Archive | May, 2016

Pressed:  Eighteen Hours by Chris Crawford

23 May

Source: Eighteen Hours by Chris Crawford

A lot of things can change in eighteen hours. I discovered this recently. It started by boarding a Boeing Dreamliner. Shelley, myself and about three hundred other people, partook in a flight from Vancouver, Canada to Inchon, Korea.

The flight was great and the food amazing.  We flew along the Pacific Rim of Fire heading north along the Alaskan Pan Handle. After an eleven hour flight of volcanoes, and an open ocean, we were greeted by Mount Fuji on the other side of the Pacific.

Upon arriving in Korea, we disembarked the plane and I stepped onto terra firma  for the first time in eleven hours. It dawned on me that I was now standing in the Far East. On first inspection, every thing seemed the same as Vancouver; however, I seemed to be one of the taller people in the crowd, but otherwise, there was no real difference. After a two hour layover, it was back on an air plane again and heading for Hanoi, Vietnam.

Once on the plane, things were noticeably different. Korean Airlines is the way to fly in Asia. Before the usual  safety announcements, all of the attendants who were dressed impeccably, lined up in front of three hundred passengers and bowed in a show of respect. Five hours later, we landed in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi.

The airport is the showcase of Vietnam. Everyone working at the airport was sharply dressed. All customs people were members of The Peoples Republic of Vietnam and were in military uniform. We had just arrived into a communist country. Shelley, having travelled to so many countries and having a passport with stamps all over it, always gets the second look. After a stern look from the person at the counter, the visa was stamped with a loud thump and we were free to explore Vietnam.

Once we made it through the customs, we were met by the hotel driver and walked out to the car. We were transported to the Old Quarter in Hanoi and the driver held up the traffic so we could make it across the road without being run over. This was our first taste of south-east Asian traffic. Even though it was eleven pm, the hotel manager Max and his assistant greeted us at the door with a large smile and a hot cup of ginger tea.

Eighteen hours of travel had taken us around the world.  It had landed us into an ancient culture and a city of 7.7 million people to explore. It would prove to be a trip of a lifetime. In two weeks, we saw people like us with all the same dreams and realities living day to day and working hard to provide for their families. We enjoyed seeing people sitting on little benches on the street sharing a meal or drink with friends talking on the street corner and sharing a laugh.

The continent, culture, language, religions, and customs were all different, but everywhere I have travelled the people are the same. The more that I travel, the more that I am starting to think on a global scale.  We are all on this planet and we are all the same.  If some being stumbled upon our planet and took a look at us on a global scale, they wouldn’t notice any of the differences that cause conflict amongst the different groups of people. To them we would just be of one origin. It’s a place called Earth.

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Pressed:  One Week to the Wedding by Shelley Robinson

23 May

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Final Thoughts as a Single Person:  It is interesting how as I get closer to my wedding on December 19, 2015, how important the whole thing has become to both of us.  What started out as a simple “yes” to a romantic proposal has now required me to really take stock of what I value in a commitment of this nature, especially when it is not my first time around.  This time, I am heading into this marriage odyssey with my eyes wide open, and that makes it all the more interesting.

Some describe these last few days as wedding jitters and succumb to cold feet.  Others talk about it as this euphoric time of heady excitement and overlook the reality of what they are undertaking as a couple.  Interestingly, despite Chris and I having lived together before hand and having some life experience under our belts, I have been feeling a whole array of emotions from nervousness to joy.  Where before we both felt that getting married to each other was just a nice romantic gesture to “seal the deal”, we now see some larger value for each of us.  Perhaps we too have been indoctrinated, domesticated, and enculturated into a society that promotes this type of thing.  It has become evident to us that despite our initial non-challance about going through these traditional formalities, we do value the institution of marriage.

It has been interesting to watch ourselves evolve as we meet with the minister, go through the exercise of gathering our families in a small affair, and to decide how we want to commit to each other in a special sort of way.

