Friday, April 18, 2014

4 months in the Dominican Republic, time to say “Adios”

In just a few days we will have to say goodbye to the country of the Dominican where we had lots of happiness and tears. The trip to celebrate our 500 years of the sea route from Europe to Asia didn’t start yet but the Dominican Republic is our starting point.  What we learned from this last 4 months? I only can say that was a great opportunity, like I always answer when people asked me what I think about Joao’s sailing dream.

We learned to be more patient, to rely more on each other and to cherish what we have, instead of being always looking after for something new to fulfill any lack we may have.

Living on a boat, especially in the DR, teach you to be patient, to wait for things to happen and to understand that the way we are brought up is very different from other people upbringing. Different doesn’t mean that we or they are best, it’s just different and since we are foreigners in their country, we just have to adjust and live with it.

Most of all, we had learn to compromise.
If you think that our couple life is perfect, I confess that once I almost left Joao because of this adventure in the Dominican Republic. When everything was going wrong and not according to our plan, the money was getting short, hot weather without air conditioner to cool down and missing the good life that we got used to. Trust me, all negative thinking and bad energy will come to you. I must say thank you to this country to make me know that I married the best guy and know that I made the right decision. From now on to the next port until the end of the trip, I will remember the day we fight and see it as an obstacle to make our marriage stronger. And Compromise is the key!

We give and we take in everything we do. 
Another thing we learn during this first months living on a boat was to cherish what we have.
It’s not only the person next to you, we learn to use everything around us in a good way. To be resourceful. We appreciate more the food we ate and know the value of it because we know that it’s valuable and not always available. Sometimes money really can’t buy everything, and that also happen with food. When you have money and your belly is hungry on a Sunday but all the restaurants are closed and no grocery to buy supplies! 

Life on a boat is much slower than on land and that has it’s on perks and advantages. First we learn that we can do things in several days because we can’t finish it in one day, either because we don’t have the right tools or materials and need to go buy it in the next city (and for that we need a car and a full day) or because the person who may help you only can be available tomorrow (which doesn’t mean the next day in the DR!).

But being in a slow pace also has the advantage of enjoying the simple things like looking at our daughter first steps or first words. Or the simple pleasure of just sitting without anything to do or, just because you fell like it, go and have a cold beer or water!

We learn to adapt and adjust.
This should be more for me. In the beginning when we just arrive in the Dominican Republic, I complain a lot to Joao about the way the people in this country work. I came from the city that never sleep, life with schedules and deadlines it doesn’t really match the way the Dominicans work and that was really annoying for me! How? They work slowly, no rush, without worrying about tomorrow!
That is, perhaps, the most negative characteristic of the Dominican people for a person like most of us sailors. We are use to a fast pace life in our past career lives. When we face this kind of living we take it as a shock and can’t really understand how someone can lead their lives with such a light spirit. But, that’s Dominican Republic and its people. After a while you also get use to it!
In the last months we had enough time to make some friends and we don’t want to leave without a word for them.

We met people from all walks of life, from locals to people from far away countries. From the doctors, engineers to the street seller and the gas station worker. We had a good time with all of them and from all of them we learned something.

Mr José became our friend and invited us to his house literally, for the last month we had been living on his private dock just down to his house and where we use to moor his own boat using his water and his electric power. Several times we were invited to go up at night to the porch for a drink and snacks, invited to join for a Sunday lunch in family and for a Saturday BBQ. Every time we needed something, like the frame for our new solar panel, he offered himself to do it for us for free. We needed vegetables or fruits, we were invited to just go and help ourselves in his private garden around his house. Well, what more we can say? We are forever in debt with him.

Ms Sobeida, the local head of the Tourism of the Dominican Republic. We met her few day after we arrived here and we always had her to help us with everything. Sobeida was, and his, a women who never gets tired and do her job with a dedication hard to find nowadays. She was always there when we need it and was always ready to help and to advise. Even when her health didn’t let her work full time she would be always available to give us a hand.
She helped us solving our battery problem, going with us on purpose to the vendor, taking almost a full day of work to help us. She invited us to her house for dinner with her family. She went with us to extend our visas. She helped solving some of the problems with the work in the boat and all the complications with the Marina Tropical staff and management. She got sad when we didn’t tell her about the problems earlier!

Mr Bruce Van Sant for his advice about weather and sailing this dangerous coast of the Dominican Republic. Bruce Van Sant is the person who better know this seas and he had put all that knowledge at our disposal every time we met and even by email sending us extensive weather analyses customized for our route from DR to Puerto Rico. The kind of work that need to be very well paid to get! But Mr Bruce became more than just a weather source, he and his wife Rosa became friends who invited us to their house and for a Sunday family lunch (with Mr José and his wife, since they are long time friends). We had the chance to visit him several times in his house, sadly always very short visits because we always had to come back to our boat.

José Miguel, who worked with us helping putting S/V Dee up to shape after the problems with Marina Tropical. José Miguel was always tireless to help solving problems and finding solutions. Although we paid him in the end of the “work” he became more than just a “worker”, he went beyond his obligations in the boat work. Help us with food, with contacts, with everything we needed in this village. He was always ready to try to make our life a bit easier.

We can’t be mentioning here everyone we met however, we are pleased to say that, most of the people were helpful and touch us in some way. From the marina staff in the Marina Puerto Blanco, to the “neighbors” in Marina Luperon (Jimmy, Roger, Fred and Sam), from the Upper Deck restaurant to the Casa de Jugos, not forgetting all the other “boat people” we met and we befriended. S/V El Lobo and his captain Mike, s/v Fata Morgana and Mira and Evo, Captain Abbu from the Lagoon 42 in the Marina Puerto Blanco.
BBQ and grilled bacalhau with Mr José
Mr Bruce Van Sant with Joao and Maria Dee
Karaoke day with Mr José and Mr Bruce

Dinner at Sobeida's house
Evo, s/v Fata Morgana
Mira, s/v Fata Morgana 
José Miguel with Maria Dee 
s/v Dee 
Gomes family


Este é um relato muito grato da aprendizagem da vida... estão prontos para tudo, sobretudo, para ampliar a felicidade. Bons mares, ventos justos, decisões ponderadas.

Words very greatful of learning from life ... you guys are ready for anything, especially, to enlarge the happiness. Good fair winds and seas.

Antonio Veladas

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Guys, it was great meeting you and spending time with you in Dominican Republic and now in Puerto Rico! We love you all!

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