Today's text for my photographs is provided by Tracy Mulder:
We decided to venture out from the resort on a group excursion today. Most of all this reminded Sergei and I why we dislike group excursions--too much time sitting and waiting and being rewarded with not too much to see. Anyways, our trip took us first on an amphibious boat (traverses from land to water and vice versa) on the River Chavon. It was nice, but not worth the money in my opinion.

The highlight of the trip was going to Catalina Island. There lunch was included and we had 3 hours to relax, snorkel, etc. To be honest though, the island was hardly deserted as there were many tour groups, as well as merchants, not too mention the snorkeling was no better then here at our resort. Oh well, the Belski's (Sergei, his dad Viktor, and his sister Violetta) amused themselves by trying to emulate the locals by fetching themselves a coconut from a palm tree. Nice try guys, 'E' for effort! :)

Knowing Sergei, the cooking of the meat (chicken and lobster), was the most fascinating part, and a picture he had to have. After lunch we simply walked along the beach, enjoyed the surroundings (while swatting at swarms of mosquitoes--another not so grand attraction of this island) and went snorkeling. I must say for myself, the speed boat ride to and from the marina in La Romana was probably the most enjoyable part.

Next stop after the island was a stop at an esteemed cigar factory-- who knew it would be a small room with only 5 employees. It was actually quite neat though, and as you can see they made cigars of all sizes. One lady mixed a variety of leaves and filled the cigar preparing it for the press machine, while the second lady added the finishing touch after the pressing machine. According to our guide each employee must meet a minimum of 350 cigars per day to earn their wage--where any more would earn them a bonus.

Our last stop was the most interesting; a village called Altos de Chavon. The village overlooks the River de Chavon, built to look like old ruins, however in reality it was constructed in the 1970's simply as a tourist attraction. It is a neat idea that really does look old; with its church, many nice resaturants throughout, gift shops, great viewpoints, etc. This village has many great portrait opportunities that Sergei envisioned; too bad with the tour group we were only there for 30 minutes. The village even had a 5000 person ampitheater where many famous concerts are performed every year. Overall, the day was enjoyable, and it was good to get out of the resort at least for day!

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