In the Beginning

DSC03062The decision came when life caught up with me.  I had let it slip by for a considerable time.  But once the decision to relocate was made, the rest just became work.  Fortunately I had a lot of help.  Being disabled, presents it’s challenges.  I have arthritis and some wickedly painful degenerative issues.  That was one of the catalysts to move to a warmer climate.  Packing up and liquidating a 20 year life as a single parent of 2 … HOLY JUNK!!!  Three months of triage and we were ready to fly.  With hugs and kisses to my oldest daughter and promises to see her soon began an adventure that I soon found myself ill prepared for.  Planning done, yes.  However, it’s the unforeseen that sneak attacks.  My dear friend launched us at the airport and preoccupation ensued.  “Can I do this?  Do I have the strength?  What am I made of?”  Every doubt you can imagine ran through my mind.

I didn’t bring much with me, not nearly enough clothes, and could have foregone the coffee pot which has since developed a faulty chord.  In my child-like state, I brought my blankie.  Not really, but I did bring my favourite cotton coverlet.  Yes, in the Republic for which I stand, no wait that’s the wrong country… in the Dominican Republic it can get chilly at night.  So with the basics, my laptop and guitar, off I went.

My daughter accompanied me for two weeks.  She is awesome.  So with 3 suitcases and a guitar it was off to the races.  First priority, accommodation.  Ok, check!  Second priority, medical.  Check!  Shopping for groceries and we’re set to go.  Not really, but that’s how it’s supposed to go.  Now people, remember where we are.  Things are never easy in the Dominican Republic.  The owner barely got the place ready for me for move in day, and I had no time for real groceries.  Lesson learned:  stand your ground and pay for services after they are rendered.

DSC05547It wasn’t much of a place.  A two bedroom apartment a forested area with horses in the back yard.  It was a little like camping with a solid roof, and my Easter dinner consisted of peanut butter.  All damn weekend.  In this land of opportunists, and me being Gringa, the grocery run cost me a whopping $60.00 in transportation.  Lesson learned:  be wary of Tigueres (they are very quick to appear indispensable to extract money from you.  Tactical error, beach-town with no grocery store.  Lesson learned:  must have grocery store.  Second tactical error, a little too far from the actual town.  A 2 mile walk.  Lesson learned:  try it before you buy it.DSC05610

DSC03058The most difficult thing, putting my daughter on the shuttle to return to home.  I cried for days.  My mind, every fibre of my being screamed, “WHAT HAVE I DONE”!!!  Adventure, is painful.  It was bad enough to leave my oldest, but I never counted on having to say farewell to my youngest.  The plan, her to move here in October.  That keeps getting pushed back but one day … I’m ever so hopeful.

After those first tear-filled days I ventured out.  Getting to know the neighbours was easier than I imagined.  There was a Haitian family in the complex and they spoke French.  Not speaking much Spanish, I was ever so grateful.  It wasn’t long before my other neighbour began the Spanish lessons.  Living with the “peoples” was a unique experience.  Kind and helpful, and very sweet they took me under their wings.  The other “locals” in town are a bunch of ex-pats from all over the world.  Some, not so savory characters.

DSC05613Ruth helping me with the laundry.   She was amazing, if I was unwell, which was often, she would take care of me, soup, massages, clean my apartment.  No matter what, there are next to no people where I come from that would do that for newcomers.

For months I walked that beat, sometimes 4 times a day.  Blessed with such a good memory <insert sarcasm> it never failed that I would forget something.   Jejeje, yup, lost almost 20 pounds.  Who knew there was bonus material to memory loss?

Aside from walking the beat, moto-conchos are abundant.  I was recommended a few safe drivers and used their services regularly for the longer jaunts.  They were very good to me, understanding my disability they were quick to accommodate me.  I quickly learned what the going rate was for a concho.  Lesson learned:  Gringas pay more, if they don’t know any better.

DSC05631You would think living in a beach-town would be great!  It has it’s disadvantages.  Lesson learned:  be aware of climactic changes.  I learned that the Caribbean Sea which is gentle in the winter months during peak tourism season, consists of some pretty big waves in the off/hurricane season and dangerous riptides.  Dreams of aqua-therapy soon came to an end as I had no swimming buddy.  So walking was it, my big exercise.  Now as you can imagine, it is very difficult to walk great distances when you have arthritis and “other” degenerative issues.  I soon acquainted myself with the shady routes in order to have breaks.  DSC05626Along the way there were many people.  There was always one willing to give up a chair for me.  Lesson learned:  Chivalry lives on in the Dominican Republic.  For all the rudeness and shoving, for all the lousy customer service, it is very much a male dominated chivalrous society too.

Having tired of the beach-town I sought new vistas!!!

Recap:

Lesson learned:  stand your ground and pay for services after they are rendered.
Lesson learned:  be wary of Tigres (they are very quick to appear indispensable to extract money from you.
Lesson learned:  must have grocery store.
Lesson learned:  try it before you buy it.
Lesson learned:  be aware of climactic changes.
Lesson learned:  Chivalry lives on in the Dominican Republic.
Lesson learned:  Gringas pay more, if they don’t know any better.

Listen to the palms…


~Loca Gringa

© Loca Gringa and https://locagringa.wordpress.com

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