At the beach
At the Cave
In 2009, I was fortunate to combine work and play in the sun-swept resort of Iberostar PUNTA CANA in the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.
As a professional tennis coach, I applied for a teaching gig through a site named vacationing coaches which catered to professionals at various Caribbean resorts for a maximum two week stay. I was torn between DOMINICAN REPUBLIC and Jamaica, however, after a coin toss-up I was heading to the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC in style. Fortunately as a tennis professional all my expenses were paid albeit my flight. My assignment was straightforward: As the visiting tennis pro I was to teach guests ranging from beginners to advanced for two hours a day. After teaching it was my time to not only relax but to explore the resort and beyond. I vividly remember arriving at Punta Cana International Airport back in July 2009, It had a real party atmosphere to it and upon arrival guests were met by a live band playing Merengue music which is a style of Dominican music and dance. In addition, arriving guests were welcomed by local dancers who showcased their moves to the beat of the drum.
IBEROSTAR PUNTA CANA
Iberostar Punta Cana is absolutely breathtaking! As a guest you have everything to your avail from live entertainment, beach parties, a fitness gym and an array of local and International cuisine. The resort offers buffet and a la carte restaurants which I would say was delicious, exquisite and FRESH. From Fruits, plaintains, fish, empandas and chicken, I could go on and on but you might salivate whilst reading my blog so best you experience it for yourself. I honestly could not stop eating at the breakfast table, lunch and at dinner. I was usually the first one to arrive for dinner and also the last one to leave. Oh, I forgot to mention the sandy white beaches, which surprisingly was not packed for the time of year.The beaches are super clean, and for the first time in years I was able to disconnect from the outside world for a couple of hours which was pure tranquility. There is something for everyone at this resort, if you wish for peace you get that, if one wishes for adventure there is plenty of that too.
WHAT TO DO IN THE CITY
I signed up for the excursions, which included horseback riding, quad biking and a visit to the Hoyo Azul cave which is a natural pool with crystal clear blue water, formed at the base of a giant cliff. I did not have the balls to jump in but it is definitely on the bucket list for my next visit. The quad bikes were amazing, it actually drizzled that day but that did not curb my excitement. The horseback riding was also a memorable experience.
The Basilica Cathedral & nightlife
During the excursion, I met a native by the name of Johnnie who is and remains a loyal friend today. Johnnie and I exchanged numbers and the next day he met me at the resort and together we explored the city . The city was vibrant with many street vendors and historical signposts. Dominican Republic's Uber service involves being affixed to the back seat of a speeding motorbike. That was actually my first time on the back of a motorbike, speeding around town without any head protection. Thankfully we made it in one piece to our destination and I tipped my driver for coming away unscathed. I recall visiting a cathedral named The Basilica Cathedral Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia.
The Cathedral was huge with lots of historical content. My tour guide and friend, Johnnie, introduced me to many of his friends and family. The City had non-stop activities with many clubs to choose from. Luckily I teamed up with a girl who worked at Iberostar and she had her friend took me out to a nightclub playing a wide array of American tunes and Dominican music. The club scene is not too different to anything you may have experienced in the UK or Stateside, but one thing Dominicans know how to do is dance, so be prepared to bring your A game.
From the moment I set foot off the plane to my final day on the resort I felt so much warmth and love from Dominicans. I was humbled to witness people constantly smiling and joyful to have quite honestly not much. Granted the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC is considered a third world It definitely was a trip which pricked my conscious as to how lucky and fortunate I was. I didn't speak a word of Spanish (I know shame on me) and Johnnie had a rudimentary understanding of the English word but thankfully we were able to communicate okay. I would definitely recommend brushing up on your Spanish especially if you intend on touring the city and mingling with the locals, this is not to say English is completely foreign but to reference the adage, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. The average income in DOMINICAN REPUBLIC is something like 6000 pesos a month, that's the equivalent to $130 a month. Again with many natives not producing enough income it dawned on me how many make it thru a day let alone a month. Speaking to a few natives it was easy to gauge many draw their strength from God and take religion seriously. Dominican Republic may not have the resources or opportunities as say the United States but it definitely makes up for its enriched culture, hospitality, breathtaking scenery and last but not least good food.