Welcome to Paradise

May 1, 2010 David and I arrived at the Portland Jetport with 4 large duffel bags, 2 smaller suitcases, a guitar and 4 carry-ons for our 6:00 AM flight on American Airlines to the Dominican Republic (DR) to begin our latest adventure. We rarely use a porter, but with all of our luggage we thought it would be a good idea. The porter loaded his cart and asked which airline we were flying on. I said American. He gave me a funny look and said that American didn’t fly out of Portland. I thought, no problem, it must be one of their alliance airlines. Upon closer inspection of the itinerary, which the company had sent us, we learned that they had us scheduled to fly out of Portland, OR, not Portland, ME…..oops! Now, this was a “don’t panic, adjust” moment.

That also explained why they had us flying from, what I thought, was Portland, ME to Dallas, TX to Miami and finally, the DR. Our Barrick contact had mentioned that they were having a difficult time making the reservations due to the planes in Europe not flying because of the volcanic activity in Iceland. So, when the itinerary arrived, I just thought it was due to the Europe issue that we were routed the way we were.
Plus, the itinerary had only the airport initials and not the city names. I just didn’t look that closely at it with everything else that I had to do.

Our porter,went above and beyond the “call of duty” for us. He first took us to Delta. They tried to make connections for us, but with no luck. The Delta representative suggested that we hop the bus to Boston and make our connection with American there. Oh my gosh, no….can you imagine trying to get to the bus station in Portland, ride to Boston, get to American and try to sort it out there with all of that luggage??? Next was the Continental desk where, Chris Dodd, went above and beyond the call of duty for us. I tell you the angels were smiling on us that day!

One of my strongest beliefs is “something good comes from something bad”. This was no exception. Chris was able to get us flights out of Portland, ME at 11:00 AM, changing planes in Newark and arriving in Santo Domingo five hours before we were originally scheduled!!! Plus, he figured it was cheaper for us to fly first class by $50 due to all of our luggage! He had hoped to get us on stand-by for the 6:00 AM Continental flight and almost did, but the darn Roger couple showed up for the flight with only 10 minutes to spare. Oh well, we were just grateful to be able to fly out of Portland that day!!!

The rest of the flight, arrival was uneventful. We connected with the taxi driver in Santo Domingo and he took us to the company’s apartment. Another couple, Brooke, from Australia and Matt, from New Zealand, were there. Matt was starting with Barrick as well and we went through orientation on Monday, May 3 with them as well as rode to our new homes in Cabarete, on the north shore on Tuesday.

David’s new position has him working at the gold mine in Pueblo Viejo, two and a half hours from Cabarete. There are several families living on the north shore with more to come. The men leave at 4:30 AM on Mondays and come back on Friday afternoons, around 5:30. Fortunately, David was able to enjoy the first week at the beach before having to report to the mine.

I was a little nervous of spending my days alone, but I should have known better. The days have just zipped by. I honestly don’t know where the time has gone. I have had such good intentions everyday to study Spanish, practise my guitar and work on my writing. For the first week, none of that has happened! One thing that I did set for a goal and stuck to was getting back on track with healthier eating and exercising. I discovered Cabarete Spinning classes and have taken two. They have been killer workouts and all I can say is I look forward to becoming stronger. It is definitely a workout that one can see as oneself improves. They say that it takes about 6 classes to begin to see improvement…2 down, 4 to go! Hopefully, next week, things will be a little more organized so I can concentrate on other goals.

Another past time I did this week was clean-up the garbage on the beach. I was jogging on Monday and there was so much garbage everywhere, it was unbelievable. There were some locals picking it up further down from me, so I decided I could contribute at my end of the beach. In a matter of an hour, I got a trash bag full. There were a couple of Dominican men watching me the whole time. When I got close enough to them, I asked them why the didn’t help me. One said that he was tired that he had been working. I asked what he did…he said security…oh please!!! Security is sitting on you butt all day and trying not to fall asleep on the job because it is so boring! If it had been construction, I would have been a little more understanding, and basically, told him so! The maid told me the next day that much of the garbage comes from the river. Evidently, the people in the village, who live along the river use it as a dump. The river empties into the ocean and the garbage washes on the beach. I have decided that this will be my volunteer project while down here….or at least one of them. I wonder if I might ever get fluent enough with my Spanish to go to the villages to explain pollution??

We have an absolutely gorgeous condo. The picture with this blog entry is our view from our balcony. This is our temporary view as we are moving to another unit at the end of this month. The north shore has been developed over the last 27 years since I have been here with all inclusive resorts, restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. However, Cabarete isn’t so bad. It still has retained much charm…maybe because it isn’t as developed. There is construction going on but I think the economy may have slowed it down. At any rate, I love the atmosphere here in Cabarete compared to Sosua and Puerto Plata.

So, for now, everyday I wake up it is like I am on vacation. Life is good!

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