Wednesday, December 14, 2016

R&R in the DR

Summer in December
Sun, warm breezes, humidity, crystal clear water, a white beach--how different than Lubbock in early December! But that's what I treated myself to last week when I used up one of my timeshare weeks to simply hang out and not worry about a thing in the world. It's not really that I needed  a vacation after just having returned from Europe a few days before my departure for the Dominican Republic, but thanks to the clavicle break (mostly mended by now) things have been a bit chaotic with the timing of trips. I could have cancelled this one, but then, why?
One of two large pools, with swim-up bars, of course.
H10 has a property in Punta Cana, on the east side of the island of Hispaniola, which the DR shares with Haiti. I cashed in about 100,000 miles for a first-class flight that took all day and arrived late on a Friday afternoon at PUJ. Forty-five minutes later my shuttle driver dropped me off in the resort, and by the time night fell I was sipping the first pina colada.
Beach butler service, please
Life in an all-inclusive is not for the faint of heart. You have to be able to stomach a veritable assault on your body in the form of too much food and too much booze. Sure, the days of buffet-style only resorts are pretty much passe, and all the better ones now offer "specialty restaurants" where one can eat a la carte. But while that does help limit the calorie intake somewhat, it's still not easy....
Tropical storms are a sight--and sound--to behold
Thanks to night-time rains some streets made for some interesting riding
To combat ballooning beyond the point of no return I had taken a bike along. The weather forecast had threatened much more rain than actually manifested itself, and therefore I had chosen to take the old Bike Friday along, which runs with a single chainring and about six or seven speeds in the back. It's seen its fair share of rough trips and shows the scars, so it's ideal for a trip that promises some equipment abuse. The fact that I didn't even take bike shoes or shorts along but rather rode just in Patagonia baggies and sneakers tells you how little I expected to ride. But I wanted to have a way to escape from the "compound," and overall I rode 83 miles while down there, some of it quite enjoyable as I found the old north/south highway that's now decommissioned but still is used by very light local traffic.
This big ol' crater could have swallowed the Bike Friday whole
Bike Friday and banana trees
Unfortunately it was not mango season
Litter is ubiquitous along the roads; dumping seems to be a national pastime
The old highway lies pretty much abandoned, with the jungle encroaching
Obviously, most of my time I spent on the beach or by the very nice pools. Morning reading sessions started just minutes after sunrise at 7 a.m., with a nice cup of joe and a prime spot overlooking the beautiful sea. I'd have a light, heavy-on-the-tropical-fruit breakfast in the H10 Privilege Lounge, to which I have access as a TS owner. Nice. Ownership also means a somewhat private beach area with waiter service and comfortable chaise lounges in a prime location to watch the beach walkers filter by. The H10's beach has suffered some pretty big hits from storms in recent years, and they have to struggle not to lose even more sand; the pictures show some of the stopgap measures management has taken to preserve what is left.
Massive reinforcements are supposed to keep the beach from total destruction
Continued erosion by the sea is going to take out these palm trees sooner or later
My rides usually took place before noon, for an hour-and-a-half or two. After returning, the routine consisted of cooling off in the wonderfully warm Caribbean, followed by a refreshing round in the pool and a nice drink to finish the morning. Then read, lounge, read more, maybe have some lunch, and watch the Eastern European babes that flood this part of the world, accompanied by Speedo-wearing beer-bellied dudes 20 years their age, with lots of gold chains. In all seriousness, I would guess that during the time of my stay at least half of the guests were from Russia, the Czech Republic, and some other Slavic countries. Quite a few Canadians and Italians were also noticeable, but relatively few visitors from the US, who generally are easy to spot because they can be almost as obnoxious as the Brits .... Anyhow, the sightseeing was quite delectable, but I didn't want to cause any international incidents, of course, and so I didn't try to speak Russian.

Evening comes early in the DR at this time of the year, and pina coladas were replaced with G&Ts while enjoying the last daylight at the Lounge before heading for the piano bar, dinner, maybe the entertainment in the theater, and then a final toddie in the main bar. You see, a week of this will destroy anybody.
This does beat the hell out of Lubbock--any time of year, not just in December
I had a really good time and enjoyed a few nice conversations with various tourists from different places, but mainly I was by myself, which suited me just fine. And after a week of all this I was ready to head back home, even if now I question whether I was out of my mind when considering that the low is supposed to hit 12 F in a few nights. Maybe a good time to test whether memories can keep one warm....


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