The Dominican Republic was lovely. We had sun everyday except for the wedding when it rained a little. But as they say in Spanish boda lluviosa, boda dichosa – and in French as well, mariage pluvieux, mariage heureux – a rainy wedding is a happy wedding. So first, let me say ¡Felicidades! and Félicitations ! to Mike & Cassie.
We stayed at the all-inclusive Riu Palace Macao resort, among four other hotels in the Riu complex. The all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant served practically everything. The weather was amazing, and the water was crystal clear. I was surprised at how many German tourists there were, and in fact, most signs were translated into German before English. It was nice to hear so many languages (especially ones that I can understand much more than Spanish), including Quebecois French.
As for weddings at the resort, I couldn’t believe how nosy people were. The wedding took place in a little gazebo on the beach, with the chairs in front for the guests. You’d think people would know enough to stay away so they wouldn’t be in pictures, but no. (And yes, there are topless women on the beach…) Some even ran up behind the chairs and took a few pictures while we were all standing there. Why would you want pictures of other peoples’ weddings? Even trying to take pictures on the beach was a hassle as people kept walking behind us.
Traveling to a Spanish-speaking country renewed my interest in learning Spanish once again, of course. I first started learning Spanish in middle school and ever since then I’ve always had an inexplicable affection for Latin American Spanish. Maybe it was just the images of sunny Mexico or the fun games we played in class to help us learn useful phrases like dónde está la bruja? that stayed with me. I know if we ever move back to the US, I will want to live near Mexico and seriously become fluent in Spanish.
And if I ever go back to the DR, I’d like to see Santo Domingo. Punta Cana is really just full of hotels for tourists. But Santo Domingo is the capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it was the first permanent European settlement in the New World. It would be nice to leave the hotel and explore the city and learn more about the history and culture of the country.
But it is hard to not think about how poor the Dominican Republic really is. Even though it is the top tourist destination in the Caribbean, most of the money goes to the corporations that run the resorts and not to the actual citizens or government. It’s obvious when you look at the countryside on the ride between the airport and the hotel with its abandoned buildings. And the Dominican Republic does share the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world.
I’m glad we were able to go, even if it was a very short and expensive trip across the ocean. I would love to see more islands in the Caribbean but I honestly don’t know if I can stand the long plane rides and annoying customs/border agents who interrogate everyone like we are all criminals. No wonder so many Americans never leave the country! And can someone please explain the logic behind going through security AGAIN as soon as you step off one plane and enter the stopover airport? I just went through a metal detector in Geneva, is it really necessary in Paris? Do they think I picked up a knife on the walkway between the airplane and the airport??
All 70 photos can be found at the Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Photo Album.