Sunday, March 17, 2019

Aftermath of The Incident

So here is the update on my current condition. I am still numb and a little swollen on the left side of my face, so I can’t smile and I dribble a bit from the left side of my mouth. It feels like you have had an injection from the dentist and I look a bit like a hamster on that side, with his mouth full of sunflower seeds.

According to Danilo, I am more grumpy than usual, so he calls me Grumpy 2 as opposed to the rescue boxer who is Grumpy 1. I also have memory problems. My brain is working as if it is connected to the internet, and I want to say something but have no idea what the word is – either in Spanish or English, but then, around 30 seconds later the internet comes back and I remember the word.

Given these issues, I went to see a neurologist. There are no appointments here, so the first time I went, he wasn’t there and nor was his secretary. The second time was around 10 am, and the secretary told me I was number 19. But he didn’t arrive until 2 pm, and our last bus home is at 6 pm, so there was no way we could get home. I asked her to put me on the list for the next day. No can do as you can only ask to be put on the list on the day itself.  I had to go the next day at 8 am, to be put on the list for the afternoon. But she said I could phone as well. So, the next day I phoned at 8 am to be told I was number 6, and to get there at 2.30 pm. I did, and for some mysterious reason I had dropped from number 6 to number 8, but at 5.30 pm I got in to see the neurologist.

He said nothing could be done about my face, maybe it would improve in time, but maybe not. He told me smoking was dangerous for my health, and I replied that so was being shot and attempted suffocation and being beaten up. He shut up after that. He told me that I have a Traumatic Brain Injury, otherwise known as a TBI, and to have another cat scan and blood tests which I will do next week. In addition, he gave me a prescription for two anti-depressants. I am not depressed, but am taking the one which helps memory function which is helping a little but have not bothered with the other one, as according to Dr. Google it is for panic attacks, post traumatic stress disorder and erectile dysfunction – none of which I have.

In the meantime, Chivirico came to see how I was, and it was lovely to see him.

I went to see my American friend Grace, who comes to the country once a year with her Dominican husband. That was a lovely break and as usual she provided me with loads of kitchen equipment and baseball goodies for Chivirico and Albert.

In addition, my friend Heather was in the country, helping people in Consuelo, and she hired a car and drove all the way up here to see me. She brought the all-important Cadbury chocolate with her as well.

Grumpy Grace loves her evening cuddles

Danilo adores books, so he is building a book case along the whole of one wall in the living room and at last has put shelves in the utility room so the kitchen will be less cluttered.

Our spirit level has gone walkabout (nothing new there) so we had to check if the shelves were level using a peanut. If it rolled one way or the other, they were not straight. I think it must have been an odd shaped nut as they look a bit wonky to me.

In the meantime, Peggy, a Canadian lady has been staying for the last couple of months. She has around another month to go. Loves cleaning and mopping which is great for me, but we still managed a night out at the local bar!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Violence in the Dominican Republic - The Incident

I promised to tell you about what I call The Incident, which may also explain why I haven’t blogged much recently.

It was Tuesday, February 5 and Danilo and a Canadian lady staying with us were in his rustic gym in the back garden. She wanted to get fit and so after they had done their exercises in the gym, they would go for a 15- or 20-minute run. I heard them in the gym, but I was busy collecting articles to do the news for DR1 – the expat Dominican Republic forum.

It was exactly 9.30 am when I was interrupted by a lady messaging who wanted information about the Police Good Conduct report in the DR, and I was about to reply to her when a man slid open the patio door to the garden and walked towards me. I had never seen him before but in his right hand he had a gun, pointing at me. He stopped about 6 feet in front of my desk.

I didn’t have time to ask him anything before he started screaming “Don’t look at me” which he did several times. I asked him calmly what he wanted, and told him to calm down. I would have used the English saying “Don’t get your knickers in a twist,” but am not sure how that translates to Spanish.

