I went from loving the coral reefs and soft-as-silk sand of the Dominican Republic to being indifferent toward the swarms of holiday tourists and all-inclusive eyesores of resorts to absolutely hating the place thanks to the lack of electricity and water (not just hot water, but NO WATER AT ALL) to being content with my time spent in Punta Cana. That’s a lot of thoughts, feelings, emotions for a mere five days.
I guess I really shouldn’t complain about the crappy service (“sorry, all of our reservations for every restaurant here are booked for the next two weeks;” “that’s OK! Who needs food? Food is for weaklings and babies”) when I was only paying $72 a night, all food and alcohol included (well, I guess not really food seeing as I never was quite able to get a reservation) at a four-star resort, the Barcelo Premium. Disclaimer: Four stars in the DR are like two and a half in the USofA, just FYI.
You may remember when I asked you, dear readers, where I should go for this very trip. Only one of you responded: Sorry, John, I couldn’t find a way to spend $1000 in Starkville, Mississippi (which, by the way, one reader responded! One! Really, people! Lurkers delurk in times of need, por favor. I know there are, on average, 40 of you visiting this site a day – thanks Google Analytics! – so help a sista when she cries out in desperation!). In the end, I opted for the Dominican Republic. Obviously. Why? Well, I’m asking myself that very question now. Mainly because I had to complete the travel before Christmas, had less than one week to book the ticket in advance, and did a quick airfare search on St. Kitts, Grenada, Bonaire, Honduras, Nicaragua – basically every destination with a major airport in the Caribbean, Central and South America. Turns out the only places I could afford on the budget Real Simple gave me was the Bahamas, Grand Caymans and Dominican Republic. Seeing as I’d been to the first two, obviously I opted for the latter.
And it wasn’t terrible. Actually, the beach and ocean were quite stunning. It was just the whole set-up and clientele really, that had me turning up my nose. Sure, I would have been in heaven had I been 18 and on Spring Break, but now? No thanks. Or perhaps I’ve just become a travel snob in my “old age” (though I think it’s just the former).
The rooms weren’t anything to write home about, though clean enough, and the pool and common areas were actually quite beautiful. The food, however, was simply inedible, and I probably lost five pounds in the time I was there (not that I’m complaining; I’m sure I’ll eat that back over Christmas).
Real Simple sent down a photographer, Greg Kessler, on the third day, and I was more than happy to have company. I’d already gone diving (though my initial foray into SCUBA in the Maldives will forever taint my diving experience, as I can’t imagine anywhere else being more beautiful), but Greg joined me in horseback riding and muddin’ in dune buggies (So! Much! Fun!). For the adventure sports and athletic side of things, the vacation was perfect. But will I be making a return trip to the DR anytime soon? Most likely not.
That cave wall carving is really amazing – it looks just like a small black boy!