So, there we were, in Cabarete, Dominican Republic.
While it's still a resort area with an endless number of things to do and good food to eat, it's a little bit off the beaten path of the big, all-inclusive resorts.
That was my fault. I don't like people all that much, and when I was researching this trip, I started focusing on the descriptions of places as the perfect destination for events like bachelor parties, among others. I have nothing against bachelor parties, or bachelors for that matter, but I do have three beautiful teenage granddaughters and I was concerned that I'd be spending the whole trip trying to arrange fatal kite-surfing accidents for a bunch of fraternity bros.
That didn't seem relaxing. For anyone.
I spent way too much time on the internet, doing search after search, and kept coming up with a place called Palmas Doradas, a six-bedroom house with a full outdoor kitchen and small swimming pool, all in its own little compound, and roughly a one-minute walk from the beach.
To get there we had to fly into the third biggest airport in the country and fly out of the fourth biggest. That was no big tragedy, because the hour and a half drive through the mountains went through some gorgeous scenery, which half of our group missed, because they more or less fell unconscious as soon as they climbed into the van.
We left the airport on a good road filled edge to edge with people who followed a code of traffic regulations unknown to me but seemed to depend way too much on people surviving due to a Christmas miracle.
The traffic thinned out the higher we went, until I could look out the van window at a banana plantation about a half mile below us. For a short stretch it seemed like there was a massive drop off on BOTH sides of the road, but that was possibly a sleep-deprived hallucination.
Daylight was fading when we came down out of the mountains. The driver pulled up to a steel door, punched a code into a lockbox, handed out keys, and departed with a cheery wave. I'd explained, many times, that as far as I was concerned my responsibilities as tour director ended as soon as we got off the airplane. The rest of the family dealt out bedrooms without my input and when queried, our host replied by text that there was a cousin who was willing to arrange for food on Christmas Day evening.
While we were waiting for sustenance to be delivered, I walked down to the beach. I have no idea if it's the Norwegian blood that flows in my veins or if it's a universal feeling, but there’s something about the sound of big waves crashing on an endless shore that stirs my soul.
The beach stretched for miles, and I didn't see another human being. It had been a long day, a long month, a long year, and I was weary right down to my toes with the sort of exhaustion that takes more than one night's sleep to repair. There had been about a dozen times over the year when this whole project had seemed too complicated, expensive, and just plain goofy to pull off. But it was falling evening on Christmas Day, most of the people I love on earth were together in one house, in another country, and were rapidly changing into swimming suits and heading for the surf. I pulled off my shoes, rolled up my jeans, walked a few steps through the loose sand, and let the waves curl around my toes.
The water was warm, and I sighed and felt myself begin to relax.
Copyright 2024 Brent Olson