I have not written any posts for more than a month and haven't really been commenting a whole lot either. Bunch of reasons come into play, doing a lot more supply teaching being one of them. As well, husband and I made a rather quick decision to go away for a week some place warm when the requirement for PCR tests was finally dropped in order to return to our own country.
We made the decision to go to Puerto Plata (Dominican Republic) because it is always less expensive than other places, including Punta Cana in the same country. We have been to this area four other times, always during the March Break because that was when we were able to travel due to our professions. This time it was the week before March Break.
We flew out of Toronto with Sunwing airlines. I was more than stressed at the beginning trying to make sure I had dotted every i and crossed every t in terms of all the necessary "paper work" and other things to remember when travelling in this day and age. I say paperwork, but honestly, it is all done on your phone. Heaven help anybody who is not comfortable with cell phones and apps and downloads, etc. We had to create a QR coded document to enter the Dominican Republic (shown at the Toronto airport). We printed it out at home, as well as saved it on our phones. We downloaded the ArriveCan app and started the proceedings of putting in our information before leaving. It was stressed over and over how important it was to use this app and how it would be necessary to return to Canada. Because we are old school, we also printed out our "tickets" which of course are not tickets at all, but pages upon pages of itinerary (which I don't think we showed at all). When we attempted to use the kiosk at the airport in which you slide your passport (honestly, still can't spatially understand how they want you to hold it), it wasn't working properly and did not send the confirmation to my email but a lovely woman helped us and told us to just go stand in line anyway and she helped countless other people as none of the bloody kiosks were working properly. I hope she is paid well. Those small details cause me disproportionate anxiety but we managed to get through and on the plane, not seated together, by the way.
Do you remember when you got food on a plane in return for the huge amount of money you spent to ride the plane? We received a complementary plastic cup of the beverage of our choice (nonalcoholic). Not even a package of cookies, or pretzels. I know I sound (and I am) whiney. Nor were we on a plane which had little screens on which to watch a movie to pass the time. I chewed two chewable gravols and closed my eyes all the while trying not to make physical contact with the "spready outy" man who was sitting beside me. Honestly, just close your legs a tiny bit. One positive was it was an incredibly windy day and the tail winds (I presume??) made for a quicker flight, for which I was very grateful.
Our airport experience in the Dominican was smooth as silk, no problem at all. We boarded the bus to the resort with other travellers, many of whom were dropped off at other resorts close by. The warmth when you enter the airport and walk to your bus is so welcome after being cold for months and months.
When we got to the resort, our check in was also quite effortless and because it was a small resort, we were walked to our little four-storey building which was touted as adults-only. The accommodations were what we expected, having looked online at pictures. The room was smaller than we thought, but perfectly fine for just the two of us. However, it was disconcerting having this stare at us for seven days:
Yup, giant lady in sunglasses. She is placed over a huge thick glass panel which separates the bathroom from the bedroom. Other people also had giant women. One couple we spoke to said their giant lady was holding an apple.
Moving on, the thing that struck me the most in the first couple of days of being there, was how empty the resort was. We have always been used to the great battle over the lounge chairs in the shade, the waking up at 6:00 a.m. to scout out a good seat and stake your claim with a towel, then return to bed for a couple more hours. But here, you could have played "switch your seat" all day long, the choices were endless. Our adults-only section had its own smaller pool with a little bar. I took pictures to send back to our kids to show them how empty it was.
We were the ONLY guests at the pool, and one very bored bartender.
The first full day, we spent time at the main pool. Besides us, there was a young family with children enjoying the water. Here is a picture of more empty lounge chairs.
I just couldn't get over it! However, later in the week, starting on Thursday, more guests arrived and things started to fill up. Due to the lack of guests, and as well as probably just getting back on their feet after Covid pulling the rug out from under them, the resort did not offer any activities or evening shows or exciting food options. We felt a bit bamboozled by the reviews we had read online. I suspect they were written by staff to promote the resort in the hopes of getting more guests. I can say this was the first time that tripe was on offer in the buffet. Tripe. Who the hell eats tripe on their vacation??
