The Administrative Note

Hi,

As news–or maybe just as a reminder, let me point out that these occasional e-mails have all been archived since 2007 at the El Otro WA website, www.elotrowa.com. Most of the notes available there, and most of the photographs, are relative to our life in the village of Las Galeras on the island of Hispaniola, Dominican Republic.

However, the most recent messages on the El Otro WA blog come from our journey this summer on small roads across the continental United States. There are a few photos on the website from this trip also.

Because I barely understand the software tool that I use to administer the El Otro WA blog the posts to the site are archived by default according to the date and time posted, rather than by topic or some other more useful index. (The software, by the way, is called “WordPress.” It is very powerful and is freely available on the web. I use a fraction of its capabilities in building and maintaining El Otro WA.)

As a final administrative reminder, you should always feel free to bail out of the e-mail method of receiving the El Otro WA posts. Just hit “Reply” and tell me. I can withstand the rejection. Also, many of you forward certain of these posts to your friends. Of course you should continue to feel free to do that as well; or simply refer them to the website: www.elotrowa.com

Bill

Why We Live Here

Many of our friends in the United States wonder why we live in the Dominican Republic. Quite a few of our Dominican and European ex-pat friends living in the Dominican wonder why we spend time in the United States. Both groups seem to have a reasonable basis for their wondering.

Five or six years ago Denise came to me and announced that I was beginning to be not very nice, notably not very nice to her. She speculated that this may have been because I had not really taken any time off from work in over two years at that time. In any event, she suggested a vacation; I agreed.

Over the previous ten or twelve years we’d been to Mexico several times, scouting for a place where a couple of underinsured American pensioners might retire. We had seen many strange and wonderful places in Mexico, but nowhere that we could really imagine living.

For this particular holiday we thought first of Greece. We discussed Turkey and eventually–on recommendation of the man who emptied my wastebasket at work, we decided to give the Dominican Republic a try. Denise found a little village at the end of the road on the beach and we booked two weeks into a lovely little hotel.

We’d been in Las Galeras for three days when we realized that we could be happy living there. After five days and with assistance from the Italian engineer/realtor in town we began to look for a house. After seven days we had found our place, passed the interview given by the seller, and negotiated and agreed to the terms of purchase. Before the 10 days of our vacation had passed we were working with a Dominican attorney to establish the corporation that would hold title to the property.

Thus was our company, El Otro WA, born: chartered in the Spanish language in the RD for the purpose of legalizing a transaction between a French guy and an American couple, which transaction was facilitated by an Italian. Only the attorney had Spanish as a first language. A grand leap of faith this was.

Over the next several years–and with considerable help from everyone alluded to above and others we worked hard to establish ourselves, ten days at a time.

Each year, in addition to beating back eleven month’s worth of tropical growth, our vacation presented a particular challenge: buying a box spring and a mattress or a gas stove (a GENERAL ELECTRIC gas stove??) a refrigerator, pots and pans and bedding and all manner of construction materials and finally–to the relief of everyone except Denise, a monstrous diesel SUV.

Maybe it is entirely a coincidence that I took early retirement from the union shortly thereafter; maybe not.

Anyway, I did retire, and years earlier than I’d ever imagined.

I must say that the union was more than fair to me as a member, an employee and as a retiree. It was absolutely my work under the terms of a union contract, and later as a union officer or staff member that made anything you might read in these pages possible at this point in my life.

So, lucky me.

Lucky, too, because Denise is the sort of partner who is not intimidated by the prospect of life-changing moves and who will seriously entertain important questions such as “If not now, then when?” More importantly, she also has the courage to act on whatever the answer might be, not to mention the wit and grit to adjust course as circumstances might warrant.

Like I said, lucky me.

So now we’re living part of the year in the Dominican. We live at the tip of the Samana Peninsula on the Northeast coast of the island. As I’ve mentioned before, our home is pretty modest by American standards although it is quite comfortable by any measure. The village is genuinely out of the way and it takes a concerted effort to get there, or to leave.

A casual flip through some of the recent posts from our sojourn across North America will give you some understanding of the attraction of living in the United States, although that wasn’t my intent in writing them. Perhaps I’ll produce a shorter or longer and more direct or detailed reflection on living in the US sometime this winter. Or maybe not.

Right now we’re nearly ready to shove off for the Caribbean. I’ll make an effort to keep you posted on the more interesting or amusing things that come our way while we’re there.

Do the same for us, will you?

Bill

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