After a long wait in the airport, we finally set off for our honeymoon. We had an eight hour flight from Vancouver to the Dominican Republic. The flight didn't really seem all that long to me, 'cause I had already taken the bus to Saskatchewan and back twice, at 24 hours each way and had also taken the bus to Montreal and back, which was a 72 hour ride each way. Armondo, on the other hand was not used to sitting for such a long stretch in such a confined area and swore that the next tropical trip we were going on was going to be to the much closer location of Mexico!
It was interesting passing over most of the United States though. The sky was clear all night so we were able to see all the tiny little towns and huge cities diagonally across the country. We were both surprised to see just how populated America really was, as there wasn't really much dark space between the lights of all the cities. In Canada, there really are only maybe three to six large cities per province (if you don't count the sub-burbs), with lots of empty space between.
When we arrived in the Dom. the humidity and heat hit us like a wave as we stepped off the plane! Neither one of us had ever experienced anything like that before. We walked straight off of the plane onto the tarmac, and were amused by all the locals (airport employees) who were running around wearing plastic ponchos and trying to duck the rain which to us, seemed almost non-existent, and was almost like a mist as opposed to real rain.
The airport was quite neat. It was open on all sides, and pretty much just consisted of a palm-leaf thatched roof held by large wooden poles. We were all greeted by locals in traditional dress and they took each couple's picture as we walked through. (Like you see on TV when people arrive in Hawaii, but we didn't get Leis.)
Then there was the bus ride! Ha! We all got onto the bus and waited about 45 minutes before even leaving for our hotel. Then our "20 minute" ride to the resort became two and a half hours as the driver and energetic "tour guide" dragged the trip out by stopping a couple of times for road-side bathroom breaks and beer runs. Armondo and I were instantly annoyed, and not overly enthusiastic about the "party bus" atmosphere. We just wanted to get to the resort and relax. I can say that we were both glad that it was dark on the drive there though, 'cause we could tell that the roads were very crazy and dangerous!
The actual resort was pretty nice. There was a large common area that consisted of an open air lobby and restaurant and theatre. There was also a casino, which was open to the public, and a small night club and pizza place. There were a few a la carte restaurants as well, and a gym. The pool was very nice, though all the "rules" sort of annoyed me as you couldn't swim when it was raining (which was most of the trip) or after 7pm. There were open bars everywhere, too, but because Armondo doesn't drink, and it was OUR honeymoon, I kept my drinking to a minimum. (Which I'm SOO not going to do the next time we do a trip like that ;) )
Our days pretty much consisted of hanging out the beach and doing little bits of snorkeling. We spent the hottest hours of the days in our air conditioned room, and the evenings walking around, eating pizza and dancing in the little club. I spent way too much time chasing lizards, frogs and stray cats around as well. I'm such a little kid that way! I love animals!
We had fun beach combing as well, and poked at the sea urchins and such. The swimming was really nice too. The water was so blue-green and beautiful. It was way saltier than the ocean here, so it was easy to float, and the water was always nice and warm, even in the middle of the night. On one of the days, Armondo and I decided that because it was so easy to float that we'd take a long swim across the bay to a man-made island/barrier thing that we had visited the day before by row boat.
The ATV trip we took was really fun. There were probably four couples, a singleton and the guide. Each couple shared an ATV. Out of all of the couples, I was the only female who ever drove! None of the other women got turns on their ATVs. I don't know if the guys were playing macho, or if the women just weren't interested, but I had a BLAST as we went back-roading through the country and driving through mud pits and such. (And, I have to admit that I was a MUCH better driver than Armondo, but that rings true for driving cars too. We just won't talk about my parking abilities!)
During the ATV trip, we went to a few little shanty towns where all the kids gathered around and begged for candy. Somehow, everyone we were with knew that they'd be asking for candy, and had some on hand, but us naive travelers had no idea. In one town, we stopped for awhile, where I spent time chasing more animals around (this time baby goats and funny looking ducks). It was in that town that I made friends with an old guy who told me (through someone translating) that I was welcome there any time. I'm not sure what made him warm up to me, 'cause I was acting like a dork chasing their livestock around, and I didn't give them any gifts, but I felt pretty honoured to be welcomed like that!
I really wanted to try to cut open one myself, and the guide told me if I gave the guys some money, that they'd pick a coconut for me and they'd teach me how to do it. Again, not knowing what we were supposed to do, we didn't bring money with us! I guess they took pity on me, or thought I was cute, or something, 'cause they decided to show me how anyway. It was pretty fun trying, but I could not, for the life of me, chop open that coconut! All in all, the ATV trip was pretty awesome, and I almost wanted to pay to go on the trip a second time!Me posing during one of the stops on the ATV tour. I don't think I'll ever be able to fit that shirt again!
I couldn't leave the Caribbean without getting my hair done in little braids, so I paid a few dollars a braid and got my really short hair done in about eight tiny braids. It was during my chat with the hair girl that I started to figure out how poorly the people were treated at the resort. This girl, when she did a full head, charged about $50 US, and the hotel would get $45 of it! So, after paying for my hair, I went back to the hotel room, got some more money and tried to secretly give her a tip. I really hope she was able to keep the money! Later, we found out that the entertainers worked 12 hours a day and got paid a miniscule amount of money at the end of the month (can't remember exactly anymore, but it was completely shocking), and they didn't really get breaks during the day, except for one meal break. And these people were actually getting paid and treated WELL compared to the majority of the population! And they were happy! In fact, all the people everywhere were happy. In the little villages we saw when we went on the ATV tour, and the people on the beaches, the people we saw dancing in the street in the middle of the night on the way to the resort... everyone seemed happy! It really put "wealth" into perspective for me!