Sunday, November 19, 2006

Punta Cana Vacation Souvenirs

This is my final report regarding my vacation at the Iberostar Bavaro resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Wherever I travel, I must take home something instead of a sunburn, illness, or just some pictures. I read all sorts of reviews before going to Punta Cana and I have to say that alot of those reviews were probably written by boneheads, morons, and some reprobates with no inkling of grey matter between their ears. A few would say "you can't take home any wood shells.......don't bother to buy stuff that will only be confiscated at the airport before departure". I ignored that advice.

You gotta bring home some jewelry and it doesn't have to be the expensive stuff you find at Harrison's. You can get a pretty good deal at those souvenir shacks on the beach. And it ain't plastic stuff.....its real coral.

In our room was a small "mini-bar/refrigerator". Always stocked with some sodas, water, and of course......some beer. I saved up about four unopened bottles of beer and packed it into our carry on bags. No problem. Dominican airport security did find a bottle while searching our bags.....they asked if we bought it at the airport......we said yes.....they said okay.....end of story.

We bought something made of wood, too. The wife wanted the parrot. They wrapped it up in paper and taped it up. problem. They never ever touched it at the airport.

No alcohol? cannot go to Punta Cana and not bring home some rum and mamajuana. Again......not a problem at the airport.

This stuff tastes like liquid cinnabons................and what a kick!

Larimar is a gem only found in the Dominican Republic. You will pay a small fortune in jewelry stores for it. Some people DO buy the expensive stuff. I opted for the "flea market" on the beach. Of course I had to haggle with the salespeople in those beach huts, but it wasn't too difficult to come out of it with a great deal. You have to "negotiate" in a creative way. I quickly figured out that you can work out the best deal if you stick to a certain limited amount of money you are willing to spend on something. Let's say you want a larimar necklace. The salesman says it costs $160 dollars. You balk at that price and he then figures up a 30% discount and offers it to you. This is where it gets interesting because you balk again at his price. He will act as if you just hit him below the belt when he asks you what price you would want to pay for the necklace and you say to him "I will give you $25 dollars for the necklace"...........but you want that necklace........and you want him to agree with your price. Here is the this stage of the game you indicate that you also want the matching earrings. Still, his price is way too high and you ain't getting a good deal. Then you ask about the matching bracelets. Now you have him trying to negotiate a package deal......and a good price for an entire set of jewelry. You might ask "How in the world is that gonna get me my price? I will end up spending far more than I would for just the necklace". Not true, if you know from the onset that you really wanted the whole set of jewelry. The salesman doesn't know this unless you indicated that at the beginning of the negotiation. He will be thinking that he found a sucker at this point. You tell him that you have no intention of spending so much money and that you didn't really want a whole set. He will look again like you just punched him below his belt. Here is where you have the upper hand. He will again ask you what you would be willing to pay for the whole set. You tell him you would pay 40 dollars. Again, his response will be as if you were insulting him. Now here is the reality of the situation. A very reasonable price for four pieces of larimar jewelry (large necklace, set of earrings, two bracelets) would be anything ranging from FREE to $60. Anything more and YOU are starting to be insulted by the price. Now you can close the deal. Remember that the salesperson asked you what you would be willing to pay? Hold to that. In his world, he is merely a go-between guy. He works on commission. He is told by his bosses that the higher price he gets for items, the more commission he will get. That's fair and understandable and makes sense to me. But consider this.............his bosses allow for a wide range in negotiated price. Surely you must know that he buys this stuff in bulk at very low prices and he has a minimum price he would allow any item to be sold for. As a tourist, you have no idea exactly what that price might be but you can find out rather quickly. During your negotiations, you have to keep in mind that the salesperson absolutely could care less how much money the owner of the establishment makes.......he is only interested in how much money HE HIMSELF MAKES. Got that? Like I said, you have the upper are the one with the money. The salesperson wants as much of your money as he personally can get. If he only gets 20 dollars for his boss, he will not be making much in commission. Remember that. Now, looking back, anything ranging from FREE to 60 dollars is a price you would be willing to pay......and you already told the salesperson that you would be willing to pay 40 dollars for the entire set. He already stalled on that offer, but you can close the deal if you offer him a "tip" of 20 dollars. That's right..........for a total of 60 dollars you can get that whole set of larimar jewelry........a very reasonable price to pay! He will take it. The "tip" of 20 dollars will be something his boss cannot get a piece of.......and that's the trick. Remember that originally he wanted 160 dollars for just the necklace! That is what closes any deal with these guys. Now you know how to do some creative haggling!

Absolutely beautiful gemstone. Lots of choices at the "flea market" on the absolutely have to buy some of this stuff. We did and my wife loves it. problem at the airport at security.

There was only one item that we had packed up in our carry-on bags that caught the attention of the security/customs agents at the airport................of all things............the cause of our being stopped after the final bag scanner was a "mysterious" item. After our bags went through the SECOND scanner (they do this twice), they wanted to open one particular bag and hand search it........and they did. The thing that interested them that they could not quite figure out what it was.......was one of the souvenirs that we had purchased in the gift shop at the hotel. It was wrapped in paper and taped was that ever dangerous, alarming, and threatening..........ceramic souvenir photo frame!.....hehehe.........when they saw what it was.......they let us continue on.

I must say that they were more thorough in their search at the airport in Punta Cana....than the customs people here in Baltimore. The customs check in Baltimore is a joke...they might as well not even have it. A complete joke. A total waste of time and money........and the only black mark on the entire vacation.

I think that about covers everything. I may have forgotten a few things to tell about the vacation I had, and I may mention those as they pop into my brain. Again, I never had such an enjoyable vacation as this one and I would not hesitate to return there as soon as I can do so.

Now that I have gotten this all out of my system, I can return to writing about other stuff. Thanks for bearing with me.

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