Janette: Colonial Zone
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to the Dominican Republic, etc.
I moved to DR from Pennsylvania USA. The closest town was Mars (yes, I am from Mars), about 45 minutes outside of Pittsburgh. I came to the Dominican Republic in 2008 for an all-inclusive vacation with friends. We had no idea even where the Dominican Republic was but it was very inexpensive. I was a waitress at the time (13 years in the same place) and I also made jewelry. Now I have a web site about Colonial Zone and DR in English and 3 blogs. I started the web site to share what I love about this country with others. I also do informal tours of the Zona Colonial if someone asks.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
People kept telling me I should do a blog. I had an idea to make a web site about the Zona Colonial. I decided to start with a blog until I figured out how to make a web site. I started my blog November 2005.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
Tell us about the ways your new life in the Dominican Republic differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
The main thing that bothered me is when I had a problem and asked people and they told me not to worry about it. Sometimes I would get so frustrated I would just cry. I did not know Spanish, only what I taught myself from books and music, so it was very aggravating at times. Figuring out how to get the simplest things like a bottle of water delivered, taking a public car, grocery shopping and paying bills. I had no idea what most of the produce was or how to cook the stuff. Turning on a facet and having water is something I really missed (I went 8 months without running water in my apartment once). Thank goodness I was a good camper because those skills came in very handy...lol.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in the Dominican Republic? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
Arriving with my 5 suitcases and my dog was a challenge. I was not really prepared but I would not really change anything.
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
I have crossed paths with so many “flowery” people. People I never even thought existed. Most of my life I lived in a small town so city living was a real eye opener. Cat In The Bag and the Featherless Guinea makes me laugh. I love when I can get to the country and talking to people but with my bad Spanish it can be a challenge. Thank goodness most Dominicans also enjoy a good laugh, even if it is at my expense. A man had a cat in a bag and I thought he said he was going to eat the cat. I was getting upset about his cat-eating. I finally figured out he said that the cat eats rats and he was taking it to someone’s home. Then I saw guys holding a guinea on the road. I wanted some of the feathers. I thought it was dead. They pulled the feather out and the bird was still alive.
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in the Dominican Republic?
- Make sure you are open minded, open to change and ready for a real challenge.
- Accept the way things are and do not try to change people or things because it will just make you frustrated.
- Always think back to what made you want to move here in the first place, what made you fall in love with DR.
How is the expat community in the Dominican Republic? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
When I first moved here I had a good group of Dominican friends I met when I came on vacation. They helped me out a lot. Many of the DR people helped me out. But really, I did not hang with many expats. I always felt that if I wanted to have all my friends be where I was from why would I have even moved here in the first place. There is a good expat community and most of the long-timers I know here are good humans.
How would you summarize your expat life in the Dominican Republic in a single, catchy sentence?
I love life in Dominican Republic and all the adventure it has to offer, most of the time.