Travel, you are my breath of fresh air. And my worst enemy. How sneaky of you! I have gained clarity and perspective being so far away from home. I have also felt intense highs and lows. Two weeks in the Dominican Republic and I felt it all.
Nate and I spent a blissful week in Cap Cana (a short drive south of Punta Cana). Cap Cana is the epitome of paradise for me: surreal, white, clay-like sand, true turquoise water at the perfect temperature to swim all day in, palm trees for days. I LOVE the Caribbean! We didn’t find an endless beach to run barefoot on (oh don’t let me forget to write a little something about watching “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” again–yikes), but we did find gorgeous spaces to roll out our yoga mats. *Growing up watching Denise Austin, Body By Jake and most importantly Cory Everson, I wanted to stay home “sick” from school so I could work out with these people! They did their work outs in tropical paradise. I wanted to be where they were! I did the best I could with our living room furniture (thanks for understanding, Ma!). Grandpa’s recliner worked perfectly as an incline bench.
So here I finally stood–tropical paradise as my work out playground. It was an absolute dream come true. Yoga mat in hand and boyfriend by my side. Nate is such a sport–always up for a yoga sesh. I’ll ask if he has any specific requests and he says, “Nope, just the tan and ripped workout.” Of course… 🙂
After leaving Cap Cana, we ventured 90 minutes west to Juan Dolio– a touristy beach town that hardly compared to where we had been. Here, we were (maybe I should speak for myself: “I was…”) jolted back into a world of vendors, beggars and hostal-like “resorts”. I was up for taking a chance on a steal of a deal at the Plaza Real Resort (online pictures can be really deceiving). So, upon driving up to the “resort” and laying eyes on where we’d stay for the next two nights (we booked online and pre-paid), the words “Oh GOD!” flew out of my mouth. I usually internalize uncomfortable and disappointing feelings, but there was no stopping this reaction. I immediately covered my mouth and both Nate and I laughed, but I felt bad…so impulsive with my reaction. So spoiled and judgmental. How unlike me (so I like to think). We parked next to the reception building on a narrow side street. I put my brave, not-spoiled face on, and we proceeded to check in. Room #20 was all ours. Fourth floor, no elevators. Just stairs and our luggage in the humid 90 degree weather. The room was old, sparse and unloved, but clean. It had all the necessities, but seriously lacked any comfort. I showered with my sandals on.
From our floor, we could see the beach and it looked really nice. So we changed into our swimsuits and headed across the street. The sand had a grainy, familiar feel. There were plenty of palm trees and the ocean even had a few waves breaking close to shore. Not breathtaking like Cap Cana, but it was a very pretty beach. And we made the best of it: picked out a spot to lounge for the rest of the afternoon. It was like our own secluded beach, almost eerie. Not many people around except for the security guards for the barren beach front resorts and the venders. Oh the vendors…they should really take a day off when there are only two people on the beach! Nate gave me an impromptu Spanish lesson which was fun and humbling. We read our books, listened to music and finished our beach time with yoga. Yes, Nate was in his itty-bitty shorts and oh my. It turned into much needed “laughing yoga”. We found a pose or two that did NOT work well with his shorts. I’m laughing just thinking about it, but I have to spare you all any details. You’re welcome.
Since we (I) didn’t love our room, we stayed outside the majority of both days. We combed the shores for unique shells and even found thin, flat rocks to skip across the water. It was simple and really fun. We took cover under a huge palm tree the second day. Boy, was it hot and our skin already took a beating the previous week. We also found a coffee shop and an Italian restaurant that were SO good. We visited each place twice–fantastic food and amazing service. A huge plus.
Up next: “Then We Left Paradise (Part II): Santo Domingo”