Family Ties:   At first we were more interested in eloping.  The wedding seemed to be all about us this time.  However, when it came right down to it, we realized that where our families are all far apart, and disconnected from each other, this small affair might be the only time where they actually travel distances to meet.  Although this was not our sole purpose for marrying with friends and family, it became an important consideration.  Our children are adults, and our parents are getting older.  We grew up in different provinces, and our families have very little reason to know each other.  Therefore, we felt this a valuable opportunity to introduce them.  As well, we wanted to share this special event with our children, in particular, to model the value of this relationship experience.  We are learning that it is more than just an official photo opportunity.  It is a meaningful event that has forced us to really discuss our future in great detail and to ask our families to once again believe and support us as we make another commitment to someone new.

The Questions:    We decided to have a minister marry us.  We felt that there was a spiritual purpose in our marriage, and that a minister would be more apt to capture this essence of our union than a justice of the peace.  With this being said, we were careful about how that looked in a religious context for each of us based on our faith and beliefs.  The minister asked us some probing questions.  As well, we chose to do our own marriage preparation through some readings and questions, and the work proved to be both valuable, and challenging.  Again, this time around we recognized that part of marriage is romantic, but another part of getting married is very practical.  We were entering into a marriage of business, and at this age, impending caregiving of one or the other.  We have a window of a couple of decades before the “end is near”.  We both know that we need to use our time together wisely, and so our life priorities have been a focus of many discussions.  The link we found most valuable was the following put out by Nathan Cobb, PhD at http://www.nathancobb.com/support-files/marriagequiz.pdf.

Questions emerged over our past two months, and the really important ones in the last couple of weeks:

  • Love:  How do we meet each other’s love needs?  We talked quite a bit about hitting our love targets, and explored the idea of love languages:  http://www.5lovelanguages.com
  • Experience:  What do we want to do with our next ten years in the window of opportunity of our best health years together?
  • Time:  How do we want to prioritize our time?
  • Money:  How will we finance our lives together through sickness and in health?
  • Relationship:  How will we “do what it takes” to sustain a strong connection as friends and lovers?
  • Communication:  What works and does not work to help us align our thoughts and feelings together?
  • Self Help:  What work do we need to do to be our best selves so that we can be the best for this relationship?
  • Conflict:  How must we best address problems together so we are honest and respectful of each other?
  • Intimacy:  How should we live to insure that we cherish our intimacy together?
  • Employment:  How do we want to spend our final years before retirement?
  • Retirement:  What will we do when we retire, and how will we support our retirement years?
  • Prenuptial Agreement:  What happens should the unthinkable happen?
  • Celebration:  How do we celebrate and find joy in our wedding and honeymoon, and beyond?

What I have Learned:   It is really simple.  Marriage is a lot of work.  It requires telling someone that I will do what it takes to keep us loving, healthy, relationally functional, and financially viable for the rest of our lives together.  It is a big step for Chris coming our of a more than 25-year marriage; and a big one for me having only been married for a few years of my life, and a single mother for most of it.

Our first kick at the can involved a lot of hope, naivete, and steep learning curves.  Now, we have another chance to say “I do”.  This time, we have to develop the necessary marriage skills to be ourselves in the larger context of being a couple.  Both of us must unlearn, re-learn, and learn all of the things we will need to best be together as man and wife.  These are big steps for both of us, and as we get in the final stretch of the wedding, we see the enormity of the commitment.  It is best to admit that this is a scary proposition, but a valuable one.  I can never learn about relationships if I do not take on living one to the best of my abilities.  I am excited, happy, scared, and oddly calm, all at the same time.  How lucky am I to have this special opportunity to marry a wonderful man.

Source: One Week to the Wedding by Shelley Robinson

Pressed:  Second Time Around by Chris Crawford

23 May

Picture of Chris on Mt MaxellIMG_6743

Life has a way of surprising me. I never thought that almost ten months ago that I would be living the life that I am now.  In one week, I will be marrying the grandest love of my life.  Some good questions that have come to mind for me are: How did I find her? Do I deserve this?

