Honeymoon: Day 4 (Off Roading + Life on the Outside)

We took a day trip away from the resort that I was at first ambivalent about but it ended up being really awesome! We were shuttled an hour away to the city of Macao, where we rented an ATV to off road through the town and beach. We also received a funny presentation about local foods and learned about how Dominican coffee is made and other items like coconut oil, green tea and baking spices. 

Leaving the resort was definitely a culture shock, and while it was expected it was still eye opening to say the least. The bordering towns are covered in trash and run down. Children and adults line the street, lingering in bars and shops and most just sit outside their homes in lawn chairs blankly staring at you as the tour bus drives by. I wonder if they are glad we bring business to these towns or angry for our flashy American touristy ways. I would imagine the latter, if I were them. 

The entire tour was a little over two hours. I was nervous at first to ride in the ATV (especially with my road raging husband as its sole driver – love you Brian but you know it’s true!) but that worry quickly wore off. It was nice to change it up a bit, let loose, get dirty and learn about the culture.


We walked away with two jars of natural coconut oil, some green tea leaves that are supposed to help us naturally lose weight (you know I’ll update you on this) and a cd of posed beach pictures we took. The photo cd purchase occurred after aggressively being chased after, we bartered a purchase of from $45 to $25 a cd. When anyone warns you the people of the Domincian Republic enjoy bartering and pursuing a sale, they really aren’t kidding. By the end of the day excursion, my polite attitude was gone, replaced with a blank angry stare and stern “no more” after being asked 20+ times to look and buy a $5 bracelet. I understand there is a livelihood at stake and that everyone selling has a story and need. I’m sure certain tactics work on certain people but I found myself purchasing only the goods and from vendors who were not pushy and brash in their approach. The coconut oil and other times were said to be given 25% to the local school for children’s education, which I can only hope is true. 

Exiting the ATV at one stop, this little girl stole my heart and broke my heart. She opened my door and then asked for a dollar or anything I could spare. I did not have anything on me but it got me thinking. Whether or not she was put up to that to pray on unsuspecting tourists or it is really a true and desperate need, she’s still a seven year old girl with no shoes on in the middle of a dusty road begging for money. No child should remember that as a childhood memory. We should all count our blessings for what we have and the freedom we surely possess where we live. 

Honeymoon Tip: Wherever you are, find a little time to learn about the area you are in and the culture. Branch out of normal activities and try things you would deem out of your comfort zone. The memories you will one day tell your kids won’t be about the endless Mai Tais you drank, but instead will be about the little moments, you and your significant other learned, explored and loved together.  

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Honeymoon: Day 2-3 (Eat, Sleep, Sun + Fun)

I told myself I would blog everyday but the plan went out the window the minute we arrived at the resort! 

We are in heaven here. The resort is stunning and beautiful and the people who work here are awsome – not to mention gorgeous!?! Dominican men and women are stunning! Our Royal Service perks provided us with a personal concierge, or butler. I mean, so fancy right?! His name is Enrique and is just the sweetest and most helpful. He also looks like he could be Brian’s cousin. In fact, many people here think Brian is Dominican. I’m getting such a kick out of it! 

We have a bottom floor suite with an outside patio and day bed and inside, we have a living room, loft like bedroom and the bathroom holds a double shower head shower. Honeymoon ready, si?! The mini fridge is restocked daily and you can request anything you want. (Juices, soda, liquor. Oh the all-inclusive life!) 

We were greeted with champagne and chocolate covered strawberries in the room upon check in. 

Such a sweet welcome

Dinner reservations had already been made for us by Enrique at the Adults Only – Royal Service exclusive restaurant, La Palapa. 
The ambiance and decor is striking and modern. White geometric vases surround you and wicked laterns adorn the area. Not paying for anything at dinner is the strangest thing – no prices listed on the menu actually takes some getting used to. The downside that I could see to all inclusive as well is that this can limit your drink choices (if you’re a wino, you will need to pay for the wine you WANT vs the house white or red that is only so-so here) and if you’re craving something in particular food wise, you’re out of luck. Overall though it is is nice to have eveything planned out for you and the mystery taken out of the bill coming that’s for sure! 

Honeymoon Tip: Research research research any all inclusive resorts you look into. Read eveything and as much as you can. I picked our resort based on the food reviews and adults only area and the top of the line premium drinks available. Even with this upscale additions, you will find yourself ordering, eating and drinking several things you may not have been apt to if you had picked the establishment and drink choices. If you can’t roll with the punches and/or want particular items, all inclusive may not be for you. 