He said he wanted money, and I replied that I had some but not a lot, and asked him not to hurt the dogs. I had one each side of me, just looking at him. I told the dogs to stay and shut up and stood up – he made me put my hands in the air – and went to the dining table next to my desk where my handbag was.

I reached in for my purse, which made him start waving the gun about, and was about to get the money out of my purse when he stopped me, so I put it down on the table. He then screamed at me to lie on the floor. I kept telling him I did not understand as I wanted to know if he spoke English and also, I had no idea why he would want me to lie down.

He pointed to the corner of the room behind the dining table and I sat down. He told me to turn around and lie face down, and put the gun to the back of my head. I asked him not to kill me. But there was no reply and he did not speak again. I took my glasses off and lay them next to me on the floor before lying down.

He then twisted both arms behind my back and sat on my back – there was no way I could move my arms or my body. I assumed he was going to tie me up. I should be so lucky. Then he put some sort of cloth or towel in my mouth and covered my nose with it as well and held it tightly in place with his hand which by now had a surgical glove on it. I could not breathe in nor out. A most peculiar and uncomfortable feeling. I tried to fight to move my head and my arms as I was desperate to breathe but each time I did, he smashed my face into the tiled floor. I tried playing dead (as I have seen that work on the television)  and again he grabbed me by the hair on the back of my head and hit my face against the floor.

I had hoped there would be chloroform on the pad – but there was nothing, and I just wanted it over with. And then after around a minute, it was. Blissful nothing.

Meanwhile, Danilo and the guest returned from their run and he heard someone running through the woods. Danilo quickly approached the house on high alert and immediately saw I was not at my desk. He scanned the room and saw me lying on the floor in the corner, face down. He turned me over and my eyes were open but unseeing. He and the guest quickly put me in the car, unconscious and set off at speed for the hospital. Soon I began thrashing around, then talking nonsense and then the guest noticed a large baseball sized lump appearing on my temple. It grew and then opened showering her and me in blood and continued to bleed profusely. I was then able to say I had been attacked – until then they thought I had just fallen over – and I thought I might have been shot in the head.

At the hospital following x-rays and a cat scan it was confirmed I had not been shot nor did I even have a fractured skull. The lump on my head was drained, cleaned and stitched. My mouth was cut everywhere inside – no idea how and I was covered in bruises. I was admitted for twenty-four hours and the next day was home. The bruises have mostly gone now, but I have been left with neurological damage on my left side so I need more hospital visits and tests to see what is causing it and if it can be cured in any way. I am hoping just time will heal it.

You will be wondering how I felt during all this. Well I felt no pain at any time, but being suffocated is not pleasant at all. I have no idea how long it would take to kill someone but I don’t think I could have managed much longer. It appears he heard them coming back from the run before the deed was done, so smacked me hard on my temple with the gun, hoping that would do the trick. Takes more than that to get rid of me! I was pretty sure I was going to die and the only thoughts I had were that I hoped Danilo and guest would not return or he might kill them and I did not want him to hurt the dogs – which he didn’t. My overriding emotion, once I had worked out fighting him was not working, was total acceptance of what was to come – I just wanted the discomfort of being suffocated to be over quickly. So, I was much calmer than I would have thought I would be in that situation.

And the perp? It took me a few days to work it out. He looked Dominican but he didn’t. He dressed like a Dominican but he didn’t. He spoke like a Dominican but he didn’t. And I have never heard of Dominicans suffocating people. This guy had done it before – I felt like he was a professional. It turns out he was Venezuelan – there are tens of thousands in the Dominican Republic now, having fled from their country, and yes, he had killed by suffocation a few times before in Venezuela. It was a total random attack as he was scouting out houses which back onto the woods to rob. He thought the house was empty as he saw Danilo and the guest leaving on their run, hence he was surprised to see me, and as he did not want to be identified he had to dispose of me.

Several different police forces came from all of the surrounding areas. They were very pleasant but they took no forensic evidence at all, not my clothes, nor fingerprints, nor did they search the area. The local prosecutor was very professional as was the medical examiner who had to assess my injuries.

