Lobster Jo of Punta Cana

Howdy everyone! I’m blogging live from a cabana in Punta Cana, pina colada in hand, parked 20 feet from the surf, stunning turquoise waters, palm trees, sand everywhere! (Actually I wrote this on Sunday) We are staying at the Ocean Blue all-inclusive resort (me and Kara, who got us this fabulous exclusive travel deal). When we arrived on Friday, April Fool’s Day, we got checked in and ate at the lunch buffet just in time for it to start raining. It rained on and off for the next few hours. So, we enjoyed multiple pina coladas, noshed at the Mexican restaurant and caught the last song of the Michael Jackson tribute show (really very entertaining). We still haven’t managed to stay up late enough to hit the disco…the sun takes it out of you! 

   
 Saturday, we soaked in maybe too much sun…just maybe. We are complete knuckleheads. Kara got scorched (she has lovely fair skin, definitely needed SPF 100) and I even got roasted (SPF 15 is no match for the Caribbean sun). My chest, bottoms of my feet and tops of my thighs are painfully pink beneath my natural skin tone. Today, we are resting in a beachside cabana, shaded from the full impact of the rays. Marino, server extraordinaire, is keeping us stocked and hydrated with fresh pina coladas and Miami Vices. I’m hoping he can find a wheelbarrow to cart us back to the room later. Or maybe just throw a towel over us if we pass out in the cabana. Either way, he has earned a great tip.  

I’m curious about the local men in boats who anchor in front of the sunken berms. They spend all day hammering the berms with a mallet, pumping something in and out of them. When I have access to cheap wifi and data, I will find out exactly what they are doing. They also send people over the side in snorkels and scuba gear (perhaps to inspect the undersides?). It looks like a fun job, if you enjoy such things (I wish I did, but snorkels and scuba gear make me claustrophobic). My apologies for the orientation of the photo. WordPress and iPad have issues. 
  

Tonight we are eating at the Japanese Hibachi steakhouse. I can’t wait. I’m guessing the shrimp will be phenomenal (it wasn’t, but most everything else was). 
Aaaannnd, I was right. Sensei was fantastic! Our chef was an exuberant young man named Teofilo. Seriously, I have never seen so much energy come blasting out of someone. He managed two hibachi grills at the same time, all while performing an elaborate routine to entertain 14 people at our table. He tossed scrambled egg across the room into nearly everyone’s mouth (I was first…and I did it on the first try!), much to the delight of five kids. We were served fresh sushi (four bites, a good appetizer), miso soup, fried rice, hibachi steak, chicken, shrimp and salmon, assorted dessert bites (I wasn’t crazy about that flower-flavored custard thing) and what I assume was a shot of sake (tossed it into my soda when no one was watching). I didn’t have cash with me, so I left a solid tip for Teo at the lobby this morning when we checked out. Yeah, he was THAT good. While dining, we also chatted with a lovely woman named Jeanette. She was a registered nurse specializing in kidney dialysis support and hailed from Detroit. She told us about Coco Bongo, a local show and disco club. If I’m ever down there with a dude, I just might check it out since it sounds like crazy fun. However, neither Kara nor I felt adventurous enough to brave it as two single ladies In a foreign country.  

    
  

Teofilo! Hibachi chef extraordinaire! Te-o! Teeee-o! (More horizontal issues with the photos.)

  
 
My head is pounding on the flight home, no doubt in small connection to the pina coladas yesterday, recycled plane air and motion sickness I usually suffer. I was freaking out a little over the past few days…tomorrow, I turn 40. Holy Moses on Fancy Toast (credit to GFY). I’m definitely not as upset about it, or hungover, as I was for my 30th. I won’t be at DisneyWorld with Mom and Patrick watching a Cirque du Soleil show. I won’t be green around the gills. 30 seemed like a big blow to my fantasy of staying young and hip forever. It crushed me. By the time you get to be 40 and experience relatives, friends and former classmates passing away, you’re happy to still be here. (And not feeling utterly hideous in a bikini, that’s just buttercream on the cake!) There’s too much to be celebrated to worry about petty things or petty people. And my life is good, so good, right now. 

Patrick is nearly finished with his first year of college at Belmont. I managed to downsize our digs to a brand new townhouse, which happens to be a mile from my grandparents. Skyler has finally recovered from his dental extractions. Both pups are adjusting beautifully to the new house and love their new dog walker (our wonderful neighbor, Heather). I’ll be starting a new calling tomorrow, on my birthday, doing possibly the most rewarding and exciting work ever (helping Bam and Papa five days a week, running errands, housework, etc.). 
Do I sometimes wish I could be back 10 years ago, enjoying time with my 8 year old son? Sure, I do. But we don’t get to go back, so all I can do is savor the memories, make new ones and look forward to more. And I do tremendously enjoy the fact that I have very little to worry about. When you tune out worries about money, appearances and such, you figure out that really all you should worry about is the people you love…spending time with them, taking care of them, letting them know you think of them. You also figure out who those people are and phase out the ones that don’t factor into your life anymore. 
So, I’ll welcome 40, not because I’m particularly jazzed about the number, but because it’s such a gift to be here. And I’ll spend it raising a glass with my family…

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