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Published: June 25th 2016
My little travelblog has just reached the 200,000 hits. So let me first thank all of you who have followed our adventures over the last few years. I know I should upgrade my profile page! Fun to see that our little travelblog adventures are already 9 years old. And little change of program on my side, South Africa will be coming earlier than expected....as early as the start of 2017....can't wait for all that diving, golfing, great wine and amazing views from our terrace!
So what Am I doing in Punta Cana? Let say I had some miles left, and few points to use on Starwood too, so it was less than expensive. And there is some kind of diving in Punta Cana. I also have to admit that it's always fun to click another country in the world. To my count, this one says 142! For the Caribbean, not visited is Haiti, but the country is not really on my list. Left on my list are Nevis & St Kitts....to do on the Club Med 2, Barbados and the Sandy Lane is if I ever win the lottery (I don't play)...and the James Bond life in Jamaica!
To do three of those, soon, one day!
So for now on, it was 4 nights in Punta Cana flying Business class on American Airlines. Just have a look at the picture of the food...shame...as well as the overall experience. Lucky for them, staff is nice...but that all experience is so old!!
Once in Punta Cana, I'm here for 4 nights. The first two in a suite at the Four Points by the airport, next one at the Westin by the beach and last one back at the Four Points. The Four Points has no views, but the staff is truly nice and hotel is next to a residential area occupied mainly by excecutives of the Punta Cana resort group. So there i next door some decent choice of restaurants at a decent prices...but best, a proper size supermarket allowing me to do proper self-catering. On my first morning, I got pick-up by Sea Pros to dive Playa Bavaro. I had no expectations, this is tourist land, not divers land. They ask you first for your credit card, and never asked my diving qualifications on their site. There is the choice of a full
day at Catalina Island...but this is a snorkeler/diver trip, and there are more comments on the food/drinks, than on the diving...price: over 200usd. So I settle for 2 morning dives at Playa Bavaro. Here, no site is deeper than 14 meters, and with transfer and my own equipment, it's 110usd.
Once arriving at the dive center....I was welcome by a local DM....welcome my friend, he looked at me and give me a 12 pounds belt....euh, sorry, I'm not your friend, and I'm a diver, 6 pounds is more than enough! I hate these tourist places where local staff want to start all their sentences by "Hello my Friend!" This is more than welcome in a place like Tobago without tourists around...here, it's just fake!
The first dive was...well below average, still with some decent visibility. I'm lucky they didn't insist to buddy me with another diver! I jump in the water first....went down for a little tour around..next diver was in the water...7 minutes later...and we started the dive on minute 12 of my dive computer! That should give you an idea! Next for me, to witness the DM destroying healthy sea fan corals
to wash his mask. I was not happy!
Safety stop between 2 dives ...we had to push to have 20 minutes and not the 10 minutes the DM wanted. It's ok, with a first dive of 62 minutes and 13.7 meters for me, my computer would not get too scared! Second dive even less sea life, 11 meters deep max, but this time we are going through fun swim through for a good 25 minutes...petty cool! That was it, Dominican Republic...dived, country number 56!
Next morning, I moved to the Westin. Typical packages hotel. The hotel is next to the Club Med and next to a golf course. You don't walk anywhere out here to find food if you want to avoid the charges at the hotel. Good news, nobody is trying to sell you anything on the beach! I land a nice junior suite with a top sea/beach view...perfect room and huge bed to relax for two days. I have to admit, was happy to do my own shopping before arriving here! Little fun fact...you won't survive with a credit card in Tobago....here, I never had to use anything else than a credit
I have to admit, the beach is truly beautiful! The pictures speak for themselves. But I would never survive a week here! Or I would be a lot on the golf course next door!
The hotel was also welcoming the yearly Course Director training from PADI. The next one is happening in Malaysia....and yes, this is not really a diving hotel! If you are a diver, read this! PADI organize twice a year a 9 days session to train Instructors to become Course Directors. Those will teach future Instructors. Be ready, it's 8 to 10,000usd per person...and minimum requirement, is only 150 dives. Yes and yes, ridiculous! PADI is a great business...you pay 10k usd...to charge later on 2,000usd per instructors....which is also done in some 9-10 days training. I always thought you need time to train a future trainer....here, it's more about pay...and follow the DVD! I know, I'm not going to make friends writing this. PADI has helped a lot giving access to diving to millions. But at the end of the day, it's first, a great money machine. With PADI...you progress by paying specialties courses...I believe only in experience, and
Was already ready to get back to the Old Continent. The airport of Punta Cana is another ripp-off. Cigars are more expensive than proper Cuban ones! And the rum at the airport, was simply double the price than the one at the local supermarket! No way!
I did a small stop in London, seeing diver friends for a morning in Gatwick! And yes, experience first hand the results of the Brexit!
Next stop...well, I'm in Luxembourg, not sure I'm doing a blog from here, but I'm back in a plane in 3 days!
Tot: 2.856s; Tpl: 0.052s; cc: 39; qc: 136; dbt: 0.1074s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.7mb