Saturday, December 30, 2017

Goodbye Puerto Plata

As the saying goes, "all good things must come to an end" our vacation came to an end yesterday as it was our last day in Puerto Plata before coming back to real life and the cold harsh winter. On the last day we both decided to indulge in everything we liked at the resort and just chill basking in the good weather and scenery. I liked taking walks up and down the beach and that's what I did, taking pictures along the way and just appreciating the beauty around me knowing that I wasn't going to be enjoying this kind of weather again for a long time (winter sucks!).

It was a very lovely day and at night we decided to go out to the resort's nightclub and party it up, it was so much fun! I haven't danced that much in ages and the constant flow of drinks kept me tipsy all night. 

What can I say? we ate, drank and got merry which was the best way to end our vacation. I know initially I wasn't feeling the resort vibe but I warmed up to it pretty quick and you know what? resorts aren't that bad after all especially if all you want to do is relax without any fuss. Will I do another resort stay? most definitely yes! 

Random Thoughts Of The Day:

After a couple of days the faces around the resort started becoming familiar and it felt like one big family staying in one neighborhood.

A lot of people we met at the resort had been here since Christmas and were planning to spend New Year here as well. Lucky them!

My husband was quite the social butterfly at the resort and managed to make quite a number of friends from the guests to the workers. Everywhere we went he knew someone and on the last day a bunch of the folks he had met arranged to have one last meet and drink at the resort's bar to bid him farewell, I thought that was sweet.

Speaking of sweet, this one kid who must have been about 13 really took a liking to my husband. They had met at a pool volleyball game and my husband had spent time playing with him which he must have really appreciated. We were having dinner and this kid saw him and excitedly rushed to our table to say hi as his parents towed behind, it was the cutest thing! even the parents had on a big smile watching.

My feet and ankles were so swollen because of the heat, that my shoes felt tight and fit uncomfortably. Most of the time I was in sandals but the rare occasion that I put shoes on, it was super uncomfortable and I could barely walk right. Thats how swollen my feet were!

I know I had mentioned before that I am not a beach type of person but you know what? the beach ain't so bad especially if you are well shaded and the sun is not directly hitting you. I liked the beach in Puerto Plata because there were so many surrounding trees that provided shade so you could walk around without feeling overwhelmed by the sun.

These songs below were the big hits during our stay in the DR, I especially love the salsa song by Yiyo Sarante. The song is called "Corazon de Acero" (heart of steel).
PS: both songs below are by Dominican artists.

This one was catchy especially in the nightclubs

Okay folks, that's it for now. I will do another update on New Year as I fill you in on my travel plans for 2018 so watch out.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Puerto Plata

After bumming around in the resort doing nothing but pigging out and drinking countless cocktails, we decided to do a city tour of Puerto Plata today just to break the monotony and see what is out there. We booked the tour through the resort and opted for the early morning tour just so that we could escape the scorching sun later on in the day.

The tour started at 8 am and even though both of us were feeling so lazy about getting up given how late we have been sleeping, we braved through it. The first stop was the Teleferico de Puerto Plata which is a cable car that takes you high up in the mountain and you get to see some really cool aerial views of the city. As we were ascending you could feel the change of temperature, it got colder and actually started drizzling which luckily didn't turn out into full blown train. Our guide had told us that it takes 10 minutes to ascend, I thought the ride was pretty mild and peaceful but some folks in the cable car were freaking out, it may have been because of the height but as you can see in the picture below, I was not afraid of any height.

See how lush and beautiful the mountains and surrounding areas are? it reminded me so much of Ecuador.

Once we got to the highest point and got off, there were folks around offering to take pictures in exchange for tips so we decided to go for it and have a little bit of fun. The guy who was taking our pictures was hilarious as he kept coming up with different poses and suggestions, it was all in good fun and we had a few laughs.

After getting done with the cable car we went to a factory that produces rum and got to taste some samples. Rum is way to strong a drink for me but they had some with sweet flavors but you could still taste how strong the drink was. Getting inside the factory felt like going into a dungeon, it was dark and had an underground feel to it which was a bit creepy at first. I hope the pictures below give you an idea of what I am talking about.

