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Una Mama Juana, por favor

June 29, 2012

For too long I’ve been taking mini-vacations (long weekend trips). Earlier this month I rediscovered the beauty that is 10 consecutive days of vacation. Even better, I spent seven of those days at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, with Matt and our friends Sara and Michael.

Before leaving, I took a dedicated “me” day: long run, massage, mani/pedi. Perfection.

A room with a view

The resort where we stayed, Punta Cana Princess All-Suites Resort, is exactly what I was looking for. Activities were available if you wanted to participate (Sara and Michael joined in some), but the main emphasis was on relaxing. I literally sat on the beach and read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest for eight hours one day (mostly under a shaded beach hut).

I tried my hand at beach archery one day, which actually went much better than I expected. I once tried archery at Girl Scout camp with a wooden bow, and it was incredibly frustrating. I also ran twice on the beach in sweltering, humid conditions. The sun broke the horizon over the ocean at about 5:45, so there was no pre-heat running. On the other hand, it was dark by 7:30 each night and the afternoons were actually relatively cool.

Despite a noticeable lack of evening entertainment, we attended “show time” in the lobby one night. As a prelude to show time, several dressed-up resort employees danced merengue with guests, and we each took a turn. It all felt very Dirty Dancing. Then show time was a goofy men vs. women, game show format, which was actually pretty hilarious. One game, tequila or water, called for each person to take a mystery shot from the table. And based on their reaction, the other sex had to guess whether their shot was tequila or water. I still can’t believe how well they were all able to disguise having tequila.

Open air lobby in the evening

I’d never stayed at an all-inclusive resort before, but it felt a lot like a stationary cruise—but the drinks were included too. It was a perfect environment for relaxing. How nice is it to have your biggest concern be which resort restaurant to pick for dinner?!

The food, overall, was pretty good. Nothing spectacular, but I certainly ate well. The 6 pounds I gained say so anyway—1 pound for each full day I was there. On our resort there was the buffet (breakfast and lunch every day; we ate dinner there twice), a Mediterranean/seafood restaurant (I had some delicious coconut-crusted grouper, but apparently the seafood platter was no good.), a little fondue restaurant (yummy, but they were a little stingy with what they gave you), a Tex-Mex restaurant (delicious fajitas), and an Italian restaurant (which we didn’t visit). We also had a Chinese meal at one of the sister resorts where we had access, which was a very satisfying meal. Let’s just say that I felt like I might burst after every meal, and that’s now how I normally life my life.

View from Mare Nostrum, the Mediterranean/seafood restaurant

If you’re interested in what I wore to dinner each night, check out my post on Thrifty Threads.

One of my favorite refreshments on the trip (you know, aside from strawberry daiquiris on the beach and Mama Juana) was coconut water directly from a fresh coconut. We’d been seeing several guests with coconuts, but couldn’t figure out how to procure one. Apparently, the maintenance staff, who climb palm trees and cut down the coconuts, can give them out to guests. We approached an American with a coconut, and he pointed us in the direction of a wheelbarrow of fresh coconuts, which was overseen by a maintenance worker with a machete. He used the machete to freshly cut open the coconuts, and he even created a flat surface on the bottom. Fresh coconut water is wonderful.

During our stay, Euro 2012 had just begun so there were a couple soccer games each day—several of which Matt had to go inside to watch. There was even a board on the resort of the current standings, and each day, one of the restaurants (which were only open for dinner) had the games playing on a projector (in the AC). We went to watch Germany vs. Netherlands with a large group of Germans who were staying at the resort, which was a fun experience. Luckily Germany played well, so all of the yelling was positive.

We had a fantastic time at the resort, but I don’t think I’ll be going again any time soon. Not only was it pretty expensive, but on my next vacation I plan to do a bit more exploring. This trip was exactly what I needed to rejuvenate though—I couldn’t use my phone without roaming charges and I didn’t even use the computers the lobby all week.

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