So, all’s well that ends well – and the current level of nerve damage is liveable with, assuming it gets no better or worse. I am very very thankful as the ending could have been very different. And it's another chapter for book 3!!

Around eight hours after the attack.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Holiday in England

Wrist slapping time as it has been over 2 months since the last post. I do have a raft of excuses such as being in England, followed by the flu, followed by what I am calling The Incident which I will explain about in the next blog post.

So off I went to England - alone, as there was no visa for Danilo and Chivirico. It was a long journey to the airport, around 12 hours on three different buses but it was simple enough and the long distance buses are very comfy with aircon, big seats and wifi so it was actually nice to relax.

I was met in Punta Cana by my great friend Ilana and her husband Pedro and spent a lovely night and the next day with them and Ilana's friends before being taken to the airport for the 8.30 pm flight. Fab flight and I had three seats to myself so I managed to sleep all the way to England. This was my first time on a plane for 12 years and they had certainly been upgraded with seat back TVs and loads of channels to choose from.

Mum met me at the airport and looked exactly the same as the last time I was in England some 12 years ago - how you go from age 74 to 86 looking the same I have no idea but just hope I do the same!

To be honest it was all a bit overwhelming at first. We stopped about an hour from the airport so I could get some coffee and smoke a cigarette  - not necessarily in that order - and as I had no English money I asked mum for 10 pence to get a coffee. She laughed and gave me a 10 pound note - around US$13. I walked into the store and there was the coffee machine. First I had to choose what type of coffee I wanted and there were a million choices most of which I had never heard of - so I pressed cappuccino. Next, small, medium or large. Did that, got my cup, put it in the right place, out came the coffee and then it told me to use my App. No idea what the machine was talking about so I went to the cashier and she told me to use my App to scan something. I explained I had no idea what she or the machine was talking about,  so I paid in cash (think around 2.50 pounds - bit more than the 10 pence I expected). What was it with all the Apps - they had invaded the country, everything was scanned or Apped or whatever - I think I was the only person paying in cash in every place we went to.

I stayed for three weeks. I spent time not only with my mum but my aunt and uncle, brother, sister and brother in law, cousins, friends and it was quite simply the best holiday I have ever had. The food was out of this world, all the things I cannot get here, and I managed to put on 10 pounds in weight! Rather than telling you all about it in words, here are just a few of the pictures I took over the three weeks.

Fresh raspberries and cream
Roast lamb, sprouts, new potatoes, peas, mint sauce!
English breakfast!
The local town, St. Ives, Cambridgeshire

Mother's cutlery drawer - so organised!

Sister's spice rack - alphabetical order of course


House in mum's village. I had forgotten how beautiful England is.

Local pub in Houghton where I spent many a misspent hour in my youth!
Another house in the village I grew up in, Houghton

Frosty Christmas morning in mum's back garden
Christmas lunch including PARSNIPS and Yorkshire pudding. Beef barbecued by brother in law, Gary.
I went through a whole range of emotions in England - not sad ones at all. It was so lovely to be with family and I had forgotten how much I loved them all. It was also interesting to compare life in England with my life in the DR, and rather than explaining it here, please do go to Janet Given's website and blog where I have done a guest post for her on how I felt. When you are on the site, do check out the other blog posts and the rest of the site ,as Janet is a well known writer and author and I know you will enjoy browsing. I came across her when I read her book At home on the Kazakh Steppe which is about her time in the Peace Corps when she did just what I did and gave it all up and ended up in Kazakhstan. Fabulous book and well worth a read!

In a few days (I promise) I will blog again to keep you up to date. In the meantime, here is Grumpy, the mangy boxer who turned up here a few months ago. Not mangy anymore!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Week from hell followed by a tiny ray of sunshine

Long time not blogging again. Apologies. November was a bit of a disastrous month, but with an uplifting and rewarding ending.