We hit up a couple more factories but I can't say there was much to write home about. I think at this point  I have checked out enough chocolate and jewelry making factories that nothing wows me about the process anymore. Besides, it got a bit exhausting going from one factory to another to be shown a five minute video and quick demonstration of the process before being given time to buy some of the goods if you so wished. I was telling my husband it felt like we were being dragged around to spend more money and it just wasn't fun at all.

The guide finished the tour by briefly showing us parts of the city with historic significance but he skimmed over the explanation so quick that I don't even know exactly what he said about where we were. At that point my husband and I were bored and ready to head back to the resort as we both realized how bogus the whole tour was considering the price we paid for it. Such a rip off but at least I got to take a few cute pictures which you can enjoy below....

My conclusion about the whole waste of money! I don't even think we got anything out of the tour and if you ask me what I learned about Puerto Plata I don't have shit to say, the only positive aspect of it was going up on the cable car. Other than that, everything else was just bullshit (excuse the bad language but that's an expression of my annoyance with the whole thing).

Random Thoughts Of The Day:

If I got a dollar for every time someone here in the DR has asked me when I am getting pregnant, I think I would have quite a nice stash. These are the frequent questions I keep getting: When are you getting pregnant? why are you not pregnant? don't you like babies? next time you visit we hope you will visit with your own baby..........and it goes on and on....

Sheesh! never has my womb received this much attention outside of my gynecologist's office. Mark you, my husband never gets asked about babies, it all falls on me "when will you give your husband a baby?" Uuum?! last time I checked getting pregnant was a two way thing, a baby is not mine to give.

I was hanging out with some of my husband's cousins who are super attractive and have very nice hour glass figures. In my mind I was thinking, "I should find out from them how to get my stomach that flat because my waistline has been struggling since I hit a certain age!" let's just say the secret to those perfect hour glass figures is an appointment with certain doctors here on the Island, turns out they all got liposuction and boob jobs (they are very open about it). I must admit their doctors did a very good job because you can not tell they had work done. The DR is pretty popular with cosmetic surgery so it comes as no surprise, some women from the US come here to get work done on the cheap.

Not all his cousins have had work done though and the ones who got work done didn't even need it to begin with. Seeing their before pictures I thought they were just fine, but I guess to each their own.

I thought men in Cali, Colombia were fussy about their looks until I met Dominican men. I am talking about very well manicured hands, nicely shaped & meticulously tweezed eyebrows, no armpit hair to be seen, outfits put together well and hair very well styled and groomed.

I think the DR has some really attractive people. There is a lot of mixture here and some of the outcome is very unique and striking, I have seen some of the most beautiful complexions that can not be described. I have also seen the cutest kids ever! they are so adorable you just want to hug them tight and pinch their cute little cheeks (as weird as that sounds).

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Taking A Vacation From Your Vacation

Hola! After spending a week with my husband's family we decided to get away for a few days to rest up, we have been on the go since we got here and despite it being a vacation its been exhausting! there is such a thing as needing a vacation from your vacation. We traveled to Puerto Plata yesterday and we plan to be here for a couple more days before heading back to regular life. Puerto Plata is a city well known for its resorts so what better place to rest up than here, our game plan at the moment is: sleep, eat and lay around on the beach/pool enjoying cocktails and doing nothing else. We got here yesterday and so far our game plan has been working pretty well.

The view right outside our window, waking up to this every morning and hearing the sound of the ocean at night is amazing.

There are several excursions outside the resort but so far none of us has had the enthusiasm to check any out. Tomorrow we might go out to the city and explore because I am curious to see what else Puerto Plata has to offer besides resorts. Internet sucks here and when I am connected its super slow but I will try to keep the updates coming when possible.

Random Thoughts of The Day:

This is my first time staying at a resort and I have mixed feelings about it, on the one hand it is convenient in terms of food and drinks because its all included but on the other hand I kinda find it boring. I am not knocking resorts down or anyone who likes resorts but its just not my cup of tea.

