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One move to America, one surprise pregnancy and a lot of fun later.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sickness, a Winter Wonderland and a Tropical Paradise

Just realized how long it has been since my last post. My excuse, if one is needed, is that I have been suffering from poor health recently. I won’t go into the details of all my symptoms but suffice it to say I have been feeling really poorly and have been struggling to even get through each day. I have had to slow down significantly and take an afternoon nap just to get through the day and evening. I suspected Lyme disease (which is common around here) or a viral infection but of course in my stubborn way I thought it would work itself out of my system eventually. No such luck so last week, after three weeks of suffering, I dragged my sorry ass along to the Doctors and have had a series of blood tests. I am awaiting the results and, hopefully, will get something pinpointed and some treatment for whatever they find. I also need to get an abdominal x ray to rule out some pain down there and an electro cardio gram on my heart murmur to fully pinpoint that. My doctor is really lovely and is very easy to talk to.
Well enough whinging for now, so what have I actually managed to do.

A Winter Wonderland

Well unless you have been living in a cave you will have seen the snow we had in Washington Dc and Maryland over the last few weeks. I would not have believed it possible unless I had lived through it myself. Luckily the first fall was at the weekend so we didn’t have to be anywhere although it did mean that we had to cancel our wine tasting night that we were having in the house. This would have been fun but even the local folks could not walk here as the sidewalks were impassable and a lot of them had no electricity anyway. Not a bad thing given that my health was still at a low and I was struggling to motivate myself for a house full of 30 people to feed and water. We ended up staying in and being visited for nibbles and wine by our neighbor two doors up as they just managed to get here.
Lots of open fires and reading happened as there was not much else to do and no guilt at doing nothing was a bonus.
Luckily on the Monday after the main snow fall the main roads and airports were mainly opened and Jarlath managed to catch his flight to San Francisco for work. This allowed me to use his car which is a Quattro and handles really well in bad conditions, despite a very nervous driver. My work called a snow day on the Monday as most of the side roads were still blocked.
I managed to work on the Tuesday but was very frustrated by the time it took me to get to each house due to the road conditions and then when I got to three of the houses the dogs were not even there so a wasted journey – although I still get paid for them. More snow came on the Tuesday and through to the Wednesday again making the roads impassible so another snow day on Wednesday and Thursday. All I could really do was read and potter around the house which was lovely as again my health was letting me down.
Friday and I was the only dog walker that could get out so I agreed to do a few calls and did 4 houses. It was ok today as most people stayed of the road as it was Presidents day weekend and I think a lot had just decided to take the Friday off as well as the Monday and make a long weekend of it. It was nice to get some fresh air after being cooped up for so long. Jar arrived home on the Friday night and we just chilled through Saturday and packed for our holiday the next day.
Here are some snow photos although they don’t really do the sheer volume any justice:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=183285&id=626078744&l=54848b5fe2

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=184322&id=626078744&l=212fe6f12d

