My Dominican Diary ~ Extras ~

After nearly four years of living here, I thought I should jot a few things down, rather than just random Facebook posts. It really is a magical city, even though I do bugger all, like the shut-in I am, which makes it all the more exciting when I do get out.

This morning I was rather busy, and feel I’ve had a full day, even though I was out twice and still home by 11am.

I answered an ad on a Facebook group I belong to for a casting company looking for ‘foreign’ looking extras for a commercial. I sent them a picture and a few deets, like you do, and they said to come by where they were auditioning.

I looked up the place on the map and realized it was totes easy to get to, so good, I was going. I went for a run and then came home for a shower, then ate an entire pineapple, as you do. They are 4 for 100 pesos, so why not, is right!

I got ready and headed out. I love Sunday mornings here because it’s so quiet. I caught a public cab and all was good. A little way along, a young woman got in and gushed all over my tattoos. She spoke English and I ended up taking off my shoe and sock to show her one of my foot tattoos. She said I didn’t have to, but what the heck, right?

On her way out of the cab, she told me it was nice to meet me and said my tattoos looked good on me. I won’t lie, it was a bit of a relief. Like maybe she would have told me they made me look fat?

That last guy got out at a main street where the subway line is and is also where I get out to go to the passport office. The driver said something to me, like maybe I wanted to get out, as well, and then maybe he could go get a coffee and have a piss.

I said the name of the place I needed and then he nodded and carried on, pulling up and stopping for me when we got there. This is when I realized I had been here with my friend when we were trying to sort the banking nightmare.  I wandered around until I found a security guard, two of them in fact, sitting in lawn chairs, having a good chat.

They led me in to see two more guys on security detail, both of them staring at their phones. I showed them the company name and they did a lot of hemming and hawing, before deciding I was wrong. I went back out to the lawn chair men, they sent me to the hotel next door, who sent me back to the place I was meant to be.

The two inside finally walked me through the maze of hallways and closed businesses to the offices of the name I had showed them and yes, they were closed. One of the men kept telling me to come back tomorrow. While this was all happening, there was also a lot of walkie-talkie action back and forth.

Standing in front of the closed office door, I flipped it the bird and both men thought that was pretty funny, but on the walk back through the maze, the bigger one got a squawk on his walkie talkie and put his hand and his eyebrows up at the same time.

Yes, he nodded, there were some people here from the company, just arriving. Sure enough, when we got back a pair of youngish people, one of each, came in with backpacks and laptops and stuff, all official like.

We walked to the office, a different office space, and I said to the big security guard, ‘late!’ in Spanish like a cross school teacher and got another really good laugh and a pat on the shoulder.

Thankfully they both spoke English so things rolled along. She set up a laptop and he got out a camera and they took pictures of me against a white wall with florescent lighting. Great.

I had to hold a sign with my deets on it, like a mug shot, then a profile for both. As he was taking them, I was saying, Canadian woman arrested, found drunk and naked … if I don’t go for the laugh, my friends, I don’t go at all.

Short and sweet, I was back out. I had to walk the two blocks up to get the public cab back to my end of the city and ended up having one all to myself. After a few blocks, we were at a red light and my driver yelled over to the driver of a cab beside us, then said something to me, and when my only reaction was to stare at him, he said it louder and then louder. He finally handed me back my 25 pesos and motioned for me to get out. I got in the other cab and home we came.

It’s very exciting for me to go out on an adventure like this. I love taking the public cabs and love seeing that end of the city. It’s closer to hotels and casinos and tourist areas and I had spent a lot of time looking to find a place to live down there. Not that I don’t like where I live, it’s just a bit nicer.

I thought it was an exciting day, said the shut-in.




Adventures in Passports

My passport is due for renewal. I won’t lie to you, it’s been a source of anxiety since about October. I don’t know why, but I have this unfounded fear of going somewhere where I have never been before.

If you are thinking, but you got on a plane and moved to the Dominican without ever being there before, you are correct. Yes, I had a lot of anxiety, but it was mostly for my cat.

