Friday, March 13, 2009

the all-inclusive diaries

(This is a piece I wrote for the Gringo Grita about our all-inclusive experience. It's targeted at PCVs so it might be a little heavy on the Spanglish and PC in-jokes, sorry.)

The All-Inclusive Diaries

Monday, February 23, 2009

11:00am:
Despite universally agreeing upon the fact that we are “not really Resort People,” given that my mom found a $50 per person rate online, my visiting parents and I depart for a four-night stay at an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Plata.

3:00pm: We reach the turnoff for Playa Dorada and realize that we have lost the printed-off email confirmation for our resort. My mom remembers that it is called “Something Village.”

3:30pm: After stopping at the Caribbean Village Resort, the Caribbean Occidental Village, and the Wyndham Viva (because, maybe?), we successfully check into the Puerto Plata Village and receive our blinding neon yellow bracelets, the caste mark of the rich white tourist.

3:35pm:
After entering our room for the first time, I set my suitcase down, step outside, and immediately realize that I have locked our only key inside the room.

3:40pm: I sheepishly return to our room escorted by a security guard with the master key. He opens the room and I retrieve the key, which I will wear on a lanyard around my neck for the rest of the week to avoid future such incidents.

4:00pm:
My mom and I change into our swimsuits and head to the poolside bar, where we both get fruity pink drinks.

4:10pm: My mom and I get second fruity pink drinks. I get a stomachache and have to go lie down. My mom makes fun of my low alcohol tolerance. Doesn’t she know I am a mujer seria?

5:45pm:
We head off to the all-inclusive buffet dinner. I survey the buffet’s myriad meaty options and have the following exchange with one of the waiters:
““Um, what food is vegetarian?”

“The vegetables.”

I eat a plate of vegetables (and chocolate cake) and drink water. My mom points out that I could just pick the chunks of meat out of the beans and eat them. I decline.

7:30pm:
We return to our room, watch CSI, and enjoy the air conditioning and hot showers. After a couple hours, rather than check out the undoubtedly lame hotel discoteca, I lamely go to bed.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

7:00am:
I wake up disoriented. Where am I? (The Something Village.) Why is it so dark in here? (Curtains!) Why is it so cold in here? (Air conditioning!) What time is it? (7am. Try to keep up, here.)

9:00am: My parents and I head over to the breakfast buffet. I eat four different kinds of bread, although one of them is gross and I only eat one bite before discreetly slipping it onto my mom’s plate.

9:05am: My dad fixes our wobbly breakfast table by wedging a butter knife under one of the legs, to the approbation of two passing waiters.
10:00am: We take the shuttle to the beach, where all of the non-broken lounge chairs are already taken by extremely tanned individuals. We find three empty broken chairs and lie down in them.
10:30am: My mom sends me to the beach bar to get more fruity pink drinks, from which I abstain.

11:30am: I get up from my broken chair to swim for awhile in the ocean.

11:45am:
I accidentally swallow a lot of saltwater and have to come drink some fresh water and lie down for awhile.

1:00pm:
We get lunch at the resort’s beachside restaurant. I am again disappointed by the highly carnivorous options available and my mom tells me to pick the bacon off the rice.

2:00pm: My mom buys a magnetic bracelet from a passing vendor. My dad and I conduct important experiments to find out what will and will not stick to it. (Yes: silverware [kind of], the other end of the bracelet. No: the room key, other bracelets, Mom’s iPod.)

3:15pm: My mom considers getting her hair braided. I point out another middle-aged white woman with braided hair and say, “That’s what you will look like.”

3:16pm: My mom decides against getting her hair braided.

4:45pm: I take the shuttle back to the resort and take a really long hot shower. I shave my legs for the first time in, um, awhile, and cut myself and bleed all over the shower.

5:30pm:
I take a walk around the resort grounds and discover that what I had thought was an abstract sculpture is actually the giant pot that was used to make the Guiness World Records-certified World’s Largest Sancocho. I mentally add one star to our hotel’s original three-star rating.

6:45pm: My parents and I play a game called “Seriously, Look What that Person’s Wearing.” It’s a game everyone wins, except for the people wearing those things.

7:00pm: Seriously, that man is wearing a Hawaiian shirt with only the middle button buttoned, look at him!

8:10pm:
Returning to my room, I stop by the lobby to see if they have wireless Internet there. They do, but it costs US$2 per 15 minutes. That’s like $250 pesos an hour! I thought everything here was included. This is una basura. I go back to the room and watch TV instead until bedtime.



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

10:00am: After a leisurely breakfast, we depart for Playa Sosua. (The resort offered US$40/person Snorkeling Excursions to Sosua, but we figured we could just drive there and rent snorkels on our own. We’re not really Resort People.)

10:45am:
We arrive at Playa Sosua. (It’s not that far from our resort, but my dad kept stopping to take pictures of potholes and motorcycles.)

11:00am: I regetear for our chairs. Having my parents in tow significantly dampens the effectiveness of my standard No soy una turista line.

12:30pm: After offering oranges to some hungry kids, we learn that beggars can be choosers and we agree to give them our Pringles instead of the oranges. (We try for in addition to the oranges so at least they would get some vitamins, but they did not want them.)

3:00pm: My mom and I rent snorkels. Dad takes a look at the rough ocean and decides to stay on land.

3:45pm: I get kind of seasick and swallow some saltwater and have to go lie down for awhile. I am not very good at the ocean.

5:30pm:
We return to the safe confines of our resort and I take the most amazing hot shower ever.

8:30pm:
We arrive to the Caribbean a la carte restaurant and I am dismayed to discover that it is basically just an upscale plato del dia place. Um, if I wanted to eat moro, I could have stayed home. At least we get free wine with dinner here, unlike most Doña places.

10:30pm: Bedtime. We turn up the air conditioning to give us an excuse to use all the blankets on the bed.


Thursday, February 26, 2009



10:30am:
I sit out by the pool. I am surrounded by cautionary tales who remind me to apply (and re-apply) sunblock.

3:00pm: My parents and I leave the resort once again to ride the cable car in Puerto Plata. The car breaks down for awhile right before we board, but they fix it and we all survive the trip up the mountain.

5:00pm: We all survive the trip down the mountain, gracias al Señor. My mom does a little shopping in downtown Puerto Plata, but I get stressed out by the in-your-face sellers and we leave quickly. I don’t care how cheapie-cheapie it is, I do not want to buy a T-shirt with Bob Marley on it or a bottle of mamajuana.

8:00pm: We get dinner at the Italian a la carte restaurant, which notably has multiple veggie options. Plus, according to my parents, my spinach ravioli was better than either of their seafood dishes. The vegetarian wins one! Plus, I drank a ton of red wine without getting sick.


Friday, February 27, 2009

9:00am:
My parents and I vow to eat three meals worth of food at breakfast, since it’s our last all-inclusive meal. I probably get one and a half, maybe two meals worth. I could have done more if the waffles had been good, but they were absurdly tough and chewy. I do take delight in the label for pancakes--all the buffet food is quadrilingually labelled (Spanish, English, French, and German), but apparently the word for pancakes is the same in every language, leading to an excited-looking sign that reads "Pancakes/Pancakes/Pancakes/Pancakes."

10:00am:
We check out of the resort. The receptionist cuts our bracelets off and stashes them somewhere. Plastic resort bracelets must be big on the black market.

4 comments:

Priscilla said...

You need cautionary tales to remind you to apply sunblock? How the mighty have fallen! You were the sunblock-applying master who trained me!

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