Left My Heart In Punta Cana

 I’ve been on some pretty good vacations, weekends in New York City, and most recently in Washington DC, but I haven’t been on a beach vacation in almost ten years. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but going to the Dominican Republic has always been a dream of mine, so I was ready for the experience. I had no idea how much fun I would have and that it would be a week I will never, ever forget.

We stayed at the Riu Palace Punta Cana. I had no idea what it would be like, and reading some reviews before we left, I wasn’t sure what kind of experience we were going to have. It was the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever seen. From the food, to the beach, and most importantly the people who worked there, it was a wonderful time. I have nothing bad to say about our hotel.

The first thing I had to get used to in Punta Cana was the heat. As soon as we stepped off the plane, the heat slapped me in the face, fogging up my glasses, choking me. It felt like I couldn’t breathe. It took me a good two days to get used to the heat. On our first full day, we spend the whole day at the beach and lounging by the pool. In the evening, we sat outside, sipping drinks and watched the nightly show. It was so relaxing and fun.

We left the hotel complex only once to do a tour, where we got to see the real Punta Cana. We visited a village, saw a school, learned about the natural resources they produce like coffee and chocolate and tried the famous Dominican drink Mama Juana. Then we went on a
zip line that was scary, but so fun and went horseback riding. Riding a horse was on my bucket list. It was always something I wanted to do, but I’m terrified of horses. I conquered my fear and got on the horse, and then it proceeded to go crazy. It kept wandering away to stand in the shade, it wouldn’t walk the path, or do what it was supposed to. I was freaking out, but it was a good experience. Would I do it again? I’m not so sure.

In the evenings, my sister and I danced the night away at Pacha Disco, a quick bus ride from our hotel. I was a bit scared to go there, mostly because I didn’t know what to expect or what it would be like. But going there was one of the best decisions I made on the trip. It was so much fun watching people dance to bachata and merengue, and eventually it was fun to dance to it myself. We met a lot of great people at that club and had fun every time we were there.

The best part of the trip was making friends with the employees of the hotel. Everyone was super friendly, and worked so hard. Breakfast and dinner were our favorite parts of the day because of the waiters. They’d surround our table and make us laugh, put flowers in our hair, teach us Spanish words. We’d have two hour dinners because we just wanted to keep hanging out with them. Shout out to everyone who worked at the Palace. They made our trip so memorable.

On the last day, there were tears. We’ve already made a pact to go back next summer, no matter what. To me, the most important thing was getting away from everyday life and just relaxing. I left my phone at home. WiFi was only available in the lobby, so I’d go on the internet for less than ten minutes. I didn’t think about the shows I missed (I doubt I’m even going to watch the BET Awards this year), I didn’t care what people were saying on Twitter, or Facebook. Being away from technology put things in to perspective. I’m going to try to cut down on my social media time and try to focus on other things. I also lost a lot of weight down there, which is weird since there was food everywhere, but I want to keep it off, so I’m going to watch what I eat.

It’s a little disappointing being back home and back to regular life, but I have memories to last a lifetime and the promise that we’ll be back next summer.

The Dominican Republic just stole my heart.

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