We saw each other’s profile on a popular dating site and liked what we read and saw. The challenge for me at first was to write a no nonsense profile and find just the right profile picture. This online dating site stuff was all new to me, but I thought it was a great opportunity at the same time. This time around I decided to really think about the relationship criteria that I was really looking for in a partner. She had to love the ocean, mountains and be happy to trek into the wilderness with everything she needed in a backpack. I wanted her to be smart and successful; and to top it off, she had to be kind of earthy and spiritual. I had a nephew tell me what I was describing didn’t exist, and I kind of believed him. I was resolved to live a life by myself if I couldn’t find this dream. The picture that I used for the website was from a viewpoint on a mountain on one of the gulf Islands.  I was standing in front of a vista with a smile on my face.

I set up the profile and started looking.  There were lots of people looking for love. None were meeting the criteria that I had set up as a shield against “crazy”.  It had been a few weeks and it was becoming disheartening.  One last look, I thought, as I looked through the profile pictures. I saw a smiling woman standing in the exact spot I had stood for my profile picture.  Reading the profile, I realized that she was very educated and loved all the things that I was looking for in my profile. She lived a half hour from where I lived. The pictures had been taken three hours away from where we both lived. One quick message that was answered with a call from me asking if she would like to go for coffee and a walk. Ladies and Gentlemen, here I am getting married ten months later to the love of my life—my soulmate.

Since meeting her, so many things have come to light. Her grandfather and mine are both from a small county in Northern Ireland. The county is so small that our families would have known each other. I like to think if things were different and we had both been born in Ireland, we would have found each other there too. That is how I think fate works. It just took me forty-nine years and a world to find her.

Do I deserve her?  We all have had a life and learned along the way. The lessons that I have learned in my journey have made me the person that I am today and the person that she loves. We all deserve to be happy and loved, so the answer is, “Yes!  I do deserve her and all the happiness and everything in between”.

This Saturday, Dec 19, 2015 , I will marry Shelley in front of our family and friends. It is the start of a new journey together. We are committing to each other.  We will grow old together; become grandparents, and be there for each other. To have a second chance, leaves me speechless. Actually, I have one word only to describe –Blessed.

Source: Second Time Around by Chris Crawford

Pressed:  The Honeymoon

23 May

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The Word Honeymoon:  The word “‘honeymoon’ comes from the the Old English “hony moone.” Hony, a reference to honey…and the ‘indefinite period of tenderness and pleasure experienced by a newly wed couple,’ and how sweet the new marriage is. Moone, meanwhile, refers to the fleeting amount of time that sweetness would last” (Kerley, 2014).

Our honeymoon was an important period of time for us after much preparation for our recent wedding. Amidst a storm of personal and professional transformations, both Chris and I looked towards our trip to the Dominican Republic as a reprieve from the angst of everyday life.  The countdown to the tropical escape was very important to us along with entering the world as a legal couple, sanctioned by the church, the country and our families.  We were finally official, and as we travelled to another country, I became comfortable referencing Chris as “…my husband”.  It required a bit of practice for someone who has been single for 45 years of my 50-year-old life (90 percent of my life).

Time to Think Big:  We found as we rested away from our everyday angst and relaxed into a new reality filled with sunshine, excellent food, Dominican rum and loud Latino music, that we were able to think about our lives differently.  New possibilities about our future together emerged, where in our day-to-day paradigms, we did not immediately connect the dots.  As well, what seemed possible as dreams from home, when looking at our plans with a bit of objectivity, and less attachment, seemed less realistic.  Our perspective from a new culture, landscape and state of minds, allowed for much discussion about “what next?”  We really appreciated this space and time to really collect our spirit and thoughts in order to really explore our relationship and our dreams together.

