“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking. The estimated time of arrival at your destination is 14:31 eastern time. Current weather conditions are mostly sunny, 85 degrees, and 95% humidity. Thank you for flying with us today, have a safe and enjoyable vacation.”
As the plane reached the tarmac and came to a complete stop, I leaned over my sister and looked to my parents, “THAT’S THE AIRPORT?” I couldn’t help but to exclaim my disbelief. Through the tiny airplane window you were able to see the airport clearly; a small structure with open spaces for windows. There were huge fans with blades the size of helicopter propellers not bringing any comfort but instead circulating the moist, heavy heat that surrounded us. Men and women speaking Spanish, a language we definitely weren’t fluent in, surrounded us. This, my father said, “is the Dominican Republic.”
Sweat was dripping off me as we waited for our luggage, toted it through the airport and across the large parking lot searching for bus number two. The coolness of the air-conditioned bus brought an instant “ahhhhh” from the approximately fifty people who trudged up the steps and through the narrow center aisle of the bus finding an available seat. This hour long bus ride proved to be the most overwhelming part of the entire vacation.
With Spanish pop music playing overhead throughout the bus, we traveled through both the towns and rural areas of the Dominican Republic. Located on the same island as one of the least developed and least stable countries throughout the world, Haiti, the effects can be seen. Families live in one room houses without windows and food and money are scarce. Animals run free along roads because fences are run down and are no longer sturdy enough to contain them. The roads that venture through the rural areas are dirt and are far from capable of accommodating two cars traveling in opposite directions.
The most I had ever really known about the Dominican Republic was the lack of opportunities that were present unlike the United States. Only hearing about things on television or on the internet, I never fully understood what things are like there. I would sometimes wonder is that really possible? I was never able to truly comprehend the circumstances until I saw them with my own two eyes. In my case, seeing truly was believing.
After sixty minutes of one of the most eye opening experiences a person could endure, we had finally arrived at the gates of the Dreams Punta Cana Resort and Spa. [http://www.dreamsresorts.com/
drepc/] Upon exiting the bus, my family and I were greeted by the friendly workers of the resort who offered us cool, wet washcloths and champagne glasses of ice cold mango juice. The hotel lobby was immaculate. A wide open space with a few cushioned chairs scattered neatly about, shiny, waxed floors, and a breathtaking view of the mountains off in the distance.
With our flip-flops smacking the floor with each step, our bathing suits on, and sunscreen lathered on, we made our way to the beach. Scorching in the hot afternoon sun, the clean, white sand nearly burned the soles of our feet. The sound of waves lapping up against the beach could be heard from all directions. It was not just a vacation, but a life-changing experience.
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