Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Sanky goes to jail

I was really upset with Mrs Monster so I had a word with Danilo and he agreed to send the sanky to jail for wife stealing.  El Violador is now jailed under the balcony. He has plenty of space and has two of his women for company. One has a couple of chicks and the other sitting on eggs so they aren't that interested in him and he spends the day looking longingly out at the rest of his flock and Mrs Monster.

Meanwhile the rest of his women are in the garden together with Monster and Mrs Monster. I thought maybe Mrs Monster would not be interested in him. Not a chance. Once the sanky was in jail she was straight back to canoodling with him and they are romping around together in the bougainvillea.

And when night fell I wondered what would happen. Would she go back to the cellar where she was with El Violador, even though he was in jail, or would she return to her husband in the dog crate?

So all is well again in chicken land, and, as the Dominicans say, Monster is as happy as a worm (as they live in earth and eat earth so are always happy as never hungry).

Moving on to matters even more important.

When I was in the capital recently, speaking at the Santo Domingo International Women's Club I met several really interesting ladies. One of these was Diane, who is a doctor and I was talking about the health issues here in the campo where I live. Now I consider myself reasonably informed when it comes to medical matters. I was a Queen's Guide and can tie a triangular bandage with a reef knot at the back for a broken arm. I was a diving instructor so I know that you pee on jellyfish stings and I can do CPR. And of course I have watched ER. But that is about it, so when all of these campo people are asking me for help with their diabetes and other illnesses I am stumped. Diane and her husband have a foundation called Corazon del Siervo:  Serving with the heart in English. She chatted to me about how to help with diabetes with some amazing ideas which are simple and which the local people can do. She also promised to come and do a medical mission here.

She contacted me last week and this Sunday, she and her husband plus four more medical professionals will come here to carry out the mission on Monday. Chivirico will be on hand to help of course as being a doctor is on his list of preferred occupations when he grows up along with fireman and President of the country.

There is only one tiny snag.

I thought there would be around 20 people interested, but word got around and we now have well over 100 coming to see them, and they have all put in requests for the medicines they need. I don't think there is one person in the whole campo who is not taking pills for something. It is going to end up being very expensive so if anyone would like to donate by clicking on their website here  it would be much appreciated.

I will report back as to how the day goes.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A sad tale of infidelity in the Dominican Republic

You remember Mr and Mrs Monster, the chickens who now live free in the back garden?

Well, things were becoming a little difficult. Firstly the two of them took up residence on the steps leading down from the house. If the door was open they just walked in, much to the annoyance of the dogs. They also blocked the Dominican cat flap (hole in wall) so the cats couldn't get in or out. They asked for food constantly - celery or lettuce or bread, and if you didn't give it to them and shut the door so they could not get in, they just pecked at the door, which is glass and I was sure they would break it.

Secondly the neighbour's beautiful and big cockerel together with his tribe of seven hens were constantly in the back garden, and Monster was terrified of him and kept running off into the woods.

Plus there was another issue. Chivirico was here for Easter week, and we couldn't find Mrs Monster anywhere. Eventually he found here sitting down in the land next door, and look what she was sitting on.

There were 13 eggs. Not quite the chocolate ones for Easter Sunday but it was lovely to see them there.

So we were concerned about the eggs and it was decided to put Mr and Mrs Monster under the balcony which is all fenced in, and very large. We moved the eggs and their nest in there too. They were not happy at all to be in there. In the meantime, Danilo moved another cockerel and his harem of three hens into the back garden so that they could be free and also apparently this cockerel would stand up to the neighbour's cockerel to stop him coming into the garden.

His name is El Violador, the rapist, as he bonks anything with feathers.

There was no sign of the neighbour's cockerel again and Danilo was congratulating himself, until I discovered that on the day that El Violador had been set free, the neighbours had cooked their cockerel for lunch.

As Monster and Mrs Monster were obviously not happy under the balcony, we let them out again. El Violador was not impressed and Monster did a runner every time he saw him too close. He was terrified of him. At night, Monster and his wife went off to bed in a very large dog crate and the Rapist and his harem went to sleep in the cellar.

All was calm. In the day Mrs Monster was within a foot of her husband or sitting on her eggs while he kept watch. As the sun went down everyone went to their respective beds. Until last night. Mrs Monster left Monster and has moved in with El Violador in the cellar.  Monster slept alone in his crate and she slept with her new man just a few yards away. Danilo says that she has gone with the stronger rooster even though she is pregnant with Monsters chicks - well she has the eggs.

I feel heartbroken for Monster. He stands alone at one side of the garden, watching her strutting around with her new man.