The anxiety comes in small stages, the steps I have to take to get there, what happens when I get there, but the steps, the first steps.

I actually knew where I had to go. I looked it up and it’s just up the street from where the bus stop is, the major bus that I took to visit Santo Domingo from Sosua when I was apartment hunting.

I even tried to talk my friend into driving me, even though he just had knee surgery and can’t walk. I suggested he wait in the car, but I guess he can’t bend it far enough to drive, either. Whatever.

I took the public cab, and asked the driver if he could tell me when the street came up. He said yes and then continued to talk to the young man in the front seat. I kinda knew anyhow, just wanted that bit of insurance.

When the corner I needed came up, it was the young man from the front seat who told me it was my stop. Our driver had not once shut his hole the entire trip. Nice of the kid.  I love it when that happens.

I was going to take another public cab the other direction but the ones I saw were already about six people deep, so I opted to walk. I have been finding the weather this winter absolutely gorgeous, so didn’t mind.

I reached my destination in about half an hour, and will share with you this tidbit of trivia. Did you know the Canadian Consulate in Santo Domingo is housed in a building that also has a Hooters?  You’re welcome.

I walked up several flights of stairs, as it turns out, I didn’t need to. Had I just kept walking, I would have found the section of building I needed, Hooters-free. I stop in front of one of those ‘You are Here’ maps, it was a multi-layered mall. Loads of fast food places but nothing said ‘Your Passport here’.

Waaa… am I not in the right place? Next step of anxiety.

Then I asked a woman who worked there, and she shoved her cleaning cart behind a big sign for a store and lead me away. She took me to where I needed to go and come on, how nice is that! I love it when that happens.

The scenery went from shoe stores and French fries to security body scanners and scanners that read your face in order to get through. People were shooting through these turnstiles by their fingerprints. So Macgyver.

I signed in, got a visitors badge and then had to get through the turnstile, which was clearly locked but did not stop me from throwing myself at the locked bars like a demented toddler.

The guy who scanned me in then ran my purse through an X-ray as I was going through the body scanner. Here’s a tip. When it beeps, don’t throw your hands up and pretend you are being sprayed with bullets by jerking around, ala Bonny and Clyde.

Not only are there men there with actual guns, but the suits all coming in to work were not terribly amused. I already stand out here. Of course, I now had to get in to the elevator with them and ride the 18 floors. Luckily it went fast. Luckily they avoided eye contact.

Once I reached my floor, I was asked for my visitors badge. That’s right. I had a badge. Then I had to get my purse scanned again, like the kind at the airport, in case I found a Glock on the elevator and then through another walk through scanner, same beep, same ‘riddled with bullets’ routine, still no laughs.

Then, if that isn’t enough security, and I think it is, considering how un-secure most things are my new city, the woman helping me is behind, I will just assume, bullet-proof glass with just the smallest tray to put my documents in and then a lid slams shut, as if I might change my mind.

It was all over within about 10 minutes or so and I was free to reenact my ‘suicide by security guard’ two more times. On the way out on the ground floor, the security guard actually did laugh so my persistence in doing the bit til it works paid off. Once a comedian.

I was happy to be back on the street and was very relieved that it was all over. I walked back down the hill but in my delirium of the perfect weather and the anxious task long forgotten, I also forget that the street I need is a one way at that end. I decided I didn’t care and could have just walked back ups a block to get the public cab, but walked anyhow.

Did I mention the weather is glorious? Yes, I believe I did.



Happy Hairy Heart Day!

My cats have been fighting and I have no idea why. It started on Sunday, I was making my breakfast and doing up the dishes and both cats were hanging around, which is not unusual, in particular for Chance. Anything in the kitchen might mean something for him. Either given or dropped.

I saw them swatting at each other at the same time I heard the hissing. This part isn’t unusual at all. Jango, more so, when it comes to the three-legged upstart always getting all up in his grill, but this escalated quickly.

