by Stephen Johnson
I knew it was time to get out of Ottawa when the water truck servicing our airplane froze up. Luckily, our flight still got off the ground and we were on our way to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
By the time we reached our resort, Dreams Palm Beach, it was already past midnight. Perhaps it was the warm air or trading in Christmas pine trees for palm trees but I wasn’t the least bit tired. My wife Sandy and I were craving something to eat while our son, David was thirsty. Even though it was 1 a.m., there was still a late-night restaurant open that served pizza, hamburgers and cool tropical drinks.
The following morning or should I say early afternoon, we woke up and set out to explore the resort. It was nice to put on flipflops instead of heavy winter boots. After a satisfying light lunch, we made our way to the beach. We took a refreshing dip in the water and then wanted to go for a walk. One thing I loved about Punta Cana was that there were no barriers along the beach between resorts. We strolled for about a mile or two along the beach without anyone telling us we were trespassing. There were a number of vendors selling wares ranging from fresh coconuts to paintings. They were always respectful and I realized it was how they made their living.
After about an hour or so of walking, we made our way back to the resort and continued our exploring. This naturally led us to hang out at the pool. There were two main pools, which suited our needs perfectly.
David had read online that the resort had a foosball table. Of course, he had to challenge me to a game. Once our time at the pool was done, we went to the teen zone where it was game on! Back in the day, I was quite a legend at foosball, but sadly, I guess my skills have diminished with age. David handily beat his Papa … but there is always an opportunity for a rematch.
With my tail between my legs, I suggested it was time for supper. We changed from our beachwear into more formal clothes. We had tried the Japanese grill at other Dreams, where they prepare your food in front of you. David loved the experience and saw they had the same type of restaurant. We did not regret the decision as our chef put on quite a show, deftly cutting, slicing and dicing. The chef even included David by inviting him to help cook. It was a cool experience for David and the food tasted great as well.
After our supper, we went to see the live show and discovered it was an 70s and 80s musical dance revue. While David, did not know all the music, he did enjoy the dancing and especially responded to the song, I Will Survive, which has been featured in numerous movies.
The following morning, we got up bright and early to go on an excursion. We had decided to book a spot on the Seaquarium adventure. We were picked up at our resort by bus and soon arrived at the beach. The main activity we had chosen was an underwater walk made possible wearing SEATREK diving helmets. We hopped on the boat and our guides provided instruction about the underwater excursion. David, Sandy and I were fitted with our helmets and we were soon walking on the ocean floor. It can only be described as an otherworldly experience. Brilliant tropical fish were swimming around us and we also got to see a sunken submarine. The entire time, there were diving instructors with us ensuring we had a safe experience. After a magical time under water it was time to come to the surface.
We got back on the boat and off to our next experience. We were to go snorkeling with manta rays and sharks. This sounds a lot scarier than it really was. The sharks were not great whites but the smaller nurse sharks that were cool to observe. It was also neat to get a close-up view of the manta rays. David was in heaven as he channeled his inner Jacques Cousteau. After the snorkeling, we received a sloppy kiss from a sea lion. I am happy to say that my wife is a much better kisser than the marine mammal!
For the final activity, we were taken to a shallow spot in the sea where the water was the perfect temperature and the waves were not strong. It was perfect for swimming and relaxing. Besides the great activities, I found Seaquarium provided an ideal way to see the Dominican coastline. The staff members on the boat were friendly and a lot of fun. They taught us Dominican dances like merengue and bachata. I can confirm that I certainly have two left feet.
Soon enough, we were back on shore and heading back to the resort. Once we had put on suitable dining attire, we had a delectable seafood supper and later enjoyed the casual rhythms of a saxophonist. Sandy assured me that my two left feet were slightly improving from our short time in the Dominican but I am still not sure!