Speaking of resorts I just feel so strange having folks serve you round the clock, I look at some of the workers here and I find myself wondering how much they really make and what other benefits they enjoy from working here. Some appear to be working pretty much the whole day and they look tired but they have to keep moving in order to satisfy the guests. I feel like we are surrounded by so much excess and part of me can't help but feel guilty about it all, do the workers here get to enjoy these excesses in their free time?.........maybe I am over thinking it.

Getting to Puerto Plata took us a couple of hours yesterday and I have to say those were the two longest hours of my life! never thought we would make it coz the taxi driver who got us here was driving like a maniac. Drivers here are very aggressive and there doesn't seem to be any law and order on the roads. This dude was overtaking trucks and other cars on a single lane and I seriously thought we would have a head on collision.

It is hot like crazy over here in Puerto Plata. Funny thing is, at my husband's hometown the weather was very mild and comfortable during the day and at night it even got a bit cold. Its winter as I have been told so thats why its not as hot as usual.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!!

Hola! my husband and I are currently in the Dominican Republic for Christmas, we have been here for a few days now and its been so hectic visiting one relative after another. This is the first time since we got here that I have been able to sit down and browse the net so I decided I might as well update this blog given how long I have been MIA.

This year has been super crazy (and not in a good way) thus the reason why I have been MIA. At one point I even thought of deleting this blog but one day I sat down and read all the entries I made here from beginning to end and there were so many priceless memories that I quickly changed my mind. I have been up to a lot but for now let's focus on Christmas and being in the DR. Its been really fun spending time with my husband's family and indulging in all the food and drinks available. Hey! it is the festive season after all so why not eat, drink and be merry?

The highlight of our trip here so far has been......

Spending time with my in laws with whom I get along very well.

Enjoying cena de navidad with part of my husband's family. He has such a huge family and every stop we made we had to taste a bit of everything so by the time we ended up at his mum's I was so full but I still had to eat something, it was really good though!

Celebrating Christmas here has been so much fun and it brings back nostalgic memories of my childhood in Kenya. Streets full of people, music playing everywhere, neighborhood kids outside playing together as adults congregate to have drinks or socialize outside their homes. Its so lively and just makes the festive season all the more exciting.

Cars are parked all over and everyone is playing their own music but despite the chaos it's actually pretty fun just watching people dance on the streets and enjoy themselves. I am so glad we got to spend Christmas here!

PS: Christmas here is celebrated on the 24th when everyone has cena de navidad (Christmas dinner) with family then on the 25th people just chill and eat the left overs from the night before.

Ok, that's it for now. Its about 4 in the morning and sleep is now catching up to me so I better get some rest. I will update more when I get the chance.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Saying Goodbye To Guatemala

Today is my last full day in Antigua and although a part of me is a bit sad to be leaving, a greater part of me can't wait to go back home. I wanted to have a really relaxing day today without any rush, I feel like I have accomplished all I had wanted during this trip so I can take it easy and soak in the last unforgettable moments in Antigua.

I slept in and got out of bed only when I couldn't sleep anymore. I took my time to pack my stuff then headed out for a late breakfast. I had heard good things about this one restaurant called Rincon Tipico which serves local cuisine and since I had eaten dinner there last evening and enjoyed the food, I decided to check out their breakfast menu to see what the local taste is like for breakfast. The restaurant is so pretty and colorful and by now you should know I love colors so I was in my element, the staff are super friendly and remembered me from the previous evening so they greeted me with warm familiarity.

This is what I had for breakfast, fried eggs and black beans served with a thick soup like consistency. Trust me when I say, "don't underestimate this food!" it was heavy and very filling! on the side you see that beautiful colorful cloth? it covered freshly made tortillas which were still hot to the touch. I had one and was done, I was so full and energized to start my day.

After breakfast I wandered around the pretty streets of Antigua just enjoying the views and exploring any hidden treasures. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

The sun got really hot and unbearable so I decided to take a little break, I bought some ice cream and walked over to the central park where I sat for a while in the shade to people watch and rest a little bit. I had walked for quite a while by the way and my feet were so sore! I think its the culmination of all the walking I have been doing since I got here.