He has taken up his position behind the barbecue which is around 60 yards away from his now ex wife.

And watches over his children waiting for them to hatch.

I cannot believe she has done this. They have been together for two years, spent all day every day together, slept together every night,  13 babies on the way, and she has run off with another rooster right under his nose.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Danilo in trouble - three times in two weeks

Danilo's car, as I mentioned in the last blog, needs a new transmission and it is patiently waiting in the garage to be fixed. In the meantime he is driving my jeep, badly.

He needed to go away at the weekend to play at politics and I pointed out that no way was he driving the jeep all of that distance. Not only because he couldn't drive it properly but also because the exhaust is falling off and it has no windscreen wipers. He promised me he wouldn't and that he would just take it to the bus station. I knew he was lying - well just not telling the truth which is different in Dominican logic.

He called me when he arrived at his destination and said the car was safely parked at the bus station. He called the next day and I tried to catch him out by asking how he was managing driving the jeep and again he said it was parked at the bus station. He even called me the next day to ask what time the last bus back was.

On his return he handed over to me a video he had taken while away. The video was good, but the silly idiot had forgotten that he took the video from the car - yes, my jeep! I congratulated him for carrying out an investigation on my behalf and dropping himself right in it. I also pointed out I knew he was lying about the bus. He said that it was extremely annoying that I now knew when he wasn't being totally honest! Victory for the gringa.

He explained that when driving through Santo Domingo it was raining and he had to lean out of the window and use the brush as windscreen wipers. I am sure you remember that.

He went on to say that everyone was laughing at him and then they stopped at the traffic lights where there were traffic police. Now I would have been terrified - but the policeman came over, took the brush from Danilo and helped him to wipe the windscreen down, laughing all the time, then gave him the brush back. Only in the DR.

He arrives late at night from University and I am usually in bed and asleep. I got up this morning and went outside to let Lobo the husky out and there was my jeep - with the most shredded tyre I have ever seen.

Even Belinda the Great Dane was impressed.

I am waiting for him to get up to explain a. what happened, b. where it happened c. how far he drove home with the tyre in that condition and d. how and when is he going to fix it.

He also nearly got into serious trouble a couple of weeks ago when he delivered me an egg. As you know we have chickens, supposedly to deliver a constant supply of fresh eggs. Monster and Mrs Monster are now free in the garden but they appear to have gone on strike as far as eggs are concerned.

However, a couple of weeks ago he came inside and put an egg down next to my computer saying that it appeared at last we were getting eggs again.  I told him to leave it there and in a couple of minutes I would boil it for breakfast. I was concentrating on writing and out of the corner of my eye I noticed the egg moving. Odd, but I assumed maybe it was the wind. Then it rolled, and then it squeaked. Then it broke open and a beak stuck out.

Just as well I didn't boil it. And a little later on this happened.

And the final episode, was I asked him to buy two tins of tomatoes to make chilli con carne. This is what I got.

Beetroot con carne. I think not. Never a dull moment.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Journey to become a Dominican Citizen is nearly over

They cancelled my citizenship interview yet again and rearranged it for Monday 9 March. I needed Danilo here to take me to town to catch the bus at 8 in the morning to get to the capital for the 2 p.m. appointment but he was playing politics in Guayacanes. He knew he had to get back, ready to leave here at 7 on Monday morning and called me on Sunday to tell me he would be home after midnight and that the car was playing up - there appeared to be a problem with the transmission. Well, I thought, if the worst comes to the worst I can drive my jeep to town, although I don't tend to drive it long distances as I still don't have a jack in case I get a puncture - which I often seem to.

I went to bed early and Danilo phoned at 11 pm to say he was leaving the capital but the problem was getting worse so they, he and dwendy number one Saya, would have to drive slowly. If it were me and I knew the car had a transmission problem I would get it fixed before more damage was done - but not him, he just keeps going till it is impossible to go any further. His car gave up 20 miles from home and he managed to get here with Saya on his motorbike, at around 5 am, giving him 2 hours sleep.

We got up at 7 to get in my jeep to drive to the bus station and it was raining. It was raining hard. That is not usually a big issue, but it is when the jeep has no windscreen wipers. In true Dominican style Saya drove with Danilo hanging out of the passenger window wiping the windscreen with a brush.

A good start to the day not. I travelled down to Santo Domingo with no further problems, met with some ladies from the International Women's Club to hand over my old designer clothes for them to sell at a bazaar to raise money for charity and rushed off to the interview with no time to eat the sandwich I had bought. I was absolutely starving.