A Tropical Paradise
After our fairly disastrous holiday in Ocean City (see blog http://hazelkeating.blogspot.com/2009/09/most-expensive-bbq-in-world.html) we decided to book ourselves a winter week away in the sunshine. After looking at weather forecasts and monsoon seasons we decided to go to the Island of the Dominican Republic. Vicky goes there a couple of times a year and always seems to enjoy it so we took her recommendation of going to the resort called Cabarete. It seemed to tick all the boxes, especially for scuba diving. This was a must for our holiday as it has been a while and we want to keep in practice at it. We also took her recommendation on accommodation and booked ourselves a nice room with living area and kitchenette at Villa Taina hotel http://www.villataina.com/main.php.
We were worried about flights due to the snow but everything went according to plan. Our flight took off at 8.30a.m. on Sunday morning from Washington Reagan airport and landed in good time at Miami International airport. We then had about an hour in Miami airport and took off on time from Miami to Puerto Plata airport in the Dominican Republic. We were lucky on the second flight as we were both upgraded to Business class so had lovely big seats. There was free food and drink as well but we had already eaten in Miami not knowing we had an upgrade, so I just chilled with a cup of tea and enjoyed the extra comfy seat and leg room. We landed on time in DR and shot through immigration, a short wait for bags and walked through to find our taxi waiting right on time for us. All going well so far!
The 20 minutes drive to our hotel in Cabarete was an experience. The usual “foreign” kamikaze driving and a lot to see. It is always an eye opener to see the scale of the poverty in these places. There were a number of shanty towns set in the trees were whole communities seemed to be set up. It must be an horrific existence living in tin shacks, probably without proper water and power and all in a very hot and humid environment. We could not cope without our air conditioning in our hotel room so it was unimaginable how these people lived. The one thing that did strike me was how green the island was but I guess it gets so much rain and sunshine that it is not so surprising. On the flight in it was unbelievable who much and how vivid the greenery was over the whole island, so far from our normal holiday flights over the parched, desert grounds you see in Spain or the Greek Islands.
Arrived safely at the hotel and got booked into our room and went a short exploratory walk. The hotel looked nice and was right on the beach with a beach bar and restaurant and a kite surfing and boarding school and rental. The pool looked small but we don’t usually hang out at the pool anyway when we have the option of going in the sea. The main street was very basic and didn’t have a proper sidewalk so you were walking amongst the traffic and the fumes were slightly overwhelming. Not a big issue as we would just make a point of avoiding the main street as much as possible.
Well got ready to go out and enjoy our first night of holiday and would you believe it but a tropical storm blew in that would rival the one we experienced in Ocean city. We made it to the local Irish bar and had to bed in there for the evening as the wind and rain was so violent that most places had their shutters down on the beach side. We both just looked at each other and thought, oh no, not again, surely we couldn’t be that unlucky. Well the storm continued throughout the night but luckily it had practically blown itself out by the morning.
Well because of the storm our water pipe had burst outside so we were left with no water in the room. Luckily there was an empty room beside us so we got the key to that and used it as our toilet base until they could get the water situation fixed. We had fully unpacked so we were not looking forward to re-packing and moving rooms. We went to the beach for the day and had a fun time sunbathing and frolicking in the waves – which were rather rough because of the storm – no clear blue Caribbean waters for us! We had limited water that evening but managed to get ready and go out for the night. Found that when it wasn’t raining there were a number of lovely restaurants and bars that were open out into the beach just a minute from our hotel so we picked a nice looking one and sat with our feet in the sand with some dinner, drinks and a Hookah pipe. Very relaxing although my health was still not right so it wasn’t a very late night as I was really tired and needed to go to bed.
During the night, poor Jar, developed food poisoning and had a horrific time of vomiting and having the runs. Made even worse by having to run to the room next door due to our water situation. I packed a bag and went to the beach to leave him in peace to try and sleep it off. I actually had a pleasant day just sitting partially in the shade reading. Jar eventually managed to drag himself out the room late afternoon. As out water was now fixed we showered and wandered out for the evening. Unfortunately after trying to stomach some soup Jarlaths stomach started up again and we retreated home to the room for a very early night. It wasn’t a very restful night but we both got up fairly early and stumbled to the beach for the day.
The weather so far had been fairly pleasant with some sunshine and some clouds keeping the heat from building up too much which made it quite pleasant. The evenings were fairly chilly and I needed a wrap to keep warm. Again we both had taken warm weather clothes so were left with limited options of what we could wear and still be comfortable. Through Wednesday night and into Thursday (my Birthday) the weather took a turn for the worse and it was overcast and partially rainy all day on Wednesday.
The worst part of all this rain was that the rivers had swollen and overflowed into the sea making the visibility too poor to do any scuba diving. This was probably the greatest disappointment as it was the main reason for the holiday. Instead we just had to chill and do lots of reading, not a bad thing but can get slightly boring if it’s all to do for 8 days.
Another annoying thing from the holiday was the number of vendors trying to get you to buy their wares on the beach. I don’t normally mind the “looky looky” men as they are only trying to earn a living and I would much prefer that to begging. However, there were a very large number of them and they were particularly pushy in making sure they had your attention. If someone comes up to me and I say no thanks, I do not expect them to then whistle or make further noise at me to ensure that they have my full undivided attention. It was particularly annoying when I was clearly engrossed in my book and they would almost sit on top of me while whistling or pushing their trays in my face. The number of times I had to re-read a section of a book just started to annoy me. Sounds petty but it was far worse than I have seen anywhere else in the world. Probably made worse by the resort being fairly quiet even though it was supposed to be high season – the economy having an effect.
Well not much more to add for the last few days of the holiday, the weather was variable and we got some sun in the mornings and early afternoons but it would then get cold and overcast by the afternoon. I was still suffering health wise so even partying the night away was out of the question, so we were both very ready to come home – at one point we even discussed coming home a couple of days early but it would have cost too much.
So we set off for the airport on the Monday and were very much looking forward to getting home but, oh no, the journey home had to be hit with a problem. In summary, there was a technical issue with our intended plane. An alternative was eventually found but we were four and a half hours late in taking off which meant we arrived in Miami too late for our flight home and too late for the later flight home. Luckily both our flights were with American airlines so they put us up in a hotel and on the first flight home the next morning. By the time we got to the hotel we had to be up again in 5 hours, so neither of us slept and we were exhausted on the final flight home and arrived home more tired than when we left. A 20 hour journey from door to door was not pleasant. Poor Jar had to get showered and go straight into the office as he was supposed to be working that day and could not take it off. I was so tired I ended up getting a migraine in the afternoon and having to take to my bed for 15 hours.
So we are both in agreement, no more holidays for a good long time. If we do go it will be for a couple of days here and there locally where we have the option of driving home if all goes wrong.
Here are some photos of the fun bits:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=188855&id=626078744&l=1899812904

And some videos:

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=367080173744#!/video/video.php?v=367081753744

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=367080173744#!/video/video.php?v=367080873744

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=367080173744#!/video/video.php?v=367080173744

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=367080173744#!/video/video.php?v=367078153744


Well you can’t say we live a dull life can you!!! Hopefully I will have my health issues sorted soon and will start having fun again to give me something more interesting to write about.
H Xx