Was it a good or bad thing that we went away on an all inclusive holiday? I really don’t know. All told, I would say that we spent about $3000, with almost 2/3 of that going to the actual vacation cost. I think that around 1/3 of that was taxes, but I don’t know who gets those taxes. I hope it’s the Dominican government, because they could use a little upgrade on their infrastructure, amongst other things. We probably put another $500 or so into the local economy there in excursions, souvenirs (rum and mamajuana), and tips. The last $500 went into our local economy here at home, with the purchase of other things for the trip: snorkeling equipment, travel insurance, clothing etc…
So you tell me. Is it a good thing to do for yourself, as an indulgent, selfish get-away from life (kids, work, cooking and cleaning), or is it completely justified? My more dominant, and logical side says to not spend that money, and knock down some of our debt, where my frivolous side says that I’ve never been away to a tropical destination, and I have worked hard for many years, so I deserve a break. For anyone that really knows me, they know that I’m not a person without constant conflict in my life. I am in a perpetual battle of good and evil, and the weird thing is, that it’s all in my own head. I make decisions, and then always fight myself on whether it was the right thing to do. I don’t even base it on society’s image of what is right or wrong, it is going solely by what I perceive to be just and unjust. I guess I should tell you that, like most people, I will try to skew things to be viewed in my favour, depending on how I want to be seen by others.
Right now I want to be seen as someone who is moralistic and empathetic, so I am going to try to sway you to seeing things my way. I will do that by telling you about the families that benefited from our vacation. The maids and wait staff, the vendors on the beach, that I know made a good sum off of us, and the local businesses that we spent our money at. We paid a high price for taxi rides, even by our standards in Canada, and we paid more for our excursions, than we would have had to had we haggled them down. I didn’t feel bad paying more for things than was necessary, because it was money that we had budgeted for entertainment. It made me feel good thinking that Martin’s family was going to eat a good meal of the mahi-mahi we caught, because we took a bag of fillet and the carcass (for soup), back to the resort for him. The taxi driver also got a bag of fish, and a US$5 tip, to help him pay for the gas, and to thank him for waiting around for us. It’s nice to help those people out, even though we didn’t have to, because they are so thankful for these things, and because it really isn’t inconveniencing us at all.
I also know that I could have got an hour long massage from Maria (#44 on Sosua beach) for US$30, but didn’t mind giving her $40, because that same massage would have been $90 -$100 at home, and maybe it might help with some school supplies for her kids. It also made me feel great, and after she put the voodoo (Vick’s Vaporub) on my busted toe, I didn’t have any more pain for the rest of the trip. We spent $68 at Jorge’s restaurant (#64 on Sosua Beach) and chair rental business, and left the young fellow that delivered our delicious lunch and drinks to the beach for us a nice tip. I would guess it was more than his wages for the day, but he was there whenever we needed anything, and never let us go without. When someone works that hard, why shouldn’t they be rewarded? He was maybe able to put some money away for school, or get himself a bottle of rum and party with a hooker. (I’m not talking about a rugby player, either). I don’t know if you can get a prostitute for $8, but you can buy a $4 bottle of rum, and it would be good for the local economy.
The hotel also employs hundreds of locals for a wide variety of jobs, from groundskeeping, to entertainers, to the security staff. Speaking of the security guards, it’s pretty nice to know that they are there. I realize that you can still get robbed, but it’s good to see half a dozen dudes with clubs patrolling the grounds on a constant basis. It also keeps the vendors from accosting you on the hotel grounds, and from me taking a sandwich on the beach. I’m not sure if that’s so we don’t feed any of the vendors or stray dogs, or if they don’t want seagulls flocking to the beach, but either way, I’m glad that they look out for us. I can’t even imagine how many employees are there, but there are around 550 rooms, so you can just imagine what it takes to feed, water and clean up after 1100 people. I’d like to think that Barcelo is putting out a big percentage of our dollars to paying those people and feeding us, but I doubt it’s more than 50%.
Now that I have you thinking that we are the equivalent of Mother Theresa in Calcutta, let me tell you about the downside to an all inclusive vacation.
There is no real adventure in having everything done for you, and having security guards all over the place to keep the riff-raff from bothering you. Sometimes the riff-raff are the best people to know. It also takes the screw-upa-bility out of everything, and as a lot of you know, that’s what keeps us on our toes. I love trying to troubleshoot and fix my mistakes, especially when I don’t get killed by guerrilla soldiers, common thugs, or cartel members. I also don’t like the fact that there is always a cold, slushy Bahama Mama, or a refreshing Cuba Libre at the pool bar when I am parched from the heat; I would rather have to go to a seedy liquor store and purchase a bottle of cheap booze and a couple of bottles of Coke, and come home to mix one myself. Shit, I forgot the ice, better drink it warm, because I sure don’t want to head out of the cheap motel when it’s getting dark. Especially when I don’t speak the language very well.
See what I did there? Kind of makes you think that I made the right choice, right? That’s because I didn’t go into the real cons of an all inclusive tropical vacation. It might be because I haven’t researched them, or maybe because I don’t want to know all of the bad things associated with going on one. For all I know, God burns a unicorn to death every time someone goes on a vacation like that, but I don’t believe in God, so I think the unicorn population will probably keep thriving. What I do know, is that my far better half loves the comfort and security of that type of get-away, and she deserves to be comfortable, as well as safe, so I guess it’s a thing I will have to live with. I mean really, she is the only reason I went on that trip and had a great time with her and a spectacular group of friends. I really don’t regret it at all, and I hope there are already plans being made for next year. I laughed, and played, and generally forgot about the few shitty things that are going on in my life right now, and if it cost a few weeks pay to have that bit of respite, then so be it. We don’t spend a lot of money on frivolous things, and we work hard at what we do, so why shouldn’t we enjoy it, even if it is just for a little while?
Oooh ooo oooh hokey dokey,