Monday, December 27, 2010

Punta Cana Revisited

Our trip in the week before Christmas (with the kids at 2.5years and 10months of age and my parents)

Starting from the airplane ride, the trip was not nearly as peaceful as when we made it only with Martin at 10 months of age. Valentin is at exactly the same age now, but unlike his brother, this boy MOVES. He slept very little and was quite fidgety for the rest of the trip. Even flying with my parents and taking turns to hold him did not give us much break.
The hotel, Barcelo Dominican Beach, was quite older than the one we stayed last time, but the property grounds were big and well-kept. The rooms were extremely humid and decorated in cheesy floral hotel colors - thank goodness we did not have to spend long hours in them! Only the first day and a half were rainy and we had gorgeous weather for the rest of our stay. We stayed on the beach as much as we could. It felt unreal to be in a bathing suit after leaving Charlotte with layers of sweaters, coats, hats and gloves.

Mini Disco

Before the main show every evening, there was a show for kids consisting of playing kids music, one lady showing the moves and all kids that dared go on stage following her. The first night I asked Martin if he wanted to dance on stage, he said 'Yes' and I took him there leaving him with the rest of the kids. He started following the moves - step forward - kick, step backward - turn around, hands up... then he stopped, looked around and noticed all the audience staring at the stage and suddenly his smile turned downwards, he saw me and ran to me crying. We watched the show till the end and joined the last song (about the train) together...
The next evening Martin went on stage by himself and did not come back till the whole show was over. He was trying to follow all the moves and was having a great time! Every morning he would wake up singing some of the songs from the evening ("Hands up! Baby, Hands up! Give me your hart, give me, give me, your heart - give me give me! All your love!", "Veo veo! Que ves? Una cosita. Y que cosita es?... ", etc. etc.).

Martin also made two girlfriends from the very first day - Luciana (3) from Peru and Maria(2) from Chicago. He would 'date' one of them during breakfast and in the pool and the other at the Christmas tree in the lobby (after dinner) and all throughout the discoteque. They would go on stage together and although Maria would be in her own parallel world dancing to what seemed a totally different music, both of them would often check on what the other is doing... They were very cute together!
At the end of each show every kid will get a small bag of hard candy. Grandpa taught him to put it in his pocket and wait for the next morning to eat it! He indulged into every single candy the next day, kind of like Israel and I savor our morning coffee with occasional chocolate bar.
One day, there was a kids party at the pool. They played the mini disco hits and played some games. Martin won the game where kids in a circle pass along a ball after receiving it from their neighbour and turning around. When the music stops the kid having the ball has to leave the circle. Fast turning around and passing the ball was key to winning, but Martin was taking his time and enjoying it! Still, he won!
Another night, they had a similar game on stage in the evening. They interviewed each kid leaving the circle: "Como te llamas? De donde vienes?". When Martin's turn came, he said his name, but to 'De Donde vienes?' he answered "De donde?" one evening and "de Venezuela" the next. And then they made him say "Chipi-chupi!" before they gave him the bag with candy. He was so cute - the youngest one on stage to have to do that...

The Baby

Valentin will probably become a mountain climber one day. He loved to climb the beach lounge chairs with the head position up. Even getting a blister on his toe did not stop him from constantly trying to climb over. He always tries to put his feet on an elevated surface - be it the table, the arm rests of chair, or anything higher than the ground. Unlike Martin at this age, he did not mind at all the sand getting all over his face and mounth. I think he liked the taste of it - he continued sucking his thumb no matter how much sand there was on it and did not flinch a bit. He also enjoyed the Chrismas tree in the lobby, but for slightly different reasons - there were so many ornaments he could touch, taste, throw and too little time to do it. He was fast and my dad could hardly keep up with him.

Food & Drink
The main buffet was our favorite. The freshly squeezed juices of banana, melon, watermelon, pineapple, papaya were the best part! We could find queso fresco, passion fruit, plantains, fish and mariscos. But even chicken had a totally different flavor than the hormone-grown chickens we eat in US. The a-la-carte restaurants were not great, but were a break from buffet food which inevitably comes in great quantities...
Martin was very cute noticing every person's use of Spanish: "Lelichkata (la senora)/chichkoto (el senor) habla Espanol!"
Alcohol drinks were also included. And here is where all these All Inclusive pacakges make money - from people like us: my mom never drinks, my dad ventured to try pinacolada, Mama Juana (the Dominican rum) and Irish coffee, but he would do one drink per day. I cannot drink because I am still nursing and Israel does not drink much if he does not have company...


My Dad was constantly busy with either Martin or Valentin. He would go patiently through offering them different kinds of food until he finds what they like and would still more patiently feed them (Martin gets distracted a lot and it takes an hour to feed him the bare minimum). He would take Martin for walks on the ocean, take him easy in the water (not to shock him with the cold water), swing with him on a swing, play games, run with him, and he would always try to look busy with the kids at the beginning of the main show when the dancers picked up people from the audience to dance on stage. Still, this did not save him and he got picked up twice. My mom looked like she was taking a much deserved break from the kids :).


I thought about it, thought about it, thought about it, and finally succumbed to the constant offers of the locals to braid my hair. I don't like huge changes (especially with my hair) and only did it half-way. Next time, however, I will do full braids and not worry about washing and drying my hair at all. How nice would that be!!!

Isra and I got picked up to go on stage for one of their shows. However, Martin thought we are there to dance without him and ran on stage crying for me. So, I stepped down and avoided being made fun of (thanks Martin!).

Traveling with the grandparents did not give us too much break from the kids (at least not what we hoped for). We stayed late one night (even went to the club), but since the kids wake up at 6:30am every morning, we had a miserable day and agreed it was just not worth it. Vale was waking up once or twice at night (and he hasn't missed a night for 6 months now), so I still could not get the rest I needed. And unlike the first time to Punta Cana when I could read my book by the pool while Martin was sleeping next to us, this time we had at least one kid awake at all times and my book stayed unread (except for 2 chapters).

More photos here