So – picking off where we left off from the last post……..
We’re at the Hilton Airport at JFK……..We all get a great night’s sleep after totally wiping out the bar and snacks at the Executive Lounge at the HIlton. We awake early and chow down on some pretty decent breakfast at the Lounge, attempt to wipe all of Hazel’s (and Caitie’s…..she’s a bit messy) sticky fingerprints off of every piece of furniture in the Lounge before getting our shuttle to the airport.
At the airport, we get through security (despite the fact that Hazel has “thickener” in her Nemo sippy cup because she still can’t quite manage thin liquids with her repaired esophagus……the thickener needs to be “tested” by our illustrious TSA crew). We make it through Customs OK even though the officer gives us the obligatory dirty look (WTF?). We board the airplane and, as we walk down the aisle, I try desperately to pass Hazel off on anyone who looks interested. A young couple almost took the bait, but Hazel kinda scowled at them…… and that cut the deal. Really? Who could resist this??
So – we get to our seats and Hazel pretty much lets us know that it is basically her nap time. Fair enough. I get cranky too when I need a nap. But – this child does not nap ANYWHERE BUT HER CRIB! THe best we can do is humor her and hope she eventually passes out. We start with teaching her how the seat belt buckles work (duh…..she already knows this from flying scads of times before). Hazel insists on buckling and un-buckling her belt a million times. Teddy Bear is in and out of his seat belt a gazzilion times too and for God’s sake……he won’t sit up straight! Damn these teddy bears…….can’t they make them smarter than a 2 year old??! Screaming and fussing ensues and OMG!……we haven’t even taken off yet! We are still waiting for people to be seated! We profusely apologize to the entire aircraft for what we know will be a long flight with a stubborn 2 year old and her uncooperative teddy bear.
Soon the Flight takes off; Hazel is a pistol and insists on laying on the floor for the entire flight which totally ruins her white pants (note to Mom Leah – never dress your kid in white unless it is for her confirmation or wedding). BUT – Hazel is happy rolling around on the grimy, bacteria infested airplane floor, so we throw food at her, so that she stays there and maybe falls asleep (which doesn’t work).
After a 3.5 hour flight that seems like 8, we land safely at Puerto Plata Airport in the Dominican Republic (well…..not that safely since Hazel rolled under the seat in front of her). We clumsily gather our belongings (which against our better judgement includes Hazel), exit the aircraft, and try to get the feeling back into our legs. The adorable Dominican Republic reggae band comprised of a bunch of really old Dominicans strumming really old guitars and singing really badly greets us as we walk to baggage claim and we tip them way too much.
We get our luggage and look for the limo guy to take us to Lifestyles Vacations Holiday Resort. Bingo! There he is and he helps us with our luggage and off we go! There is whiskey, beer and champagne in the limo so we take advantage! Who cares if there are no seat belts or restraining devices in this large car? Hazel is ready to wander about after being confined to the floor of the airplane for 3.5 hours. BTW – that is not me getting out of the limo in the picture below, but that is the Lifestyles limo…..and let’s just pretend that it is me…….a girl can dream……
OK….the funny stuff stops here………the roadways in the DR are absolutely treacherous! Not because of the terrain but because of the lunatic drivers. Motorcycles and scooters are the main modes of transportation in the DR and they just weave in, out, and around traffic. There are no regulations. There may be a cow in the middle of the road and everyone just cuts in front of everyone else to avoid the bovine (which is OK with me cuz I am an animal lover). But the motorcyclists and bicyclists just go wherever they want and try to squeeze in wherever possible……passing on the left, right, and everywhere in between. It is not uncommon to see 3 people squeezed onto a very small scooter with one of them holding a laundry basket of belongings dangerously weaving in and out of traffic.
So – we are in the limo enjoying our champagne and trying to corral Hazel and glad that we are not on a scooter. Hazel and Teddy are ecstatic that there are no seat belts. We enjoy a couple of toasts in the car. I couldn’t get a picture of Hazel toasting in the car, because the ride was ridiculously crazy, but here is a picture of how Hazel toasts with her Nemo cup…..I have no idea what is in the cup……
Anyway – we are riding contentedly in our limo, champagne glasses overflowing and toasting like fools, when all of a sudden we hear a sickening thud. The limo kinda slows down and I turn to the family and exclaim half-drunkedly, “Crap…….I’m pretty sure we just hit a guy!” Sure enough – we look out the rear of the limo and see a poor bicyclist struggling to get up off the roadway and attempting to right himself while bystanders run to his aid. Thank God he has a helmet on! The thud was alarmingly loud and the cyclist definitely looks shaken. What to do? We are suspecting this is a common occurrence. We look (way up) to the front of the limo to the driver for some acknowledgement as to what just happened and see that he is looking in his rear view mirror but is not making any effort to stop. Then we double check at the rear of the limo to see that the bicyclist has somewhat regained his composure and is attempting to get back on his bike with the help of bystanders. But – we feel really bad that our limo hit this dude and we just don’t know what to do as foreigners in a limo. The solution – keep drinking champagne! Problem solved!
And that was our illustrious beginning to a wonderful vacation! Other than mowing down a bicyclist, drinking a bunch of champagne in the limo, and holding onto Hazel (and Teddy) for dear life during this crazy ride, we make it to the resort! Muy bien and gracias!