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Bienvenidos

“Ladies and gentlemen of flight 1896, we have just landed in Punta Cana. It is currently 81 degrees and sunny; the time is 3:25. We hope you enjoy your stay in the Dominican Republic.”

Is it really true? Are we actually here?

Seat belts un-click as vacationers fidget in their upright chairs. Heads bang the low, grey ceiling in awkward attempts to retrieve luggage from overhead.

I cannot describe the details of the 4-hour flight because I slept soundly the entire way. I could say I slept like a baby, but the only infant on the flight screamed and cried the whole time. So maybe I slept like a really well-behaved baby. Or maybe I slept like a college student.

From there, all the passengers are herded like cats onto a bus that takes us to the arrival gate. We are cast upon the waiting area for the immigration office. A small group of musicians plays traditional music from a location unidentifiable through the crowd.

Two immigration forms are distributed; a white one for citizens, a blue one for visitors. Each of us fills them out on our own. Upon presenting them, we discover with great amusement that, under “Nationality”, my brother had written “white”. Following jokes about his silly mistake, he asks

“What’s the Spanish word for white?”

“Blanca,” I offer, from the embarrassingly limited knowledge I had acquired rom Spanish 101 last summer.

He repeats it loudly, in a feminine voice, “Blancaaaa.” It occurs to me that this might be the only Spanish he knows.

The desk clerk shows no concern for his mistake. She stamps our passports before we bypass customs like the First World family that we are. Apparently, as we would be reminded throughout the week, Americans can do as they please in the Third World, and Dominicans just don’t give a damn.

Thirty minutes later, we climb out of the taxi, and are offered mimosas before we even reach the hotel steps.

So yes, it is really true. We have arrived in Punta Cana.

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