This was our 10 year anniversary (which is on May 11, 2012) slash honeymoon trip. We didn't take a honeymoon right after we got married because Chris had just started his position with a new fire department and was lucky to get the Saturday off so we could get married. The reason I chose Punta Cana is because... and this is so white trash... I saw the Real Housewives of New Jersey there on an episode and it looked perfect. I googled it, checked with Costco Travel, showed it to Chris, and we booked it. What's funny is we met easily 6 different families, all from New Jersey, while we were there. They obviously chose their destination the same way I did. Thank you, RHONJ.
I'll try and keep it kinda short and sweet, something I aim to do with all my posts. I know that no one checks in here to read a novel. We did so much, saw so much, and I had time to THINK so much in the quiet that I may get a little lengthy. Pardon me if I do.
First of all, do you know where Punta Cana is? It's in the Dominican Republic. Here, I put this on the fridge so the kids could see daily where we were, in case they forgot (or cared). I'll share it with you. It's ok if you didn't know. Until I watched the Real Housewives of New Jersey I didn't either. And people say that show makes you dumber. Hmph.
The flight there was hell. We flew from Oakland to Phoenix, Phoenix to Philadelphia, then Philadelphia to Punta Cana. We flew on US Airways and although we paid a shitload extra for the exit row on all three legs of the flight, it gave us about 1/8 of an inch more. For me who is nearly 6 feet and for Chris who is 6'5", it made for a super long 13 hours of being stuffed into a shitty seat.
This was probably about hour 7. He was trying his best to rest. He actually did fall asleep for a while which I still resent terribly. I was awake for 32 hours straight.
We stayed at the Hard Rock and our room was amazing. Yes, that is a big jacuzzi spa in the room. After leaving our house in California at 3pm on Saturday, we arrived at the resort at 1pm on Sunday. The sight of it all woke me right up. I walked right in, put on my bathing suit, took pictures of our room to send to my mom, and was ready to go nap on the beach. Can you see Chris laying there on the bed? I guess after being folded in half on the airplane all night he needed a few minutes of bed time.
He got up, put on his trunks, and we headed out to explore our home for the week, but not before I took our picture.. I have about 13 of these pictures, almost identical. I think I took one everyday, during every activity. Now it seems stupid. Anyway, this was our attire the entire vacation for the most part. Bathing suit, coverup, shitload of sunscreen, and hair up. I brought a huge suitcase full of stuff when I could have packed it all in my backpack really.
They have this instead of Diet Coke. Same thing, different name. If you asked for a Diet Coke you got regular coke.
We drove dune buggies on the beach and through the jungle. It was awesome. It was so dusty at one point, though, that my jeans were no longer blue and if it hadn't been for my gangsta bandana I would have died of suffocation.
He claimed it wasn't dusty. I'm pretty sure he's part robot.
We stopped on our ride and our guide knocked a few coconuts out of a tree and with the machete he had with him (creepy) he hacked the top of off one so we could drink it. It was amazing how much liquid was inside.
Mmmmmm, not very good. Neat experience, though.
After a long, hot day of dune buggying and drinking out of fresh coconuts, we showered, dressed in something other than a bathing suit or dusty jeans and had a cocktail on the beach before heading to dinner. This picture doesn't do it justice. You know that Claritin commercial where the colors are a little dull and then she takes her Claritin and the colors become uber vivid? This is like the pre-Claritin when in reality it was like the post-Claritin.
Dinner at what became one of our favorite restaurants
ZOMG, they made the best pina coladas. I'm not gonna lie, this wasn't my first. Or last.
We came back to the room one night to our turned-down bed and this. I told Chris that I will now expect this at home once a week. He told me that he expects clean laundry to never be piled in baskets again. I called a truce. I mean, who really needs hearts and rose petals on the bed anyway.
Chris went down to the gym one morning and I stayed in and ordered breakfast room service. No guilt.
Chris's 35th birthday was during our trip and the hotel delivered a mini cake and champagne to the room. I had the kids make cards before we left and I tucked them in my suitcase. I realized that this was Chris's first birthday since he turned 19 that I didn't bake him a cake myself. And for the record, mine are way better than the Hard Rock's.
We went snorkeling one day and had a chance to swim with some stingray. They convinced me that it was not the kind that killed Steve Irwin. I half-believed them. There is much trepidation behind that smile of mine, let me tell you. And the fact that they had named this stingray Scarlett didn't trick me into thinking she was harmless. She was HUGE and slimy and rough and was all up on me. It was kinda neat, kinda scary, and kinda creepy. I'm not sure if I'd do it again. She kept flapping her wing (wing?) against my boobs which made the handler giggle uncontrollably. It was all a bit weird.
Another day we took an excursion into the jungle to see a working farm. Here they grew and harvested cocoa and coffee. It's like the Mothership of all that is holy. Here are some cocoa fruit, each containing about 60-75 cocoa beans inside.
This is about as pure and as organic as you'll ever see or taste it. We watched Maria (owner of the farm) pick, peel, and grind these cocoa beans. She then scraped some raw sugar cane into it and she poured a little in each of our hands. We all licked our hands clean and I'm not kidding. It was so good. So pure.
On this outing Chris got a chance to zip line. I originally signed up for it, too, but after a few days of additional thought, I decided that I just love my life and my kids too much to dangle above the jungle in a 3rd world country where they tell me in broken English that the wire is safe. This was the 8th line as he's coming down to the jungle floor.
The pink hat nails that outfit
Outside the resort walls, Punta Cana is absolutely poverty stricken. I've never seen anything like it before. This was similar to every single house or storefront we passed. It's no wonder why Americans all seem so rich. Pretty much no matter what our situation, we all have a roof on our home and our kids have shoes on their feet. The people here live in such dire conditions. I couldn't quite put my head around it. I really want my kids to see all of this first hand when they get a little older to understand what it all means.
Our last night there we went to such a fun restaurant. It was our last supper on Good Friday. Appropriate, no? One of the 13 self portraits.
The Punta Cana airport. You walk out on the tarmac to board your plane. It's old school. Little did we know that our plane was going to have to travel to San Juan, Puerto Rico to refuel before heading on to the United States. Because of this we missed our connecting flight and had to spend the night in Charlotte, NC on our trip home. That was unexpected and it made us miss Easter morning at home with the kids.
Me, trying to find humor in our stuck-in-North-Carolina situation and taking yet another self-portrait while Chris... is pissed.
We ended up staying at a lovely hotel, courtesy of US Airways, and got a flight out first thing in the morning to San Francisco. We flew first class all the way which made all the difference in the world.
He got some work done
While I nibbled on the fabulous the breakfast that was provided and read the entire Hunger Games on my Kindle. First class is the only way to fly. If only my husband and his wallet will agree to that from now on...
Their teeth are green from Easter candy and my eyes are dazed from the immediate noise of the house but it was so good to be home. Drew cried and clung to me the rest of the day and when we put the kids to bed that night we snuggled for a little bit longer than usual. The relief of being back together was more than I imagined it would be. I think they felt the same but just didn't know how to articulate that in words, only in snuggles.
We met lots of people who thought it was wonderful that we'd left our kids and took this trip alone. Some may not ever feel comfortable doing that. For us, it was worth it in so many ways. When I told Chris on May 11, 2002 that I was completely ok with not taking a honeymoon but that he better make it up to me on our 10 year anniversary, I didn't really know if he'd bring it. HE DID.
HUGE, ENORMOUS thanks to my mom and Chris's mom for coming and working together to hold down the fort while we were gone. It ain't easy, I know.