We spent our first full day in Paradise today. Everything here is very much as you'd expect it to be. The hotel complex itself is a barn-like, rather false world, filled, almost exclusively by white people. By and large the only black faces you see are cleaning rooms, serving food, opening doors or hidden away in offices. They're all terribly friendly and I guess they seem happy enough. In fairness, I'm sure most of the people in the Dominican Republic don't give a stuff about the prohibitively expensive tourist hotels in Punta Cana. There will be better, freer and emptier beaches elsewhere on the island, where they don't need to doff their caps to people with an inflated sense of their own importance!
That said, the beach here has brought us absolute joy today. When confronted by pure white sands and warm turquoise water fringed with lines and lines of coconut palms, what is there not to love? It was like stepping into an advert for Bounty. The water is astonishingly clean, which is hardly surprising; if you travel due East from here (conveniently skirting over the top of Puerto Rico) the first land you'll see belongs to Africa... Mauritania more precisely. And oh! Those famous trade winds, acting like a fan oven, making us feel gloriously cool, and yet slowly baking us like pale Cumbrian sausages.
The waves were enormous today and we spent an hour or so being buffeted like little pieces of seaweed, laughing like maniacs, our eyes stinging from the salt in the water.
We first came to the beach at midnight last night. We paddled in the water whilst staring up at the brightest stars I've ever seen. Venus, right over head, was particularly impressive, whilst The Plough surprised us all by appearing at right angles to the horizon, almost as though the famous pan handle was falling into the sea.
To keep up the theme of Nathan always being bitten by something when we're away together (spiders, jellyfish etc...) he got stung by an ant today. I don't think it can be too serious. He only complained for a bit!
We have sat by three swimming pools already today, playing ping pong and drinking an "ABBA" cocktail in one!
As the sun set, we walked along the beach, a hugely romantic experience, with the rows of palm trees on the edges of the beach stretching off into the smokey horizon. Very magical.