Posts

Island Stress

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I get a bit miffed when people refer to the Dominican Republic as the Third World. First, because that term really ended with the Cold War and secondly, it seems to denote an idea that the Dominican Republic is somehow less than the United States. Sorry. But, I don't feel in my gut that the US has any claim to superiority anymore. The history is different for sure and being a much smaller nation where corruption and poverty is abound means things don't get done in the timeframe we Northerners want, if it gets done at all. But, corruption exists everywhere and as does the fight between the rich and the poor. 
Still, there are a few things that I have come to appreciate about western industrialized nations, for example; flushing the toilet without a thought for where it all goes, which goes hand in hand with turning on the faucet and having potable water (although I'm from Michigan not far from Flint and that gave everyone in the State pause when it came to water quality), …

Living IRL

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What is Real Life?  Is it job, mortgage, raising kids and all the like?  I happily tackle all the items on the daily Mom-Do-This list.  (Renamed the To-Do list for what it actually feels like most days...) Then we pack up and fly south to our little slice of heaven in the Dominican Republic and then I'm outside, breathing air and listening to all the birds, frogs and crickets, annoyed at how loud they can be! Somehow nature feels 'real' and the daily grind back home seems like a holding pattern. Does everyone feel this way?

I like when the whole family has to live in close quarters without internet really interfacing with one another. Add to that Grandma and all her games and it really is a family vacation akin to what I remember camping with the whole family to be like. With all the video games, apps, streaming TV and such, it’s no wonder we all feel a bit disconnected. It’s hard to be present in each other’s lives, let alone our own.

I think we can all agree that life ha…

How to Live Off Grid in Reality

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SOLAR POWER ROCKS!

You know the saying. "Your back-up power is only as good as your heat-aged batteries." Or, wait, probably you have never heard that tidbit of wisdom. It only applies to people living in the tropics. Prior to owning a home in Caribbean, my understanding of electricity is that it looks really cool during a storm and precedes booming thunder. Oh! And the story with Benjamin Franklin and the kite. Since buying the casa, I have had a crash course in electrical systems. I understand so much more, but it is also very clear that I know practically nothing that would assist someone in putting together a solar fed back-up battery system. But, I know things like:


We have a 24-volt system which means we can only add 4 x 6-volt or 2 x 12-volt batteries. But, they can't get added at different times because of the rule of thumb I started this post with. Batteries age in the heat and humidity faster than I would ever have believed.  Each 6-volt 200 amp hour battery in …

A Kitchen for the Hostess with the Mostest...Island Style!

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We just installed a new kitchen in our home in the Dominican Republic, courtesy of IKEA. We had to decide if we were going to upgrade our kitchen in Michigan or the one in the casa.  Our Michigan kitchen had been 'upgraded' to a usable modern space after buying the house from my grandparents whose 1957 choices reflected a different world. Grandma was a full-time homemaker and appliances were completely different sizes. Our kitchen in the casa when we bought it consisted of a corner cabinet under a counter top with a shallow double sink molded into the material, weirdly off center of the window AND where a human can actually stand who would then also be blocking the area where a stove/oven would sit.  And there was also the other medium sized cabinet that also had no shelves built into it. So when you open the cabinet it is essentially a wooden box where you pile all your cooking ingredients and snacks, etc. Needless to say, the decision was to upgrade the casa kitchen because…

Living a Dual Life: Is it for me?

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Every time I am in the Dominican Republic I feel 'at home'. And then when we return 'home' to our house in Michigan, I feel relieved and happy to be there too...as long as I avoid looking at the cold gray sky...still, cats greet us at the door happy to have their humans back and the comfy couch awaits some uninterrupted Netflix binge watching and most importantly, my husband's slows down at that house...in contrast to the house repair machine he becomes in our casa. This probably due to his 9-5 job working for the 'man'.  (We wish it was only 9 to 5...sadly, my better half spends too much time fixing the leaks in a sinking ship.)  That's the other benefit of life in the Dominican Republic. The daily grind is simpler and focused on the necessities of a simple life.  NOT the multi-tasking, split-personality work haze that leaves me on auto-pilot for the part of my life that is actually important. My family.

I know that it has become cliche that we northe…

Freedom del Caribe

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I cannot count the number of times people have compared living on a tropical island, at least in the Caribbean, to the 50’s in the US. Neighbors know you and your business, watch your kids when they run around the block, wave from their front porch, and there’s a lot less government regulation. That’s all true. It is free-er. For example, drunk driving is illegal, but every gas station is also a bar. And how about the fact that the cops aren’t paid enough to do much other than drive around with their lights flashing? Though that also means burglars feel pretty free too.
Ah freedom… it’s a double-edged sword. I’ll focus on our particular learning curve…
Over and over again, our Up-North-Sensibilities have clashed with Island-Realities. It all began with the misunderstanding that our water connection was our water connection. Apparently, if you have the only house built in a certain area and someone wants to build a house nearby, they feel perfectly free to cut your water lines and use…

Why Bars Are My Favorite Feature of Our Casa

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Back in 2013 and 2014, Thomas and I started looking for a right-now vacation home that could be used as a future retirement home.  Our budget was literally zero to whatever was cheapest. Knowing that properties in the Caribbean are generally  cash based, we earmarked an investment property we owned to pay for a home in paradise. We were very naive...but our adventures in investment property taxes are for a later post. There aren't many comprehensive real estate websites for properties on the North Coast of Dominican Republic. (Real estate is the wild west here. There are no buyers or sellers agents. Every real estate salesperson essentially acts as a dual agent. So, as many of the online forums about the DR correctly suggest, boots on the ground works best. Reach out to many people at various sites and don't hesitate to ask all possible questions.) I was pouring over all of the sites I could find, clicking through endless listings with no idea what area was what and there see…