Hmmm, a little blog neglect these last few weeks. Probably because I’m really busy. Yes, you read it right, Dave’s BUSY. For the first time in months, I have stuff to do!
January was the month of holidays here. New Year’s, Epiphany, MLK Day, Altagracia, Duarte all rolled through, and there was much rejoicing. We spent a long weekend in Cabarete where I tried surfing for the first time in 15 years. Let’s just say I need to get in better shape before I do that again. Cabarete has definitely achieved high rankings in my “favorite places in the DR” pantheon. It’s on the north coast, so it gets the winter swells from the Atlantic, it’s largely undeveloped, and breathtakingly beautiful. There’s a lot of English-speaking people (and French, German, Dutch, and Russian too!), good restaurants (with on-the-beach seating), etc. The town of Cabarete proper is a little crowded, but a few miles to the east or west, you can get ocean-front condos or villas for dirt-cheap. We still need to go to Bayahibe before I crown Cabarete as my favorite, but I’m pretty sure my mind won’t change.
My security clearance investigation is currently underway after some major snafus that were totally out of my control. Let’s just say that I didn’t get the materials for three weeks. Oh well. I spent the better part of this week filling out the SF-86 form (or e-QIP). Good. God. Did. That. Suck. 10 years information about the following: living arrangements, employment history, credit issues, drug/alcohol use, foreign friends, etc. And the living arrangements and employment parts require you to provide information for people who can “verify” your information. Ugh. Just ugh. But, it’s done. And hopefully my efforts will be rewarded with a clearance.
After a marvelous month of almost no traffic (i.e. January), February has started with what seems like even more cars/traffic/people in the city. Is that even possible? Once again, even the simplest of tasks require at least 1 hour built in to them to accommodate for travel times. However, I have learned numerous alternate routes for my principle destinations (i.e. Embassy, Consulate, supermarkets, etc.), and have made good use of them. One of the nice things about practically living in your car (i.e. living in Santo Domingo) is that you learn new routes out of necessity. I know this city really, really well now. Side roads, zonas calientes, alleys, etc. are no match for me and my big, yellow truck. Out of my way! Diplomatic Immunity is nice for one thing: traffic. If I drove like this in the States, my license would surely be revoked.
A humorous aside: driving through a residential area the other day I was held up by a garbage truck. The workers were eating their comida criolla out of styrofoam trays, and when they finished, dumped the food ON THE GROUND AND THREW THE TRAYS IN THE STREET. Jesus Christ, it’s not like you’re not already riding on a GARBAGE TRUCK. Too much effort to drop the trays in the trash you’re standing on?
Things are starting to come together… I’m that much closer to working again (for the first time in about 2 years now), we’re hiring a nanny, the weather has been nice, and we found a club to join that’s 5 minutes away and dirt cheap. Homesickness still rears its ugly head from time to time, but reading about all the snow up north makes me happy to be here. We’re talking about R&R/home leave now and trying to finagle the scheduling of it to accommodate as much as we can (friends/family, a wedding, Red Sox game, etc.). Keep on truckin’.