A few days in and I knew for sure I was enjoying Punta Cana. Then, the shit hit the fan in the most literal way. Admittedly, I hadn’t researched Punta Cana much. My girlfriend invited me to join her on one of her many trips to the island. She has a little friend there who she entertains at times. We always have a good time and I know I can trust her recommendations when it comes to luxurious resorts. We’re on the same page in that regard. We both love to pamper ourselves. So, when she told me about Paradisus, I was all in. That was until I learned it was a Melia property. Frankly, I can’t stand Melia properties. Bahamas made sure of that. But, she changed my mind with her bragging of The Reserve at Paradisus. In need of a break, grabbed my beach bag and Uber’ed my way to Newark International Airport.
Now, I didn’t have high expectations. With most Caribbean islands you pretty much know what to expect. I figured I’d never leave the resort although that wasn’t really the plan. Initially, I wanted to visit the waterfalls. It was the most exciting excursion I looked forward to. The marvelous pictures painted a beautiful portrait. I’d soon find out that the rain had flooded the area leading to the waterfall and it wouldn’t be possible to reach let alone bathe in the glory that is the wading pool at the base of the fall. Further, the falls turned out to be several hours away from Punta Cana. Another flight or long ride via bus was necessary to reach.
The Reserve was lavish enough to hold my attention for the duration of my visit. However, things went left when we took ill. I’ve been to the most remote parts of the world and have never gotten sick at all (especially not like this). Imagine my surprise when a couple of nights before my planned departure my stomach turned inside out. I’m a picky eater. I was careful with what I ate. Stuck to mostly veggies and fruit and had a piece of fish (cooked well done) here and there. Consumed only bottled water and became friendly with the passion fruit mojitos. However, at some point, a parasite (I’m sure that’s what it was) got into me and decided to get cozy.
I could feel something wiggling near my navel (that’s the only way to describe the agony). I was in horrible pain, having the worst fever, sweats, and volcanic explosions of whatever. I started to panic as memories of my near death experience from food poisoning years before covered me.
Prayer works! As someone who’s allergic to Pepto Bismol (I know, right) I really wasn’t sure what relief, if any, I’d find. Plus, it was the middle of the night. I wasn’t paying the enormous price to see the hotel Doctor. And get this, I hadn’t purchased travel insurance (which leads to an upcoming blog post on why you should always carry extra travel insurance period)!
As my flight departure became closer and closer, I settled with the fact that I may not make my flight home. With contractions every 5 minutes, I wasn’t trying to be that chick sitting in first class stinking up the bathroom or worse!
I bravely ran to the hotel store and purchased the Dominican version of Imodium. Luckily my Spanish reading skills are in tact as the label was entirely written in Spanish. The Gods were watching because it slowed down the diarrhea to manageable intervals long enough for me to get home. It wore off in exactly 12 hours and I was back in the swing of things!
I enjoyed the resort up until getting sick and actually entertained the idea of going back even though Punta Cana was rather boring. It’s not the livest or even most relaxing place to go. However, it’s usually cheap and inexpensive from New York (and many other destinations) and the resort wasn’t bad at all for some R&R.
If the weather is enough to make you hop a plane go for it but
Poopy Punta Cana won’t see me again.
Another thought that slipped my mind before agreeing to visit the island was the blatant and well-known discrimination and poor treatment of the Haitians. While I wasn’t initially focused on this, it became obvious as I observed behaviors of the hotel staff. Every day questionable interactions became clear. Dominican staff spoke down on Haitian staff in many instances. Waiters yelled and cursed at their Haitian counterparts in front of guests. Lighter skin Dominicans were placed on the front line while darker skin Haitians faded to the back. Once my eyes opened to what was going on it saddened me. Made me wish I hadn’t subscribed to any of the shit by supporting the economy in Punta Cana. Lesson learned.
free at last
More than a month later, I’m still suffering the consequences of traveling to Punta Cana. Not only am I on my second round of antibiotic, I still feel like a monster is inside of me. But, I’m much better than before.
Ironically, my doctor also headed to Punta Cana shortly after me. I forewarned her about the water when I picked up my first batch of antibiotic. When I went for my second batch, I was shocked to learn that she too experienced the same symptoms as me while there. I don’t know why she didn’t take a dose of her own medicine!
There’s not much to get into in Punta Cana. It’s not a place rich in culture. The history isn’t that exciting. And the people aren’t that friendly. Not to mention the food is lacking and did I say there’s not much to see. A few days here, if any, is more than enough.