La Palapa
Happy Honeymooners

Honeymoon: Day 2 – Arrival

PDX-DET-ATL. 

After 12 hours of traveling and two layovers, we have arrived! Travel time… Not gonna lie, we hated it. The red eye from Portland to Detroit was not bad but once we got into Detroit and made our connecting flight, 6 am there was “way too early” feelinv Portland time for our bodies and we felt all kinds of strange and exhausted on that second flight. By the time we got into Atlanta, we  were definitely ready to hop onto the next flight and get to our honeymoon destination! 

Unfortunately there was a “heating situation” on the plane so we got delayed an hour. Hubby took this opportunity to play the honeymoon card and asked for a seat upgrade. What do you know? It worked! Literally – smooth sailing on our end from there to Punta Cana! We rarely fly Delta on the west coast, so I had no clue what to expect. They definitely surpassed my expectations and treated us kindly and graciously.  The seats on the planes (main cabin included) all come with tvs and plug ins for your devices and ample leg room. First class was truly fun for us and enjoyable and made the final leg of the destination perfect. 

Arrival into Punta Cana’s airport was hectic. We had no idea we had to pay $10 a person to get into the country and that we needed cash or pesos to do so, so customs was tricky and frustrating. We finally took money out from the airport exchange booth using our credit card, got through customs and hit the luggage rounds. A kind man was there with my luggage and asked who we were using as a shuttle to the hotel. He whisked us down to the Blue Shuttle/Expedia counter. And then of course… waited for his tip. “Kind man” was not needed as we had instructions via Expedia to begin with on how to get to the shuttle counter and instead we fell for the oldest trick in the book. We were “those Americans” with the lost – take advantage of us – look on our face! It’s funny now, or it will be when we retell this story to people when we are back right?! $2 tip later we were on the shuttle to our hotel. After a few stops to the resorts around us, our driver took us to our hotel last. Though he did not speak much English, he did tell us that it’s the “American VIP” hotel. Yes! All that research was worth it! 

Shuttle time: approx 40 minutes from the airport to Bavaro Beach location 

Honeymoon tip: Research customs prior to leaving your country. Don’t assume any country will be the same as we did with our past experiences with Mexico. Always carry cash with you. And lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for upgrades or better amenities! You don’t get what you don’t ask for! 

Honeymoon: Day 1 (Otherwise known as Travel Day)

It’s finally here!!! A month and half (almost) has passed since our wedding and the much needed back to reality check of work and a normal life has given us the time to prepare and build the anticipation for our honeymoon! Tonight, we fly from our home in Portland, Oregon to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Travel time is 12 hours total with two stops – one in Detroit and the next in Atlanta. We are going to be pretty tired but it will be worth it…!

 Many people have asked us why we chose the DR. To be honest, we went back and forth on many options, Bora Bora was our first choice – only to find out that travel time is  24 hours. We couldn’t take more than a week or so off of work so that didn’t seem worth it. Italy was next as Brian is half Italian – other half African American – (my hottie husband!) but let’s be honest Italy is no cheap feat… So back to the drawing board we went.

 I ended up entering a blog contest from @theeverygirl that asked who I would take on a trip to Eden Roc and why… and lucky me, I won a two night stay to this ultimate resort! (More to come on this.) We are talking luxury vacay at its finest! Being that the free trip was only for two nights, we decided to look into the area and found out how immensely popular Punta Cana is for its mostly all inclusive resorts and breathtaking Carribean beaches. Eden Roc is not all inclusive so we chose to save money and find another place to go for a few days prior to ER. After four or five days of researching the best resorts (Brian everyday to me: Just book something. Me: “One more day!  I need to make sure it’s the one!” (Aren’t we women funny?!) We decided upon Pardisus Resort by Melia Hotels with the option of having the Royal Service. The services listed on the hotel website are that you are provided access to your own 24/7 butler and access to top of the line drinks, food and ammenities exclusive to the royal service guests. Oh la la! Six nights will be spent there and we will then move to Eden Roc for the last two nights of our honeymoon. 

I’m so excited to get to the Dominican Republic. Brian and I have different days off so our schedule is never the same and we rarely get to spend an actual day together. I’m looking forward to relaxation and unlimited time with my new husband. Husband… The term is something I’m still getting used to saying outloud. It’s like, so, adult. 

