Dominican (Republic) Drift

It’s 7 am, I’m on vacation, and yet I’m up. Two of these things don’t go together.

But I get to drive a dune buggy (or boogie, as they insist on spelling it) today, so I’ll make the sacrifice.

We had booked the tour through our travel agent at home, hoping to have things paid upfront before our vacation, so we didn’t have to think too much about money while we were away. This was advertized as a dune buggy tour, with a visit to a typical house, and then a swim in a cenote. The Fiancé wanted to do the dune buggies, I wanted the cenote swim, it seemed a great compromise.

(After a quick google, I found out that cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with water.)

So at 8 am, we’re eating breakfast in the buffet, sucking back coffee because somehow we need to function, and coffee seems the best way to make that happen.  At 8:30 we head to reception, the pick up point, for our 9 am pick up. (It takes about 10 minutes to get from the buffet to reception.) We avail ourselves of the free wifi, and move to the entrance, waiting on the benches that line the walkway.

And we wait and we wait.

And then we wait some more, because maybe it’s (fill in name of country here) time. Our travels have taught us one very important factor: Most places have a very fluid sense of time, and a (insert time here) meeting could be 20 to 30 minutes later. We’re not rushed, we’ve got time, and we figure they won’t start without us.

Only they will, because they don’t pick us up.

And this begins a long journey of phone tag, frustration, and at least one middle finger directed to yours truly.

We email our travel agent at home about the problem, then we ask at reception to use the phone and call the (local) company. The woman at reception responds with a “I’m just scratching my face” middle finger, but nonetheless calls the company. The company informs me that a) I should have called at least 48 hours before to reconfirm (never mind that my voucher says ‘confirmed’ and we called 6 days ago to confirm) and b) I should have talked to their (non-existent) on-site representative, but not to worry! She would call me in my room in 5 minutes.

To save you the problem of reading the next two hours of back and forths between us and our travel agent, suffice to say that we didn’t get the call, we did get frustrated, and we insisted on a refund before heading to the beach, where there were no sun loungers left. (It was an all around frustrating day).

But we did get a call from the (apparently existent) on-site rep, who offered a tour the next day in place of the missed one. This time pick up would be 8 am. We decided to give it a go instead of fighting for a refund, so we agreed.

So here I am at 6:30 am, blurry eyed, trying to find someone with coffee in the buffet.

After that, it was back to reception, waiting again, and with relief a pick up by Punta Cana Boogies. We ride in the bumpy transfer vehicle to their headquarters, where we are given a quick run down of safety procedures, and needed equipment (something to cover your nose, as it is dusty, and helmets), and sign our waivers. Then we pick our helmets (in my case a bicycle helmet) and our vehicles, we put on our safety belts, and then….we wait.

Once everyone is ready to go, we head out of the parking lot, through a puddle (soaking everything we have with us) and down the bumpy, uneven back road.

Staff has blocked off any cross streets, allowing us to go through without fear of being smacked by wayward truck, or of getting lost. We head up a hill, down a hill (gathering speed at an alarming rate) and then around a bend to a beach.

Where people are surfing, and NO ONE TOLD ME I COULD SURF. I totally would have picked that as my excursion had I known. But alas, I didn’t, so I get to watch people surf and try to head off all the peddlers who want me to buy stuff. (Apparently my ‘Non, gracias’ isn’t enough, and they look at The Fiancé for confirmation.)


Surfers waiting for the perfect wave

After the beach, we drive back past the headquarters, to a typical house, hitting more puddles (and cow patties, that splatter all over my hands). We’re given a quick briefing on growing coffee, before they give us the sales spiel. However, we love coffee, so we buy a coffee package, before wandering around the building while others barter and check out the cigar rolling.

Then it’s on to the cenote. It’s a quick 5 minute drive from the house. We pull up in a double line, jump out, and head towards the cenote. And are promptly disappointed. It,s not a ‘swim’ as advertized, rather it’s a ‘line up with others, quickly strip, jump in, and quickly get out for the next person in line.’ The jump isn’t far – about 3 to 5 feet down to the water, and fairly safe; while there are rocks, it’s easy to jump just past them to the deeper water. It wasn’t very cold – more like an Ontarian lake in June, fresh and cool, but not a shocking jump right back out again cold.


Blurry cenote visit – we were rushed down, in, and out

After our dip (jump?) in the cenote, we dry off (always bring your own towel! Douglas Adams had it right), and it’s back into the dune buggies to drive (past the typical house) to the headquarters, where we mingle around while they try to peddle DVDs of pictures, soft drinks, and ice cream, before heading back to the resort.

All in all – lots of fun. Dune buggies are fun to drive, cenotes are fun to jump in, and it’s a good morning out. But it’s definitely a dune buggy tour with a cenote tacked on.



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