Between the pictures I took on my BlackBerry, the pictures I took on my digital camera that only works on occasion since I spilled baby oil in it, the pictures I took on a disposable camera I found from a year ago that I forgot I still had, the pictures that my friends took, and the pictures that the locals took (and sold to me), I should have plenty of pictures to capture this great vacation. And while I can’t share all those pictures with you today because they are spread out in a million different places, I can share with you valuable tips and lessons learned that can help you plan your vacation to the Dominican Republic. I guess not everything that happened in the DR should stay in the DR…
Here are some things that mis dos amigas and I learned while in Punta Cana:
1) When you land at the airport, your hair will probably look like this…
But it is VERY humid in the DR. By the time you check into your hotel room, your hair will look like this…
And by the time you unpack, change clothes, and make it to the beach, your hair will look like this…
Mind you, this could all be within a couple of hours. I resorted to the hairstyle below pretty early on in the trip. But I went through all the stages above so that you wouldn’t have to. 😉
2) The power WILL go out AT LEAST once per day. It just will. It doesn’t matter how nice your hotel is. And there is nothing you can do about it. So be prepared for it and take this opportunity to go back to the beach or pool. You don’t need power out there.
3) Loud, slowwww English DOES NOT translate into Spanish. I know that you thought that it would, but it definitely does not.
4) Loud French also does not translate into Spanish. Yelling out “Arrêtez! Arrêtez!” to the taxi driver is not helpful for you or the driver. Since arrêtez means “stop” IN FRENCH. Those 4 years of French you took in high school and college will come in handy one day…but probably not in the DR.
5) Charades also do not translate into Spanish. Again, I know this seems surprising, but all charades do is give the locals a reason to laugh at you.
6) “Crema Hydrante” does not mean soap. I repeat, it does NOT mean soap. It means lotion. Even when it is in a soap pump and in the spot where the soap dispenser usually is by the sink, it still does not mean soap. You will spend half your vacation standing at the sink wondering why the “soap” isn’t washing away.
7) The cigars really are $20 per cigar…not per box.
8 ) Book an all-inclusive resort. The food and drinks are unlimited!
9) Don’t book an all-inclusive resort. The food and drinks are unlimited! (Please note: Unlimited does not necessarily = good.)
10) If you decide to go horseback riding along the beach at sunset (and I think you should), wear a bra.
11) Try your best to NOT pick the horse that is the most competitive one in the bunch and the one who feels the need to always be in front. Of course, you probably won’t know this about the horse until you’ve already begun your ride. So nevermind.
12) Shouting “¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!” Speedy Gonzales-style while riding the horse doesn’t have the effect that you think it will.
13) After you finish your ride, your body will feel like you just left spin class. Only you won’t see the same results because the horse (not you) did all the work.
14) Doing yoga on a boat is super-cool…as long as you’re sitting down. DO NOT try to do any poses standing up. This could end disastrously.
15) At some point during your trip, it is likely that one of the locals will take a cute picture of you, slap it on a bottle of rum, and try to sell it to you for a ridiculous price. And then you’ll negotiate and he’ll lower the price a little and you’ll feel good about yourself thinking that you got a good deal. That is, until he gives you your change back and tells you that “you might not want to spend that…it usually doesn’t work. You might want to keep it as a souvenir.” O_O. You were not the victor in this negotiation.
16) Please remember that if you decide to go off the resort to a different restaurant, the likelihood that they will bring your bill in PESOS rather than DOLLARS is about 100%. So please suppress your initial urge to go THE HELL off when you get the bill.
17) There is a possibility that while you’re at the beach, a small man with a machete-like tool about twice his size will approach you and ask if you would like for him to cut a coconut from a tree. The answer to this question will be a very vigorous and unmistakable YES. No need to think about it. The answer to any question the man with the machete asks you is YES.
18) This will also be the time that you learn that not all coconuts are furry and brown. Some are smooth and green. With gross water inside.
The only thing I wanted to do that I didn’t do was get a Dominican blowout from the Dominicans…while in the Dominican. But based on my experience in #1 listed above, you should save your money unless you plan to get the blowout IN the airport terminal SECONDS before you depart from Punta Cana!
Did you take a vacation this year? If so, where? What travel tips and lessons learned can you offer? Share your fond (or not-so-fond) memories in the comments section.