You spin me right round baby, right round

When I was growing up all the local towns and cities had their own bus service so, if you went from one town to another, you had to pay two fares. When my kids were growing up they changed that. All the bus services amalgamated into one big transit system called Durham Region Transit or DRT. Yes, this really is going somewhere, I promise.

Now the DRT was able to connect one town to the other in most cases but there were a few spots that didn’t have an available route. Enter GO transit. GO transit is a regional bus service that connects all the regions in the Greater Toronto Area to Toronto. DRT made arrangements with GO transit for them to accept DRT tickets and passes on the parts of the route where there was no DRT bus. Hopefully that’s clear.

This worked well until Covid-19 hit. Everywhere that sold DRT tickets and passes were closed. The DRT operated for free but the GO buses were still full fare. Luckily I had some leftover tickets but the drivers were starting to look hinkey at them and I was looking forward to getting my monthly pass back.

The mall reopened in the middle of June and I met with friends at the end of June to buy our passes. I’d heard rumours online that GO transit wasn’t accepting DRT fares anymore so I asked the City of Oshawa employee who was selling the tickets and was told, no, the 90 Go Bus was still taking monthly passes for sure.

I was still cautious so I contacted GO transit who said no they weren’t and Durham Transit who said yes they were. Their website said that GO wasn’t accepting paper passes anymore (which are held at least a metre away) due to covid but was taking paper tickets (which the drivers need to handle). Because that makes total sense.

A lady in a group I belong to on Facebook was quite irate and spoke to a lot of people. She ended up speaking to the Transit Committee who told her, “We have now reached an agreement with Metrolinx, effective Monday, July 13, that will permit customers to show the GO Bus operator a copy of the payment receipt for their DRT Monthly Pass purchase. This interim process and the One Fare Agreement will be in place until Aug 10, when customers will be able to travel between Bowmanville and Oshawa using the new DRT Route 902.”

That’s a bit worrisome for me as I have my actual pass but no longer have my receipt. I bought it just over two weeks ago and it wasn’t like I was planning on returning it. Then I got an email from a customer representative at GO Transit saying, “All existing passes purchased are accepted for travel.” This would have been a relief except I got a reply this afternoon, “Unfortunately, due to safety-related restrictions on the use of paper passes and transfers, the One Fare program between GO Transit and Durham Regional Transit is currently suspended until further notice; you will have to pay the full fare with your PRESTO card when using GO Transit.”

Seriously GO Transit, which is it going to be? Are you taking the passes or not? You’ve got me spinning in circles so fast you’re making me dizzy!

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Colin in front of a GO bus ~ 2012

My tropical vacation…

Angel packing herselfThe 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 the plane on our way to Dominicanfound 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.

the pathwalkAfter 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 the main poolaround 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.

beach

Our beach

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.

Caleton Beach fish3Then 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 inPlaya Grande beach waves2 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.

Blue Lagoon1I 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 checkme in first class 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 descendingclose 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 balcony1

Our view from the balcony