All of a sudden, there was hissing, screaming and fur flying, they were tearing around and it wouldn’t stop. Jango got by the door and they sat there for a bit just growling, but that deep guttural growl that frankly frightened me a bit. Chance, right in front of him, their eyes huge and wild, staring at each other. Chance’s back hair and his tail were at full height.

Then, Jango made a move to just get away, Jango, the Lover, and Chance, Chance the fighter, was on him. They went around at each other and it was just a blur of fur, like on Bugs Bunny cartoons when the Tasmanian devil does his spinning thing, and they were going at it like I had never seen. The sound alone was unbelievable.

Jango managed to break away and went and got under the bed, Chance right behind him.   At this point, I went in and put one of the pillows down to cover where Jango was and cut off the insane eye contact that was going on.

Chance finally tucked himself up in the corner behind my big fan and ten minutes later they were still growling, even though they couldn’t see each other. I went in to suss the sitch and when I looked under the bed at Jango, he had blood on his ear, and it was dripping on the floor.

I went and got an oven mitt on and managed to get Chance out of the corner, even though I didn’t need the mitt, he can do some damage. I got him out to the chair on the balcony and closed the bedroom door, to give Jango so time to recoup. He isn’t used to this type of activity and he is turing 13 or 14 this year. I’ll have to check. I’m not a bad cat mum, half the time I can’t remember my own age.

I took some water in for him and just left them in their own space for a while and when Jango wanted to come out, it happened all over again. The noises coming out of them, it was enough to set the neighbour’s dogs off.

I have no idea what is going on. They ended up on the balcony with Jango under the chair, so Chance had him trapped. I took my flip flop off and tried to put it between them. I know. I tried to just stop the paws and claws from doing more damage and I ended up giving Chance a whomp on the head with it, so thankfully it wasn’t a Doc Martin!

It startled him enough to stop for a second and then I managed to get him back inside and slid the balcony door over. There is a lot of power in the that little cat!

Monday was pretty much a repeat, so Jango spent the better part of the day on the porch, either under or sitting on the chair, with Chance glaring darts at him from inside.

Tuesday morning started out okay, with them actually eating their breakfast together, which they normally never do, that has to be in shifts. I mean, honestly! Cats!

Then, Chance just walked up to Jango and started washing his ears like nothing had even happened. Honestly, the relief I felt!

They both got quite hurt through it all. Jango now has cuts on both his ears and has been favouring his left front leg, but he did let me look at it and I didn’t see any scratches, so it likely just got banged against something.

Chance lost a claw, which I found parts of wedged in the back of Jango’s neck. Plus, this morning when I kicked of my flip flop, he gave me a low growl. Ha Ha … I never even hit him very hard, but point taken. For the record, I do not hit my cats.

So, Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, there was a bit of growling but no fisticuffs, so maybe it has passed. I don’t know what started it but I was shocked when it happened and it really stressed me a lot. I was also shocked how quickly I was siding with Jango. He’s been with me a long time and he is not a fighter, at all, and he isn’t particularly active, either, so it was a lot for him.

I remember telling him years ago, back in Toronto, as he was play fighting with me, that he was lucky he lived with me and didn’t have to fend for himself in the wild, because he would have his fuzzy butt handed to him by an arthritic squirrel. An arthritic squirrel with a bum leg and one good eye.

Chance, on the other hand, has had to fend for himself in the wild. The Dominican wild but he had to find food and defend himself against other animals and that’s very apparent to all of us when something like this comes up.

I have no idea what stared it, maybe because I’ve been so stressed for the past few months that now I’m actually seeing a bit of sunshine through my fog, that they felt it was time they let theirs out. I know they feel our feels, but they don’t understand.

Here they are, not really talking yet, but in the same space with out tearing each other’s hair out in clumps.



Happy Hairy Heart Day

My Shit Show

First off, I want to say thanks to all of you who reached out to me with kind words and thoughts. Big thanks to those of you who reached out with cash, it means eating or not eating. The gift of $50 is, in fact, priceless. So, Thank You.

Also, thankful that fuck that holiday has fucked off for another year. Depressing AF.

