Aloha and Magnifico were the words to know. I don’t splurge much, but glad I did for this trip. It was the tip of the iceberg to come back to some changes and allowed me some much needed rest and relaxation. October has tended to bring about change for me over the last few years and this year rings no different. The trip allowed me to get my first stamp in my passport. Yep, that is right. It was my first trip out of the country. I believe it is an experience everyone should aim for, just to know and see what is out there. I wrote before about pampering yourself and this is one of those things.
The trip was booked at almost a year in advance which made it affordable to be able to pay out over time. It was booked through a travel agency to ensure that all was legit and would be provided. I went to the all-inclusive route as it seemed most cost efficient. I must say to travel like this takes a bit out of you. You spend your first and last day traveling most the day. The day I left, my flight left at 7 AM had plane change in Charlotte for about an hour and we landed in Punta Cana at 3:15 PM. The flight back was at 2 PM and stopped and changed planes in Miami and we made it home at 8:30 PM. I will say that going through Customs was not like I thought it would be. I guess I can say that as I am pretty by the book and was pretty safe on what I brought back with me. The travel agency set up for travel to and from the resort from the airport which was very helpful.
Most of the population was very helpful, spoke English as a second language, and smiled most of the time. I exited the plane once we landed and the heat there was different then it is here. The place is just a site to see. The airport had an area where you could exchange money for Pesos which is their currency there. They do warn you that it is cheaper to do the exchange at the airport due to them not charging a commission fee. They give you a form that verifies the conversion and where the exchange took place. The amount of the Peso to dollar conversion changes daily, not sure I understand how or why that is and didn’t get a chance to discuss it with anyone. When I arrived it was 37 Pesos to 1 dollar and during the days I was there it varied from 45 to 47, etc.
The all-inclusive resort that I stayed at was called Breathless, it was an all adult resort. It was beautiful and the room had a walk out patio with a swim up pool in front as well as a Jacuzzi on the balcony. The room had vibrant colors like orange and green in the colors in the room. The room came stocked with a mini bar that had Coke, Sprite, Fanta, Dos Eques in it. They offered 5 different restaurant’s and had room service that was available 24 hours a day. I was a little disappointed in the fact that all of them served American food. They don’t quite do American food the same way we do. I was hoping to get a taste of the Dominican food while there. However, it was all included with drinks and entertainment offered on the resort grounds. The resort grounds offered entertainment on the grounds with live music to different shows ranging from Belly Dancing to Sensuality Shows. The resort ended at the beach. So… depending on what you wanted to do, you really didn’t have to leave the resort to enjoy yourself.
Along the way, I learned that they prefer to be tipped in American money versus their currency. I found that odd, outside of the fact that US money is worth more. I would say that some just about frowned when given a tip in Pesos. They never asked for American money, but someone mentioned that to me. Some were very friendly and others seemed like they could care less if Americans came back. I thought this was odd as so many areas seemed to be run down or thriving due to the resorts and excursions that are bringing money to their country. The people there were beautiful and ranged from all shades and eye colors. Many handsome men and their accent just added to that.
They offer a ton of excursions that would satisfy anyone. They all seemed to be very cost effective. They offered multiple activities and being gone for a few hours out of the day. They offered designated drivers that made it clear who was picking you up and did cut down on confusion. One that I tried was called Ocean Spa. It was $154.00 for a 3 hour Ocean Spa literally. When we arrived we were able to have a fish eating pedicure which felt like someone was tickling your feet. They gave you a brochure to read on this while you are in process. The fish don’t have teeth, so you just feel a suction feeling. We had a small yoga class to start the relaxation process. The tour then offered a detox bath for your feet and a sheet and a person to read the color and flakes of your water. This was interesting to see as your water starts to change colors, you don’t know if you feel embarrassed or just try and relax. Heck, I figured no one knew me and we are all there doing the same thing so I was just going to take it all in. It went on to take you on a float in the ocean for about 20 minutes to relax and enjoy the water. Next was a massage and a body scrub followed by a quick shower and then to enjoy lunch while watching people swim with sting rays and sharks. Yep, I said sharks. I don’t know about yall, but I had never heard of friendly sharks. I will say they weren’t great whites, so maybe that was it. I can’t say if I would have been able to do it. Lol. After lunch, we were on the ocean for a while before returning. Needlessly to say, I was more than relaxed when this was done. I was no good after this, lol. I was like we need this in Texas and I am shocked no one has it going or maybe we do and I just don’t know. The next one I tried was a Cigar, Rum, Coffee/Chocolate tour. This was one superb as well. The cigar tour talked about the history of cigars, the difference between Dominican and Cuban cigars, and why you can’t come back in the states with Cuban cigars. The rum portion provided more options than I had ever seen in Rum. It was very tasty and the tour offered tasting in shot glasses. The coffee/chocolate tour had different flavor coffee liqueurs and chocolate. I don’t recall every making it to the chocolate part as I got side tracked with trying the tea and the looking at the natural coco butters, lip balms, etc. I couldn’t resist getting a few things from this tour *wink*
One thing to keep in mind if you decide to travel here is to make sure anything you plan to bring back is allowed. Things as simple as the sand and sea shells are not allowed back in the States. Many souvenir shops sold hats or baskets that were nice to look at and use while there, but depending on what they were made of, they were not able to be brought back due to certain regulations. Our travel agent handler at the resort explained this being a concern due to different bacteria that lives there and is on live and non-live cultures.
Punta Cana is known for its drink called Mamma Juana. It is said to be an aphrodisiac and very strong. I had to try it while I was there. They served it in a tall shot glass and when I say I had to sip it, I had to sip it. It was pretty potent. I didn’t feel the aphrodisiac characteristics afterward, but it was nice to try something from their culture.
All in all, it was a good trip. Had a few run in with people coming in the room that weren’t supposed to be there, but after all maybe that is why they put a safe in your room that only you have a code to. Once incident was security who later found out he was looking for someone and the other incident was apparently part of their protocol that they forgot to mention. I had a blast and was able to reflect and clear my head. It was a great first experience out of the country and I know what to expect the next round.