Feliz Navidad! Our Dominican Republic Trip

We’re back from our Dominican vacation… what an adventure. I don’t think I’ll actually blog about the entire trip, although I expect Reid will. Here are my personal highlights:

– Some really incredible beaches! One in particular: Playa Rincon, was absolutely gorgeous. Huge long beach, difficult to access, and as a result, very few people about. We saved this for our last day, on the 24th
– Speaking Spanish. I love Spanish. I had been practising for a month, and I was doing pretty well – the first few days, anyway. I lost some of it by the end of the week because I had stopped practising!
– The market: crazy place. Lots of little stalls, stuff strewn about, hustle, bussle. Motor bikes all over – in each others way. Tons of stuff all about. Whole chickens piled high. Pick up trucks full of oranges and pineapples (yum!!)
– Weather: hot and humid. I love hot and humid. Ok, maybe it was a little too humid, but that was ok. Great stuff! Rain would only last about an hour, and then it was all sunshine!
– Reid driving. So it wasn’t quite as bad as Rome, but it was close. Rome and the Dominican were the only times I appreciated Reid’s driving. I wouldn’t dare try driving in either place. (And yes, Reid, despite freaking out so many times: “Slow down!!!”, you were actually a pretty good driver)
– The culture: everything wasn’t all tidy and neat. Construction half started, and never finished (like the bridge to nowhere: a bridge that went from the mainland to a couple of useless islands, and was intended to go further but they never got around to finishing it). Yes, I like this. No “prim and proper” here.

There were some downs, though:
– The first night: car broke down at 11pm in the middle of nowhere, an hour into our 3-hour drive to the place we were staying. A tiny bar across the road that has no phone. A German ex-pat who speaks a little English, tells us we’ve put gasoline into our diesel pickup truck. Tells me about a nice mechanic he knows, and brings me along on the back of his motorbike. Reid and the kids worried – but the mechanic is a wonderful fellow and tows our car (with rope) to his garage, where he locks it up for the night. No hotels around, so he lets us sleep in the room above his garage: Ronnie and I on a little single bed, Michael on a couch only a bit too short for him, and Reid on an air mattress on the floor. The mechanic comes in early the next day (Sunday), fixes our car and we’re on our way by 10 am. Absolutely lovely person.
– Unfortunately, the above experience ruins things for Michael. OK, so I did expect a sullen teenager, but I think it was a little too much for him, and he didn’t really enjoy the rest of the trip.
– Impossible to get a good night’s sleep: incredibly loud music from the disco a half mile away that goes on until 4am almost every night. To be replaced by roosters calling as soon as they’re done. The only night the music stopped early, we were kept awake by a barking dog outside our house. Reid eventually grew tired of it, went out, and dumped some water on it. Silence. (Well, except for the *#$(#& roosters)
– Bugs. Lots of them. And since the houses aren’t air tight, and there are no screens, there’s nothing keeping them out. Tons of mosquitos, but they’re tiny, and don’t seem to itch anything like the ones in Canada do. I suppose this wasn’t much of a problem for Reid and I, but the kids were a bit freaked by it. And Ronnie’s legs were an entire mass of bites (he swells up more than most people)
– Avis. Stupid Avis. Doesn’t have the car we ordered. Gives us a diesel pickup truck (have to throw the luggage in the back). Doesn’t tell us it’s diesel. (Although there’s huge stickers on the gas tank, which the gas attendant seemed to ignore). And they also don’t bother to tell us about the little chip on the key chain which “unlocks” the engine. It shouldn’t get wet. But we don’t realize this until Reid goes swimming with it in his pocket (for safe keeping), and now the damn truck won’t start and we loose a day waiting around for a mechanic who doesn’t show up. But I drove them nuts until they agreed to drive a new car out to us the following day: the Subaru Forester we had originally wanted.

All in all, I think I would go again. I preferred the Dominican to Cuba, but perhaps this was because of the resort we stayed at. I don’t think Michael will want to go again, and I doubt we’d stay at the same place. But if I had the money, I’d buy property there and visit a few times a year.