Strange tracks

We had more snow today… when I was out shoveling I saw these strange tracks in the snow… reminds me of a backbone.  After studying them for a few minutes, I think I figured out what caused them.  Do you know?  Leave me a comment with your guess and we’ll see if it matches mine.

Hidden talents


Tim & Glyna were out of town and needed someone to swing by and feed their cats.  Sandy and I headed out that way for which the cats we very thankful.
While we were there we noticed that Glyna had gotten her new piano.  Much to my surprise, Sandy sat down and started to play…

Oceanworld Casino

Please don’t poop on us!

Not far from our resort is the Oceanworld park and Casino. We had already visited once during the day where we watched dolphin and sea lion shows as well as walking through a couple of small aviaries. One of the aviaries was filled with love birds… A woman in there had us hold out out hands and she filled them with a little bird seed. Within seconds our hands and arms were covered with the colorful birds. A few landed on our heads and one even tried to climb down sandy’s shirt.

The tributes are clad in yellow and ready to be fed to the fierce nurse sharks!

The park had a small pool filled with tropical reef fish that we had planned on going snorkeling in. However, when we saw the size of it we decided it wasn’t worth the trouble. It might be a good pool for first timers to snorkel in but I think that’s about it. Oceanworld was fun for a couple of hours but after that we were ready to go back to the resort.

On Thursday night they had another VIP party that we went to. Like the other parties it was buffet style, the food was okay, and they had a band playing music. We also got to got to a Vegas style show and we left the buffet about 15 minutes before the show to try and get good seats.

We ended up in the third row (the first two rows were reserved) and had a good view of the stage. We were previously warned to be careful choosing seats because some of them had severly obstructed views by large columns set at regular intervals between the third and fourth rows.

They told us still pictures were okay but we weren’t allowed to take any video of the show. Oops! I’m torn trying to decide my favourite number, is it the dancers with candleabras on their heads or when everyone dressed up as a tropical bird?

After the show we went down to the casino. They had lots of $5 tables so we sat down at one of the blackjack tables to play. We received some matchplay coupons at the resort and we used them. Between the two of us we put in $60 and waked away with a single black chip… Up $40 from where we started.

We decided to take a break and check out the disco upstairs… Like most resort discos we visited, it was not a lively place. A few people danced around speakers blaring loud enough to ensure that no coversation could take place. We quickly retreated and called it a night.

VIP = me

I guess cheap caribbean must have struck a pretty good deal with the resort.  I see lots of actual vacation club members with their gold, blue, and red shiny bands, and I see cheap carribean vacationers with their ordinary white bands, and that’s it.  No other travel agencies seemed to have scored the vip package for their customers.

The good beds in the VIP area go quick and by 7am the only beds left are the ones without cover in the center of the VIP area. Our favourite bed so far is the top bunk of one of the double decker beds where we’re able to lounge, read (and blog) throughout the day.  I had read  in one review that the wifi access is best on the west side of the beach (ie the left side as you face the ocean) and that is very true.  wifi is also available up in the sushi bar area and sometimes by mid afternoon you’ll see a long row of laptops lining the granite counter.

SOP is to get there early, claim your bed, and then you’re free to do as you please. It seems pretty safe to leave your stuff there while you go out to other areas in the resort or down the beach.

Santa helping himself to a whiskey and hoping to get lucky!

The staff is very friendly and provides bed side service… they’re usually good at checking frequently to see if you need anything. We typically tip a dollar or two each time they bring us a drink or food.

There is a limited menu of food items you can order in the VIP area. The service for food is slower than drinks and usually whatever they bring is cold by the time we get it. We’ve been to the sushi bar once so far. The selection there was limited, mostly rolls, but we liked what we got.

* it’s been a day since a started this entry an i learned the secret of getting good beds in the vip area.  I got up this morning at 6am to try and beat the rush to claiming beds.  I got here and the gates to the vip area was closed.  One of the staff told me the gates would open at 7am so I lay down on one of the lounge chairs by the pool to wait.  At 6:30 the guy I spoke to earlier called me over, the gate was now open and he motioned me inside.  Right off I noticed that most of the beds already had towels or magazines or whatever else was used to reserve the bed.

Sandy looking down from our treehouse beach bed.

As the guy helped me to find a bed, it quickly became evident that it helped to have a man on the inside.  We settled on the top bunk of a double level bed and the guy removed the magazine that was holding the bed.  He said he could get the bed for me tomorrow too.  I told him thanks and handed him a $5.  I wasn’t sure how much I should tip/bribe him… but he accepted the five (after unfolding it and examining the bill to see how much it was) so i guess i did okay.  I also overheard some ask his friend for a couple of bucks so they could get a bed so I think my bribe was in the ballpark.

Another party…

Last night they set tables up all around the pool area and had another party for us. The food was served buffet style… The variety was decent and the food was good.

