Of Shoes and Ships and Ceilingwax…and of Second Anniversary Trips Potentially Involving Jack Sparrow

 Hellooooo world! I’m alive! It’s been a really, really, really, really, really long time (as some of you very loyal blog-readers have pointed out.) I kept thinking I’d eventually have a large chunk of time to write a nice catching-up post so that I could then start posting more regularly. But nope. Never found that large chunk of time. In fact, I’m not so sure it even exists. So, instead of a lovely well-thought-out catching up blog, here’s the basic run-down:

Go to work. Go home. Go to bed. Go to church. Friends visit us, we visit friends. Easter in Ohio with the inlaws. Dilemma: Go to school? Don’t go to school? Stress, confusion, crying ensues. Decide to do a compromise and plan to start online classes through Fuller in the fall. New dilemma ensues: Stay in this job or get a new job? Still working on this one. Hoping for the new job option to work out soon. Next dilemma ensues: move when our lease is up or stay in the same apartment? Decided it was the best decision finance-wise to stay. Take up hot yoga. Sweat more than I ever have ever. Dye hair strawberry blonde-ish. Start reading Game of Thrones. Bake a lot. Talk. Laugh. Travel to Dominican Republic. Celebrate 2nd wedding anniversary. Take anniversary pictures with friends/photographers Asharae and Tim (will let you know when these pics are available.)  Mom and Anni drive up from Louisiana to visit. It is awesome. That’s pretty much it. Got it?

 So, backing up to one of the most interesting parts of that little rundown – our 2nd anniversary trip to the Dominican Republic. We got the most amazing deal through cheapcaribbean.com that was $12/night per person to stay at this all-inclusive resort in Puerto Plata. That meant that for the entire 6-night trip we paid $144. Which included unlimited food and drinks. Then we just had to pay air-fare (which was the hefty part, but still not so bad considering we flew right from Raleigh) and then extra for any additional excursions or items we wanted to buy.  Neither of us had ever been to the Dominican Republic, so we were both excited to see a new place and get a new stamp in the old passport.  That makes 13 countries for me. Getting gradually closer to my goal of 196. (Ok, but seriously, at LEAST 50.) I was particularly excited about this trip because, being in the Caribbean,  I figured I would for sure meet a pirate as excellent as Jack Sparrow.

Incidentally, I was wrong. I did not in fact meet or even see anyone as remotely excellent as Jack Sparrow, despite being in the prime location for it.

As you can imagine, the Dominican Republic is beautiful! The town we stayed in (Puerto Plata) is on the north side of the island, the opposite side from Punta Cana, which is the more popular vacation destination. Punta Cana is known for its incredible beaches. The beach at our resort was also nice, but the sand was not as sparkling white and the water not as bright aquamarine as it is other places in the Caribbean. What is unique about the DR is that there are mountains basically right up til you get to the ocean. It looks a lot like I imagine Hawaii does (from the pictures I’ve seen of it.) Very lush and tropical.

Our resort had a great beach with these amazing canopy beds you could lay around on and read and nap and have nice people bring you fruity beverages and snacks. It was perfect for people like us (well, like Jonathan) who burn as soon as the sunlight hits their skin. (I actually burned too the first day, but that was only because I waited to long to put on my sunscreen.)

One day we took a cable car ride up to the top of the tallest mountain in the area. The mountain was called Isabel de Torres (not Mount Isabel, just Isabel de Torres.) I hated dangling from that heavy cable car thousands of feet in the air, but I loved the view.

Up on top of the mountain is this Jesus statue that is reminiscent of the giant one in Brazil. Our tour guide (Manny) was very experienced at photographing this historic icon appropriately.

Once we came back down the mountain in the scary cable car they took us on a tour of the city. It looks pretty much like all of the South American cities I’ve visited in the style of the architecture and the way random museums and factories are crammed in right next to houses and convenience stores. We went to a rum factory, but the machines weren’t running so there wasn’t much to see. Then we went to a jewelry “factory” which was actually just  three people polishing stones in this little dugout. We also went to a cigar shop and watched a cigar maker roll up some cigars. And later we went to a fort that had been important in the DR’s war for independence. I did not get much out of the audio tour, but the fort had a beautiful view of the port.

Another day we ventured off the resort to go to Ocean World. Ocean World is like a dinky version of Sea World. It is small and has only a few attractions, like a dolphin show, a sea lion show, and a shark show. No Shamu. What they do have to offer is this exhibit called the Tiger Grotto. They randomly have two tigers (one is white, but he was sleeping the whole time) who live in this habitat with a pool in it. The pool has glass walls in parts and on the other side is a nice pool for people.  So you can swim up to the glass and the tiger will swim back and forth on his side and you can feel like you are swimming with the tiger even though you are separated by a glass wall and are totally safe. It was the coolest thing ever. The tiger was soooo beautiful. I wanted to bring it home with me. If Princess Jasmine gets to have Rajah, why can’t I have a tiger? Just another way Disney has ruined me for real life.

See! No fair!

Another highlight of our trip was learning that we apparently love Indian food. At least the Indian food they served us at the resort restaurant, Moomtaz. We got reservations there because it was the only place available on the night of anniversary and we thought, “We can try it and if we don’t like it we’ll just go to the buffet later. “ I only wish it had not been our last night. It was the most delicious food ever. A total surprise since neither of us thought we liked Indian food. Now we are determined to find an Indian place here in Raleigh that’s up to par.

The only negative part of our trip was some travel delay on our way down that actually ended up cutting out a day of our trip, but we are working on getting some reimbursement for that.

It was so good to have time to relax and rest, to enjoy each other’s company in an un-rushed way. We were able to reflect on how far we have come together in the last two years and how excited we are about where we hope to go together in the future. In the last year we moved across the country, started new jobs, made new friends, visited old ones, learned to run 13.1 miles, worked, and played, shared excitement and laughter and frustration and disappointment.  There are a lot of days when we feel frustrated that we don’t see the bigger picture of what we’re supposed to do in life – what careers we should pursue or where we should live or if we should be in school or if God really has a plan for us that doesn’t involve us wandering around aimlessly. And I especially panic that I’ll never do anything that matters, even to me. But at the end of the day, we are so, so thankful to have each other. And to know that even when we don’t know anything else, we are together and we are always for each other. And that makes us deeply joyful, even when we have to return from the beautiful tropical paradise and go back to spending 40 hrs a week staring at a computer screen.

Hope you enjoyed the travel spiel. Expect more from me soon!  🙂

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