It’s not come as a big surprise to me, this lifestyle I’m living. I call it Nouveau Chic Poverty. I’ve spent my adult life with my hand out, so why change now?

I was almost out of money when I posted my New Years blog last year, and through friends, help and some online freelance work, we’re still here.

What sent me over the edge was just a big bunch of shit hitting the fan all at once. As shit is won’t to do. Do Do.

Somewhere around October, I got a rent raise, followed on the heels of that, by the notice someone might be interested in buying the apartment I live in. PS, my rent is low here. Just under $400. I know.

The idea I would have to start apartment hunting again and moving again is naturally very stressful. It’s stressful even more when you don’t know the language. More stress when you don’t have the money. Luckily I have a friend here who was onboard to help.

Crisis avoided on the apartment move, they decided on something else. I will admit, when they came to see the apartment, I didn’t bother to sweep or do my dishes or hide the cat box or put pants on.

I also never realized, because I see it all the time, that I have chalk writing on my walls and cupboard for the cockroaches and ants and any other bug that decides  to crawl across my space.  A few direct messages that tells them in no uncertain terms, to piss off, go to hell, no one likes you, Hey, you, ya you, off you fuck, and a few that have super bad words in them. I hope the possible buyers didn’t read English.

Then in the headlong fall to the holiday season, I discovered my credit card was not working. I’d been living off of it, so that was just another shoe that I was waiting to hear hit the floor. But when I tried to put a payment on it, my money kept returning to my PayPal account.

Turns out they bank in Toronto mailed me some “very important papers” months ago even though they know I don’t have mail service, to tell me that as a non-resident, I have to close the account. So now that avenue is dead to me too. The bonus is I guess they can just pound that Visa balance straight up their holes.

Because I couldn’t access the money, they cut my power off. I hadn’t paid the bill for two months so I had to take the cat food money and walk to the bank to pay it. It was about $30. I know. The kid that came to cut it off actually buzzed my apartment to let him in the gate. Sweet.

Fuck sakes.

I opened a new PayPal account for the Dominican, but can’t connect my Dominican Bank to it, they only accept the the most popular one, which just happens to be called Popular. I had to gather up all kinds of information and set out to open a new account. Luckily, my friend came with me and did all the talking. He actually works in a bank, so that was a big lucky break and a saving grace and some other trite sayings about luck and blessing and fortune smiling that would fit in here. But I won’t bore you.

So now it’s just the waiting to see if I’m approved. The best part of the whole stressful day was when the power went out in the bank and I yelped like a demented cocker spaniel and then my friend and mostly the woman helping us with the bright orangy-pink lipstick laughed for several minutes.  The Jumpy Gringa. Good times.

It’s been a lot to deal with and I know everyone has their own plateful, but it’s not a contest. This is my stress at the moment. It’s eye-opening, the reality of living in a different country where language is a barrier and you are all on your own. It’s difficult to ask for help, worse when people say no.

I had expected, up until very recently, my friend would be visiting for the hols, but they didn’t make it this year. I had bought a small teapot for them to use, and now every time I see it I feel embarrassed somehow.

I’ve had my little hissy fit and I’m trying to be optimistic but just saying it  doesn’t make the dark and scary go away.

Next, stay tuned about my dissertation about why I’m not moving back to Canada.






Comma, Bitch.

As all my money has dwindled away, I have been looking for work online. Living where I do, with regular power outages, it’s difficult to commit to anything where I need to be online for certain scheduled times every day. The best solution is writing.

I have been to college a few times, so I understand writing essays, reports, detailed assignments and whatever else that entails. I’ve also taken several writing courses, mostly ‘creative writing’, all of which I enjoyed and a few I actually found helpful.

Writing for sites online is a different thing all together. When I first started I had no idea what I was doing but after a few tried, managed to get the hang of it. I had merely did an online for ‘working online’ and found a few sites that we free to join. These sites are set up for all interested parties to bid on projects and then you just wait and hope for the best.

