Punta Cana

 

Friday Morning

We woke at 6am. The taxi arrived at 7am. We got to the airport ready for our flight at 9:15am.  Getting through security was quicker than before. There were dogs sniffing each passenger as they walked the security line. The security waved the line through. No need to take off shoes or anything. Put your bags in the machine and walk through the detector. It was a weird feeling.  We’ve all been trained so well since 9/11 and the shoe bomber to take everything off. Before your turn even arrives, you’re strategizing  the fastest and most efficient way to get through security with the least amount of fuss. Up in the Air had a great scene, somewhat prejudiced, but good description of how to get through quickly.  Just putting your bags through the  machine harken back to the old days, the days before terrorism was everyone’s problem, before full body scans were a solution to underwear bombers, before wearing shoes was a threat, before liquids were banned prior to security but became okay after security. It made you think that one day we’ll be treated like humans again and not a herd of cattle with the potential for danger with our lotion.  Getting through security was good. We made it to the gate and relaxed. We got some breakfast from The Grove: bagel with butter, bagel with cream cheese, a coffee and a tea.  It was good.

Friday Afternoon

We arrived in Punta Cana and disembarked the plane via the stairs on the tarmac. It was sunny and there were palm trees greeting us as we walked into the airport and to customs. The terminal is an enormous thatch roof with gigantic fans spinning. A group of musicians played some drums as we traverse the lines. We made it through customs and went out to find our taxi. There was a split from baggage claim, we
took the one on the right but it turned out we needed to take the one in the left. On the left exit we found our name on a sign for a cab. We followed the guy, the minibus and got in. He spoke little English but was cool and jovial. The drive to Chateau Del Mar was about twenty minutes. At the chateau we met Jeffery, who turned out to be okay but not particularly good at providing valuable information. We needed to wait for an upgraded room, so we were taken to one room while we wait. Our upgraded room was great. It was on the first floor with a private outdoor seating area facing the pool. It was a two bedroom, two bath apartment with an open floor plan. The kitchen had granite counter tops. There was a chandelier hanging about the dining room table. The living room was a soft l-shaped sectional facing the sliding doors to the outside patio and wall mounted  television. The master was in the front of the apartment and had a king size bed, a wall desk built for a laptop and a bathroom. The second bedroom had two twin beds and was at the back of the apartment. There were good closets. Oh yes, there were good closets.

Jeffery recommended a sports bar for lunch. It wasn’t particularly good and there wasn’t any sports showing. We had lunch. He also suggested Jellyfish restaurant for dinner but couldn’t get a reservation. We ended up getting a reservation at Noah, which turned to be not very good. That was it for Jeffery. He was rapidly reducing the possible stars. We were already down to three and we’ve only been there for half a day.

Noah restaurant – the service was bad. Our waiter never brought us our second glass of wine. We weren’t offered dessert choices. When we finally got his attention and asked for our checks, it took a while. The bill had four glasses of wine but we only received two. We paid and got a cab back to the Chateau Del Mar. The food was okay. Mike ordered the salmon and I ordered the pacific risotto.

Saturday

We had breakfast at Dalia, a café and bakery. I had huevos con jamon with chocolate caliente. Mike had café con leche with desayuno americano. When the plates came, they were practically identical except for the cheese and bacon on Mike’s plate. We had breakfast three times at Dalia. We liked the relax vibe and good food.

We headed back to the apartment and got our stuff and headed to the beach. We decided to walk north along the water. We walked a lot and pass many all inclusive resorts. There were public areas. The public areas weren’t as well taken care off but it is the case of public places surrounded by private spaces. From the water and a good portion of the beach was public. The resorts had their portion and were protected by lines drawn in the sand, ropes separating the day beds from others, little security houses and men in uniforms of short sleeve shirts and black slacks on guard. The security guards paced, slowly walking the length of the resort looking and looking. They stopped to talk to men selling hats and bags. They stopped at palm trees. They congregated at security booths. Each resort had a different color to represent them. Some men wore white shorts, some in pale yellow, and some in pale blue. The colors of the resort was also displayed by the towels and beach chairs. Some resort towels were yellow, or pink or striped. The point it seems was that if you didn’t have the right color towel, you could easily be spotted by security, who probably knew the color of towels for nearby resorts.

We walked and walked until we decided it was time to turn around. The beach stretched for miles and miles and we were already walking miles. We found the beach grill and had a late lunch. Mike ordered the lobster. They brought two large live lobsters which weighed in at four pounds, two pounds each. They wanted to make sure we knew what we were getting before we ordered. It was a lot. I had already ordered the fish tacos so wasn’t splitting the lobster. Mike decided to go with shrimp instead.

IMG_4329It came with platanos. We order an extra plate. It was all good and the portions excellent. We had some drinks and watched people returning from a day of water activity. The boat dropped them off returning from an excursion, probably snorkeling and drinking. We walked back to our room and relaxed.

We wanted to try a nearby restaurant at the resort next door. For dinner we got dressed and took the beach route to the resort. The security guard stopped us. One and then two. We need to go around to the front.  We went to the front but no one really walks to the restaurant in an all inclusive. The resort restaurants are only for the resort people with their bracelets. It is an inclusive jail. We need ids and a night pass. The men in their short sleeves shirts spoke in Spanish about our night pass. They summoned another who took our ids and motioned for us to follow him. We walked to the lobby. It was not spectacular.   We stood on line, waiting to get a night pass. How much was a night pass anyway? No one knew. The security that held our cards unconvincingly said he didn’t speak English. You got the sense that he thought what he was doing was beneath him and that became true when he summoned someone else to hold our cards and wait. You figure he was some level of manager and he summoned a worker.  The worker was tall and a bit friendlier. How much is cuantos something. I couldn’t remember the next word. I tried again and he said he didn’t know in Spanish: no se cuantos es. Yes, cuantos es. The line was too long so we decided to leave. We got our cards and got a cab to the Hard Rock casino.

The casino was half hour drive away. Even when you turn in, there’s still a lot of driving in the compound to get to the entrance. We entered and was met by a marketier who marked us by putting a bracelet on our hands. We sat through his pitch for a day pass the next day. It sounded like a good plan. Wenwould arive early, sit through a ninety minute pitch for their new resorts by sales people that want us to buy something, and then get a day pass to enjoy the resort. We thought it might be good. We went to the casino. It was smaller and emptier than expected.  There was only one table going in the poker room.  We checked out the sports book and made a bet on March Madness. Overall it was okay but wasn’t awesome. It was very american and once inside you could have been in any country in the world. We tried exploring but those pesky security looked at our bracelet and relagated us to the casino only. We left, took the long cab ride back to our place between resorts. At the apartment we opened our bottle of red wine and had a drink.

Sunday

Oh Sunday, we decided not to go to the Hard Rock for the day. We didn’t win the bet and going there was too long a cab ride and expense. We decided to walk south on the beach.  On our walk, we stopped to get margaritas. We walked pass the end of the resorts and into the park. In the park, we found a quiet place under a tree and relaxed. It was our own island away from the people. It was great and we laid there for a while. We continued our walk south pass the party boats and the rock formations until we reached the next clear beach area before the next town. On the way back we got a large presidente and drank. For dinner that night we went to Citrus. It was great except for the wine switch-a-ru. We ordered chardonnay but they didn’t have it. They brought a pinot grigio. The waiter poured it, I tasted it and it wasn’t chardonnay. The waiter went back and came back to say they didn’t have it. We said fine and drank on. The sushi was good. Our dinner was great.

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