A lot to catch up on and not a lot of time to do it in. Today I'm in San Francisco for a work conference. I'm reminding myself of college in that I'm procrastinating by writing when I have a presentation that I'm supposed to give at 11am for which I haven't completed the handout. It's OK. It's only 6:38 here.
A lot's happened since I last posted something on here that wasn't just a link to a news article.
(1) R and I got engaged. We had been planning on doing something special for our five year anniversary of our first... umm... make-out session, I guess, which is on Nov. 10th. I put myself in charge of picking a place to go and refused to tell R where it was until we were in the car on the way to the airport. All she knew was that she would need a passport and that the climate was about the same as that of DC.
I had chosen our oldhomBarcelona after I'd made the decision to propose, but used the surprise location to mask the larger ring-shaped surprise. The short version: After arrival, we had to wait two hours before check-in wherein I bought a cheap suit for an upcoming wedding and R got an equally cheap dress. Thanks, Zara! After check-in, we showered up and I convinced R that we should walk to Park Guell at the top of the hill. Once there, I steered us to an archway of branches behind the house that architect Gaudi used while he was designing the park. I rooted around in my camera bag for an extra batter because "mine had died" and instead produced a ring. End of story.
That night we met up with an old friend/roommate right in front of our old building on Rambla De Prat. Once we had established, to our relief, that we all basically looked the same after 4 years, we started walking to find a place to eat and ended up at our favorite old Middle Eastern place, Habibi.
The next day we went out to the suburbs of Barcelona to visit the same friend and her husband and to meet her daughter of one and a half, Maya.
And the day after that we left again.
(2) A Week in the Dominican (see picture, right) - Two weeks later, on Nov. 21, we left again for the Dominican Republic for a friend's wedding. The wedding took place on a Resort about 30 minutes Southeast of La Romana, the Wyndham Dominicus Beach. The week was spent almost entirely going between the beach, the dining hall and various bars all in the company of at five other couples that we usually spend New Year's with. Thanksgiving dinner at the dining hall wasn't the same as the US, but they still provided a Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, so I wasn't complaining.
I only managed to escape the contrived atmosphere of the resort twice. Our second day there, we took a cab to the capital, Santo Domingo, to have lunch with the former host-family of one of our friends at the wedding. It was great to get out and have an authentic Dominican meal with shredded cabbage and carrot salad, two different varieties of rice and beans and some excellent fried yucca cakes that I really need to get the recipe for (something involving anise).
The second escape was made on my last full day at the resort (the 27th) when I accompanied the groom and another groomsman to La Romana to return the suit jackets that had been rented for the wedding. We got a little lost and my Blackberry saved the day by letting us call the rental place. I got some great shots of the street and various signage.
We all agreed that it seemed like everyone in the Dominican was always extremely happy. We also agreed that the resorts make the rest of the country seem a lot worse than it is to try to scare their patrons from leaving and spending their money elsewhere. Having been to India was excellent preparation for the Dominican. The country is dirty, but not that dirty. Poor, but not that poor. The people were also a lot more tolerant of three white guys in a car than I know they would have been in New Delhi. There was no following, staring or requests for money.
We landed on Tuesday this week, I went to work on Wednesday and I left again on Thursday morning for this group meeting in San Francisco. I'm a little jet-tarded, but not too worse for wear. Maybe it's the tan.
OK. Done procrastinating.