I arrived for my interview at 1.45 and was already the last of the five interviewees for the day. The others were a Russian girl, a Venezuelan man and a Colombian couple. They took all my fingerprints and we waited .... and waited. Shortly before 3 we were taken out of reception to another waiting room down a long corridor, and after a short fight between the Colombians and the Venezuelan and Russian as to who was first, the interviews started.

The interviewer was a very very ample chested Dominican lawyer who had a t-shirt on which showed off her cleavage. The Venezuelan gentlemen, in his late 60's I would say, was in and out in five minutes, as were the Colombians who were proudly showing off their paper which had the answers to the questions on the country. The list of questions was published on the website so all you had to do was to Google the answers and they were both revising up to the last minute.

The Russian girl went in and then within a minute came rushing out in tears - it appeared she didn't speak Spanish and did not know the interview was in Spanish and not Russian, and then it was my turn.

The large bosomed lawyer was pleasant enough and she asked how long I had been married, asked to see my passport and then announced the interview would start. She asked me eight out of the 48 questions and the only problem was when she asked for the date of the restoration. I said 16th August 1863 and she said no, the date. That was the bloody date. She then explained she had not asked for the year just the date and she didn't say day. So now I understand. When people ask for the date they mean the day and not the year which means that when I am Dominican I can just give the day of my birthday and no longer any need to give the year, which is a relief.

She announced that I had passed the interview and now apparently I have to go back every three months to see if the checks with the National Investigation Department, Drug Squad and Interpol have been done and when they are, which takes 10 months on average, then I will be sworn in as a Dominican. She pointed out that it was a solemn occasion and I had to be dressed formally. It appears you cannot telephone to ask if the checks are done as people are too busy to answer the phone.

I rushed out to get the bus but had missed the last one which went directly home so I had to go to Santiago first and the little old Venezuelan man was catching the same bus so I sat with him. He was so happy to have passed the exam and I was so happy to think at last I could eat my sandwich. However, in true Dominican sharing style I gave half to him as he was starving too.

Once in Santiago I got the bus to our local town where Danilo picked me up, in my jeep. His car was sick in the garage with the transmission now totally knackered.  He had not driven a manual car for years and had forgotten anything he ever learned. I cannot drive at night as I suffer from night blindness so I had to put up with crunching gears as we kangarooed along the road. I explained that you change gear at 2,000 revs as he had no idea about listening to the engine, but abandoned that plan as he stared intently at the rev counter rather than the road. In the end I would shout first, second, third but he couldn't get further than first or second so we came home at a crawl.

At last we arrived home where I was desperate to relax. It was not to be as SOMEONE had left the door to the dog house and the door to the kitchen open and it was not me. Danilo swore it wasn't him so the dogs must have opened the doors themselves. They had had a massive party. The bin was tipped up and half eaten, my bread bin was in the middle of the floor and empty, the fridge had been opened and was a disaster - well basically the whole house was a total mess with bits of food everywhere.

The perfect end to a perfect day - but hey, I am nearly a Dominican now!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

From the campo to the big city

I have just spent a busy week in Santo Domingo, the capital, and had a fabulous time. I don't get out much, and although at first the idea of a six hour journey and being away from home is a tad daunting, I always love my trips back to civilisation.

I left on Tuesday and took Caribe Tours bus to Santo Domingo. The bus was even more freezing than normal but arrived on time and I was met by Kay from the Santo Domingo International Women's Club. I had been asked to speak to them on the Wednesday and ever since the first contact I was impressed by not only how professional they were but how the people I was dealing with were responsive and seemed to go that extra mile to make things easier for me - something I am not really used to here.

Kay took me directly to a restaurant for dinner. I cannot explain what a joy it is to eat in a restaurant, as there are none where we live, and to eat something different than plantains and rice and chicken, but this was not just any old restaurant. She knew that I loved Asian food and that I try my best to cook Indian curries and Thai food so she took me to the Asian Market where we met up with more members of the IWC Board including the President, Marcela from Peru, Dominique from France, Marie-Ange from Haiti, Batricia from Canada and Tere from the United States. Such an international group of bright sparky interesting ladies, it was lovely.

Back to the important matter at hand. The food. It was absolutely delicious. We had so many different courses I lost count but I was in my element.

The conversation flowed, as did the wine and I could not have asked for a better start to my little adventure in Santo Domingo.

I spent the night with Dominique, who had just got off a flight from Montreal which made it even more gratifying that she had both the time and the energy to put me up for the night. The next morning bright and early we set of for the Santo Domingo Country Club where the meeting was to be held. I had no idea the place existed - beautifully sculptured grounds, golf course and impressive buildings right in the centre of the bustling city.

