Moving house in the Dominican Republic is not exactly like moving house in the UK. There are no packing cases, no wrapping things in bubble wrap, no newspaper, no labelling of boxes. Everything gets thrown, literally, into the back of an open truck. It usually necessitates several trips.
The problem with this approach is that although it is quick, many things get broken, many do not arrive as they literally fall off the back of the lorry, and the idea of screwing the tops on bottles of ketchup, mayonnaise, shampoo does not enter anyone’s head. Clothes arrive covered in ketchup, sheets full of salt. You get the idea. Also items are not packed in intelligent places, so when you come to unpack you have no idea where anything is. I have been finding knives and forks in my knicker drawer, and mustard in with the sheets in another drawer.When you leave a rented house or apartment, as I have just done, you are supposed to get your 3 months deposit back. In reality that doesn’t happen very often, and many people will just not pay rent for the last 3 months. However, in the barrios and the countryside you are much more likely to have your deposit returned, but the house has to be in good condition, which means being hosed down inside and out, and painted as necessary. Hence you have to move everything out and then spend a couple of days hosing and painting.
You also have to prepare the house you are moving to, and the first thing to do is to ensure you have electricity and water. Here, where we have moved to in the mountains, for some unfathomable reason, there is electricity 24 hours a day, which is fabulous when I have been used to only 12 hours a day. However, in order to be connected we needed a line from the house to the electricity pole which you have to pay for yourself. The further the pole, the more cable you have to buy. The water comes into a cistern from the street and arrives every fortnight. It is then pumped into the house. If you run out, then you can call the water truck and it delivers you water to fill your cistern up.
One of the fabulous things about moving here is the generosity of the neighbours. They don’t just bring you a cup of tea, they all bring food for days and days until you are straight. Every morning they bring us boiled plantains and fried eggs, chicken rice and beans at lunch time, hot sweet black coffee with nutmeg shavings all day long and soup or rice and milk in the evenings. There is no knock on the door – they just walk in.
Our little campo, or countryside settlement, has about 15 huts and houses in it. Some are wooden with zinc roofs, and others are made of concrete blocks. Most have outdoor kitchens where the cooking is done on a fogon, which is a concrete table with wood as fuel. In the mornings the air is full with the sound of cockerels and all the chickens wandering clucking from garden to garden. They have no respect at all for fences, which are wooden trees branches as stakes with barbed wire between them. You can also hear all the neighbours shouting at each other from one end of the settlement to another.
Everyone calls each other vecino or vecina meaning male or female neighbour so I haven’t worked out yet who is talking to who. So, the trauma of moving over, I have decided not to move ever again. I have at last found my little piece of paradise.
Lindsay is the author of ‘What about your saucepans?’ (available at Amazon USA or Amazon UK).
“Seemingly bizarre situations recalled without any hysterics, laced with doses of humour melded with a growing understanding and love of all the things (good and bad) that the Dominican Republic has to offer: Nicola Cornwell
“Whether looking for adventure in a foreign land, romance, suspense, or a thriller, this book has it all, and captivates the reader's interest from beginning to end. In short, Lindsay's story is an exhilarating and inspiring journey not to be missed!” HJ Kent
Contact Lindsay by email on email@example.com or via her website www.yoursaucepans.blogspot.com or twitter @Lindsaydefeliz.
Read Lindsay's other Expat Focus articles here.