The Never-Ending Honeymoon:  In one of the books that Chris and I have read together entitled:  How To Be an Adult in Relationship:  The Five Keys to Mindful Loving by David Richo (2002), we grappled with his fairly sophisticated look at human love relationships.  In it there is this sense that we go through phases of relationships.  He indicates that the romance phase is just the beginning.  “All our experiences and levels of interest follow a bell-shaped curve:  ascending, cresting/flourishing, and descending.  This geometric figure asserts the given of human existence…Thus, rising interest in someone crests in romance, descends into conflict, and finally reposes in commitment.  Love is authentic when it stays intact through all the phases of change” (p. 106).  As depressing as his assertions are that romance decreases and changes with time, it impressed upon us to think about the value of the positive beginning of our relationship marked by a honeymoon.

My parents told me that they often think back to their early days with fondness.  Although they have humorous tales of getting lost on a drive down to the US in a snow storm for their honeymoon, they remember so many of the romantic encounters of their first years together very lovingly.  Those early days are remembered most, I imagine, if they are filled with romance and hope; fun and dreams; and all of the things that beckon us to find ourselves anew in the wonderment of new love.  What better way to set the stage than by doing many new things together.

The List of Firsts Together:  On our honeymoon, we looked over our “list of firsts together” that we continue to build, reference and check off in our relationship.  We love setting out little goals that help us to think about all of those new things that we want to experience for the first time together.  On our honeymoon, we tackled a few of these:  skinny dipping, frolicking in the waves, drinking from a coconut, travelling internationally, ping pong, billiards on the beach, snorkling, dancing meringue, learning Spanish and so much more.  We had time – made time to really get to know each other in a fun and romantic way.

After the Honeymoon:  The goal after the honeymoon seems for us, to continue adding to this list, and then crossing things off as we explore ourselves in the context of marriage.  So many matters of life stand the chance of getting in the way.  The challenge is always to put each other first and to find ways to celebrate special occasions, and everyday opportunities amidst the minutia of our day to day experiences.  We find it too easy to get caught up in the spinning of family, friends, work, house and health, when really, it just takes a bit of time to weave a really interesting memory together.

I often think back to the experiences that jump out most to me.  They are the ones where we took time to prepare, experience and then re-live them through our pictures together.  I often marvel at how many people spend more time prepping for a meal which involves gathering the food; pulling it together into some reasonable recipe, eating and then cleaning it up (often hours); than they do to create romantic experiences together.  Instead, they throw romance together through ordering up a date; buying a gift, or making plans at the last minute and hoping that they will work out.  Romance requires more than simply leaving things to chance.

We need to stage our romantic lives just like a honeymoon.  We need to ask ourselves:  What is it that we want to experience romantically?  How do we do it?  What steps need to happen for it to turn out well?  How do we insure its success?  What will we do to remember it long into the future?  This is a recipe for prolonging this romantic stage that Rico indicates is short-lived.  I believe it could help us think about courting our spouses long after the wedding thank you cards have been sent out, and the marriage certificate arrives in the mail.

“[O]ur honeymoon will shine our life long: its beams will only fade over your grave or mine.”
― Charlotte BrontëJane Eyre

Source: The Honeymoon

Pressed:  Good Morning Vietnam

23 May

Taking the Plunge:  What a wonderful world we have discovered nestled in by the South China Sea. Vietnam always captured my attention as fellow travellers assured me that it was the country to see filled with kind people, good food, cheap accommodations and a beautiful countryside. After considering options as a couple to get off of the North American grid, we started exploring volunteering and work options on a site called HelpX. Chris had learned that some people he had met at a hostle in Vancouver had travelled the world while working for free food and accommodations doing odd jobs in various organizations, and private enterprises. We took a look at SE Asia, and there were many places in Vietnam that jumped out.

