January 28th, 2010
Many people asked me for a confirmation that I arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic safely (which I have), how things are going (which I'm about to do), and to write a blog (which I'm working on much more slowly than at first hoped).
I did not write at first because at the initial hotel the cost would have been $12.95 per day! Then, though I've had a connection now for a few days (included) at our aparta-hotel in the Colonial Zone, I've felt like there is not much to say. Mom and I have spent most of our time in taxis going to various potential places for me to rent for the next three months.
The success of those endeavors have been hampered by many factors:
1) Two major holidays plus two weekends during which little business is done.
2) Not knowing the city at all, especially what is safe.
3) Prices are much higher than I had expected.
4) It is not common to rent for a) short term, b) one person only, c) furnished.
5) Blue eyes = highly inflated prices.
6) The friend who initially agreed to help me has been driving humanitarian aid groups into Haiti every day since I've been here.
7) Finding other Dominicans to help is easy, but again, blue eyes =..... you get the picture.
EVERYONE is incredibly kind and helpful here, but tourists tend to be wealthy, and Dominicans tend to need money, and the game played here (as well as in most developing countries), is a grey zone somewhere between highway robbery and haggling.
About the fourth day we decided to request the assistance of a very energetic, driven, business-minded waiter, K(m), at our hotel who has a business on the side of assisting tourists for fair prices (he said he trusted us to pay him fairly and has never argued or tried to take advantage). He works as an intermediary to see that we don't get taken advantage of. The day before we also found a taxi driver, E(m), who charges by the hour at very fair rate, and who helped us when we tried to go out looking for apartments on our own. The two of them together make a fantastic team. Yet the process was still time consuming, expensive, educational and exhausting.
As much as I like to believe I am not a snobby, ugly American, I am still American and have very particular standards regarding space, cleanliness, noise, and so on... I kept saying, "I'll know the place when I see it."
Well, all four of us knew it when we saw it (me, my mom, our assistant K(m) and our taxi driver E(m). It's called Residencia el Buen Pastor (The Good Shepherd Residence). Sounds to me like either a clear sign from God or an answer to prayer. But I have reminded God that he'll have to come up with the price difference of what I expected to pay and what I will actually be paying. Anyone who wants to join in those prayers is welcome to do so!
The manager, C(f), said she was very glad I had enlisted help, as she also was afraid others would have tried to "abuse" me in rental prices. She is insisting that I have K(m) present when I sign the contract, because it is in Spanish, and she believes it is important that I have a non-biased Dominican review it with me. I have the feeling C(f) and I will become close friends. At the very least she has promised to take me out dancing. Yipee!
I sign the contract tomorrow. More later for those who are interested, but it is time for me to get some sleep. Don't laugh if it says on your computer that I am going to bed at 7 or 8 pm! It's 11 pm here. (I know, still early for me ; )
Heather J. Kirk, Photographer, Author, Graphic Designer
"We...a spirit seeking harmony for a world that's out of sync" - purchase an e-book at: photographicartistry.citymax.com/Books
Find her art at: Fine Art America.com and Search Heather Kirk
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
January 28th, 2010