The wine was another story… They served the same bad wine that is endimic throughout the caribbean… Or at least the Caribbean resorts. We almost brought our own bottle of wine which we had swiped from the VIP bar earlier that day (the bartender turned the other way for us and we slipped him a fiver to say thanks). The VIP wine wasn’t great… But it wasn’t bad either which made it infinitly preferable to the house wine.

The table and chairs were all covered in white cloth which gave them an elegant look despite their cheap plastic core which bent easily under even slight pressure. The other side of the pool seemed to be lit pretty well but over where we were it was a like a fine candlelit dinner sans candles.  We had fun trying to identify items on our plate by taste since it was too dark for us to see them.  Eventually someone came around and put candles on our tables however they must have been afraid to break the mood because they didn’t actually light the candles. After staring at a dark wick for a few moments I went over to one of the neighboring tables and borrowed their flame.

After dinner we wandered around to the other side of the pool which also was surrounded by tables as well as bright colorful party lights. They had added a floating stage to the pool and before long an entertainer came out to sing pop songs to us. People began to dance and much to sandy’s dismay we joined them… She tried and tried but was unable to fix the awkward gait that I call dancing.

So close to home yet so far away

Often when traveling you yearn* for a bit of the familiar… Like a friend of mine that I traveled with some in Europe who always wanted to eat at mcdonalds. So I felt a little happiness when we ventured out on the beach and saw our first carribean walmart.

But things are never quite the same… And like the mcdonalds in Europe where you can buy a beer, the walmart here was a little bit different. It’s proprieter, happily out of reach of US copyright law, beckoned to me to visit and see his fine collection of Mama Juana (domincan drink that despite what they say you can’t take on an airplane), beaded necklaces, cheap souveniers, and sunglasses.

The only thing I really cared about were those sunglasses because I left mine at home. I asked a price and he confidently told me 700 pesos which is a little more than 20 dollars. However his selection was awful… Mostly glasses for girls and the few that weren’t I wasn’t about to wear in public. So I declined, his offer quickly dropped to $10 and as I walked away even went to $2 (at which point I almost went back… But the glasses were so bad I decided it wasn’t worth it).

* I really wasn’t sure how to spell yearn… I started with yurn but knew that wasn’t right. So I asked my better half and she stared at me strangely… “you don’t know how to spell that?” she asked, the undertone of her voice betraying her disgust at my ignorance, ” it’s U-R-I-N-E”

VIP party!!

Every Sunday they have a VIP party that we got invited to… We’re not really sure what it takes to be a VIP… Maybe everyone here is special!!!

The party wasn’t very far away… A shuttle bus picked us up and drove us a few minutes through small town streets. We got out of the bus… Not really sure where we were. A sign for the resort pointed down a small deserted alleyway and after a slight hesitation, we slowly made our way down the alley.

We got to the end of the alley and turned…

 

 

 

What was once a grassy field had been transformed. A walkway took us between tables crowded with jewelry and souveniers. Vendors yelled for our attention and we looked down trying not to make eye contact as we went forward.

As we left the vendors behind we approached a large bar area where bartenders stood in front of top shelf (well… semi topshelf) liqours and two types of wine (both red and white). Candlelit tables dotted the landscape, a long raised walkway split the field in two. At the far end of the walkway there was a large stage where the nights entertainment would take place.

Large party tents covered an impressive buffet area and we got ourselves some food and a couple of drinks then found a table. The ground was a little wet and muddy, it had rained frequently the prior week, but tonight the weather was very pleasant.

A band started to play, their first song was terrible, we had to cover our ears the singer was so bad. But they improved after that… American rock and roll songs were not their forte, but the Latin songs they did were very good. We went up and danced as fireworks lit up the sky.

Touchdown in DR

Our flight was uneventful but nice… The plane was virtually empty. Sandy and I each had an entire emergency row to ourselves… That’s three seats each with just the aisle between us.

Unlike recent flights where we’ve been charged for crappy food… Continental treated us like kings. A cart came around with a choice between hamburgrs and wraps, Cesar salads, and cookies for dessert. Okay… It was a little box lunch… Not the same as eating at the Palm, but still it was hot, decent, and they didn’t charge extra.

Sandy remarked it felt like we were on our own private jet as she read her paper. I took advantage of the down time by laying out across the seats and taking a nap.

 

 

It didn’t feel too long before i felt my ears pop and knew we had started our descent.

 

We only brought carry on luggage for this trip… so getting off the plane and out of the airport didn’t take too long. The minibuses and taxis were just outside. Not really knowing what a reasonable fare would be, we had been a little concerned of getting ripped off by a taxi driver, but fortunately the rates to various areas were posted on a board so there was no question. $45 and 40 minutes to Cofresi (?) beach…. we’re almost there!

The trip begins

We planned to leave the house 2 hours early since we’re going on an
international trip…. It took us a total of 25 minutes to taxi to the
airport, check in, and clear security. Wow! I can’t believe how fast
that was… At least we have time for a nice breakfast.

 

This is also our first trip where I’ve tried blogging via email…
As long as I can reach the Internet, the entries will continue….