We started doing the math. To live in Canada means to stay locked into a financial grid where we work hard to pay a lot to keep inside a lifestyle box. It is a nice box, but it is a box never-the-less. We work from morning to night to sustain a way of living. How much time have I spent working for, minding the paperwork of, and tending to the management of my home inside a culture where everyone is doing the same thing? At the end of the day, the savings are nominal, and unless I am frugal and vigilent with my finances, money just gets used up. It disappears. Therefore, we felt that if we could live leanly working for an organization that supports our room, board, Internet connections and cultural interactions, we would be able to manage. We could pick up extra work, and possibly save money in the end if we were motivated.  As well, we did other math.  As a couple, at most, while working we spend three hours a day together.  By working together abroad, we have far more time together.  This means that in one year, we can potentially increase our time together to be equivalent to three or four years of time of the average working couple.

After meeting with some people who have worked in some English as Second Language (ESL) learning centres in Vietnam, we realize that our English skills are pretty marketable. As well, a couple of these people have made it a lucrative experience. One fellow told us that he would never go back to England. “What would be the point,” he told us. He felt that he was making more in Vietnam for half of the stress. As well, an older fellow who had come from what he called the “US rat race”, explained that he would never go back either. It was just too nice to live in such a pleasant culture with fewer “issues and pressures”.

Learning About Vietnam: Now visiting Vietnam, we can see the richness of the culture, and the very real opportunities that abound in a culture where this country that has really only been free of war since 1995. Vietnam wants to network and connect with other countries. The hotel manager in Hanoi talked about knowing that he is about 20 years behind where other countries are in terms of the hospitality industry. He wanted to hear our suggestions about how his hotel could improve. He knew that we had travelled in other countries, and as a result, might be able to give him insight into what foreigners wanted when coming to visit Vietnam. We were complimentary of the hotel that afforded us everything we needed, and gently reminded him that people from all over the world all have different expectations. Unfortunately, in my travels, I have learned that unless people are already happy, no one can ever truly assist in making them happy. They are quick to find fault, and make things difficult for hotel owners hosting them, especially in some undeveloped countries. (I notice some trends in the foreign travellers who seem to be the most disgruntled–but I won’t generalize at the risk or sounding judgmental.  This discontentment by my estimation is the following formula: “high expectations”=unhappiness).

What we are enjoying about Vietnam is only a small commentary on the North which is the focus of our visit so far.  Today we head further South to Hoi An, and I am certain that we will have many more experiences to write about.  Hanoi and Hai Phong have much to offer people who are interested in getting off the beaten track into the noisy cacophony of the scooter culture. The tastes of the real Vietnamese food are both exciting and disconcerting to a more conservative taste pallet such as my own. The food is as diverse as the families running each restaurant, whether in a little space with real tables, or on the street on tiny plastic chairs. I find the people to be both innocent and filled with raw enthusiasm for anything such as cherry blossoms shipped in from the country to experiencing music and technology; and as well, shrewd as they are able to find ways to rip off the unsuspecting tourist. Here are some interesting things that we are enjoying about our visit to Vietnam:

– People are very friendly, but English is not the universal language that we expect it to be here. We had to really try to speak Vietnamese and our language translation book came in handy many times. Google translate was a real God-send. It allowed me to communicate more complex information without as much difficulty.

-There are literally millions of scooters. What was once a bicycle culture, has quickly become a motorized scooter population. We had difficulty crossing the roads. Scooters were never following any traffic laws, and were often turning corners, going in the opposite directions, driving on sidewalks and generally freaking me out.

-People eat dog here. Need I say more. This was pretty hard to get used to right out of the gate. I have been pretty careful to avoid anything that looks like “thit” on the menu. Other crazy foods such as frogs, eel, tongue, pork feet, and creatures that I have never really associated with a digestable food, keep paying close to the menu. I am getting braver every time I order something, but I draw the line at eating dog.  My favourite meal was the hot beef noodle soup.  (People with peanut allergies should beward here).

-People rise early here with their desire to be fit through aerobics on the main streets, and Tai Chi in the parks and court yards. Exercise here means loud music. There is never a quiet exercise routine by our observation.

