Vacationers Shirley Endres, Karen Scheevel, Sal Bahl, Jan Meyer and Sue Ostrem take a “selfie” on the beach in the Dominican Republic.
Vacationers Shirley Endres, Karen Scheevel, Sal Bahl, Jan Meyer and Sue Ostrem take a “selfie” on the beach in the Dominican Republic.

Getting rid of the sand wasn’t easy. That’s what I found out when unpacking from our recent week’s stay on the beach in the Dominican Republic. I believe that location has the finest or tiniest sand particles of anywhere I have ever been. And it seemed to have easily found its way into the suitcase.

In order to get more “stuff” into a small space — packing light — I roll everything as tightly as I can. This time, when I opened the bag on arrival home I discovered that I had to carefully lift each roll to the wastebasket so I could empty what sand I could without spilling it on the floor. Then I took the additional precaution of shaking things outdoors.

Fortunately, that was a problem that was easy to ignore while there, however. There were many other things to do! We learned a new game (at least new to us) called “Spoons,” easy to play and a lot of laughs. Another advantage of the game is that as few or as many can play as can gather around a table, and of course if there are enough spoons to go around, minus one. I won the first round in which I participated, and then never won again. I found I was concentrating so hard on the cards in my hand that I didn’t notice when someone grabbed the first spoon, and so was so slow I was always the one who ended up with no spoon. That should have meant that I was out of the game, but the crowd being Minnesota Nice, that didn’t happen and the game could go on and on.

One of the group had the foresight to bring a thousand-piece puzzle. It was started the first morning, and finished on the last morning. In the meantime, I think just about every one of the 18 of us took a few moments or more at some point during the day to fit in pieces.

Because our group’s private breakfast was served in the same room, it was a great way to spend the time while we waited for the food to arrive.

On the last morning, when it was finished, the one who brought it was carefully taking it apart but not into the 1000 pieces; instead, he was putting large chunks of it into the box. I think he was getting a head start in preparation for his next destination.

There were organized games on the beach for any guests who wanted to join in, and even some who didn’t were cajoled into joining. These were mostly pretty simple, and again good for laughs. Like in Thailand, Spouse Roger and I were referred to as “Mama and Papa,” an endearing and respectful term in both places, and it seemed to be a particular goal of the games’ organizer to get us participating. I never won there either.

There was also the prerequisite massage. We purposely waited to book ours until close to the end of the week, and it was wonderful. Of course, to me massages are by definition at least good; some are better. I was glad we did it at the end of the week; otherwise I would likely have been tempted to do another, which was not in my budget.

One highlight, or as it turned out, a low point, of the trip was the much-anticipated Vikings football game. All amenities were arranged in the “sports bar,” a venue away from the more crowded areas. Many of us wandered over there at some point during the first game, and to be honest we were all rooting for Jacksonville. The common thinking was that when (still when at that point, not if!) the Vikings won their game, we’d rather be playing Jacksonville in the Super Bowl.

There were a few other football fans in the lounge also. When the Patriots won their game, the three or so New England fans in the small crowd were gloating; their basic response was “Again?!” They left after that game, I guess to celebrate elsewhere, and we were left with our group facing off against about eight Eagles fans. Needless to say, the Vikings fans were noisy at first. However, there was hardly a sound to be heard after a certain point. There were a lot of sad faces, but Minnesota Nice won out: the other fans were congratulated, maybe a little reluctantly, before they went on their way to celebrate elsewhere.

The sand problem may have been worse than at other places I’ve been to because the wind seems to blow all the time there, day and night. The sand is so fine that the wind picks it up and blows it onto my freshly-creamed skin, where it sticks, and into my hair, not to mention my eyes. There seemed to be no escape.

In the big picture that was a minor irritation, nothing compared to having a week of fun under the sun (or mostly shade on my part) with 17 great people.