El Portillo Beach - The journey to get there

Trip Start May 14, 2002
Trip End May 28, 2002

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Flag of Dominican Republic  ,
Tuesday, May 14, 2002

                                       Arrival & Hotel

My then boyfriend and I barely made it to the airport in Munich for our first vacation together and once on board time did not fly by...  It had something to do with 10 hours of economy class... But back then there was something to ease the suffering:  Free alcohol on international flights!  Those were the days...

Finally off the plane we hopped on the bus for a "quick" busride from Puerto Plata to Las Terrenas (3.5 hours!!!).  Well I guess you could say at least we got to see the country side.   One thing we hadn't planned for were elections!  Why does that matter?  Well lets just say there wasn't much else going on and EVERYONE was on the streets joining the mile long parades.  Thank goodness there were only three parties... Each parade was quite a crowd gathering with music and mopeds and pretty girls... Quite an experience - everyone was enjoying it - except for us since we couldn't pass and were forced to ride it out - they had radios mounted on bicycles and scooters!

After an additional 2 hours of parading we switched at a meeting point to a smaller bus and started the drive from Hell.  Up and down over steep hills, dirt paths and serpentine roads.  Not to mention the crater sized pot holes and the fact that our driver only had a tiny slot in the windshield to navigate the roads.  Everything else was taped off with black tape to keep the sunlight out.

17 hours after hopping on the plane, we arrived at our resort:  The El Portillo Beach Resort which is now the Gran Bahia Principe El Portillo.

We quickly checked the beach and immediately felt all the exhaustion and jet-lag fall off, when we saw the gorgeous water, palm forests, endless beaches and most importantly not a single soul in sight.

During our 14 day stay at the El Portillo Beach resort we took advantage of our all inclusive package and here's our list of "Have to have" drinks:

~Rum Punch
~Amor des mis Amores
~Gin Tonic
~Pina Colada
~Ron Sunrise
~Cuba Libre

I highly recommend to enjoy these drinks in a cozy, shallow place in the water.  First the ambiance is unbeatable and second you won't realize that you're being roasted alive.  After building up some courage (and blood alcohol) we decided to snorkel around the coral reefs that were everywhere (this place is not for surfers!). 

Evertime you get close to a reef the ocean floor seems to drop off and my heart started to join into the Merengue beat.  For those of you that don't know what that beat is listen to this.  I couldn't shake off the feeling that it wasn't Flipper that was waiting for me.  Nothing another Rum punch can't take care of!

We enjoyed the snorkeling, but eventually my hubby ventured off to start windsurfing.  Quite courageous with all the coral reefs right underneath the board.  Unfortunately we had to take some time outs due to skin shedding.  It wasn't long before we ran out of sunlotion, no problem they sell it at the resort.  The price is an issue though.  A mere $32.00 per bottle @ the gift shop. 

Too greedy to spend that kind of money on sun lotion we decided to buy the foolproof and "best-thing-you'll-ever-try" version from a beach vendor:  Coconut oil.  I'd like to blame the fact that we actually bought it on the rum. Especially since it came in a rum bottle...  Needless to say - regular coconut oil does little to protect you from the sun - but it did guve my hubby a nice bubbly rash.  Serves us right, doesn't it :)

We eased into the hotel life and I soon knew how to spot and hide from the animator that tried to drag me into the water for aqua aerobics.  At night we enjoyed the hotel entertainment.  First up was a dance show that was super funny because the dancers kept slipping on the sandy stage.  I'm not sure that was part of the show, but it was hilarious. Next up was a Michael Jackson show that starred a black Michael with white make-up. 

I should mention the beach vendors.  Every day they came by, carrying heavy bags full of statues, rolls of paintings or other have-to-have's.  Some were really nice and I felt bad for not buying something, so we decided to get the poor slob a beer - after all it's free for us.  Well that was a mistake because it made news and we had various vendors coming by asking us for a drink and suddenly we were serving drinks to the locals on our vacation.

Here's a cute story one of the vendors told me:

Once upon a time Americans came to the island and tried to get the natives to stop believing in vodoo.  They sent priests to baptise them. The citizens of the Domenican Republic are now 90% catholic, but they believe 100% in vodoo.  

Cute isn't it?

Our busdriver told us on the way to the hotel that it rains every day, but we didn't experience any rain well into our second week.  When it did come though it poured - outside and inside...  We had little containers all over our room catching the water coming through the roof.  To this day I think this was very romantic, but my husband didn't share this view.

So much for the hotel, but there's much more to see in the Dominican Republic than what's on the hotel grounds.  So let's move on to "Los Haiteses", where trees grow in the middle of the ocean.

Make sure you check out the other pictures in the photo gallery!
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