-People like to say that it is a foggy environment, but the polution is pretty intense. Some of the people who we met along the way seem genuinely concerned about it and are hoping that the government will set up some policies to start helping with the problem.  Being a country of almost a hundred million, and being South of China, smog is a fixed part of the scenary. It was disappointing to see Halong Bay through a haze of pollution, but we still appreciate the amazing beauty of the countriside.

-There is noise everywhere. Traffic, construction, music, animals, alarms, talking, singing, whistling, and animals, are all the regular sounds in a normal day in the lives of the urban Vietnamese. It takes some getting used to this type of constant sound stimulation–noise. I found that Ihad to manage it by bowing out into a temple for respite, or taking some time in my hotel or hostel bedroom to re-group. This noise must take a toll on people’s hearing, but everyone seems immune to the volume of sound that I find new to me.

-People stop working at certain times of the day, and on certain times of the week. Not everything is open all of the time. Not everyone is available all of the time. Lunch hours mean that doors close for approximately an hour and a half. Sundays are quieter as shops and businesses are often closed. Mondays are sometimes closed as well. Signs appear in windows, and, guess what?  No one seems to care.  And, guess what?  We were okay with it too.

-Things are cheap in some places, but not in all places. You have to do a bit of looking, but there are deals to be had. However, some shop owners are catching on to the value of a dollar or Euro and charging people accordingly.

-The men congregate, drink beer, play games in local bars, and once again, I am sometimes left wondering where the women are hiding. I am finding this to be a common trend across all of the countries that I visit … and live in. Men rest and take time outs together, and women seem to be…somewhere else.

-The greenery is lush here in Vietnam, especially in the countryside outside of the cities which include:  tropical trees (bamboo, banana, mangrove, palm); different types of cacti; and other tropical growth. I have a lot to learn about the different varieties of trees and flowers, but we are learning that the 100% humidity in the air, makes everything grow like crazy, and prevents my hair from drying and doing anything even remotely manageable.

-The signture feature in many photos of the country side are the limestone karsts that jut out of the land and sea.  Inside of many of them are massive caves that are drawing visitors from all over the world.  What the Vietnamese have explained to us is that they are upset that foreigners who have the money to visit them are experiencing this incredible opportunity to see the wonders under the earth; whereas, the Vietnamese who are less able to afford it, cannot.

-Chris notices that the matters of health and safety (as this is his work background) are left pretty much to chance. Seeing people up on ladders without safety measures, or working without what we consider due diligence to standards that keep people from dying is not as common as in Canada where we are likely hyper-vigilent about these kinds of things. People just work hard here in Vietnam and get the job done–no matter what, even if it means short cuts that might be dangerous, but are obviously more affordable.

-Historically, this is a culture that has been through many wars.  We were impressed by how many countries have tried to conquer, invade or destroy Vietnam, and yet, these people successfully defended and kept their country to the Vietnamese.  These are strong, resilient people.

Connecting with Educators: I have enjoyed travelling with Chris on this exciting holiday. It has really been a cultural experience as I find ways to learn more about the education and culture by visiting some of the schools and universities. I am learning that everyone here is interested in the same types of things when it comes to teaching and learning: “How can we make it interesting and engaging for the students?” This is the common topic. I think the key is to keep everyone applying their learning to the real world.  As well, educators seem interested in building new curriculum (locally developed courses) and teaching students new information.  Communist philsophy is a big part of the school programming in Vietnam.

One of the most exciting times was visiting one of the ESL centres, and going with the adult students to the museum. Through the field trip, the conversational English opportunities in the museum provided multiple opportunities for the students to ask and answer questions in English where textbooks could not provide the same connection points. We enjoyed the whole experience from riding on the scooters to eating some wonderful food with the students and staff, very much. Overall, we are finding that by visiting Vietnam as explorers and researchers, we are thinking of the opportunity to travel (not tour) as something that is more manageable than we initially expected. Where there is a desire to really connect with another country, and to do so affordably, there lies the opportunity to stay longer, dig more deeply, and really find meaning in the experience.

