The morning of September 21, we left Jennifer's very early in order to catch our 6:00 am flight out of JFK in New York. We parked in long term parking. Pulling our wheeled luggage through the parking lot to hop on the terminal bus, the excitement was building. It would be smooth sailing from here as there was no line at either the ticket counter or baggage check in. We had plenty of time to grab a bagel and coffee at one of the shops prior to me popping my Dramamine and boarding the plane. We were flying from NY to Puerto Rico then connecting to a flight which would get us in Punta Cana early that afternoon.
We boarded the plane and my daughter gave me the window seat after we placed our carry-ons in the overhead compartment. I LOVE take offs and this one was smooth as silk. The flight was uneventful and we were both so full of smiles when we land in Puerto Rico...like two kids in a candy shop! De-boarding the plane and walking into the terminal, it seemed like a dream. Warmth and humidity was everywhere along with abundant sunshine and so many smiling, happy faces! Left behind were the long faced, grumpy travelers. Before we knew it, our flight to Punta Cana was ready for take off and would be boarding soon. Of course, the plane was significantly smaller with fewer passengers...but, it would all be worth it! Chatting with those that surrounded us and finding out where they were staying, made the trip seem even shorter than it was.
What we did not expect was what we found when we landed in the Dominican Republic! As the plane landed on the air strip, both of us eagerly looked out the window. "Jennifer, where's the terminal?" I asked. "Mom," she said rather matter-of-factly, "we're in the Dominican Republic, a small country...remember that." Suddenly I could see two airport workers pushing over a set of stairs for us to de-board, then grab our luggage as it came off the conveyor belt. The rest was a piece of cake...wheeling our bags across to the "entrance to the airport terminal" which had a thatched roof with straw sides! Yikes!!! For a minute, I thought I had fallen off the earth and into the story of the Three Little Pigs! My daughter caught me and just told me to keep smiling as we went inside with our luggage so go through customs and then get our ride to the Hotel.
We found the fellow from Apple Vacations and he helped us into a small minibus. I was still wearing my motion sickness wristbands...I never travel without them...so I knew that I'd be OK sitting in the second seat. As the drive pulled out of the "airport," we smiled at each other and then began to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Lush green vegetation, beautiful bushes with bright yellow or pink flowers lined the road. What a magnificent place.
It looked just like paradise...until we drove through town and saw how the locals lived. We knew that two women traveling alone should not go into town. We knew that we booked our trip, we would be staying on the Resort premises for the full five days and not venture out. My husband kept calling it a "compound."
A "compound" I thought as we neared the Resort. Perhaps Joe was right now that I'd seen what real life was like among the locals.
...to be continued