I was feeling so tired and sleepy plus the intense sun wasn't helping much so I headed back to the house to take a nap and stay indoors. That's it folks, my last day here has gone how I wanted and now I am just waiting for my ride to the airport, this trip has been really rejuvenating for me and I am glad to be going back with a refreshed mind ready to tackle the regular hustle and stress of life, who said being an adult is fun?

Random Thoughts of The Day:

Even though its hot here, I am glad its dry heat so it makes it more bearable to walk around without sweating too much as long as you stay in the shaded areas.

The sun has done a number on my skin and hair though, my skin has been peeling and my hair color has become so much lighter, to my dismay. Ooh! well, major TLC will be unleashed when I get back home.

Tortilla is eaten a lot here but the taste is so different from the Mexican tortillas I am used to, I prefer Mexican tortillas any day!

Everyone that I have encountered in this trip has been so helpful and gone out of their way to assist me in anything I needed. I am so grateful for this and I will carry with me great memories of Guatemala.

To be honest with you Guatemala was not on my radar at all, I don't know why I was not interested at all to visit the country. One of my Colombian friends who travels a lot and knows so much about Latin America kept urging me to give it a shot but I never really thought about it. Now I am glad to tell him that he was right, I did enjoy Guatemala.

The original plan for my 37th birthday was to travel to Cuba with my husband, unfortunately circumstances beyond our control forced us to put that plan on hold. Fortunately my attention was shifted elsewhere and tickets to Guatemala just so happened to be the cheapest at the time and I figured, Ooh! well, I guess its finally time to check out Guatemala. I am glad that this country exceeded my expectations.

Thanks to my travels I meet interesting people that I would otherwise not have a chance to meet in my everyday life. I met Maricela from Mexico at the house I am staying at, she is a family friend who had come to spend some time in Antigua. We hit it off so well and had very good conversations, she is such a sweet, bubbly and friendly person. Last night we ended up talking until the wee hours of the morning and we could have kept going on had we not noticed that everyone else was asleep and we probably may have been disturbing them. She and her husband retired, rented their house in Mexico and packed their bags to travel through central America, she is will be in Mexico in June for a short visit with family and she already invited me to come visit with my husband. I would love to visit her so who knows, let's see how things go. we already exchanged contact information so we will definitely be in touch.

She is the lady in the middle, you should have seen us hugging so tight saying our goodbyes as she left this morning. I hope we do meet up again in the near future as she made such an impression on me.

Monday, March 20, 2017

More of Antigua

Today was a good day, the host family I am staying with had recommended that I take a tour of the surrounding small towns around Antigua to learn a little bit more about their history and culture. I was all for it because I had not had the opportunity to really explore Antigua in depth since my arrival so today was a perfect day to get to know more about the city and it's environs.

The first place I got to check out was Cerro de La Cruz which is a hill from which you can get a very good ariel view of Antigua. Most people go there to relax and hang out with friends or take photos of the city down below. The ariel view was really beautiful but unfortunately the sun decided to hide once we got up there so the photos I took looked a bit dull. I swear the one time you really need the sun to come out is when it never does, it did eventually come out though.............when we had descended from the hill!

From Cerro de La Cruz we continued on to the surrounding towns as the guide explained the history of each town and the general way of life of the people who live there. We visited three towns whose names I can not remember right now but they were all named after a saint. The towns appeared very chill and I got to capture some really cute views, I hope the pictures give a glimpse of that.

If you haven't notice, yellow does stand out in a lot of the buildings in Antigua. I don't remember if I mentioned it before but it was one of the common colors that the Spanish used so to preserve the historic identity of Antigua, in certain areas it's not permitted to change the color of the buildings or use other colors other than what was commonly used historically. The other colors beside yellow are white and red.

At one of the towns there was a communal water structure where women were washing clothes, the guide explained that because some of the residents don't have running water in their homes the city provided them with a communal area where they can wash clothes, get the water to bath and cook. The lady below was so sweet and friendly and we chatted for a while before I asked her for a photo.