It began with both Danilo and Chivirico having their UK visas denied. Danilo as they did not think he would come back – most odd as why would a Dominican lawyer want to stay in the UK and why would his wife who works and lives in the DR want to stay there as well,  and Chivirico was denied as Danilo would not be going and they seemed to think he would be going unaccompanied and forgot I was going. No right of appeal or review or question or anything so we will try again next year. It was really really disappointing but in the meantime I am going on my own for three weeks and cannot wait to see everyone and eat British food for the first time in 12 years.

Next problem was the goats as we have had a terrible drought and they did not have enough food. We would buy hay to supplement their food but there was none, due to the drought, so every day Danilo had to go off with his machete and search for food for them. We did not want them to be hungry so in the end we had to make the difficult decision to give them to daughter in law’s father to look after. He has a little farm next to a river so there is always plenty of food there for them. I do miss them though.

Adios Bahama, Harry, Chilli Pepper and Oregano
Now we have two empty paddocks, and Danilo is busy thinking what animals he can keep in them, animals which don’t eat as much as goats. Every day he comes up with another suggestion. We have gone from horses, cows and donkeys, through llamas, ostriches, peacocks – so far nothing there but I am sure some animal will have moved in by the time I return from England.

Next trauma was Rasputin, who hated Goofy with a passion. He would bark and growl at him but Goofy just ignored him, until one day he had had enough and attacked Rasputin. We hoped it would be a one off but it happened every time they were together, so, sadly, Raspi had to go for his own safety and our nerves. He is now happily living in Mao and has been renamed El Rubio. They send us videos of how happy he is so all is well.

Rasputin and Goofy in happier days

Then, the traumas continued. I was sitting at my desk working at 3 pm and  Danilo was off working in Mao. The local mayor starts shouting for me at the back wall. I went outside thinking now what as the goats couldn’t have escaped as they weren’t here any more. He starts talking about the big dogs - Lobo and Goofy the Great Dane. I said they are here and turned round  and they were nowhere to be seen but the gate was open. He says they are in the street and the Great Dane was hit by the truck which delivers our water. I grabbed two leads and rushed out up the road where Goofy was lying on the verge and Lobo was looking on from the other side of the road. The truck has hit Goofy hard in his back end they said and threw him across the road. A crowd of people were gathered and said they would stay with Goofy as Lobo took off running down the road. Eventually running through people’s houses and yards I cornered Lobo and took him home. I ran back to Goofy. He couldn’t  move. I asked  the locals to call 911, not sensible as it doesn’t operate in our area, but a guy then turned up with a wheelbarrow. He said it was canine 911! Everyone was too scared to lift him. He had no obvious sign of injury but he wouldn’t  move. I called Danilo who said he was on his way and I sat on the ground with Goofy's head in my lap. We waited. The crowd increased covering the road and slowing down all the cars. Danilo arrived in Alberto's car. Goofy still wouldn’t  move. The boys and Danilo lifted him gently into the trunk of the car and drove him home. They opened the trunk and.....GOOFY JUMPED OUT AND RAN ALL AROUND THE GARDEN. Slightly lame in his front paw and that was it. What a bloody drama queen.

The Great Escapees

Just after the Goofy incident, one morning Danilo yelled at me that there was a baby boxer dog in the garden. She was tiny, covered in mange and starving – you could see every bone in her body.

We gave her some food and water and expected her to disappear. She didn’t.

She moved into one of the spaces under the balcony. So we bathed her and with the help of some friends began to treat the mange. As we began the treatment her fur began to fall out and she moved from under the balcony to the back door.

Slowly she began to put weight on, the mange went and she moved into the house.

Grumpy Grace is now growing her fur back and is an established member of the family!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

We Love Memoirs

While waiting to hear if Danilo and Chivirico have visas for the UK, as I have not heard a squeak so far and it has been 10 days,  I thought I would take the opportunity to tell you about some memoirs  I have read.

I love reading memoirs as I learn about situations and locations I have never experienced. In some cases I can empathise as have been through the same or similar. I also think it helps me to become a better memoir writer as I can learn from others who do the same as I do, try and honestly and engagingly entertain and educate at the same time.

