I have just spent a busy week in Santo Domingo, the capital, and had a fabulous time. I don't get out much, and although at first the idea of a six hour journey and being away from home is a tad daunting, I always love my trips back to civilisation.
I left on Tuesday and took Caribe Tours bus to Santo Domingo. The bus was even more freezing than normal but arrived on time and I was met by Kay from the Santo Domingo International Women's Club. I had been asked to speak to them on the Wednesday and ever since the first contact I was impressed by not only how professional they were but how the people I was dealing with were responsive and seemed to go that extra mile to make things easier for me - something I am not really used to here.
Kay took me directly to a restaurant for dinner. I cannot explain what a joy it is to eat in a restaurant, as there are none where we live, and to eat something different than plantains and rice and chicken, but this was not just any old restaurant. She knew that I loved Asian food and that I try my best to cook Indian curries and Thai food so she took me to the Asian Market where we met up with more members of the IWC Board including the President, Marcela from Peru, Dominique from France, Marie-Ange from Haiti, Batricia from Canada and Tere from the United States. Such an international group of bright sparky interesting ladies, it was lovely.
Back to the important matter at hand. The food. It was absolutely delicious. We had so many different courses I lost count but I was in my element.
The conversation flowed, as did the wine and I could not have asked for a better start to my little adventure in Santo Domingo.
I spent the night with Dominique, who had just got off a flight from Montreal which made it even more gratifying that she had both the time and the energy to put me up for the night. The next morning bright and early we set of for the Santo Domingo Country Club where the meeting was to be held. I had no idea the place existed - beautifully sculptured grounds, golf course and impressive buildings right in the centre of the bustling city.
There were I would say around 60 women at the meeting, maybe more, from all over the world and I was amazed to discover more than half had read "What about your saucepans?" Not only had they read it, they all seemed to have enjoyed it and those who had not read it were about to. I had noticed that over the last two weeks Amazon.com had sold 22 copies - which was a tad more than the usual one or two a week - now I knew why.
I had dragged my 20 year old designer clothes out of the the wardrobe, which hadn't seen the light of day for years so I hoped I looked like a professional author and although I was nervous as to whether my voice would last, with the aid of a microphone I need not have worried. This was the first time I had spoken to such a large group since being shot and I loved every minute of it.
Every seemed to enjoy me talking about how different it was living in a Dominican barrio and the Dominican campo as opposed to a high rise apartment, which is where most of the ladies lived.
When my talk was over, and questions answered, I was presented with a bag of goodies including Asian cooking sauces, spices, chocolate and fresh pesto. What more could a girl ask for.
I was also amazed at how much work the organisation carries out, with a whole range of fund raising activities for various charities in the country. These ladies were all intelligent, informed, international with most speaking several languages. I really was blown away by their professionalism, commitment and attention to detail and I feel privileged to have been a part of them, albeit for one day.
Once the meeting was over, I went for lunch with one of the members who was a friend of mine, plus another three ladies who were at the meeting - and stuffed myself silly with a fabulous steak. I then was picked up at the restaurant by another friend, Grace, and her husband Leo, and they took me back to their home to the west of the capital where I spent the night and then they drove me back home to the mountains the next day where they spent the night before heading off to visit someone else the following day.
Grace always spoils me each time she comes back to the DR from the United States and this time was no exception. Along with a range of goodies she brought me a pasta machine. There could not have been better timing as now I can make fresh pasta to go along with my fabulous sauces given to me by the IWC. I cannot wait to start cooking.
You maybe wondering what happened in my citizenship interview. Well, absolutely nothing as, surprise suprise they cancelled it again, the day before. It is now on Monday so I have to make the trip back to the capital yet again, although this time I will go there and back in a day. The good news is that I will meet up with some of the IWC ladies who are going to give me spare medicines which I can give to those who need them in the campo and I will hand over my vintage designer clothes which I used to wear in England (they must be vintage by now), so that they can sell them at the bazaar they are holding.
All in all I had a fabulous time, met some lovely people and ate fantastic food. What more can a girl ask for?