Random Rendezvous, Dominican Republic
It was noonish when we booked a 3pm flight to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Justin and I were together, stateside, for the first time in six months. We flew standby from Miami and landed in Punta Cana with two backpacks. We bartered our way to Ocean Blue Resort and walked through the garden grounds to our junior suite in building four. I hunted down what was supposed to be orange juice at a sports bar and we spent some time looking for a different place to stay upon discovering our hotel had been booked for just one person and would be twice the expense we had expected. We eventually gave up and wandered down to the beach, which was white-washed and perfect beneath a pendent moon. The night was full of possibility, so we promptly passed out.
The next morning we migrated to the reception villa. It was the only place with wi-fi, and I fumbled around on Trip Advisor while Justin resolved to remedy the suite situation in person. The hotel agreed to honor the original price for another night, and I was reminded that Justin is no ordinary man. We went for a jog along the coast, downed some tacos and margaritas, then beelined to the beach. We sat beneath cabanas and sipped daiquiris, watched drunk tourists face plant in the sand and dance aerobics by the pool. We attempted tipsy ping pong and flagged down golf carts, then somehow managed a fancyish dinner at La Casa De Mi Abuela in the main square.
Day one was fun, but two days in an all-inclusive resort is really one day too many. The novelty of all-you-can-eat-and-drink loses its appeal and the cookie cutter condo and café layout of the place begins to feel a bit plastic. We clocked one more hour in the waves then packed our backpacks and hailed a taxi to Fruiza bus station. We tried without success to bypass the “special tourist” price coined by our taxi driver, and wound up paying more for a five minute taxi ride than our two hour journey to Santo Domingo.
I kind of love taking local buses; traveling routes that wind through real countryside and small towns at a fractioned price. Sometimes you get where you need to go, sometimes you don't. We stepped off the bus at the wrong stop and into a chaotic collision of color, people and overly enthusiastic street vendors. We were fetched right away by Justin’s adopted aunts, who somehow spotted us in the crowd. We drove two hours to Arelys’ house in the presidential district, where we were invited to stay the night and explore the capital. Together we dined at the Country Club and toured the Zona Colonial, toting brown paper bags of el presidente.
The next morning, there was a coffee tray and biscuits set outside our door. The hospitality was overwhelming, extending to a table spread of traditional Dominican breakfast of plantain mangu, eggs, tomato and sliced avocado. The morning was spent roaming the historic district and Via Conde, dodging pigeons in the church square and thumbing pages of used books. Lunch was a table of six, a chorus of indiscernible Spanish and more food than we could finish. We thanked Arelys, Lucia and Rudolpho before packing our bags yet again for our trek to the bus station. I was craving some quality mountain time and a little town called Jarabacoa. Two beers, two tickets to Santiago, and a sound adio to the capital.