Friday, March 11, 2011

The Running of the Bu--er, Beds at Pamp--er, Puerto Plata

Along with our "deluxe" accommodations came the use of the "exclusive" section of the beach. This turned out to be a hundred yard expanse of beach equipped with mahogany canopy beds, numerous hot tubs, and two full-service bars. We first observed this phenomenon when we ate lunch at the sushi bar just above it. Our initial reaction was to mock the torpid guests who spent the entire day lolling on the mattresses while being served food and drink, interrupting their lethargy for an occasional dunk in the tubs or dip the ocean. I believe "walruses on an ice floe" might have been one of our dismissive terms.

Nevertheless, the four of us agreed that we had to experience this level of dissipation at least once, so on our last full day--a Friday, and our first anniversary--I joined the 7 AM line of revelers waiting to stake out a claim. It soon became apparent that I was the only person in line who didn't know exactly which territory he'd be attempting to mark. The guest in front of me warned, "When the door opens, it's like the Oklahoma land rush."

I looked behind me, and was relieved to see a short, fat Englishman. "No competition there," I thought, "and he might even be useful to impede swifter competitors further back in line."

At 8:00, the door was opened, and the guests hit the beach running. I attempted to retain a modicum of dignity by maintaining a fast walk until I saw the rotund Brit, legs churning like pistons, surge by me. I veered to the left toward the ocean and found two undisturbed king-size beach beds, which I claimed with two blue towels. Any article--a hat, a towel, a flip-flop--was enough to claim a bed. I had to warn away an interloper who had approached almost simultaneously from a different direction.

Relaxing, I began to survey my claim. I had staked out two king-size beds, all right, but there were problems. Of all the canopy beds, these two alone had no sheeting threaded through the canopies, and they were the only beds set up as gliders rather than on platforms. These conditions might be problematic when your wife of one year is blond, fair-skinned, and prone to motion sickness.

I looked around and saw the beds I should have claimed: two abutting, fully sheeted, platform kings. But alas, a single green baseball cap marked them as belonging to another. As I gazed wistfully, a young woman suddenly removed the hat.

"Are you leaving these?" I asked.

"Yeah, I grabbed these on the way by, just in case. They're all yours."

I quickly peeled off my shirt and hurled it onto the beds, just ahead of a flip-flop that came from 30 feet away. The mother ship was ours!

Having marked the territory, I was free to join Kathy, Joan, and Boss for breakfast. We arrived back at the beach at about 9:30 and started our day with a round of Bloody Mary's. Over the next seven hours, we consumed champagne, beer, beach drinks, salsa and chips, sushi, and fried chicken, moving off the mattresses only to swim and use the facilities.

Except for Joan, that is. She did the entire seven hours without once leaving the mother ship, not even for a bathroom break.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Puerto Plata 2010

This year's trip to the Dominican Republic brought relief from an unusually cold and snowy winter. We made excursions to the city for shopping and to the Cascada, and Boss and I went on a fishing trip, but most days we split between the beach and the pools.
We paused for a cold one before attempting the long hike along (and through) the river to the waterfalls.

Joan  and Kathy settle in for lunch at the blue Lagoon.

The crew poses in front of the Puerto Plata city hall.

An amenity that seems to be a bit over the top: beds on the beach. More on this phenomenon later.