First I want to apologize for the lack of photos in this post. As you’ll soon read, I spent most of the trip sick and didn’t end up taking many.
In May of 2014, I went to the Dominican Republic with my friend Jesse and her family. They have had timeshares for many years but had decided to get rid of them and were using the last couple weeks. We flew down Friday night, landing mid-day on Saturday. Upon arrival, we spent some time checking in, purchasing water, planning our week, etc. We decided to eat lunch at the hotel as we were all starving and exhausted from traveling. During the meal, a guy from the hotel came out to sell us a meal plan for the week. All your breakfast and all your dinners for the low, low price of $200! But wait! They’ll also throw in a show Sunday night and a show Thursday night. All drinks are included for those two nights only! I would have laughed, but everyone else thought this was a great deal. I debated not purchasing it, but didn’t feel I could if everyone was going to these shows.
Sunday morning we wake up to be told that breakfast wasn’t going to be served at our hotel, they were shuttling us to a place nearby. Another timeshare, of course. Breakfast was fine, but as soon as we were done, they packed us into a golf cart and we started off on a tour of the hotels grounds. Of course it was very beautiful and made the place we were staying seem sub-par. But I kept thinking, “Aren’t you supposed to get your meals for free when you do a timeshare thing?” After a couple hours of touring (and some margarita’s which were probably non-alcoholic), we came to the negotiating part. Since neither Jesse or I were going to be purchasing anything, we found the pool and started ordering drinks. We even ordered lunch to make sure we got something out of the tour. Finally another hour later, her parents came back having not purchased anything, and we made our way back to the hotel.
That night was the first of our shows, and it just so happened to be back at the big timeshare. In my mind, I envisioned something akin to a hula show in Hawaii. It’s touristy, but part of the culture and fun to experience at least once. I was hoping for a similar cultural experience here. When we arrived, we were told we weren’t allowed to enter and a big to do was made about letting us in. After we had that sorted, we found ourselves amongts 4,000 Americans fighting over food at the buffet. Our table was so far away from the stage we had to watch on a screen set up for the people at the back. And when the show finally started, it was two singers singing covers of American pop songs and more of the timeshare sales pitch. Really? We came all this way for this? At least there was fireworks.
Monday was Labor Day observed in DR. Nothing was open and every Dominican was at the beach by our hotel. Imagine that postcard you’ve seen of a beach packed with more people than you humanly thought possible, and that’s what it was like. Instead, we decided to drive to Santiago and see what we could see, knowing little would be open. After admiring the Monument to Heroes of the Restoration, we found a place to eat lunch before walking around a bit, then heading back to Puerto Plata. It rained much of the afternoon, so we stayed indoors reading and watching TV.
When everyone decided it was time for dinner, I wasn’t very hungry, but knowing the service at the hotel, decided I probably would be by the time it arrived. When my food was served, I took one bite and knew I couldn’t take another. I really wasn’t feeling well and decided to head back to the hotel to lie down. Approximately 5 minutes later, I found myself in the bathroom, quite sick indeed. Sparing you the gory details, I spent most of the rest of the night in the bathroom, feeling like I was going to die. I slept little and didn’t really feel like I could go back to bed until morning.
Tuesday I spent most of the day alternating between sleeping and trying to eat a bit of toast or rice. I felt somewhat better and was OK to leave the bathroom for longer periods of time. But I was exhausted from the night before and had no desire to do much else.
By Wednesday I was feeling mostly human, but still not eating much. It rained in the morning so I was able to rest more, but the sun came out a bit in the afternoon, so we all went down to the now deserted beach to finally do some real vacationing. After several hours of relaxing, we headed back in for dinner. Jesse and her mom weren’t really hungry, but decided to join us anyway, though they ended up not really being able to eat much. Sure enough, a short time later, they were both in the bathroom being very sick with the same food poisoning I had, though not quite as violent. As I had just gone through that, I really felt bad for them.
Thursday was nice, but since we had two more sick people trying to recover, I ended up going to the beach by myself for the day. The rest of the crew couldn’t roam that far away from the bathroom. It was a relaxing day for me, but not quite what I had in mind when envisioning a vacation in the Caribbean. This was also supposed to be our second night of shows, but knowing it was at the big timeshare again, and since most of the group was not well, we skipped it and went to a nice Italian place just up the road. Really wish we could have eaten there more instead of at the hotel.
Friday was my last day on the island and my flight home was at 1pm. It was a nice morning and Jesse and her mom were feeling just well enough to walk around Puerto Plata for a bit on the way to the airport. We saw the Amber Museum, which has ties to the movie Jurassic Park, and walked around the town square. It is really small and there isn’t much to see, but it was better than being sick in a hotel room!
I finally made it to the airport for my flight home, realizing that this was one of the few times I actually couldn’t wait to leave a vacation spot. It had been one of the worst trips I have ever been on and I probably would have been better off staying home and saving the money. But on the positive side, I got to spend time with Jesse and her family, who have always been like a second family to me. And as my own mom quickly reminded me when I told her about it, I’m lucky with all the traveling I do, and all the countries I’ve been to, that I don’t get sick more often. Touche Mom. Touche.