I made a few mistakes along the way, the biggest was allowing the person wanting to hire me to contact me outside the site. The sites I was using – one I still am using- have their own pay system. This is because they take a percentage for the usage of the site.  I didn’t  understand that this wasn’t allowed, and the first few times I did it, it worked out fine. I got the money in my PayPal account

There was one person who hired me and wanted to contact through Skype. I did, and the first article I wrote, I sent through the freelance site. He actually ‘yelled’ at me, by yelled I mean he was furious that I was late and that ‘he didn’t work this way …’. I explained I sent the article, did he not check the messages?

I should have just cut my losses and went back to the site, but I didn’t know. Plus, they were offering a far higher wage than most, so I didn’t want to just throw it away. We carried on for a solid week, then I started to ask about money. He said he would pay the middle and end of the month.

I said that was fine, but as I had already done quite a bit of work, would he consider just paying for what he had received. He wouldn’t. He also kept sending me work. I said I would do it once I was paid.

Another aspect I found fishy was there was always someone there online on the Skype. Always. Sometimes the messages were very clear, sometimes they were clearly from someone who was not native English. I didn’t get paid and ended up having a big falling out with the freelance company. They also bawled me out and said I still owned them their take. What?

Last week I was accepted on a job from a woman who paid well and seemed to even have a sense of humour. I was wrong. I did an example writing, which she paid me for and then she critiqued it to the bone. She had a real thing about commas. She sent me a message back that frankly was all commas. It made me itch just reading it. She was really upset about double spaces between sentences and a long list of other things.

When she sent me the next assignment I told her to poke it up her ass, which she promptly did. The contract was ended and the payment made and then she had the gall to demand a review.  I gave her a review.


Our Dance With Irma



Luckily it was closer to a waltz than the Cha Cha.

Hurricane Irma skirted past the Dominican Republic on Thursday, but left again soon after with minimal damage. Thankfully.

Thursday morning I went out for a brief walk, just to suss the sitch, you know. Check it all out. I knew the stores were closed but I walked that way anyhow, I didn’t need anything, just being a nosy cow.

It was eerily quiet, no cars, no noise, no people walking about. Except the birds. All the stores closed, mind a few of the corner stores or colmados. The delivery guys there with their motorbikes ready to deliver stuff for those who didn’t prepare.

Some of the stores went a step further and taped or covered windows, but not too much of it. Many of them had security out front to deter looting, but honestly, if shit did get real and you really wanted to loot the gas station, good luck getting past that surly teenager staring at his phone while perched on an upside-down plastic bucket.

The other bit that was eerie was the extreme noise coming from the birds and the scurrying about of rats. Rats are a common sight here, but not dashing about in front of me, some with expensive luggage.

The circling vultures were just a bonus.

My cats seems a little restless but not enough to keep Jango from sleeping on the balcony even after the rain started.

We lost power a few times, but that’s a regular occurrence here anyhow. I think when the rain and wind really got serious it was likely just cut.

To be honest, I wasn’t terribly concerned. My biggest fear was the wind, the wind hurling things at my building and windows. I’m very close to the water, the Caribbean ocean is about a block that way, so the wind gets pretty strong on a slow day.

I love it, my apartment is on the top, forth floor but there isn’t much blocking me around, so I can see a long way and get the best, fresher breezes coming through here. My cats love to find the optimal spot for the cross breeze. This time of year is ridiculously hot, as well.

The rain managed to make everything horrendously humid. I woke at around 4 am today and the humidity was 78% making it feel like about 36 Celsius. Yikes.

Hurricanes are a bitch, and Irma is living up to that. We were very lucky here, Irma asked us to dance, we danced but she left with the guy who brought her.

Later next week, we will see if Jose is as well-mannered.


Blind Date



Okay, not so much blind as stage four glaucoma.

I belong to a page on Facebook for expats in Santo Domingo. People looking for advice, selling stuff, you get it. A few months back I saw a post from someone who was going to be moving here and she was asking if anyone wanted to meet up. I have managed to go months without talking to anyone, thank you very mucho, wasn’t in any hurry to change that, so I didn’t pay that much attention to it.

