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Blog: Blog2

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. ~What I Know For Sure.

Updated: Apr 10

What sounded like soft rain landing on a tin roof, was the swaying of the Palm Tree leaves blowing in the wind. I have never noticed this before in my past travels to the Dominican. This year I felt so aware of my surroundings; hearing and noticing things and feeling more present in the moment.

This was my first Mother Daughter trip of this kind, and we were both committed to complete rest and relaxation. We listened to Oprah Winfrey's audio book "What I Know For Sure" to settle in on the plane ride. That women sure gets you thinking, which seemed to changed my perspective of what I saw, heard and even ate during our 7 days of paradise. It's so easy to get swept away with the easiness of the all-inclusive: the sun and free flowing drinks, but I wanted to really absorb everything.

I did wonder, as I people-watched laying by the ocean, what the locals think of "us" tourists. Are they annoyed at our presence, or are they grateful for the constant injection of tourism dollars in their country? We noticed tourists from all over the world sharing the same white sand as us, families from Italy, Germany, England, but mostly, Canadians like us. We were greeted by the staff as "oh Punta Canada". We laughed every time we heard this.

Our biggest obstacle every day was getting up early enough to get our towels on the beach chairs to secure a spot by the ocean. After a full buffet breakfast we headed on down to the beach to join our towels that were already hot from the sun. There is more action happening every morning now, with the staff, tractors, and men using 3 prong pitchforks to gather up the abundance of sticky brown seaweed that comes up on shore. We did notice this in Mexico, but thought maybe it was an isolated incident. From doing some research, this is now the new norm for Caribbean waters. The biggest problem is global warming—the hotter the ocean, the more these weeds reproduce.

The effects are many with this abundance of washed up seaweed:

1. Fishing boats have trouble starting their engines.

2. Beaches are unattractive for tourists.

3. Fish choke because the seaweed absorbs too much oxygen.

4. Turtles struggle to find a place to lay eggs. When they do, the babies cannot make it from the shore out to sea.

5. Dead seaweed sinks, smothering coral reefs.

So as we lay there soaking up the sun, a full crew of workers cleaned up the area for all of our benefit. What I know for sure is, even in the beauty and serenity of this beautiful place, climate change is real. The ocean is speaking to us.

We met a Great Egret, named Mia. She was our breakfast entertainment every morning, and would come as close as 2 feet away, just walking around. Little did we know that she was patiently waiting for her fresh scrambled eggs that was served to her by a lovely wait staff lady, on a large plate. She would finish her plate, and then just stand there, watching all of us. I love that she isn't shooed off, but is made to be part of the family. What I know for sure is whether its birds like Mia, or a fellow stranger - kindness always wins.

When your time is literally spent watching the waves - you really get to thinking about things. I thought about the local vendors walking up and down the beach selling their wares, some in full winter jackets, I might add. Where do they come from? Do they make a decent living for themselves? Do they have families to support? What I know for sure is, regardless if you feel they could be annoying in the constant selling, is that they are hard working people trying to make a living like you and I. Selling hair braids and one size fits all beach cover ups, and speaking to you in French, English, Italian or whatever language is needed to be spoken, might be how they are supporting their family.

I fell in love with two local, rambunctious typical 10 year old boys running in and out of the water tumbling in sand, rolling around it, to washing it off all the while speaking Spanish to each other and laughing at whatever they said. I especially enjoyed their sand-ball, so similar to our Canadian Snowball. They roll up a ball of wet sand in a perfect ball, and they roll it again in some sand, and then proceed have a sand-ball fight. So fun! Along with these boys, were joined by 3 small dogs, one a new Mama that ran around carefree up and down the sand alongside the boys, looking like they were all living their best life, free and happy. Leigha and I sat on the sand, hoping the dogs would come and say hello, and they did. Such loving dogs, you could tell someone was taken care of them

The boys came and spoke to us too, sadly we had no idea what they were saying, but it seemed like the best story. I wondered why these boys were not in school, and how far away their homes were from the ocean. What I know for sure is, as I admired their beautiful faces, huge smiles and carefree energy, that sometimes we need to just live in the moment, and release our inhibitions, and throw sand-balls at each other.

I am especially proud of Leigha who believes that everyone deserves to be recognized for their hard work, regardless of the position they hold. She handed everyone a little money and shared her beautiful smile to the lovely lady who gave us our coffee every morning, to the guy picking up plastic glasses and garbage that people just left on the beach, and everyone in between. She hoped that this form of a thank you, made them know that she was grateful for their hard work. What I know for sure is that Leigha is one of the most gracious people I have the honor of knowing.

It was an incredible vacation, that we both enjoyed tremendously, and were so grateful for. Having this time off allowed me turn my thoughts toward other things that matter to me.


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