In early May, Bart and I had the good fortune to attend an ELITE trip for work in Punta Cana (yep, the Dominican Republic). Top performers from all around the world brought their “biggest fan” to the all-inclusive Secrets Royal Beach resort for a fun-filled long weekend.
Let’s start with the many, many things I learned:
- There’s such a thing as a Mobile Passport that can be used for international travel and can shave an hour off your re-entry to 24 US airports. If you travel abroad, just do it.
- Don’t take a “long weekend” trip to Punta Cana from LA. While it’s beautiful and worth a visit, it took us 34 total hours of travel door-to-door to get there and home again, for two days on the island. Though I will argue that 4 hours on a beach is more restorative to me than most things in the world.
- Don’t buy rum at the airport. We took just one tourist excursion off the resort (more to follow) where we got real local rum AND Bart bought a different “recommended” small bottle at airport. No comparison. Oh, and coconut or caramel rum is pretty delicious.
- It’s a challenge to stay on a Keto diet while on vacation in another country at an all-inclusive resort. I WILL say we did a pretty great job, considering, but how do you NOT have a Piña Colada in the DR? (yes, it’s called “the D-R”)
I was also reminded how great our company is at hiring incredible people. The VERY BEST part of the trip was getting to see people I rarely see in person but who are really terrific – and meeting the friends and family they choose to bring with them. This was my 3rd ELITE trip. May that continue!
Before travel, our daughters had a few things to send along with us. Actually, Ella had begun this practice two trips ago when I traveled – even beginning to just drop random things in my bag before work that I “needed”. For this trip, she handed me a small zippered bag with #LOVEYOU on it (how do you turn THAT down? you don’t), stuffed very full with odd items.
I let her know that I wasn’t going to be able to bring all that on a plane, so she pared it down to a unicorn named Mara (it’s a My Little Pony toy so I’m pretty sure its name is not Mara…) and a tiny sand-filled hourglass, which I promptly attempted to give back. She got a very serious look on her face and said to me, “No, Mom. It’s for PROTECTION.” If you’re wondering, I STILL carry that in my bag. Zoe gave Pusheen the Cat, a rather sassy cat, if you ask me, maybe to remind me to be sassy.
And so, that’s how these items ended up in Punta Cana:
For our “off-resort” adventure, we were taken 15 minutes away to what I can only call a “compound” with 6 hut-like buildings, one of which was the Choco Museo. They routed our small group of 6 clearly tourists through each building, as follows:
Here they made cigars onsite, and our lovely German tour guide told us all about it while we watched men roll cigars.
No photo, but I did come home with a ring and a pendant, both Larimar, which is a mystical looking blue stone found only in the Dominican Republic.
You guessed it. A straight-up souvenir shop with “Punta Cana” on everything and all sorts of “I swear this is local” items.
RUM (or was it YUM?)
This hut had a bar inside with a friendly bartender who gave “rum tastings” and where Bart bought his actually GOOD rum. Here’s my friend Cheryl (who I work with) and my mostly empty tiny shots of rum:
Again, no picture, but imagine anything that COULD have coffee in it. They sold it. Soap, chocolate covered coffee beans, lots of mugs and such, even HONEY from coffee blooms. Who knew?
The final hut was the Choco Museo (Chocolate Museum in English) mentioned above, where they featured chocolate made by hand in that very shop, and we had an absolutely delicious cup of hot cocoa. They sold the cocoa, but I am certain what we drank was quite doctored, filled with frothy milk and cinnamon. They also sold cocoa butter and other beauty products.
Our on-site adventure was a variety of “shows” hosted in central areas, including this ROCK one, where if you look closely you’ll see how freaky/interesting it is to watch a very American show performed in a very non-American country.
Sure, that could have happened to anyone, anywhere. You’d have to have been there to feel the difference, but I will never stop believgni – or hear that Journey song the same.
While we were away, Zoe had a local theater performance that our friends, Holly & Amanda (who watched the girls) made sure she was able to attend. We bought the DVD and got this picture of “the cast”:
I feel so thankful to have been able to enjoy even a brief trip to another country (I love to travel and in particular other cultures), and all-in-all, we had a lovely time.
¡Viva Punta Cana!