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Our first mini-break

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Our first mini-break

We had our first “Bridget Jones” style mini-break this weekend.  Rather fantastic, but of course peppered with lots of little “Dominicanisms” that we are starting to get used to and even expect (a sure sign we are settling in).

We travelled about 150km up the coast to Puerto Plata and stayed at an “all inclusive” resort.   For which read as much free food and drink as you can stuff yourself with in 24 hours.

Puerto Plata is much more picture postcard Caribbean than our town of Nagua.  It’s a big tourist resort, many Germans and Americans all grabbing their annual 2 weeks off the hamster wheel and partying hard – although this weekend mostly locals as Saturday was a holiday here in DR.


View Larger Map

Wailly (Mr Lewis) told us we’d be leaving at 10 and it would take 2 hours to get there. Yippee we thought, in the pool by noon. But then we remembered where we were, so were not surprised not to leave until 11:00 and for it to take us 3.5 hours to get there (the “us” being 14 crammed into two 4×4’s – the only way to travel in any comfort on the local roads).

We arrived at 3.00 (no problem as the hotel wouldn’t let us in before then anyway). The awesome sight before us made the trip melt away (bearing in mind the very basic bit of the island where we live).  A pool the size of 5 tennis courts.  Landscaped gardens with beautiful water features.  Grass that looked like each blade had been hand trimmed.  Half a mile of white sandy private beach with cabanas and every kind of water sport you can think of.  A great kids club with their own pool and huge games of jenga, connect 4, basketball, table football plus an army of people to do craft activities etc.  Four fantastic restaurants. Bars by the pool etc etc.

Here’s a link to our hotel if you want to see any more:

http://www.belivehotels.com/hotel/EN/ficha_hotel/grand_marien/descripcion.jsp

The kids leapt around like coiled springs unleashed.  Cue scenes of excitement only equalled so far by our arrival at Gatwick.   “Mummyitsgotapoolnowaititsgotthree.”  And that was before we’d checked in.Twenty-four hours of unadulterated bliss rolled out in front of us and we were determined to make the most of every second.  The whole weekend was so fantastic it’s hard to order the best bits my top 3 is definitely:

  1. Public toilets that you didn’t need to don a ‘haz-mat’ suit before entering!
  2. Hot showers (only those of you well travelled to  the less developed world will appreciate the value of a hot shower after 4 weeks of a cold trickle!)
  3. Air-conditioning.

Then in no particular order: The pool.  My lounger by the pool (imagining for a moment I could lie in it and not be on perpetual life guard duty for one of the four in the water somewhere).  Beating the Germans to the sun loungers on Sunday morning.  The restaurants.  M+B learning to play chess.  Zach playing table tennis with the locals (he could hardly see over the table!).  The gym (hadn’t taken any kit but that wasn’t going to stop me so got up early on Sunday morning and did a work out in my pyjamas!)The kids’ list would be slightly different.  Caring nothing for clean loos, hot water or air con, their eyes became as huge as dinner plates when they entered our suite – it had a TV! (2 in fact).  Ben and Zach would happily have spent all day and night watching anything that we could tune in (mostly fuzzy Spanish shopping channels but still TV!).  We did find some Thomas the Tank Engine on Sunday morning and had to physically drag them to breakfast.

Thankfully, TV was soon forgotten.  All it took was the realisation that they could wander up to the bar, wave their purple wrist band at the barman, jump straight to the front of the queue because of their cuteness and, with a little pointing and a ‘por favor’, come away with cupfuls of sugary fizz that they wouldn’t normally be allowed within a million miles of!  So between the pool, bar, snack bar with 24 hour pizza and chocolate cake, beach, life size garden chess set, kids club and of course, the TV, I think they would say in their best Spanglish “Me gusta mucho el hotel”We arrived home a bit browner, well rested, full of food and with a happy glow.

Sadly our happy glow was short lived.  Last night around midnight there was the most horrendous thunderstorm I have ever experienced, a proper tropical storm.  We were all safe indoors so no problem, but we arrived at school this morning to find it had been flooded – up to 2 feet in some places, and US$4000 of brand-new school books were waterlogged.  US$4000 is an enormous sum for the school to lose.  More on this in another post.

Thanks for all your comments and posts – please keep them coming.

Comments

  1. Lin says:

    Great pic of the kids!

  2. Nicola says:

    Hi there you Wonderful family! I’m sorry it’s been a while since I last wrote … been to Milan buying shoes and it all went well, but so very tiring. Can you believe there were over 2,000 exhibitors … just too big a show, in my opinion! Three days of walking up and down aisles, it all ended up in a bit of a blur to be honest!

    But more importantly, what a wonderful Mini Break you have had. I enjoy so much reading about all these fantastic things you are doing. Just brilliant!! So pleased that the kids are enjoying this experience too. And how marvellous that they can now appreciate the TV, and not just expect to walk in from school and switch it on to find whatever they want! It’s all really good stuff, isn’t it!! What a treat for you all to be surrounded by ‘luxury’ … well, hot water shouldn’t be a luxury, but hey! Well done for taking all the great photos, videos etc! Very much appreciating everything! Lots of love and big hugs to you all. XX

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