Monday, August 9, 2010

Thanks for your prayers for my new apartment

I thank you, my friends and prayer warriors/protectors, prayers have been answered.

I had a big, long list of things that would be included in my "perfect apartment." Of course that list looked more and more like a Penthouse everyday, and I was frustrating real estate agents with my "list" and my "price requirement." Though I found (and ultimately decided against) a beautiful, new, small apartment with many of those "requirements" at a modest price, it was not a modest price I was looking for. Plus gas, plus internet. Also, since I could not find anyone who actually paid for their electricity, the potential for a huge wildcard electricity bill was looming in my future. Everyone said, "As long as you don't use the air-conditioning." Of course, since there was an air conditioner, I would have used it.

I was looking for, well, cheap! Yet still being a picky American, there were things that were simply unacceptable. I walked for days, following up leads and taking down phone numbers from rental signs. Two different people made numerous phone calls for me because, as we have learned in an early lesson, Dominicans get different prices and different terms than foreigners. Foreigners pay one or two months as a deposit, another month rent as a commission to the agent, and then may also have to pay a month in advance. The place I ultimately decided against wanted another $100 for the lawyer's fee. (A lawyer is always involved, I was told.)

So, when I found a new friend who previously had worked in "Bienes Raices" - or Real Estate rentals and purchases, I received very different terms. But think part of that is because it is a very different place. The owners live on the top floor (the Penthouse), much of which is an open terrace with most rooms opening directly to this terrace - plenty of breeze passing through. I paid one month in advance, negotiated (or my friend negotiated for me) less than a month's commission, and a $100 deposit. Now lawyer’s fee. No contract. No minimum months required. I think this is very rare. I think it is perhaps miraculous.

The room is a studio, yet larger than other studios I saw. It also has a half wall separating the bedroom from the seating and kitchen area. This is a fantastic addition to the studio concept! Guests don't look at my bed. I have a separation between where I sleep and where I work. I have room to walk around (a little). Internet (cable) added for $20. Women, you will notice the closet!! The bathroom is small, but I saw worse - MUCH worse. It has a ceiling fan. Electricity is included - therefore no surprises at the end of the month.

I was told by one person that Dominicans don't have fans in their homes, and I am prone to believe it. Since electricity is rare in many areas, it wouldn't work anyway. And they all love to take a chair out to the street and sit in front to talk, drink or to play dominoes!

What does it not include?

No air-conditioning (and yes, it's awfully hot here.)

No balcony - something I long for desperately. There is one in the owner's building on the second floor, and after asking five times to use it, they finally said I could call up and ask to be let in periodically. But they won't give me a key. A bit uncomfortable. Then one of the chairs was stolen and I am afraid they have become even more insecure about an unknown person having access to thier home.

No hot water - anywhere - even homes, apartments and many hotels that have hot showers don't have hot water in the sinks (not even the kitchen). I felt the lack of hot water in the shower was not a deal breaker. Not because I don't "need" a hot shower, but because I knew a shower head with a heater could be attached to the spout in place of the regular shower head. It costs about thirty dollars at the local hardware store (local meaning on el Conde street where foreigners shop!) It must be battery operated, and my mom and I had one in our aparta-hotel. It created warm water at a low pressure. So I signed rented confidently. Then I tried to buy one on a Saturday night (closed) and a Sunday (when EVERYTHING is closed), and have now learned how to put my hands in the shower first, then slowly my arms, then my face, then my hair. In a short time, I'm in completely and not even shivering.

No guarantee that I won't be killing bugs every day for the rest of my stay, mosquitos included.

And so, I have a new home! Use the Converter Tool on the right side to find out how much I pay per month for rent, internet, electricity, water and gas. Make sure you use the Dominican R. (DOP)(not the Mexican Peso) and US Dollar. I pay RD$ 10,700.

Praises be to God for answered prayers. May God hear all of your prayers and bless you fully! Heather

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: her art at: Fine Art Americaand

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Urgent Prayer Request and Send me your prayer needs

I sit writing from my laptop on the patio of a small private hotel in the city of Gazcue, about 6 blocks from the Zona Colonial where I want to live - though Gazcue would be fine as well. My hotel room has a mini refrigerator and down the hall I have the use of a poorly equipped kitchen. The youth hostel kind of environment provides interesting people to talk to from all over the world. but of course with a hotel room comes a daily bill, and I'm hoping to save my money for an apartment instead.

In June I saw several units that would have worked for me. They have all been leased out. The agent I liked the best this time had only one unit to show me - it had no doors between rooms. That meant to aircondition one room I would have to aircondition the whole place. And that is out of the question for anyone's budget. Even the large, nice house I "cared for" had A/C in the bedrooms only and were turned on only when you were in there, if necessary.

A very small studio with no closet is available on the 9th of August. (no closet ladies, did you read that? God help me!) Today I will see another unit I found advertised on the Internet. I responded to a very specific price. The agent wanted to know what price I could afford...I told her "The price that was advertised."

You can see why I need your prayers. I want something perfect (for me) and I want location and I want very inexpensive. It looks like that is impossible. But with God all things are possible.

I have been selfish in always wanting your prayers - for which I am very grateful. But I want to offer the same back. Please, if you have a need that I can pray for or a praise that I can join you in, let me know privately at

Thank you as always and may God's bounteous blessings be upon you!

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: her art at: Fine Art Americaand

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Beautiful Family Reunion

Our family trip to Colorado was fantastic. We had three condos plus lock offs - the kids of each family (myself included) slept in those little studios - okay, not that little. Of course with connecting doors open for Scot and Stu's kids. We had three rooms all together in kind of our own wing - no other rooms there and any other rooms down a long hall. No one else even came by and we often left all the doors open and went visiting from room to room. Each family cooked on a different night. I cooked stewed chicken and black beans and rice on my night. Plus a little bit of Dominican rum. I don't drink, but if I did this "columbus Anejo" imported by a company in Mesa, Arizona would be my drink of choice.

Different groups of people did different things, but they included white water rafting (which I did), mountain biking, city biking, gondola rides, alpine slide and general fun park stuff, and a photo contest organized and judged by myself and my neice Bella, a budding photographer.

The whole place, Grand Timber Lodge in Breckenridge, was wonderful. The town has successfully figured out how to turn a winter destination into a successful summer one as well.

Four Little Children Safe in a Big Beautiful World
We celebrated my mom's 70th birthday, but the real celebration was all of my mom's side of the family being together - parents, grandparent's children/grandchildren and aunt - for the first time EVER! A very nice time overall.

Then mom and Larry went on to the McGregor Family Reunion in Kansas, while I went home to pack up the condo a little better and fly back to Santo Domingo. While in Arizona I got to visit with some freinds, but not all regretably, and not for as long as I had hoped. I guess that means people will have to start planning their trips here in the Dominican Republic to visit me in the city, then take me with you to the beaches!

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: her art at: Fine Art Americaand