There were I would say around 60 women at the meeting, maybe more, from all over the world and I was amazed to discover more than half had read "What about your saucepans?" Not only had they read it, they all seemed to have enjoyed it and those who had not read it were about to. I had noticed that over the last two weeks had sold 22 copies - which was a tad more than the usual one or two a week - now I knew why.

I had dragged my 20 year old designer clothes out of the the wardrobe, which hadn't seen the light of day for years so I hoped I looked like a professional author and although I was nervous as to whether my voice would last, with the aid of a microphone I need not have worried. This was the first time I had spoken to such a large group since being shot and I loved every minute of it.

Every seemed to enjoy me talking about how different it was living in a Dominican barrio and the Dominican campo as opposed to a high rise apartment, which is where most of the ladies lived.

When my talk was over, and questions answered, I was presented with a bag of goodies including Asian cooking sauces, spices, chocolate and fresh pesto. What more could a girl ask for.

I was also amazed at how much work the organisation carries out, with a whole range of fund raising activities for various charities in the country. These ladies were all intelligent, informed, international with most speaking several languages. I really was blown away by their professionalism, commitment and attention to detail and I feel privileged to have been a part of them, albeit for one day.

Once the meeting was over, I went for lunch with one of the members who was a friend of mine, plus another three ladies who were at the meeting - and stuffed myself silly with a fabulous steak. I then was picked up at the restaurant by another friend, Grace, and her husband Leo, and they took me back to their home to the west of the capital where I spent the night and then they drove me back home to the mountains the next day where they spent the night before heading off to visit someone else the following day.

Grace always spoils me each time she comes back to the DR from the United States and this time was no exception. Along with a range of goodies she brought me a pasta machine. There could not have been better timing as now I can make fresh pasta to go along with my fabulous sauces given to me by the IWC. I cannot wait to start cooking.

You maybe wondering what happened in my citizenship interview. Well, absolutely nothing as, surprise suprise they cancelled it again, the day before. It is now on Monday so I have to make the trip back to the capital yet again, although this time I will go there and back in a day. The good news is that I will meet up with some of the IWC ladies who are going to give me spare medicines which I can give to those who need them in the campo and I will hand over my vintage designer clothes which I used to wear in England  (they must be vintage by now), so that they can sell them at the bazaar they are holding.

All in all I had a fabulous time, met some lovely people and ate fantastic food. What more can a girl ask for?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Rest in Peace, Panda and Pandora

This last month was very sad as my two beautiful puppies, Panda and Pandora were killed.

They always went walking in the woods every morning, well scampering and running through them. We tried to keep them in by fencing off the front garden, but they would dig holes under the fence, and when we blocked it all off using concrete blocks, Pandora would jump the 6 foot fence and work on one side while Panda worked on the other and between them they would escape.

There was no problem with them running free as they always came back - but the issue was they chased and killed chickens. That is a no no in the campo.

This particular day they left before dawn and never returned. Danilo investigated and found out they had killed a prize cockerel belonging to a General. The General ordered them poisoned, and the worker put down meat laced with la nata, which is a very powerful poison made from caterpillars which the Taino Indians used to put on the tips of their spears and arrows. They ate the meat and died almost instantly.

Danilo spoke to the poisoner, and he apologised, but he had to do what the General said. He buried the dogs where they had died, next to each other, in their favorite woods.

The house has been strangely and horribly quiet since they died, and the other dogs, as well as me, miss them terribly, The only solace is that although their lives were so short, just over a year, they had a fabulous life and were always so full of joy.

Moving on to happier subjects.

It has been a busy month on the book marketing front. I did my first twitter Question and Answer session, which meant a brushing up on my tweeting skills for what was a fast and furious hour of answering questions about "What about your Saucepans?" The book now has nearly 100 five star reviews on Amazon, which is very gratifying. Early next month I am off to speak to the International Women's Club in Santo Domingo which I am looking forward to.

DRSisterhood completed its first divorce last month, and since then we have been flooded with divorce enquiries, completed a second one and now we have another three on the go and more lining up afterwards.

I had a phone call from the Ministry of Interior and Police a couple of days ago. Remember my interview is on April 2nd for my citizenship application? Well that is Easter Thursday which I thought was a tad odd and most annoying as getting home would have been a nightmare as the buses are always full of people leaving the capital. The man who telephoned told me that there had been a mistake as the Ministry was closed on that Thursday, so they have to change the date. Guess what? It is now on the same day as my speech to the IWC. Speech is in the morning and interview in the afternoon. Perfect timing. I now have to learn the answers to 50 questions about the country, its geography, history and politics. Luckily you get the questions in advance, but they are a tad obscure, such as who sewed the first Dominican Flag!