Honeymoon tip: Trear yourself to a fun manicure inspired by your destination. Thank you Fumi at Color Treats PDX for my own tropical nails! How cute is the pineapple!? Being from Hawaii I’m obsessed with all things pineapple! 🍍

Xo,

Asha 

No Zika, please.

What in the world is going on?!

Within the last few weeks, seemingly straight out of the blue, virus carrying mosquitoes are all over my FB feed and the news, with talks about transferring deformities to babies and scaring pregnant and hopeful soon to be mothers from traveling abroad. What are the odds that these dang mosquitoes have decided to start their warpath of terror right after my amazing bridesmaids just booked a fabulous 4 day trip for us to Cabo San Lucas at an all inclusive resort!?!? This was supposed to be a wild, tropical, dream come true in paradise Bachelorette party for me! And now here we are, faced with the decision to cancel because of “threats” to our unborn-future in the years to come babies or risk it and hopefully learn the little gnats are forced under control soon and no longer carry their foul virus.

This is a serious WWYD situation. I’m so torn. I don’t like to be a worry wart nor an over-analyzer, though let’s be real, that’s me by nature. And I do feel that there are going to be threats anywhere you go – people don’t travel to other countries with perfect conditions by any means or let things scare them from experiences that truly should be had. On the other hand, this “state of emergency” fills my social media and news feeds and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. It’s a flip of a coin, who tells you the final answer and makes that call kind of deal. I’m on the fence but leaning toward saying no go, no risk, let’s play it safe and get crazy in the USA. When you’re handed a choice, do you make the decision that seems best for the future or do you fly with the wind and know that life will take care of you and fears shouldn’t stop you? Final decision to come soon….

Stay tuned.

Bride-zilla or nah?

So, I’ve hit that point. After a 13 month engagement with endless celebrating, social activities and barely any planning other than locking the venue down – check it out and tell me this isn’t a fairy tale garden wedding come true – and hiring a wedding planner, our wedding is somehow now FIVE months away. Five months. Panic has truly set in.

I’m starting to wonder what the heck I did the last 13 months or how in the world time flew by so fast. Even better a question, how do people plan weddings in less time than I have had?! I’ve started to hunker down and get serious about my vendor list and requirements and Excel right now is my best friend. While I have always known I am a “control freak”, this wedding process is truly showing me my strengths and revealing (much to my dismay) my weaknesses. It’s hard for me to not strive for perfection. I’ve been this way since I was a child – so much so, that if something is not perfect, I tend to then flip the script and go the other route of giving up. If it or I’m not perfect – what’s the point? With social media accounts like Pinterest and online websites that basically throw perfect unattainable and unrealistic weddings in your face literally every hour of the day, it’s so hard to not second guess your decisions. Even my wedding dress, that I am absolutely in love with and knew it was the one the second I put it on, has been questioned in the last few weeks as designer dresses fill my instagram feed and I wonder – “should I have included more lace? Maybe a dress more dainty? Should I have looked at other stores before purchasing my dress on the spot? Is my dress to simple? Would I have looked better in a more blinded out sparkly princess dress?!” I have had to breathe a lot as I remind myself that no matter what, I will feel like the bride I want to be and no other decision – dress, venue etc will make the day worse/better.

The more I plan and the more I think about this day – and I think and plan pretty much every second I get, yes even at work between emails and daily contact with clients – the more I’ve been allowing myself to stop stressing and just focus on the love that we will be reveling in that day and forget the rest. I mean, really, flowers for $2,200…are you kidding me? No really, it’s a joke right? At the end of the day, in this case not a phrase, literally at the end of OUR wedding day, those expensive and intricate flowers will be close to dead and only our love will be alive and renewed. Will we remember that the flowers were worthy of thousands of dollars? Or, will we remember the way our guests talked and smiled and laughed as we basked in the glow of our vows and commitment to love each other forever. I’m going with the latter and of course, hoping I’m proved right! 😉 It’s a tricky job to figure out what costs are priorities and what costs are not and I’m sure that this list will vary from bride to bride but the most important thing to remember is the reason any fiancee is even planning a wedding.

After the planning, I will becoming a wife and soon after that a mother if God allows our wishes. Years will pass and life will move fast and I don’t want to look back on this time and think of what I missed as I stressed about the color palette not being “in season” or my bridesmaid dresses not matching and failing to look like the pinterest board I envisioned coming to life in my head.

Dreaming is natural and fairy tales are enchanting – but this kind of love, it’s real and I’m looking forward to moving past this planning and living in wedded bliss.

xoxo