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Several of you are relatively new to this list so, at the risk of repeating myself, let me give you some context and background for what is to follow.

I left my position with the Painters International Union in September with the intention to take 6 months or so and, with my wife, Denise, plan the next phase of our lives. Hopefully making a worthwhile contribution to the progressive labor movement while we’re at it.

In any event, we picked one heck of a place to do that reflection. We’re on a hill overlooking a small bay and the Atlantic on a Caribbean island. It’s not Paradise but, as my neighbor says, “I believe that you can see it from here.”

Anyway, our lives in the Republica Dominicana are mostly what these e-mails are about.

As I’ve told others, you can feel free to forward these missives to others as you think might enjoy them–or drop me a note and ask to be spared if they become tedious or distracting. Maybe you’d prefer to receive them in a different mailbox…

For those of you with a little time on your hands and who may wish to locate us in the Caribbean, we’re in a little village called Las Galeras.

When we found it three years ago it was a 3rd-world village and there was one American couple here. Now it’s a new town, changing every week and on the brink of unimaginable development.

In advance of the national elections this year the Dominican government is running an aqueduct pretty much the length of the Samana peninsula. This pipe terminates in Las Galeras. The water will make possible the infrastructure to build a tourist economy around some pretty spectacular and heretofore isolated beaches.

If you look at a map of the RD we’re at the end of that little thumb which in turn is at the end of the Samana peninsula on the NE coast. The RD shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, although it’s hardly an equitable distribution these days.

We’re more or less mid-way, between Cuba and Puerto Rico and are in the lee of the most typical hurricane track. That didn’t stop us from taking a direct hit from Tormenta Olga in early December. I’m still cleaning up, off and on as the spirit moves me.

The CIA factbook or Google can fill in any details that you information junkies may require. One friend found photos of the beaches somewhere online when I was describing places my daughter and her pal went when visiting. (I know you’re reading this on your own time, probably at home. So research away.)

There are another several Americans here now, but most of the foreigners living here are French or Italian with a smattering of Germans and Belgians. Our neighbors are Dominican and French.

Language has made for some pretty interesting exchanges and as our Spanish continues to improve we’re not reduced to grunts and wild gestures nearly as often as before. Except maybe one Belgian fellow that I met, there’s no such thing as a deadpan delivery around here.

Our house is pretty modest by expat standards–and luxurious by any Dominican measure. We’ve got one bedroom and a single bano, a functional kitchen and a living room that is mostly an excuse for the largest piece of glass I’ve seen here. I can’t imagine how they got it up this road in one piece.

Most of our living happens on a huge veranda under a thatched roof. It’s where we eat, read, swing in the hammock, and it’s generally where I am when writing these e-mails.

We’ve also got an A-frame bungalow, a gazebo, and a garage all located on 1,000′ meters of volcanic rock that was at some point a primordial seashore. Now it’s a tropical garden.

I keep threatening to post some photos online somewhere if I ever get to the Internet Cafe. Now you’ve got something to look forward to, too. (Actually it’s taken the establishment of this Weblog to prompt me to post photos, like the one below.)

I’m going back to painting the house now. You haven’t lived until you’ve tried to cut-in around thatch on a breezy day.

Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

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