Will we come back to Vietnam to do some work within it?  I think it is much more possible now that we have dived into the deep, and came up swimming. It is a beautiful place to visit, and quite possibly a place to live for awhile.  Time will tell.

Source: Good Morning Vietnam

Pressed:  EMPTY BEACHES by Chris Crawford

23 May

Source: EMPTY BEACHES by Chris Crawford

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Many things can be discovered by spending time on a beach in any country. Some of the things that come to mind for me are; level of happiness of the local people, family values and local social habits.

Shelley and I had a chance to experience this on our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. We spent two weeks there over Christmas and New Years 2016.  It was a welcome break in our crazy lives of planning and then having a wedding. During this time away we made a conscious effort to learn basic Spanish so that we could converse with the locals and experience the real Dominican Republic.

About an hour before we landed, I heard an excited voice say “pull out the travel book.  We need to learn Spanish if we plan on making it to the resort. ”  For the next hour, we went through the drills of learning a few basic phrases. Even in the customs line-up we befriended a  weary  traveller who spoke Spanish to help us learn how to catch a bus to Jaun Dolio beach.  I could not absorb as much as Shelley because I did not sleep on the plane.  She has the gift of being able to sleep the moment that she sits down. I should say lies down all oer me as I was the pillow for the five hour flight. Needless to say she was much fresher than I was when we arrived.

We made it through the Airport and picked up our luggage.  As we exited the airport, we were met with a barrage of taxi drivers and such.  All were eager to try and help us use their cab. Shelley Tip # 1, don’t let anyone grab your luggage. As it turns out, the friendly help would cost us a $270 USD ride to the resort. Shelley tip #2 they will haggle.  A simple Spanish of saying that is was “way to much”, dropped the price to $150 USD.  It was still to much for our liking, so plan B was executed — Public Transit.

We had the entire afternoon to make it to the resort and we used it to travel with the locals and see some of the country that the average tourist would never see. Three buses later, thanks to Shelley’s Spanish lessons on the air plane, we were dropped of in front of our resort. The total was thirty Canadian dollars for the both of us.  After the journey, a check in and good sleep was in order.

In the morning, we had a light breakfast and were eager to hit the beach and take a swim in the azure Caribbean sea. As we walked IMG_1541onto the beach, we noticed that hardly anyone was on the beach beyond the strip in front of the resort.  Three hundred feet around the corner and we had about a mile of tropical beach to our selves –Heaven.  It is very easy to lose track of time when all you see is the hypnotising surf of the Caribbean and the tropical winds moving through the palm trees.

Our second adventure was a self-guided trip into the old colonial zone in Santa Domingo.  More public transportation. Santo Domingo is the oldest colonial city in the Americas. Founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1496.  He was the son of Christopher Columbus. We had an incredible day exploring all the old buildings.

After the day of exploring the old colonial zone had concluded, it was time to make it back to the Hotel.  Three busses and a slow trip through the heart of Santo Damigo during rush hour was all that it took to get back to the hotel. It was  a look into the real world of the Dominican Republic.  If anyone really wants to experiance any country and  know how the locals live, public transit will show you it in about one hour stuck in rush hour traffic. What a ride it was with people  hanging out the door of the bus and people stepping on at every stop to sell food to the the hungry passengers.

The real contrast for me on this trip has been the different people managing the crazy pace of the city to the construction worker napping in the shade.  Everyone knew how to move quickly, but all seemed to also know how to slow down.  For me, the time spent on the beaches was the real Dominican spirit. Locals spending time with their families on a Sunday with a picnic seemed to be their favourite pastime. Their only concerns seemed to be where to find a palm tree for shade.  We should all spend a bit more time looking for shade under a palm tree.