Well, we’re packed out, and our stuff is on its way to the great beyond. It took two days, but our whole life here in Santo Domingo was carefully wrapped and placed into boxes, and then into crates, and driven away on a flatbed truck. The empty house is a little weird, but I know that it’s a part of our lives… the empty house at the beginning and end of tours.
Son and I only have about 30 hours left in the DR and we’ve been saying a lot of goodbyes over the last week or so. I’m not quite sure that Son gets the temporal aspect of these goodbyes (it’ll be several years in most cases before he sees his friends from SDO again), as the last 2 times we went wheels-up from here, we returned in a matter of weeks. This time, however, we won’t be back for a long time, and by this time next year, we’ll be fully entrenched in our next post on the other side of the world with our friends from here scattered around the globe. I guess one of the nice things about the FS is that I could probably find a bed to crash on in about 60% of the world, either through real-life relationships or from the FS Blog community. If Wife hadn’t gotten the call for A-100, we very well may still have been living our boring old life in CT at this point, rather than embarking on all these new adventures.
With a little more than a day left here, I’m going take an opportunity to reflect on our time here:
- Our Spanish has become so much better since arriving, natch. Son went from zero Spanish to basically fluent (at a 4-year-old level, of course) in just 2 short years. I hope he keeps it up. My wife’s ability to understand the Dominicans continues to astound me. I still hand the phone to her when it’s an important conversation, as her 2 years of speaking through an intercom have improved her ability to understand over the phone. I have gotten pretty damn good with my domestically-oriented Spanish, but as we were discussing with some friends last night, I still probably couldn’t pass the FSI test as my ability to explain complex political and economic issues is not up-to-par due to my limited vocabulary in these areas. I don’t often have involved discussions about the current political and economic environment with my 7th-grade-educated empleada domestica or the various clerks, attendants, and street vendors I regularly interact with. This duality within the FSI testing environment annoys me, as my Spanish is better than my wife’s at times, but in a different area. The “teaching to the test” approach at FSI, while valuable to the officer, leaves the trailing spouse at a severe disadvantage; the ability to argue the cost-benefit ratio of a new economic policy of a country in the native language does NOT help one navigate the domestic landscape the EFM will surely be cast into.
- I’m going to miss this country. Not the city, but the country. The DR is breathtakingly beautiful once you leave Santo Domingo. There are beaches, mountains, deserts, jungles, rivers, farms, caves, flora and fauna, and a million and one other natural wonders to explore. My one regret is that we didn’t get out of the city more often… This was mostly due to this being our first tour (and being broke for the first year), and the fact that we were unable to find truly reliable domestic help. We hope to have better luck in Indonesia.
- I’m going to miss the people I’ve met here, both Americans and Dominicans. I know that we’ve formed lasting friendships with a good number of people, and as it is in the FS, parting company is such sweet sorrow. I know we’ll see each other again eventually, but it’s hard to leave behind such a good cadre of people. Yes, I’ll make new friends, and so will they, but it still sucks. It’s been funny these past several weeks, as we’re meeting a lot of the new arrivals and kind of just going through the motions (“Hi, nice to meet you! I’ll be gone in less than a month, so good luck!”). I feel bad keeping the newbies on the periphery, but what’s the point?
- While this post has its fair share of problems (which hopefully will be alleviated by the completion of the NEC and new housing compound), it’s been an overall good post. For those of you coming here or bidding on here, you should do so without reservation. The Embassy community is large, but the country is also large enough to immerse yourself in the culture if you choose. It’s an excellent post to see what the developing world looks like while still being close enough to the U.S. in case you need to get out of dodge for a while. Miami is only a 2-hour, $250 flight.
We’re in the home-stretch, and I can’t wait. While I’m sure I’ll have “a moment” at wheels-up, as my wife insists I will (seeing as I was a puddle on the flight from San Juan to SDQ almost 2 years ago), I’m really happy to have this adventure come to an end and a new one be just around the corner.
Mahalo, and see ya States-side.