The month of February seemed to move with a glacial slowness. I counted the weeks down, then counted to the pedicure appointment, and finally started counting the days. My bag was slowly packed, sans cat, and my carry on bag was filled with necessities like my passport and chapstick.
And then the day came. We woke up early on a bitterly cold morning and drove into Toronto to meet up at a hotel near the airport. Then we got up at 2:45am to get our airplane.
I hadn’t been on an airplane in years, not since 2007, and found it to be a shock. The plane was so small and my seat was the one just ahead of the middle doors so it didn’t have any windows… or leg space for that matter. I felt like I was in a tin can.
But eventually we landed and were instantly swarmed by people who wanted to help. There were airport volunteers who hurried over to take our baggage right to our bus, leaving us to find our seats. The countryside was very different from what I’m used to. The fields on either side were straggly and there were no crops, just skinny cows with floppy ears. Then we’d drive through a small village where beautiful homes with ornate bars across the windows and balconies sat almost touching tin roof shacks.
After several hours we finally pulled into the gates of our resort and up a long drive to the main building. There we collected our baggage, got our room keys, and climbed aboard a small, open bus to our rooms. It turned out these buses drove up the paths regularly, picking up pedestrians and driving them to their destinations.
The room was pretty standard, other than the tiled floor and we had a lovely large balcony. The bathroom was good too and wouldn’t be out of place in any middle class home. What made it weird was the sign saying “water not potable” and a request to please not flush the toilet paper. That was definitely not something I was used to and goofed more than once. I did remember not to drink the water.
The pool was gorgeous and quite large, just as advertised, and the kids loved splashing around in it. My Mom and I tried to do aquafit with Super Sonic every day. and one day a bunch of us ended up playing volleyball, which was fun, even if I have a tendency to duck instead of hitting the ball.
The beach was gorgeous, huge and sandy, stretching out to the ocean. Mom and I walked it a few times, collecting shells and bits of coral. She’s making a fridge magnet with hers. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do with mine.
The food was really good, not as good as homemade, but yummy and filling. I loved the caramelized pineapple at breakfast and the make your own tacos for dinner, especially with pico de gallo, guacamole, green hot sauce, and julienned tomatoes. I had no idea you could julienne a tomato. I’m not even going to try.
Then we went on an excursion. Our first stop was my Dad’s favourite, a boat ride through the Gri Gri Lagoon. Our next stop was the Caleton beach. The water was gorgeous and clear. Mom and I shared a swim mask and all you needed to do was stick your head in the water to see gorgeous fish. The reef was in walking distance of the beach.
Then we went to our next stop, the Playa Grande beach, considered the 15th loveliest beach in the world. There we had a buffet lunch and walked past a slew of vendors to the beach. There was definitely truth in that advertising. The beach was beautiful and the water clear. We all loved jumping in the waves and laughing when we misjudged and got splashed in the face instead. Eventually our time was up and we boarded the bus again to head to our last destination, the Blue Lagoon.
I had expected a lagoon the same colour as all the beaches we’d seen. Instead we went down a staircase to a little grotto complete with a half roof with stalactites and rock walls dripping with ferns. The water was azure blue and clean enough that we could see the bottom, even though it was quite deep. I loved swimming in there, surrounded by family, blue, and ferns. I dove down to the bottom and brought up a little rock to remember the lagoon by and was happy on the way out to get stopped to see the fish, pudgy and black, leisurely swimming beside the stairs.
Like all vacations it had to come to an end. Soon we were waking up at 5:15am to check out and get breakfast and then we were boarding our bus to the airport. And then my Mom got paged on the overhead system. Dad and I went with her as we were all on the same ticket. Did we wish to get bumped up to first class? Oh boy did we ever! I had two windows on the trip home and a little bottle of spring water and a bowl of warm nuts. They didn’t have any vegan meals on board but the appetizer was a kale salad which my Mom didn’t want so I had two of them. And they came around with Miss Vickies original kettle chips an hour later. I finished my book then took a bit of a nap with the provided pillow and finally we saw land, which was green then slowly turned to white. That’s when I knew we were getting close to home.
Soon the plan started its descent and we were off the plane and shivering in the sudden cold of the tube connecting the plane to the airport. We went back to the hotel, stuffed the SUV with our luggage, and joined the tail end of rush hour to get home.
It was one of the best trips I’ve had. I think the best trips not only show us a part of the world we’ve never experienced before and and also remind up of how nice it is to go home again.
Goodbye Grand Bahia Principe. Maybe we’ll see each other another day!
Our view from the balcony