The beach was very nice. Much seaweed had been churned up by recent storms, but that wasn't the resort's fault. As well, you could sit anywhere you could choose. Beach vendors (and they are allowed by law) were thick and persistent. We generally never purchase vacation jewelry or have people give us foot massages, so there was a whole lot of "no thank you". Regardless, the wonderful hot breeze at the beach, and being able to look at up this:
was worth it.
In order to return to our homeland, we had to have a rapid antigen test done the day before we left. We were able to have this done in a little ambulance parked outside the resort by a sweet girl who spoke no English. Each test cost $35.00 American. This is an immense savings compared to the close to hundred dollar each PCR tests previously required. Thankfully, there was someone who spoke Spanish in the line behind us. It was done quickly and not altogether accurately (one nostril, barely felt it), but we knew we were going to test negative because we brought rapid tests with us and tested ourselves the night before. I wrote out not one, but two, email addresses to send the results to (again, god help you if you don't have a cell phone) which was good, because they only sent successfully to one of the email addresses.
On the final day (Sunday), we were packed and ready and discovered our flight was delayed by four hours, and then by another chunk of time, until finally we decided, with two other Canadians on the same flight that we would not board the bus to the airport, but would split the cost of a taxi so we wouldn't have to sit for an extended period of time in the airport. I think that was a good idea. It never fails to amaze us, the driving practices of the Dominican people. They are fearless. I witnessed a family of four aboard a small motorcycle (and helmets are few and far between). Lanes on the "highway" are optional and fluid.
At the Dominican airport, we were asked to show our negative test results (on my phone) and pay our $20 American each departure tax (in cash, hmmmm). We boarded the plane home, again not seated together (guess I should have arranged that ahead of time) and I was seated in the very last row next to an incredibly enjoyable person who described himself as a non-binary unicorn and his husband. He made the flight home so interesting and so much fun and I thanked him for it. We enjoyed our complimentary orange juice / tomato juice and told each other our life stories.
Finally, upon landing at midnight? One a.m.? Who knows because it was also the weekend of daylight savings time change, we went through the process of re-entering our country. Apart from showing our passports a couple of times and successfully, for the most part, but it wouldn't take an image of me, leading me to believe I am a vampire, using the kiosk, we never one, NOT ONCE, had to show anything on the ArriveCan app or the leaving the Dominican documentation complete with QR codes, over which I had stressed on our second last day. Both husband and I said, "Are we done?" "Is that it?" "We're through?" So prepared were we to show every declaration and result and address of where we had stayed and plan of action for possible quarantine, and randomly chosen surprise test at the airport that we were shocked.
Finally reunited with our vehicle, we drove the 2 1/2 to 3 hours home, meeting up with dense fog at the end to be greeted by our two cats who had been checked in on by our lovely daughter for the week while we had been away. I think Murphy is even fatter than when we left.
It was a very different holiday than any other that we have taken. I won't go into the whole Covid safety thing, but suffice it to say, the resort did its utmost best to have their staff masked and to clean and sanitize. I was never concerned about their practices. It was lovely to feel warm and to walk about not ensconced in layers and boots. The people who worked there were gracious and kind and Roberto who brought coffee to our table had to be one of the hardest working older gentlemen I've met (and yes, we tipped him well). The bed was king size (bigger than ours at home) and perfectly comfortable. The pina coladas were delicious and their local beer was perfectly acceptable. Being able to eat at a table while looking out to the water and hearing the surf was heavenly.
We are now home, there is still open luggage sitting in the front hall, laundry being done. I still feel "swimmy" as I call it, that sensation of floating, or walking on a boat after the flight home. That always happens. I need to do a grocery run today, sometime. I am glad to be back. It is March Break here, so no supply teaching this week. The cats are very pleased we are back and the chickens too, if chickens are capable of such emotions. To any fellow Canadians who may be thinking of doing any similar travelling, be ready for a lot of time spent on your phone. Happy Tuesday, all.