But later I decided to bite, why not, right? She mentioned she was moving here in July so I said, well, give me a poke when you’re settled, we can go for a coffee or something. She replied right away, she said she was here now and did I want to meet. Like, now.


We did exchange our digits (I know) and I semi-committed to meeting. I’m not very social and find these kinds of situations far easier to just say no to than actually commit to. After a lot of pushing on her part and a lot of balking on my end, we finally set ‘the date’. I did bail on the first one.

She came to pick me up in her rental car and as I had checked out her Facebook profile, I had a good idea which one she would be. Likely the white woman picking me up.

I got in her car and she immediately launched into a diatribe I honestly felt like I was joining already in progress. Something about her car, her luggage, her hotel or BnB or what actual I have no idea. It was confusing and all consuming. I remember her saying hello and before we actually pulled away from the front of my apartment building, she just started yakking.

“So, I booked my flight…”  Dear gawd, save me. I wanted to leap from the car and get back upstairs to my boxer shorts and my cats and whatever I was binging online.

I had to interrupt her about five times just to give her directions to a restaurant two blocks away. We managed to get parked and sat down in the restaurant without her having to stop her narrative for more than about seven seconds at a time. I wasn’t even certain how she was managing to do it.

At some point I heard something I could relate to, I tried to jump in and play along but she shot that down in a hurry.

Just let me finish, she said, with a slight hint of pity, and once I’m finished you can talk allllll about you. (I added the extra L’s there because that’s how she said it.) (P.S. She never finished)

We somehow managed to order, even with her banging her jaw like a war drum. She stopped long enough to point to the menu for the benefit of our waitress. Our waitress was confused and started talking in Spanish. I asked The Gabber if she spoke Spanish and she said, ‘pequeno’. Annoys me no end. Knowing the Spanish word for ‘little’ doesn’t mean you speak Spanish. Just say ‘No’.

I said to the waitress, who looked as if she were ready to bolt – wait for me!- que? She looked relieved and started off on the item’s biography while Yapps-A-Lot said ‘si’ a lot and nodded her head knowingly.

She didn’t know.

I won’t keep you. I’ll summarize here with a simple list of my pet peeves she managed to step on.

Never shuts her gob. Never.

Hyphenated Name. Please.

Posted a picture of her feet on the beach. Beach, please.

She’s from Texas. Ego much?

She likes the Orange Psycho Monster who shall not be named. Strumpet The Trumpet.

She had a couple of small tattoos and even though I have several, she had to talk about hers. She had two names written on the inside of each wrist. Her kids, it turns out. When I asked about them she put her hand over one of them, like it was a delicate orchid or something and then did this bit where she bites her lower lip, like it was so precious and sacred, as if covering it would stop me from stealing it or it being lost. Idiot.

It was when she pulled out the vape equipment was when I lost it. I wanted to slap this thing right off her stupid Texan face.

We finally got the bill which she took complete control over and just took the money I offered and slipped it in her wallet. It cost me $15 for a soda water and a dish of fries.

I offered to walk home as it was just around the corner but she said she needed to find a grocery store and needed help. I couldn’t say no, could I? Even though I was close to tears at this point.

We got to the store, her still chewing my ear. During the evening she told me about four times she was “So independent” It felt more like a mantra rather than anything she believed. I didn’t believe it.

When we finally pulled up outside my building, I was so happy to have this nightmare over with. My head was spinning from her nonstop blathering about herself and how wonderful she was.

I’d lost track about half an hour in to our ‘date’. It was clear to me that regardless of the situation, she would be the only interesting person in the conversation, I didn’t even try. At one point I did managed to slide in that I had been a stand up comic and she immediately wanted to hear a joke, but she wanted a street joke, not a bit I had written.  I tried to explain it didn’t work that way and she just stared at me until I told her one. She didn’t laugh.

As I was getting out of the car she she asked me my name.

I told her, she repeated it back tome.



There was no second date.