I am a member of a FB page – We Love Memoirs – which is a lovely group of people and the admins lets you know when books are free or heavily discounted on Amazon, and you even have chances to win books. Here are some of my favourite ones which I have read recently and when  I reviewed them I gave them all five stars. They will take you around the world, from America to Bali, from Greece to the UK, from Ireland to the Dominican Republic.

Rash by Lisa Kusel

This book is about an American couple leaving their old life behind and moving to Bali.

I don’t know exactly what to say about this book, apart from the fact that it is fabulous on every level. It draws you in from the very first page as it is easy to read, exciting, emotional and involving and once you start reading it is impossible to stop.

Those who have left their home countries for pastures new and different, as I did, will identify immediately with the author’s discontentment with the familiar and search for something further afield. But the grass is not always greener on the other side and the challenges faced with living in a third world country as opposed to a first world one are beautifully chronicled and truly brought to life.

There is a stark honesty as the author describes her feelings and emotions towards her husband and the way of life as she comes to the realization that even though she has what she thought she wanted, life is never that simple.

This book should be required reading for every single person thinking of leaving their homeland for the promise of Paradise. Highly recommended.

Survival and Arrival by John Fahey

These are two memoirs, the first Survival is about the author’s time growing up in the north of England with an abusive father and I loved the book but it ended all too soon. It is beautifully written and the memories came flooding back. School dinners (or lunches) with fish on Fridays. The mangle for squeezing the water from clothes. Underground toilets and making a coal fire with newspaper. What hit a chord with me was that whatever happens to us, whatever education you have, the person in the end will emerge from all of the disadvantages and be what they are capable of being. The other thing was that a simple act of kindness from one person to another can have a lasting effect and can change a life – living in a third world country with extreme poverty, it has made me realise that the little things we do for others can change lives. I wish the author all the best (I want to give him a big hug), and I really, really loved this book.

Luckily Survival was followed by Arrival which tells the story of the author’s arrival in the United States and what it was like being an immigrant during the time of the Vietnam War. I loved the comparisons between UK life and USA life at that time, and being an immigrant or expat in the Dominican Republic from the UK, I could relate to the similarities of some of his experiences.
The book is well written and the author is obviously highly intelligent, whether from describing chemical experiments in the search for new drugs, or his introspective thinking into the behaviours of those around him and revealing his own personal demons. While I only have an O Level Grade 6 in chemistry (scraped pass), I still found the descriptions of the experiments interesting, recognizing the names of several drugs used today, and found it fascinating to learn about the whole long process to get a drug to market.
Almost as powerful as his first book, educational in more ways than one, and very honest and frank Arrival is also emotional and I found myself tearing up at times, which is not something I do often.
I am eagerly waiting for book 3, as this book just stopped suddenly before I expected it to, leaving me very much wanting more.

A Kilo of string by Rob Johnson

When I read a memoir I want to be educated and to be entertained. This book by Rob Johnson does both in spades. A Kilo of String chronicles the lives of Rob and his wife Penny as they move to Greece and their daily life there with all the challenges it presents. Living in the Dominican Republic, I was amazed at the similarities between the two countries in terms of the culture, corruption and slow pace of life.

As well as educating me in the Greek language, lifestyle, farming olives and many thing Greek what I loved about this book was the entertainment. I had a fixed grin on my face from the first to the last page, with several chuckles, snorts and guffaws as I was reading it. It is quite simply hilarious and the author writes brilliantly with an excellent dead pan sense of humor as well as a truly warped imagination which makes A Kilo of String a delightful book to read.

I really hope there is a sequel as it ended far too soon and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to escape from the daily grind and howl with laughter for a few hours.

