12 days… but who’s counting?

As of today, I officially have 12 days left here in the Dominican Republic.  That’s 288 hours!  17,280 minutes!  1,036,800 seconds!  1.037 megaseconds!  (yes, that really is a thing)  My tickets have been bought and confirmed, pack-out survey is complete, I mostly have the pet shipment thing sorted out (except for the beagle’s crate, which seems to have disappeared into the USPS’s ethers somewhere between ATL and here), the despedida has been booked, and well, I’m feeling great about it all.

Many people have told me how bittersweet departure can be, and I mostly agree.  I am going to miss the friends we have made here (both American and Dominican), but I will not miss the city nor the Mission as a whole.  Santo Domingo has been a great post to cut our teeth on, as it has many of the advantages and challenges we will encounter in our FS career all wrapped up into one discombobulated package.  When we arrived at post there were a lot of problems here, and while changes have been made for the better, problems do still exist.  I’m sure this is no different from anywhere else in the world, and it’s really given me some perspective on the American standard of living.

One of the biggest lessons I will have taken away from this post is about patience.  In the Foreign Service, one should not expect things to happen quickly.  Hell, even the hiring process takes a year-plus, so why should anything be different once you’re in the cult?  Maintenance issues around our house have been the most frustrating, as without a federal budget in place, the Mission is not going out of its way to spend money “needlessly” (i.e. if it ain’t falling down, it ain’t broken).  We’ve had some issues in the house that have been pending for months, and I’m assuming that they will be addressed in the “make-ready” after we leave, since they have to make the house pretty again for the next tenants.  However, this leaves us with bubbling and cracked paint, water stains, crappy hot water heaters, and leaky showers that, while not “emergencies” in any sense, are still annoyances that should be dealt with.  But, hey, I only have 12 more days, so who cares?  Not my problem….

Another lesson: don’t believe what you hear about selling a car at post… it’s a nightmare.  All the post reports we read were all, “OMG, you’ll totally be able to sell whatever car you bring for what you paid for it!”.  Unfortunately, as we’ve discovered, that’s pretty far from the truth.  If you’re on the summer cycle, prepare for a buyer’s market within the Mission (there are currently like 8 cars available here).  And if you’re posted to the Dominican Republic (or most Latino countries, I’d imagine), prepare to ask for like $5,000 more than your lowest acceptable price… the haggling and under-cutting here is unbelievable.  I’ve not been offered more than $19,000 for the car I’m selling for $22,000 firm(ish).  We may have to ship the damn thing back home and sell it there… a prospect I’m not looking forward to.

Pack-out is coming up quickly, and we are trying to organize things better than the first time (i.e. CT to DC), since we still have no idea where some of our stuff is.  Luckily, with only about 5,000 lbs. of “stuff”, it should be a little easier.  Not to mention, I think I have a pretty good grasp on what I can live without for a few months at this point.  It’s also nice that we’re headed to Oakwood while we’re back in the States, so that provides some continuity, and more importantly, some essentials for living.

12 days… not that anyone’s counting.