Sunday, February 24 2013
location: Room 1336, Natura Park Resort, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Throughout the night, some sort of loud party was happening in the near distance. The loudness came mostly in the form of the bass component of party music, the kind that (these days at least) it built on a skeleton of electronica (which, in Latin America, is referred to onomatopoeically as "punchis"). The party continued until at least 6:00am. (Gretchen later asked the main desk about the loud party and was told that it had taken place at adjacent resort, not Natura Park, and that it only happened "once a year." But that would probably be the story even if it happened every week.)
Gretchen took advantage of her distant-party-induced sleeplessness and went out to secure us a shady spot on the beach, but she nevertheless arrived a bit late and all the good spots were taken. So she ended up staking out a pair of chaise lounges that lacked good shade. But by the time we made it to the beach late this morning, a good spot in the shade had opened up. We found ourselves next to a couple whose language sounded like a hybrid between some Latin-based language and Arabic (though he, let's call him Mercury, could also speak French). While Mercury was a generic-looking round-shouldered balding dude, his wife resembled a paleolithic fertility statue. She had wide hips, fat thighs, a large (but not too droopy) belly, and enormous pendulous breasts. Her hair was a dense mane that of the sort that would make a lot of women envious. We soon took to calling her Venus.
Venus had absolutely no shame about her body. Early in our day on the beach, I saw here emerging from the ocean with nothing over her chest except a netted tube top. Eventually that came off and she spent much of the rest of the day topless. By virtue of the long-tail mass of her breasts, she alone was enough to tip the whole of Natura Park's beach to a state of half-topless (much as Bill Gates raises the average per-capita wealth of a crowded bar several orders of magnitude just by walking into it). Neither Venus nor her husband Mercury ever spent a moment in the shade. Occasionally they'd go in the water, but mostly they just stretched out in the sun, occasionally applying products to their bodies that I had to assume were not to protect them from high-energy photons. Mercury was as proud of Venus' breasts as she was, and as the shadows started to grow and the sun grew weak, he started taking pictures of her in various poses and outfits. Gretchen had brought only one swim suit for our five day vacation, but Venus went through at least five in a single day.
For dinner, Gretchen had gotten us a reservation at La Góndola Restaurant, one of Natura Park's several non-buffet restaurants (and, because it is Italian-themed, the only one where a vegan stood a chance of scratching together a meal). La Góndola tries to simulate a fancy restaurant experience. When we arrived, we were each handed what looked like a fancy bluish cocktail. But it was cloyingly terrible and Gretchen (who, unlike me, refuses to consume things she does not like) only drank a sip of hers. It turned out that La Góndola actually had an appetizer buffet, and it was full of options we could each, including focaccia and delicious cubed mushrooms that could be used to make other things delicious as well. There were no vegan entrées on the menu, of course, though Gretchen managed to cobble together an order of noodles with a fra diavolo sauce. She ordered in Spanish and made it very clear that the food contain no meat, cheese, milk, or seafood. When it arrived, though, for some reason both orders came with lobster tails, each as big as a housecat. Gretchen immediately sent them back and the maître d' made a show of pointing out the waiter's folly on the written order. What we ended up with were two orders of noodles in fra diavolo sauce, but it was essentially inedible. For one thing, the dishes were almost entirely comprised of sauce with only a few noodles sprinkled on top. And the sauce was poisoned (I can think of no other way of describing it) with capers. A few capers are okay (particularly on a bagel), but there were hundreds of them in there, and it gave the sauce a flavor not unlike that of battery acid. Had it not been for the appetizer bar, we would have left hungry.
Meanwhile, my right lower eyelid had been uncomfortable all day and I thought maybe I was getting a sty. I had Gretchen look at it and sure enough, something resembling a tiny whitehead was sticking up from the eyelid's rim. So after we left the restaurant, we returned to the main bar (Bar Merenguito), and I went off to the bathroom to squeeze out the pus. It was a teary, painful experience, but I managed to get a tiny amount of stringy pus out of it. It felt even more uncomfortable after that, but at least now it could begin to heal.
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