Mile 445: Hitched in her hiking boots by Claire Miller

This book is about a lady to decide to walk a famous trail in the United States and I was addicted to it from the very first page. That addiction continued to the last page. The writing flows easily, you feel like you are being told a story sitting in a pub over a glass or two of wine. The descriptions are perfect, allowing the reader to see, feel and touch the surroundings without being over dramatic or over flowery, and the wry sense of humour is sprinkled throughout. The characterization brings each of the different people to life so it is not just about the author but you get to know the people she meets along the way.

For me a good memoir should educate as well as entertain and this book certainly does that as I learned so much about hiking and the trail and its surroundings. Would I do it? Never, but kudos to the author for having done so.

The love story between the author and her husband is touching and realistic and I loved the realization that when one becomes two there is a need to adapt one’s own wishes. I could understand Claire’s dilemma when the decision was made to leave the trail as throughout the book we are waiting for the finish line to be reached. However life is not about the achievement of goals but the journey and the realization of this is one of the moments when the book, for me, satisfies another key element of an excellent memoir which is to make one think and realize the different paths we can all take, should we be brave enough to follow our dreams, and keep on going wherever life takes us.
Highly recommended, easy to read, thought provoking, educational and very enjoyable.

Joan's descent into Alzheimers by Jill Stoking

I wanted to read this book as I knew little about Alzheimer’s and wanted to learn more, and this book does indeed provide an education about Alzheimer’s. However, it delivers so very much more. It describes not only the sufferer but also the role, feelings and emotions of the caregiver in a refreshingly honest way. What I found amazing, is that somewhere along the line, the book stops being simply the written word on a page and sweeps you up into feeling you are actually there in the scenes. You can picture the locations, see the people, feel the emotion, stress and frustration and from then on I was unable to put this book down. Living in a third world country there are no nursing homes, no facilities for caring for those with Alzheimer’s and no social services. As well as the beautifully written story itself, I found it amazing and appalling that in a first world country such as the UK, even though on paper the facilities exist, they do not operate in an efficient and caring way and this book shows you the distress and the frustration this causes to both the author and her mother, Joan.

But this book is not simply about Alzheimer’s, it is also about the author’s relationships with her husband, her parents, her son and her brother with just the right amount of detail so as not to detract from the key element of the story

An excellent book, written brilliantly and honestly, which delivers educationally and emotionally and which I highly recommend.

The Coconut Latitudes by Rita Gardner

I was attracted to this book as it was a memoir about the Dominican Republic, where I live, and also took place during the era of the dictator Trujillo, a time in history I am also interested in.

The book is well written, you are not only transported by the author back in time but also you feel you are actually there in the north east of the Dominican Republic, the sights, the smells, the food, the atmosphere all come to life. The book has many levels, reading it is like peeling an onion, each time revealing more information, about the country, about being an American in the DR with the pros and cons that brings, but also about family life and the traumas and tribulations that brings, along with the damage that family relationships can cause.

There are some shocking moments and revelations and one cannot help but think how different life might have been had the author been brought up on mainland USA surrounded by like peers, rather than on a semi deserted coconut plantation.

The Coconut Latitudes also leaves one with questions, why did this happen, what happened to her or him. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone interested in the Dominican Republic.

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds by Nick Albert

And now off we go to rural Ireland.

Nick, and his wife Lesley are in a situation I am sure many will identify with, living in the stress filled, fast paced England, like hamsters running round a round in a wheel. They decide to move to Ireland and the book covers their journey to find the perfect house and then to begin their new life.
The writing is lovely and the characterization is excellent, not only of the people but even the dogs and the chickens come to life with their own personalities. There is humour throughout, making the book impossible to read without smiling.

The book flows beautifully and as well as being a great story, it is also full of interesting information about Ireland so as well as a fun and interesting read it is also educational.

I really enjoyed this book, and would love to meet Nick’s wife, Lesley as I am sure we would get on well! Now I can’t wait for the sequel and luckily Nick has just written a follow up memoir which I haven’t read yet called Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds 2.

