I had visited Dominican Republic 3 times before. Once to Punta Cana with friends then the other 2 times alone to Santo Domingo. All within a years time. (2000)
I completely fell in love with the country and couldn’t stop talking about it or thinking about it. I bought some books to learn Spanish. Bought Latin music CD’s and listened to them constantly. I went to my waitress job and tried to talk Spanish to my customers. Most put up with me but others would yell at me and tell me that I was in USA and to speak English. This made me more determined to learn something that most around the small town area I lived had no desire to learn.
I worked extra hours whenever I could get them. I went to the flea market when I could and sold the jewelry I made and whatever things I had leftover from my Sun-N-Moon Native Creations store that I closed down the year before. I saved up my money so I could go on more vacations to DR.
On the 4th visit, I got the idea that maybe I should just move to DR instead of working so hard for just a week here and a week there. I was to the point where all I thought about was what life would be like living there. I was staying in an aparthotel near the presidential palace in Gazcue. I decided I would walk to the American embassy and see what I needed to do to be able to move there.
I really didn’t know where the embassy was but I had a general idea. I started out on my treks. It was hot and I was walking for a long time so I decided to head toward a little cafeteria where I made friends with the ladies that worked there. I had my lunch and enjoyed trying to communicate with my friends. One of the regular lunch guys was a taxi driver and he said he’d drive me to the American Embassy free so I took the offer.
He left me in front of the compound. This was pre 9/11 so there was just normal security around the place. I walked a while to find the gate. There was a little guardhouse and a Dominican man came out and said I couldn’t enter. I tried to tell him I needed to talk to someone about moving to DR. I had no idea what he was telling me but I was very persistent.
He would not let me in. He called another man over and he tried to tell me I was not permitted in. I kept saying that I was American and wanted to talk to someone. I didn’t have a passport at the time so I couldn’t prove I was American which really wouldn’t have mattered anyhow.
Finally, the guard got on the phone and called someone to talk to me in English. The lady said that I needed to go to the consulate to get what I needed and she told me how to get there and which window to go to. Said bye to the guards and walked on trying to find the consulate.
When I did find it I couldn’t believe it. It was outside and had windows with letters on them where you had to talk to the people. So I got in the line. I got to the front and they checked my purse. They wouldn’t let me in! I had a camera in my purse! I tried to tell the lady to keep the camera til I was finished but she didn’t speak English and I finally figured out that she was telling me there was a little door down the walk around the corner and there was police and they could hold my camera for me.
I was getting very frustrated by this time. It was hot and I was all sticky and miserable. So I went around the corner and around the next corner and finally ended up back at the gate of the consulate. There was no door that I could see! I asked again and thought I figured out where they were telling me to go and set off again.
No damn door!!!
By this time I was just thanking God that I had sunglasses on because this way no one could see me crying out of sheer frustration. I had enough. I had spent most of the day trying to get this information and I had nothing but a headache and heart palpitations from holding in my anger.
I realized I was near a friend’s house in Cuidad Universaria near Lincoln. So I went to the phone and tried to call him. It took me a while to figure out how to use the payphone which made me cry more. And as I was mumbling not nice words to myself I finally got the phone to work. My friend answered and told me to come over to his house right away.
By the time I got there, Alex had already ordered me a few grande Presidente beers to ease my nerves. That beer tasted sooo good. He and his brother, Warren cooked me some Venezuelan food (they are from Venezuela. I met the Warren on the computer and we are still friends). They had a good laugh at my expense when I told my story. I had no idea that this was the norm when trying to accomplish anything in Dominican Republic.
They called my friend Carlos to come for me. He finally showed up to take me to the Colmado, to get some food and then back to the hotel.
That day was the start of me not letting the country beat me down. I loved the place more. It was the challenge maybe. Who knows. That day I was so frustrated yet my friends were there for me. They made all OK. And for sure they understood and explained to me that this is the way of life here in DR. Everything you do takes forever to accomplish. It is very frustrating. But this is life and the lifestyle of everyday living makes up for the moments of frustration.
Note** I never did get the information I wanted. I waited until I returned to USA and called the Dominican Consulate in Philly. The people there were great and helped me get myself and my dog to finally live in Dominican Republic.
Bless their hearts!