We continue to be busy with visitors, and the last month has seen Anne from Canada here for five days, Catherine from the UK and Canada here overnight together with a delivery of walnut whips, and Gillian from the UK together with her Dominican fiance and a delivery of suet, Bisto, Oxo cubes, custard powder and more chocolate. I have been very spoiled.

And finally, remember Belinda had a visit from a non bonking Great Dane. Well that was seven weeks ago, so if she is pregnant then she will give birth in two weeks. Everyone seems to think she is as she is getting fatter, but I am not convinced one way or the other. Searching on line says such useful things as take her to the vet for a scan, but seeing as there are no vets here that is not going to happen. I suppose I will know for certain if she delivers puppies in a fortnight, so watch this space for news.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Christmas, Texans and the Citizenship Journey continues

Christmas arrived and the first people to start cooking were the neighbours as they celebrate on Christmas Eve and Barbara was cooking a massive feast for all her friends and relations. I have never seen such big pans. In this one was goat, and look, it has four handles to lift it with as it is so heavy.

All of the women were outside cooking, and the men sitting drinking rum.

I actually took a video of the cooking. Spot the wooden paddle for stirring and Barbara is saying to the woman stirring, that if she is lucky I might find her a foreign husband, so if anyone is interested then just let me know!

Christmas in the wasp house was great. I cooked a massive turkey with all the trimmings minus the stuffing and the sprouts.  For the first time in years all of Danilo's sons were together with us for Christmas. Dany, Alberto and Christian, who was over from Spain.

As well as the three boys, we had Chivirico, Albert who is Danilo's nephew, Ana who is Alberto's wife and the grandbaby. Saya, number one dwendy also came and some random chap who was going to a local cock fight - no idea who he was.

Lunch was fab, although I asked Danilo to take the giblets out of the turkey, as last year I thought I had but we discovered the plastic bag still in the turkey after it was cooked. This year he did it, and don't ask me how, but yes, the plastic bag was still in the turkey again.

 Chivirico had a great time, searching for his sack from Santa. I told him I heard a noise at 3 a.m. and Santa yelled "It's in the barbecue," and sure enough there it was.

It had mainly baseball stuff in which he was thrilled with, but he pointed out that many things on his list weren't there and there was only one glove and he needed 5 for the rest of the boys he plays baseball with in the barrio. He then decided that there must be another sack somewhere in the garden so off he went to look. Not finding anything he then thought maybe Santa had dropped it in the neighbours' gardens so went off to search there. Meanwhile, three amazing women from Texas had already planned to come and see me with loads of baseball stuff for him in January, so they messaged him to say that a sack had fallen off Santa's sleigh as it flew over Texas en route to the DR and had landed in their back garden. It had a label saying his name and where he lived so they would bring it here. And they did, earlier this week.

Jessica, Amanda and Rachel were simply amazing. I have never seen so much stuff in my life. It also helps that they know so much about baseball. The stuff was delivered to Chivirico's home, together with a full set of equipment for Albert and mountains of clothes for the grand baby.  I cannot tell you how excited the boys were.

And this was the first time I have ever seen Albert smile.

The girls took them out in the street and practised with them for hours. Both boys have now joined a local kids baseball team and apparently they both have promise. Watch this space in 10 years time when they both get signed for MLB.

The boys were sad to see them go, as was I.

And finally, the continuation of my quest to become Dominican. Mother got copy of first marriage certificate, sent it to be apostilled and it was sent by DHL by the Foreign and Commonwealth office with 2 day delivery - supposedly. The certificate went from London Heathrow to East Midlands airport in the UK. Then to Barbados. Then Venezuela, then Panama, back to Venezuela then Santo Domingo and then took 3 days from Santo Domingo to Santiago (by donkey I assume). Scanned the document to Olga for translation and a week later off again to get it legalized at the Procuraduria and hand my documents in again. It was not to be. There were 1,000 people at the Procuraduria so Olga chatted to her mate there who said we could queue jump, and off to the bank to pay for the stamp. The system was down. Ban Reservas said it was the Procuraduria system down and the Procuraduria said it was the bank system down. Whatever. Outside the bank were hundreds waiting to pay and no one knew how long whoever's system it was would be down for, and whether it would be hours or days. It was obvious there was no way anything would be stamped that day. Off to the Ministry of Interior and Police to check whether Olga could hand in the papers for me - which she could - why didn't I think of that earlier?  Olga went 2 days later, papers handed in and all accepted. The interview is supposed to be 2 weeks after you hand your papers in - my date is early April. Dominican two weeks. But at least I am getting there albeit slowly.