Hope you enjoy reading some or all of them - will let you all know about the visas as soon as I do!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Visas and Island Life

The visa applications took for ever. One each for Chivirico and Danilo. You apply online, pay US$200 each and set up an appointment at a visa centre in Santo Domingo. No longer are they issued at the British Embassy, which is a shame as I have friends there. Once the online application is done you have to get all of the paperwork together - birth and marriage certs, proof that Chiv is at school and Danilo graduated from university, house title deeds, utility bills, sponsor's invitation letter, 6 months of bank statements, proof of income, proof you will return to the DR etc etc. I was printing for days. Everything in Spanish has to be translated into English by a legal translator so my friend Olga did that for me and I printed them all out.

The day before we set off for the capital on the bus - Caribe tours.

Chiv at the Caribe tours bus stop

We decided to stay at a hostel in the Colonial Zone, owned and run by fellow Brit, Chris. We had chatted a bit over the last few years. I wasn't really sure what to expect - thinking it would be long dormitories and somewhat basic but when I checked out the web page for Island Life Backpackers Hostel I was surprised that there were double and triple rooms as well as rooms of all different sizes and some had private ensuite bathrooms.

The hostel was charming. Formerly a 400 year old colonial home it has been beautifully restored and still has lots of original features.

The courtyard

Our room was the first door on the left
The room we had, had a double and single bed, great quiet aircon and a lovely bathroom with a powerful shower and piping hot water.

But what makes Island Life so special is the atmosphere. Not a stuffy impersonal hotel but a casual, comfortable and very friendly place. When you walk in, you go straight into the bar which is just like a traditional English pub.

Chivirico took no time at all to make himself comfortable with a coca cola before beating Danilo at pool.

In addition to the facilities, Island Life has its own resident Great Dane, Schumacher, who is very well behaved as well as being enormous. Chivirico took charge of the camera to take snaps of him - this is the only one which isn't of his bottom - the dog's bottom not Chiv's.

It was great to finally meet Chris and we chatted late into the night.

So there you have it. Island Life is certainly a great choice for somewhere to stay in the capital. So many interesting people from all over the world to talk to, friendly and helpful staff, fast wifi and everything you need for a comfortable stay.

Before continuing with the visa story, we had a couple of hours to kill the next morning and given that Chivirico had never been to the Colonial Zone, armed with my camera around his neck off we set to explore. I will just post a few of the pictures he took, as there were loads!

Juan Pablo Duarte's house and museum

The ferry to Puerto Rico

Top of the Pantheon

Chiv and the Choo Choo train which tours the Colonial Zone

Christopher Columbus

Beginning of El Conde with Danilo's back on the left!
La Puerta del Conde where independence was declared and my back and Danilo's back

Tour over, it was back to the hotel to meet up with Olga who brought her stamp and stamped and signed the myriad of translations.

Then off to have some lunch and taxi to the visa centre which is in a residential area of the city. We arrived early, said goodbye to Olga and sat down in a freezing room with very squeaky chairs to wait. No photos as they are not allowed. We were early and eventually went in and handed all of the papers over to be scanned to somewhere. A note on the wall said the decision would be made at the British Embassy in Colombia and if granted the visa would be issued in Jamaica. Danilo and Chivirico had their photos and fingerprints taken and surprisingly no questions were asked. So much for all the rehearsals.

Now we have to wait, not sure for how long but the website says 85% of decisions made within 15 days. There is no way of tracking the applications, but we have the Fedex receipt so once the passport starts going somewhere we can track that. At the moment it is not moving!

Then back to Santiago on the bus, this time Transporte Espinal as the last Caribe tours one had gone. We then had to get another bus to Esperanza when Danilo's sons met us and brought us home. Unfortunately we were minus the camera as I had left it on the bus, or, as the Dominicans would say, which I prefer, the camera left itself on the bus.

Quick phone call to Transporte Espinal and the camera had returned itself to Santo Domingo, so once again my "go to person in Santo Domingo" Olga, picked it up and put it back on Caribe Tours to Mao where Danilo picked it up! What luck! Now the waiting continues.