A couples-only extended weekend in Punta Cana for a friend’s 40th birthday

Our friend Sofia turned 40 this year and her husband Teo arranged a surprise extended weekend getaway (couples only) for family and friends. As much as we love a sunny getaway, we have a lot of expensive home projects in progress or planned, plus the big India trip this summer, and the logistical headaches of arranging care for the kids while we are away at the end of January. It would be fun, but fairly impractical.

Then again, for Nums’ 40th birthday, Teo and Sofia were the only ones who not came out, but came to party. So come hell or high water, we were gonna be there for our friend to repay the favor!

Before the trip, we made mad preparations. We arranged for my in-laws to watch the kids (staying at our house, or staying at their house), provided a detailed itinerary, helped Lily make a Pinewood Derby car for a Girl Scout event, helped Lily prepare for a district spelling bee, made arrangements for Josh to get to and from various events, etc. It was busy.

We would be away from Friday morning to Tuesday night. No snow in the forecast, and good weather in Punta Cana. I ended up staying up all night Thurs night packing and finishing up work tasks. What’s an all nighter to me, you know? We said goodbye to the kids, and got picked up by another couple at 5:15 AM. We all got to the airport around 6 AM, and went through a long baggage drop-off and security check-in processes. We ended up all surprising Sofia while in the security check-in line. I’m glad no one blew the surprise.

The flight itself went well. We arrived at the resort in the mid-afternoon and met Sofia’s brother and wife. We had a nice 1st floor room, and after resting briefly, we went to check out the pool.

There isn’t a big need for a detailed day-by-day summary. We all spent the next few days enjoying the sun and sand and pool and drinks. The weather really cooperated. While the Excellence El Carmen facilities and staff were good, I thought the food was mediocre. Also, the drinks were often lower shelf unless you went to specific bars on the property. I also hit up the fitness center twice, and it was much nicer than I expected.

We all had a very good time, making jokes, playing games, and relaxing. We also played a few games of beach volleyball, tried our hands at some archery, and watched the evening shows. Here are some select photos, and I’ll try to add more.

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Eventually Tuesday came around, and it was time to go home. Our flight was delayed due to mechanical issues and weather, so getting home was significantly delayed. Once we got to Newark, there were massive delays at Immigration due to non-working computers and being severely short-staffed. It took us over 90 mins to make it through Immigration. During the interminable wait, we got live updates on Lily’s status at the 2019 Hightstown Juniorettes Spelling Bee. We eventually got home around 11 PM.

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