I promised you the story of Tequila Wendy in my last post but after a week I seem to be struggling with getting it down on paper. So rather than torture myself I thought I would move on for now and come back to it later or never… we’ll see.
I am back at home and started last week under a “Winter Storm Warning”, which in my neck of the woods means batten down the hatches, weather is coming. My head though is very much still in the Dominican Republic and my future there.
This trip was once again a different experience. Right from the outset Honey and I were approaching this trip to the Playa Magante from a perspective that we had never looked at any trip before. This trip was our opportunity to answer the question, “Could we live there?” We were no longer looking at this Dominican beachfront property as a ‘wouldn’t it be great to be able to live here’ type of place. The reality was that we were now planning on doing it, the time for a reality check was upon us. Could we live there, giving up everything and becoming gypsy’s, for the rest of our lives? It’s a very heady question to have to ask yourself?
This was the first year that we had a full access pass to the entire property, we could snoop and not have to hide the fact we were looking around. We also got the chance to stay in the apartment and evaluate it as a future living space. Honey and I walked the beach and talked about a future when we would be there and quite a bit more about it since we have returned home. Weighing the pros and cons we have tried to answer the question of whether or not we could live in a one bedroom apartment on the Playa Magante in the Dominican Republic. As much as this is a question that was meant to be answered with a definitive yes or no, it’s just not that simple. For every pro there is a con and even though I thought we had been thorough in our thinking it all through in last year, after this visit there seems to be a whole bunch of new things that need to be thought out.
Our plan was always simple, liquidate and relocate. Our destination has always been somewhere where socks were not needed in winter and life could be truly simple. The Playa Magante fits that bill to a tee, it has everything on our wish list and at a price we can afford. The temperature is always twenty-five degrees above freezing and the breeze cools you in a good way. It is quiet and secluded and the vista is of palm trees and the Atlantic Ocean. I like the people that live there year round even though I can’t understand a would they say and Ginger and The Earl are the best of the best. They make me laugh and I enjoy their company immensely. The people and the place are exactly what Honey and I have been looking for to spend a decade or two hanging out at. We would be insane not to live there.
That’s not to say that things are perfect, I would be lying if I said they were. This trip opened our eyes to some of the challenges we will face living in the Dominican Republic. Goods and services that are different or not available at all. Items that you could get at any Big Box Store in Canada are either not to be found or only available on the other side of the island. You can throw any thought of convenience out the window living on a beach in the Dominican Republic. Nothing is going to be easy.
On one excursion to the Hardware/Furniture/Repair/Grocery store, to look for deck furniture for the cabanas with Honey, Ginger and Wendy, I was confronted by the reality of my situation. Entering the store’s furniture area I was finally able to answer a question that had haunted me for years, “What ever became of Grandma’s ugly sofa?” The answer was right there sitting beside her ugly plush-chaired dining set. AND OMG!!! That’s the orange vinyl couch that my Dad owned after my parent’s split up and he started dating again! The “Dean Martin” couch!! The one that went with the plug-in fireplace… slash… stereo… slash… bar!!! It was all there right in front of me, the gaudy and ornate.
When I looked at Ginger in disbelief at what I was seeing, she shrugs and tells me that it is what the Dominicans like. I felt like I had stepped back in time, this stuff was bad back in the seventies when it was trendy, but 40 years later??? Since when is vinyl a good idea on a tropical island?? Peeling myself off the couch every time I moved doesn’t seem very fun to me. I was surrounded by a potpourri of furniture cast-offs, I now knew where bad furniture went to die. The closest thing to a tropical motif were the plastic chairs!! I don’t want grandma’s house!! I want paradise oasis!!! Would one real piece of rattan or wicker be too much to ask for??? Like I said… nothing is going to be easy.
The apartment is a blank slate. Currently it has only has two couches and a king-sized bed. A small table that the TV sits on and a couple of wall paintings adorn the walls that do nothing to create a decor or reduce the echo. A blank slate is a good thing as far as Honey and I are concerned, it will allow us to start fresh and not have to live with the decisions of others. But we are not the only tenants that will be occupying the apartment on the beach. Ginger and The Earl will also spend time there, after all they do own the place. That means that consideration must be given to each other when it comes to what to do with the space. Lastly it (the currently vacant apartment), also has the potential to generate income for the next few years, so you don’t want to plant gardens that won’t be cared for too soon. The additions to the decor need to be neutral enough to be pleasing to all but still reflect the surroundings. Let’s not forget that we are in the Caribbean and pictures of bears and beavers won’t blend in well.
During our time together Ginger and Honey discussed many options to do with decor. The Earl and I were consulted on the decisions being made with the obligatory “What do you think?”, which really means “This is what we’re picking, no matter what you think.” We may be separated by an ocean but The Earl and I are living with the same women. We both agreed that the choices were perfect. Honey plans to purchase material and certain items that she will bring with us next year. Items that we can readily obtain here but are not to be found in the DR.
Some things are for the cabanas, that will require continual upgrading if you want to keep the guests happy and returning, and some things for the apartment that will make our future lives there more comfortable and happier. All of this must take place over time, I’m still working for ‘The Man’ and airlines do have restrictions on the amount and types of items you can bring as luggage. There will be things that we will just have to settle on, like any large furniture or appliance that is just as easily purchased there. But there are many smaller items that we can transport in pieces to be assembled once we are there, like curtains, wall coverings and lighting. Honey is very crafty and knows how to handle a glue gun.
After this last visit I realize there are some things that will need to be addressed and challenges to be overcome. Like the rooster penned outside the apartment that starts to crow at the first inkling of light. His shrill crow echos throughout the apartment so it sounds like you’re in the coop with him! It’s bad enough that he wakes you up but he keeps crowing when your having morning coffee on the balcony and you realize he’s even louder in person. Honey thinks strategically placed wall hangings will deaden the echo, I thinking a tranquilizer gun! Ginger, being the good farm girl that she is, says she doesn’t even notice the rooster in the morning, I think she said it to set me up. I live in a small farm town too and I may not notice a train running through in the middle of the night but I do notice the shrill whistle blowing. That rooster is hard to miss!
But there is no urgency to deal with the bird yet, since it is still 38 months and two weeks before we can consider any long-term Dominican living. We should deal with what we can while we have time to do things in smaller steps and do it far more economically and without having to settle for only what is available locally. We have the opportunity now to access a wider selection and variety of goods while we are still in Canada and plan to do so because once we move there the chance will be gone and we will have to settle. So every trip will be a four bag trip (the max allowed by airlines), two for clothes and two for this and that. Some items will make a return trip like Honey’s glue gun, and some will not. Eventually my hope is all that we need will be in place when the trip-of-no-return comes because after this year our feelings have not changed and that day will come.
“Poco a poco”, Wendy likes to say to me… ‘little by little’