out of the sun except to piss
Saturday, February 23 2013
location: Room 1336, Natura Park Resort, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
By yesterday evening, the burn I'd experienced in the sun had begun to manifest. By this morning I could see where it was on my body: pink splotches across my chest and belly and my legs from half-way down my thigh to the tops of my feet. There was no burning at all on the dorsal surface of my body. It actually didn't look too bad, but it felt like a sickness on my body. So, after slathering up in sun screen, I was determined to get as little sun today as possible.
At some point Gretchen went down to Natura Park's internet room and signed us up for 25 hours of WiFi (which cost $25). This would allow us to have a bit of contact with the non-tropical world we'd temporarily escaped. It allowed me to negotiate the last bits of that job I'd scared up on Wednesday, though now it was looking like it was only going to be half the job it had originally been.
Breakfast in the big buffet restaurant was perhaps a little better than we expected. It helped that beans had been made available, which we could combine in various ways with toast, iceberg lettuce, and hash browns. There was also lots of fruit, as well as simulated fruit juice (Sunny-D) and passable coffee, though one had to figure out how best to get it. We were quickly learning that Natura Park has many ways of doing any particular thing, and sometimes they're good, sometimes they're mediocre, and other times they're horrible. With coffee, we learned you had to avoid the carafes brought to the table as well as three of the four automatic coffee machines. One of the machines, though, made fairly good coffee (if one selected the espresso option). It always had a line of people in front of it.
The machine in the main bar across the hall, though apparently identical to the one in the buffet restaurant, actually made a somewhat better espresso, one that actually featured a trace of that oily orange layer that a shot of espresso should have (at least initially). We'd been in that bar in the evening and it's a good place to hang out at any time of day. But it's especially serene in the morning with the daylight coming in through the screens high on the wall up in the beautiful complex of timber trusses that keep the building from blowing down in a hurricane. While the "patios" containing the hotel rooms are all made of pink concrete and feature ceramic tile roofing, the huge main building is mostly timber and features a roof made of traditional thatching.
Out on the beach, I kept in the shade of one of the many thatch-roofed semi-permanent beach umbrellas. My reading material today was exclusively articles in recent issues of the New Yorker, particularly the fascinating story of Amy Bishop, the biology professor who gunned down six of her colleagues after being denied tenure. (Gretchen said that that article was so engrossing that she would have been happy had it filled the entire issue.) Occasionally I'd get a drink (either a margarita or a Presidente beer) from the beach's bar (mostly staffed by a woman named Myra who liked to groove to the presumably-Dominican music blaring from the bar's stereo). Only when my bladder became uncomfortably full would I wade out into the ocean so I could piss as the dolphins do. Sometimes I'd stay out in the water long enough to piss a second or even a third time, though I was careful to minimize my sun exposure.
Dinner and lunch at the buffet restaurant today featured a Mexican theme. Though it seemed given the purported ethnic emphasis, there had been no bean-based options offered during lunch. This was remedied for dinner, though vegans such as ourselves had to be careful to avoid the dollops of sour cream that had been decoratively plopped onto the four corners of the rectangular vat of black bean purée.
This evening there was a little bit of a screw-up with our Natura Park WiFi subscription. Gretchen walked down to the main building (where you have to be to use it) but couldn't connect. So she took the netbook into the computer room to see if the guy working there could get it working but he couldn't, and so he eventually refunded the $25. When Gretchen came back to our room and told me what had happened, the nature of the problem was obvious to me. This morning Gretchen had worried that we might continue to be charged for our WiFi unless we explicitly turned it off, so I'd showed her how a combination of function keys could be depressed to turn off the little blue LED indicating that the WiFi was activate. I'd failed, however, to show her that this was also how WiFi was to be turned on. Gretchen hadn't been able to get WiFi because it had simply been off. By this point Gretchen was so tired of dealing with it that she sent me back to the computer room to get us another 25 hour WiFi subscription. While there, I helped translate some difficult computer concepts for a bewildered American tourist. The translation was less from Spanish to English than from overly-technical broken English to the untechnical fluent kind.
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