Friday, August 3, 2012

Dominican Republic

My husband was in grad school when we got married so time of for a honeymoon was not going to happen right away since we really wanted a fall wedding. We opted for a mini-moon right after the wedding and then our real honeymoon would come during his spring break. The first night of our mini-moon was spent in a hotel in downtown St. Louis. For some reason I just couldn't spend my wedding night back in our apartment. The next morning we ventured to a Bed and Breakfast in Southern Illinois for a few day getaway.

We weren't sure were to go for our real honeymoon. We wanted a beachy and warm location. We were thinking about Hawaii, but a travel agent recommended Punta Cana because the flight time was much shorter and it would be cheaper overall. At that time I had heard of Punta Cana, but our families had not. Now it seems like everyone is going there. After much research we spent our real honeymoon at the Gran Bahia Principe resort in Punta Cana in the adult's only section. There were not many people from the states there. It was mostly Europeans and French Canadians who dubbed it Punta Canada. In fact, we spent the first few days without having interaction with anyone that spoke English! The staff didn't really speak English. We ordered our food and drinks in Spanish. At the fancier restaurants on the resort they would ask "English, Spanish or French?" based on your response the waiter would hand you a menu, but to order you would point to your choice because they didn't know what you were saying. One of our excursions the guide spoke fluent English. The other excursion we were told the guide would speak in English and Spanish, but he did not. There were seven of us who spoke English and about 50 who spoke Spanish. The guide only really said a few English things like "this is my city Higuey. The pope came here; those are sugar cane fields you'll see lots of those; hurry don't be late." My husband and I understood more with our limited Spanish.We actually liked that we had to speak Spanish. It forced us to rely on what we learned in high school, but also we were in a hispanic country. Sometimes I get so frustrated when people expect to be catered to. It definitely makes your life easier if people can speak your language, but it seems egotistical to expect it in a foreign country.

However, at the airport and getting to the resort our limited Spanish was not enough plus this was our first trip flying. We weren't 100% prepared when we got off the plane and collected our checked bags. We poured into a very noisy and packed foyer. I had prepaid for a shuttle to the resort and I guess just expected to find it, but there were WAY to many. A nice gentleman must of saw the fear in our eyes because he assisted us with his broken English and our broken Spanish. He looked at our itinerary and got us on the right shuttle. The drive to the airport was a little scary--the driver was going very fast, motorcycles were lane splitting and stop signs seemed optional at times. We finally arrived at the resort, but the driver wouldn't let us off the shuttle. We knew that the airport shuttle wasn't allowed to the adults only side of the resort so we were supposed to get off at the main section and take a resort shuttle to our section, but the driver kept saying no. He requested our itinerary and said no. There was another couple that were in the same situation, but thankfully she was fluent in Spanish. She followed him outside the bus and there were lots of loud voices. She returned with our itinerary and told her husband and us to get off the bus. We grabbed our luggage and ran before the driver could change his mind. The other couple caught up and we talked. She was laughing and said she didn't know why he wanted our itinerary because he couldn't read English. I'm not sure what we would have done without her because the driver was very persistent!

For our departure we had a shuttle set up to take us to the airport, but we got dropped off on the wrong side of the airport because my husband wasn't thinking clearly--the driver asked "American?" and my husband confusingly responded "yes." He didn't understand why they would ask that, but we quickly figured out they meant American airlines not are you American. We looked on every monitor and nothing said Delta. The lines were too long to wait in just to be told we were in the wrong place. I asked a few random workers  if they spoke English and the response was no so with my broken English I'd ask about Delta. They'd respond in Spanish and point. We'd head where they pointed, but kept ending up at the American Airlines security check in with our checked bags which is a no go. This happened a few times. I told my husband you have 5 minutes or I'm seriously going to have  break down because we are going to miss our flight, be stuck in a foreign country with no place to go! I began praying and immediately my husband saw a bus dropping people off at a different location. We walked on the street to the drop off and sighed a huge relief when we found the delta monitors and counters.From there it was smooth sailing!

Overall, we had a wonderful experience and at the end of the week my husband asked if I could just call it sick to work so we could stay longer. We walked up and down the beach for miles, spent lazy days soaking up the sun, went on a cultural tour and a few other excursions. This is one of my favorite pictures from Punta Cana. There's numerous pretty beaches, but we spent the day at this "private" one on an excursion during our honeymoon.

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