We visited a monastery to learn more about the historic and current influences of Christianity in the region. Inside the monastery were furniture and artifacts dating hundreds of years that were so well preserved that it was hard imagining how old they were. While on the subject of religion the guide told me an interesting piece of history. When the Spanish conquered the Mayans and forced them to accept Christianity, they destroyed their sacred sites and built churches over them to highlight their authority.

The Mayans had no choice but to accept Christianity but one thing that the Spanish didn't realize is that although the Mayans "accepted" to attend church and pray, they were actually praying to their gods in secret. You see, they attended church on specific days and times because they still consulted with their religious calendar and at the appropriate time they would attend a church that was built over a specific sacred ground and worship their gods by presenting offerings because they believed their gods were still present in those sites. The Spanish did not know this by the way, they had no way of knowing and they just assumed they attended church because they had accepted Christianity. Interesting, huh? Okay, back to the monastery.

I didn't take pictures inside but I couldn't resist taking pictures of the very pretty garden in the middle of the monastery.

 At the entrance to the monastery.

After bidding adieu to the monastery we stopped by a local wine maker to sample some of the wine made in the region. The wines were made from various fruits in the region and the owner of the place was super nice. He makes the wine himself and if you sample something that you like then you can buy some otherwise there is no obligation after sampling. I sampled quite a bit actually and I was a happy camper afterwards!

At the end of it all I picked out two of the sweetest wines that I sampled before moving on.

Interesting fruit, looks like a mango when you cut it open and the lady selling it was saying it tastes sweeter than a mango. She gave me a piece to try but I didn't think it was sweeter than a mango, it had a weird taste that I didn't particularly care for.

Last but not least we stopped by an artesian market and I had some fun with the local fabrics. I did get a very cute decorative wall hanging at a very reasonable price and I can't wait to see how it will look in our apartment, the colors are so pretty!

That's it folks, once again it was a day well spent and I had a lot of fun not only checking out the various towns we visited but also conversing with the guide who was really sweet and nice.

Random Thoughts of The Day:

Being here in Guatemala feels like I am back in Peru or Ecuador, I see several similarities that remind me so much of those two countries. I feel like I am taking a walk down memory lane remembering my stay in those two countries, how time flies.

I didn't know how famous Kenyans are here in Guatemala until now. Every time I say I am from Kenya when people ask, they get so excited and start talking about the great marathon runners from Kenya. Turns out each year I believe, they hold international marathons in Antigua and Guatemala City and guess who always scoops the 1st, 2nd and 3rd price? Yup! Kenyans. Proud of my people.

When I am on holiday my eating habits are very crappy! I don't drink enough water and I eat anything that appeals to my palate regardless of how unhealthy it is. In short, while on holiday I want to sample everything and don't care much for watching what I eat.

I actually don't drink too much water on purpose because I am usually out and about a lot while on holiday so drinking a lot of water would require me to take frequent toilet breaks. Trust me, a clean toilet is never guaranteed while on the move and if there is one thing I can not stand is a dirty toilet. So basically I don't drink water while on the move just so that I never have to use the toilet. I have been trying to break this bad habit by drinking a lot of water in the evening when I am settled in the home I am staying at, to make up for not drinking water during the day.

The guide who was showing me around the city was saying that there are about 7 to 10 very powerful families who control the wealth in this country and hold a lot of political influence. I mean, they decide who will be president and who will not, how much more powerful can they get? Unfortunately these families want to maintain the status quo so they make sure the wealth stays in their hands at the expense of the masses. The guide is the third person who has told me this.

Cobbled streets may look very pretty but its hard to walk on them! you can easily sprain your ankles if you are not careful. They also take a toll on your shoes, my shoes have been scuffed so badly you should see them up close.

Tomorrow is my last day in Guatemala before heading back home. My flight leaves at night so I have the whole day to spare. I plan to sleep until I can't sleep anymore, walk around the the city exploring leisurely without any rush and enjoy some good food in one of the numerous restaurants around.