Fun in the Sun

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Good day all. When you last left your hero, he had just arrived in Puerto Plata and was looking forward to a week of food, drink, sun and fun. Sadly, your hero has just realized he’s getting waaay behind in his blog posts, and may have to shorten a few posts in order to play catch-up! After all, we’ve got the Dominican to write about, a winter poker night in Calabogie, not to mention a crazy weekend of double races! Whew. Given that on average it takes me an hour just to write one posts, well, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out I’ve got to speed things up. I wonder how much it would cost me to get a ghost writer to do my posts for me? After all, my plan is that once I’m older, I’ll just dump all my blog posts to a ghost writer who’ll then write my best-selling autobiography 😉 Of course, I’ll have to do a few more interesting things first, but I’m working on it! Anyway, back to the beautiful Blue Bay Getaway in Puerto Plata (Playa Dorado to be exact). Let’s see just what I did to pass those lonely days.

Well, for starters, I put my bike back together! First thing on Sunday morning, after taking a 4-5 hour snooze, I set to work re-assembling my bike for some good training. I also grabbed my first breakfast, which was quite delicious. I just love not having to cook or clean up. It gave me all sorts of time to just do what I wanted to. I imagine that’s what being filthy rich must be like. Maybe that’s why we all like taking all-inclusive holidays. It really makes us feel important (not that rich people are important, mind you). It might also explain why some people pick up superiority complexes while at resorts! Ever notice how some people are just ultra-picky and rude to the staff at those places? Well, not me, I tidied up my own room every day, and was always happy to walk around greeting all the groundskeepers and cleaning staff (and bartenders of course!). Once I got my bike put together, I went on a preliminary test ride, just around the complex. Our resort was one of several on a strip at Playa Dorado. It’s gated on both ends, and is about 2.5km in length. Perfect, that means I had a great running spot as well.

That’s what I did next, I rolled my bike back to my room (garnering a few looks, more on that later), changed into my running gear, and had a muggy 30 minute run. I just did the round-trip 5km. I repeated that run every single day, usually around 4 or 5 in the afternoon. Warm, but not blazing, although still pretty energy-sapping with the humidity. Later on the first day, I was slated to attend a welcome meeting to hear all about the wonderful excursions they’re always trying to force you into at these places. I hadn’t planned on doing any, but hey, what else would I do all week. It was actually a pretty good little meeting, where they gave us a booklet with all the various activities. A few caught my eye, including a full day catamaran trip to Sosua for snorkeling and sailing, and a few eco-tours. In the end, after chatting with the reps a bit, I decided not to do the other ‘once in a lifetime’ trips, as I thought they’d be too much driving for my taste. Besides, I planned to see ‘the real Dominican’ on my own by bike. Of course, they tried to convince me I shouldn’t try biking on my own outside the complex (on account of crazy drivers), but I was determined to. After all, I’ve biked in pretty hairy situations before.

After a little more talking, I was also convinced reluctantly to sign up for the ‘Caliente Night’. This was a night out organized by Go Travel Direct on an old school bus, converted with a thatched roof and a bar at the front, with free-flowing rum served by the Go Travel reps all night. I’ll post more details on that on another post. Come to think of it, I’ll also post on the catamaran separately. The idea of the night out was that I’d get to meet some of the other travelers early in the trip, and hopefully have some folks to hang out with a bit. That trip was on Monday night, and the Catamaran trip was all day Wednesday. Those were my only booked trips.

The Sunday weather was not very promising, after having seen a bit of rain early in the morning, and cloudy skies most of the day. That wasn’t about to dampen my spirits though. After the welcome meeting, I put on my swim stuff, and hit the ocean for a nice 2k swim. I only did that once more during the week. To get to the beach was a neat walkway that went through the jungle a little bit. This really gave our resort a very private feel to it. I guess they did that in order to highlight the fact that we were ‘adults only’. You couldn’t see any other resorts from our property either. Only once you were on the beach could you tell that we were totally on resort row. At any rate, the beach was pretty nice. Relatively nice sand stretching probably a couple kilometers end to end. One day I walked the length. The vendors were also quite unobtrusive. If you didn’t want anything, they wouldn’t hound you, but if you were interested, they were quite friendly and would chat you up for a while as you browsed. Of course, I never bought anything, but one day while sunning myself (my feeble attempt at gathering proof I was in the sun for a week!), I was entertained by watching one vendor work his magic for over an hour and a half. It was far more interesting than reality TV… it was reality! The drama as he spoke of his hungry, needy kids. His feigned anger at the low-ball prices tourists tried on him. It was pure magic. It captivated me that’s for sure 😉

After my dip in the pond, I hurried back to my room, changed into my workout clothes, and sauntered over to check out the gym. If you’re keeping track, it’s day 1, and I’ve biked, ran, swam, and now was heading to work out. Needless to say, that didn’t keep up all week! The gym was small, not very well equipped, but pleasantly chilled. I only used it twice all week. The best part was in the area where the gym was, there was another bar (the hideaway bar), and a small pool. This could be called the ‘quiet’ part of the resort, and although I didn’t hang out there, a lot of other people discovered it, and spent time there, away from the ‘crazy, sexy fun’ games at the main pool!

