Siete Dias…dias uno y dos.
A trip planned as nine days became seven. Not a one was left without some story or view of interest. So, over the next several posts you can read some of the notes for the seven days spent on Hispaniola as well as check out some of the pictures. Starting with the first…
While at UNCW I played ultimate frisbee for the university team, the Seamen. This is how I met Boling. From there things became increasingly feckless, away from the field anyway. Like the time we visited Charlotte on the tab of my brother (then with the Carolina Panthers) and ended up knocking out another teammate with us on the trip with a well thrown spiral in the parking lot of my brother’s apartment complex somewhere just before dawn. There was the challenge to eat the full American breakfast at 2002 College Ultimate Nationals. Or perhaps the spitting shower-of-cheese incident in NY Pizza at 2am which first made it clear his fiance would be the perfect compliment to our friend. She gave him the cheese to reload after his first volcanic blast. For his bachelor weekend in Folly Beach, SC…well…I am relatively certain I was there. On the field Boling’s play was dominant and my trust for my teammate was unfaltering. He never gave reason to expect otherwise.
So, when he emailed to say he was having a destination wedding in the Dominican Republic there was no question. We were going. Sorting of funds revealed that the budget would be tight, but for Boling we would make it happen. Like jumping in an unlocked car to drive the remaining four blocks back to the beach house from “downtown” Folly (there were no keys, fortunately, a fact which did not prevent Boling from the attempt or the immediate backing from a mutual friend-couldn’t let our man go to county alone. “Uh Jill, we’ve lost Jon…”). The Excellence at Punta Cana is an all-inclusive resort. The attending members from families, the bachelor weekend and several graduating classes of Seamen players and their wives spent two and a half days making back the $300 nightly charge with Mammajuana (a spiced rum not a typo) and Presidenté beer. The resort was beautiful and the ceremony classic and, given all other noted anecdotes, surprisingly classy. Boling and his beautiful new bride Jill, as well as their families, were incredibly gracious and we counted ourselves lucky and honored to have been invited. To “day one”.
Since there will be new addition to “the notes” soon, it only made sense to take our friend’s bodé and tag on a few extra days before the now mandatory Disney excursion (read, find surf and go there after). The flights which were the most accommodating meant traveling through Miami. Here at the notes, Miami is avoided like connecting through Philly-a guaranteed disaster-or the removal of your fingernails by tweezers. There was the time “the notes” flew out of Miami when the travel bag was loosened by the cabbie and landed in the middle of I95 resulting in a near fatal stabbing with a broken fin. Another exchange resulted in a detaining in TSA security for questioning the sanity of one line of passport checks despite three podiums and four more attendants simply watching the first-a specter with both feet in the grave. Miraculously the little nod to the gods before boarding this time worked. The travel bag, with all clothes-lucky since “beach chic” is different from naked- were actually waiting under the thatched roof of the arrival baggage claim.
So, the first and second day? Well, I could bore you with tales of the limbo, Bo the friendly pooh bear and Iraq War gunner with seriously nice style, the complete upheaval of one wing of the resort resulting in non-wedding party guests dancing on their balconies surrounding the reception. There was also the snorkeling trip aboard a catamaran with Captain Valentino and his apron slogan “I may be shy, but I have a giant penis”. In the last case I would be lying since one look at the transfer pangas was enough for “the notes” to slip off and sleep it off under a palm-thatched beach hut. However, if you’re a reader here then you’re not interested in such trifles. You’re here for the surf and the travelogue. If you’ve travelled for surf then you know the on-time and ding-free arrival of your boards, especially when connecting through Miami, is a story. But just to tempt…
Punta Cana is resort filled and beautiful. Clean and well-kept for its target audience, the only danger may be the airport transport. The roads are actually better than say, Costa Rica, but the bravado of the drivers and their complete disregard for any sort of driving regulation often leaves the front seat passenger to close their eyes and wonder how bad this will hurt. Before leaving there were numerous warnings, “don’t leave the resort”. The transport to the resort would prove such advice unwarranted. Other than nearly blasting into a cow broadside around a blind turn, there was not even the danger one might find on the DC Metro. Third world yes, but no different from any others labeled such, excepting only the piratical hangover still present in the characters of some of the Dominican people and Hispaniola’s norms and morés. Excellence at Punta Cana even has a rolling wave reminiscent of Poipu Beach in Kauai if you want to cool off or work off a (several) Presidenté. While the rest of the days feature the stories of travel and surf, this one covers the first and the second and is really just to honor my friend and his new life with his now better half. Without them there would be no others and “the notes” would have still been stuck at work and in a 4/3 wetsuit with booties and gloves.
One last piece of advice…while staying at Excellence at Punta Cana be certain you do not draw a full sip of hot coffee before turning on channel vente-uno. What you will see will really scramble your head at 7:30am. Cuidado amigo.
Thank you Jon and Jill. Congratulations.