Glad you had a nice getaway! I guess the week before Spring Break might not be ideal for all the "extras" resorts usually provide because there's not enough tourists there to make the effort financially viable.ReplyDelete
I think they are likely still in recovery mode after having to close for a year. They have had special weekend packages for their own Dominican citizens which probably has helped keep people employed at least.Delete
Glad you got away and had an enjoyable (and warm!) time. But reading through your words, more than once I got a queasy feeling in my stomach fearing that something "bad" was going to come next. We, of course, are in the U.S. so I'm not really sure how our travel restrictions compare to yours as we haven't traveled but rather stayed close to home. Even it was mandatory to cross all the "t"s and dot all the "i"s, and you had to put in more time and angst than necessary, it turned simpler than anticipated. That was good, all in all, and so happy all went well for you. Welcome home!ReplyDelete
Oh I can just imagine feeling that warmth as you walked out of the airport. It sounds delightful, except for all the documentation, apps, tests and whatnot.ReplyDelete
You wrote a great holiday take. Top marks!!
Thank you for that. I found it very interesting. Glad you had a good time. To walk about in warmth would be lovely. I can't cope with the stress of a holiday abroad at the moment.ReplyDelete
You have made it sound fun in spite of all the beaurocracy. Glad you enjoyed it.ReplyDelete
Thanks for sharing your travel experience glad you are home safely.ReplyDelete
Well at least it was hot and you got away. Very brave!ReplyDelete
My very first trip to the Caribbean was to Punta Cana, DR. Reading your words about your arrival, reminded me of that trip. As we disembarked, via stairways the humidity was amazing and we arrived near midnight!ReplyDelete
It would be so lovely to have the resort almost to yourself. The sand and the ocean and the breezes...can you tell it's one of my happy places?
Good to hear about your experiences. I do have a trip planned for later this year and while I have figured out how to get my vaccine info on my phone I've yet to tackle ArriveCan. Quite happy to hear it isn't as difficult as I thought I might be.
Your vacation sounds terrific. The sunshine, warmth, blue sky and tropical sea for swimming surpasses all the aggravating bits by leaps and bounds. Seeing all those empty lounge chairs poolside surprised me too.ReplyDelete
Sounds like you had a lovely time. Sun, warm temperatures and the beach how wonderful.ReplyDelete
How wonderful it all actually happened and was mostly enjoyable.ReplyDelete
Oh, what a great trip! How wonderful that you got a chance to get away and be in a warmer climate. We're hoping to be beach bums next year. This year we'll travel within our borders and head east.ReplyDelete
Wasn`t it good to be able to travel without the March Break crowds. Aren`t you glad you retired last year. (sorry, question mark not working)ReplyDelete
A non-binary unicorn and his husband. LOL LOL LOL I bet he was a hoot.ReplyDelete
After teaching and winter, that break was needed!ReplyDelete
Welcome back!It's good to see you here again. This is fascinating. I really hadn't thought about all the mechanics of flight and travel as fully as one should (though it might be awhile before I'm doing that). It would be so nice to get into the warm and sun after this winter and not being able to travel for a couple of years. And then not to have crowds. All good. Love your home-bound seatmates! That would be fun.ReplyDelete
An almost empty resort sounds like the best holiday ever. And a non-binary unicorn to top it off!ReplyDelete
It sounds like you had a delightful time and I am so happy it went off without a hitch. I haven't flown since Covid so am looking forward to that in June of this year...kind of looking forward and kind of dreading it. lol. Glad your kitties were happy to see you! xo DianaReplyDelete
A vacation to a warm sunny place sounds so good. The palm trees and blue skies are beautiful. Our country neighbors just got home from two weeks in Jamaca. Haven't talked to her yet. I can't imagine looking at that giant size woman in the room. That's unusual, isn't it? :) Glad you're home.ReplyDelete
Your holiday sounded delightful, something I'd love.. warm sun, sparkling water and food prepared for us. Days of joy and balmy weather.ReplyDelete
How lovely to get away to someplace warm! The big woman in your room - now that's just creepy. So surprised they'd choose something like that, of all things.ReplyDelete
When we traveled to the Bahamas last month we had to go through lots of protocols too; it was very daunting and kind of stressful.ReplyDelete
So funny about the art work in the hotel room. I'm happy you both had some sunshine and of course, Pina coladas don't hurt either!
I have not been on line lately either, so I was pleased as punch to read your entry and about your trip.ReplyDelete
Nice to read something from you again, Jenn. Your break sounds much needed, even though a little stressful here and there. We wanted to go overseas this year, but I think we'll once again be staying stateside. Just too much uncertainty about travel still. But you were brave enough to actually do it, so kudos to you!ReplyDelete