I had another great meal at the buffet. I was pretty impressed with the food they had on offer down there. It was of pretty good quality, and flavorful! If there was one complaint that I would have, it would be the service. It was like pulling teeth sometimes just to get water. Also, if a tray was empty in the buffet, it would sometimes take quite a while before someone clued in and replaced it. However, since I was never in any real rush, that was fine with me. Soon enough, I’d met an Ottawa couple that were nice enough to let me sit with them for meals. I had quite a few meals with them throughout the week. The exception were the a la carte meals, and after I’d met a few more people. I booked my a la cartes right away, in order to make sure I got to try them all. As such, on Tuesday night, I had booked myself at the beachside grill. The only worrisome part for me was eating all by myself. Being a big boy, I didn’t concern myself too much with that. I got to the grill, and after being asked ‘how many?’, was shown to my intimate table for one :-). The menu had a number of tasty options, and I ordered. As I sat there waiting, a couple of girls showed up and were shown to their table. Well, it didn’t take long for me to decide that I’d rather dine with a couple ladies than alone. I introduced myself to Penelope and Melissa, who let me join them. They were from Montreal, and were down alone. Yay! New friends that were my age to hang out with. You’ll see them in a number of pictures, and I spent a lot of meals with them for the rest of the week. We’d also typically go to the nightly entertainment together. Basically, I hung out alone during the days, then met up with them (and a few others that I met) for the night fun.

Now, speaking of the entertainment, as would be expected, this resort had an ‘animation’ team whose job it was to entertain us all week, be it poolside, beachside, and culminating in a nightly show. They did a pretty good job, and most of the time, the show was at least mildly entertaining. Some of the highlights were the live bands that came on site to play, as well as the night there was a guy who ate a light bulb, walked on broken glass, laid on a bed of nails, and finally, included me in his show! Yup, for a few times, he picked up tables with his mouth and carried them around (up to 3 stacked!). Then, the animators picked me to come up on stage a second time (earlier, I had stood on his back with 3 other people while he was on the bed of nails). This time this big guy picked me up by my belt… with his teeth! He carried me from the back to the front of the stage. Crazy. Oh yeah, and did I mention that he was also a fire-breather! Yup, that was definitely the best night.

We also had a ‘sexy casino’ night where I was forced down to my underwear just to get money to gamble with! There are a few shots of that night online. There was also a karaoke night, and a few other shows. All in all, it was a good way to finish off the day. A few cuba libre fuerte’s, some good laughs, then whatever I could come up with to do into the wee hours. As most of you know, I’m really more of a night person than a morning person, so I would generally stay up pretty late. Several nights were 3am nights! A couple nights I went out to the disco next door. Another night, the casino next to the resort, and of course one night was the pub crawl. Mostly, I’d go out for a bit, then end up at the beach bar with the guys from Montreal, or just grab a drink and sit on the beach, gazing at the stars and listening to the waves roll up on the beach. Hey, it was exactly what I wanted to do!

All this is not to say that I didn’t squeeze in some good exercise during the days though. Au contraire. Generally speaking, I would at a minimum go running, do a bit of biking, and do something in the water. Three of the afternoons were spent paddling around in a kayak for an hour. I would paddle straight out from the beach in search of the bigger waves that were just offshore a bit. One day, the swells were probably 5 or 6 feet high. That was pretty fun! Hmm, what else could I talk about in regards to the daily grind in the Dominican? Oh yeah, I suppose I could write about biking in the Dominican. Nah! I’ll put that in a separate post, this one’s getting too long ;-). That’s about all I feel like writing about at this point for the daily stuff. The resort was fun, I made some good friends, the food was good, the weather better (after the first day, it was cloudless skies and 32+ deg. Celsius every day! If you want to hear more about the trip specifically, let me know. Otherwise, stay tuned for a post on biking, a post on the night out, and a post on the catamaran tour.

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