Celebrating Emily’s 40th Birthday in the Dominican Republic

“You’re not forty, you’re eighteen, with twenty-two years worth of experience”

Author Unknown

Our niece, Emily Brown, planned to celebrate leaving her thirties behind while sitting on a tropical beach somewhere in the world. She chose Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic (long before the US State Department issued their Travel Advisory) and invited us to tag along. We wouldn’t have missed it for anything. In fact, Emily and her husband, Chad joined us several years ago, in the Bahamas, for Jimmy’s 55th birthday. So we booked our flight to Punta Cana direct from Panama City, and rooms in the same resort Emily and her family were staying. We arrived on May 2, the day before Emily’s birthday.

The travel from our “Slice of Heaven” near Las Tablas Panama, to Punta Cana made for a long day. We departed our house about 6:30 a.m. in order to catch one of the daily flights from Chitre, (a city about 30 miles from the “Slice of Heaven”) to a regional airport in Panama City. We then took a taxi across the City to Tocumen, the international airport. Our flight from there to Punta Cana was about 4 hours or so. That wasn’t so bad….the worst part was our TWO HOUR wait to process through Customs. We finally arrived at the resort tired, grumpy and starving. I ordered room service while unpacking….Jimmy was craving a margarita so went to the Resort’s open air Mexican restaurant.

The line to process through the Dominican Republic Customs and Immigration

The resort selected for this adventure was Paradisus Punta Cana, an all-inclusive resort that is a sister property to the resort we visited in Costa Rica in 2004. The Costa Rica resort was also where Emily and Chad spent their honeymoon. Therefore, we had high expectations and weren’t disappointed.

The only thing wrong….unfortunately, the mosquitoes were voracious. Jim and Jake Brown seemed to be the favorite meal of these miserable creatures (why were they ever included on the Ark?) I called the Resort doctor to give Jimmy a shot…he had more the 50 bites below the knees, as did Jake Brown.

Nevertheless, the resort was absolutely stunning, located right on the beach, with lots to do, even for Emily and Chad’s 11-year-old son, Jake Brown.

The photo to the left is Jake Brown, “enjoying” our after dinner night cap at the lounge.

We started Emily’s birthday celebration with “Mamajuana” shots at breakfast

Jimmy, being the “cool” uncle, planned several birthday surprises, including cake and champagne waiting for Emily upon arrival in the hotel room and a beach cabana stocked with unlimited champagne the day of her actual milestone birthday. The sand was pristine, the ocean was warm, and the champagne was cold. Emily and I thoroughly enjoyed her day while the boys relaxed by the large pool.

The staff of the resort were absolutely wonderful. “Papa Ricky” quickly turned into our favorite bartender, and he made some delectable drinks for us throughout our stay.

Jimmy had yet another birthday surprise for “Little Emily” and her family. He reserved a private catamaran with a crew of six, full bar, sandwiches, cake and of course, more champagne. We weren’t aware, but one of the crew was a professional photographer. Normally, I would have hid in a corner had I been told I was doing a photo shoot in a swimming suit, but I think the photos turned out well.

We really enjoyed our day on the catamaran. The staff, crew and management of Bebe Catamarans really took care of us. We went snorkeling, and then spent most of the rest of the time swimming in turquoise waters, enjoying the floating bar.

We ventured out on another excursion during our stay. This tour departed direct from our hotel lobby and took us to an “all-in-one” cigar factory, rum distillery and gift shop. We spend an enjoyable two hours here and were able to pick up some great souvenirs. Of course, Jimmy took the opportunity to re-stock his humidor with quality “Dominicans”.

We were sad to say goodbye to Emily and her family, but we had an extra two days at the resort before traveling back to Houston. We took full advantage of the exclusive Royal Service pool area and lounge. We also enjoyed a 9-course meal at Passions, the most upscale restaurant at the resort.

The resort also offered a variety of souvenirs, including traditional beach jewelry, and the opportunity to make my own necklace out of Larimar, a beautiful blue-green gemstone native to the Dominican Republic.

We left Punta Cana on Thursday, May 9, just in time to spend a glorious (read sarcasm here) 12 hours in Atlanta, waiting for the Houston Airport to re-open after three days of torrential rainfall closed it. Finally got home to the Escapees Rainbow’s End RV Park in Livingston, TX.

Stay tuned for more stories about our next adventure.

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