals lounge.
It was difficult to gage what the country was like, as it was still dark, but it came across as very poor. Perhaps it had something to do with the speed we were going, across gravel roads and speed bumps the size of giant anacondas. But, must villages were completely dark, made up of metal shacks and fireplaces in oil barrels.
We stayed in a 5 star all-inclusive resort with its own private beach. There were 10 different restaurants and when I say all-inclusive, I mean all-inclusive. Even my cigarettes and room service were included, happy days. Alocohol and smokes from 10am onwards, every day, for two weeks. We could even bring home wine from the resort restaurants, to enjoy in the suite.
Staff were super friendly and my son had all the female staff wrapped around his fingers, to much amazement and happiness of his father (me). “I taught you well, my little grasshopper”. The female staff rushed to our son, as soon as we entered a restaurant, lifting and hugging him. When I tried to hug them, they slapped my face, and so did my wife. Where is the justice in that?
- The resort even had a little zoo!
- The pool area was huge and had its own in-the-pool bar
- Breakfast buffet had EVERYTHING you could think of, with a local flavor, and the kids ate loads – so did we
The room we had was like a small apartment, own balcony and view of both swimming pools + the beach. All aminities were within 5 minutes walk.
The beach, wow! Pure white sand, with bar staff servicing guests on quad-bikes. Sitting underneath palm trees, kids playing in the sand, suntanned beach beauty next to me (my wife of course), a cold Caipirinha in my hand and a smoke … what more could I ask for? All-inclusive….ha ha ha…this is life!
As a result, we more or less stayed in the resort for 2 weeks solid. We only ventured outside on a couple of occasions. Once to see the local shopping area outside resort, consisting of a pharmacy, a cafe and 243 souvenir shops. The local people were extremely friendly.
The second time away from the resort we went to an animal park, Animal Adventure Park, driving in a traditional Dominican bus; explosion of colors of red and yellow, and loud reggaeton music – poco loco driver! We spend the day with the animal trainers, touching and holding all kind of animals including: sea lions, monkeys, turtles, parrots, tucan, iguana, stingrays and a giant white tiger.
They had about 10 dogs keeping the tigers under control, somewhat distressing circumstances given that these cats were 500lbs beasts. Ripping these tiny dogs to pieces would be an easy task – and, I got slightly freaked out, when the dogs started to chase something in the bushes behind me, which turned out to be the second white tiger. Last, but not least, I got to hold a white python, reminding most of the male tourists of Salma Hayek in”Dusk till Dawn“. Not that I have a body like Salma Hayek, but because of the white snake of course.
Dominican Republic introduced the family to Reggaeton; reggae mixed with dance rythms. The kids absolutely loved it and went bonkers when it was played in the resort speakers or on the TC in the apartment. My son would start dancing in the middle of the restaurant, to the joy of the female staff who’d dance with him – brilliant! To this day, we still put it on in the house (using our Apple kit of course) and blast the neighbors out, dancing like the Jackson Five. It’s happy music and is great for any party.
After two weeks we were sad having to go home. I still remember how weird it was, seeing palm trees covered with Christmas lights and Christmas tunes played on the speakers, while the sun was blazing. Would we go back? Well beside the minor ticket problem in the airport, any day.