Day 6 – Thursday, February 1st
This morning, the plan was to go whale watching in the Dominican Republic
The night before was a formal night at dinner, so I had worn my black velvet clinging strappy gown. After dinner, we had meant to go to see a professional illusionist and his hot blonde wife/assistant at the Orpheum Theater, but I had been having some nausea issues with the ship tossing since we left port that afternoon. Sitting bolt upright is one of the Worst positions in terms of causing nausea, and as you can imagine, the seats in the theater don’t recline. The theater is also located at the far end of the ship, so it moves quite a bit more than our stateroom. Since we’d gotten the time of the show wrong, and arrived forty five minutes early, I would have been miserable by the time the show even started, so we went back to the room, and as one might expect, laying flat on my bed in a dark room at night with a belly full of food, I fell asleep : )
Before we passed out, we ordered breakfast, to be delivered the next day (this morning) some time between 8 and 8:30am. This way, we could leave our room at 9 with plenty of time. This was not how it played out. Despite our calls and questions, breakfast arrived at 9:02, thirty seconds before our names were called to get on the little boat that was going to ferry us to shore- The Dominican Republic.
This port of call is lovely, but does not have a deep enough harbor to accommodate our big ol’ cruise ship. So the cruise ship must sit a ways offshore, and ferry us to the docks in its little boats. Each boat in an emergency could hold 150 people, packed in like sardines. This morning we were going to shore in groups of about 30-40.
They warned us that we could get very wet during our boat trips, and it might be sensible to wear a bathing suit. So I wore my bikini and a pair of jeans, knowing the pants might get soaked, but not wanting a horrible sunburn from the near-equatorial sunshine. It rained quite a bit that day, but the rain was so fine, almost like a mist, and the sun so warm, we hardly minded.
The moment we got off onto the dock, there were locals who wanted to shake the money tree and get some out of the tourists. Some wanted to sell tours of the island (motorcycle tour, walking tour, horseback tour up trails to a natural waterfall, little six person trolleys pulled by motorcycle, etc.) There were locals with drums, and a child painted and dressed in traditional costume that danced for the tourists walking by, hoping for tips. For some reason that one really bothered me. There were children with flowers or shells who would try to give you a flower, then pester you for money if you took it. One group of children followed us for half a block shouting insults in Spanish when we didn’t want their flower.
In any case, we were not pestered while in the company of our tour guide, but HE was pestered. Every local asked him the same question in Spanish “Where are you taking them?” and he would answer “The water.”
He did indeed take us to the water, to another dock not too far away, and onto a boat already almost full of other whale-watchers. It was a quick little fiberglass speed boat with open sides and a roof, and it hit the waves like it just didn’t care, riding up them like ramps, then crashing down on the far side. This was kind of fun for the first ten minutes, sort of okay if I stared at the horizon for the next ten minutes, and for the rest of the trip I was in absolute misery. I’d brought plenty of gallon-sized heavy-duty zip lock bags to keep my stuff dry, and ended up using one of them as a barf bag, which I’m sure was less than ideal for the other passengers around me. The tour did end a little early, but not because of my sea-sickness, thank goodness. One poor Frenchman exploded from both ends, much to the dismay of the people sitting around him, and the poor guy ended up miserably attempting to hang both his front and his backside off the edge of the boat while at the same time not falling out! The captain tried to encourage him to get back in the boat for a while, but eventually folks managed to explain the situation to him, and he decided to cut our tour short and head back in, dropping the majority of folks at their lunch destination, but dropping me and my party (my whole family decided to end the tour early with me) and the poor Frenchman and his friends off at the dock to make our way home. Once we got back to the dock, Chris and Nico decided to go on another tour with another local, this one a motorcycle-powered pedi-cab off to a hike up to a waterfall, and then a swim in the natural pools beneath. They said they felt pretty out of control, since they had no idea where they were after a while, and no idea where they were being taken. A pretty intolerable situation to my taste, but they said it all worked out fine, and they had a good time, and came to dinner that night tan and happy and full of stories.