My usual Christmas vacation started after Christmas. I had a wedding to attend in the Dominican Republic and the wedding party opted to make it a week-long vacation from Thursday to Thursday, and I found that if I took two more days of vacation off, I would have two solid weeks plus weekends off. I don't remember how the days before we left went.
The Dominican Republic trip was at an all-inclusive resort in Bavaro. I've never been to one before, and I don't think it agrees with me all that well. Bavaro is basically a long beach on which several resorts are built, but aside from the resorts, a few apartment buildings that look too expensive for the locals, and some other miscellany, it's deserted. So the days are basically made up of sitting at the beach or at a pool-side bar, or doing some rather lame looking scheduled activities, or going on organized excursions out. We did a couple of the latter, but while we were at the resort, I wondered if that was what being on a cruise ship was like since it felt so isolated. (The highly-touted food I was largely unimpressed with.)
Of the excursions, one was a catamaran ride for half a day which I thought was kind of lame. The other was a series of zip lines, which were more interesting but otherwise still kind of limiting, but getting to the zip lines involved going past the touristy bits and into the actual countryside. Lots of nice scenery; 20 or 30 km is enough to take you from the beaches to a very mountainous area that feels more remote than it perhaps really is. We passed a lot of homes that looked like they were just barely managing to stand after having been built in an awful hurry out of whatever could be scavenged, but in at least a few, I saw LCD TVs mounted on the walls, and on several more, I saw little satellite dishes with Claro on them. Claro is the local telco, so I assume they may be for Internet access.
Getting back was more of an adventure than I thought. I'm not sure what it was we went through over the middle of Louisiana, but it was enough to convince the pilots to drop to 28,000 feet. (It worked.) And I will try to avoid re-entering the US through MIA from now on.