Lindsay: What About Your Saucepans?
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who you are, where you come from, when you moved to Dominican Republic, etc.
I am Lindsay, British, came from the UK and moved to the Dominican Republic to take up a 6 month contract as a scuba diving instructor. Fell in love with the place and the people and stayed.
When and why did you decide to start blogging about your experiences?
A couple of years ago. A friend suggested I should write a blog while I was trying to find a publisher for a book I had written. I started slowly, with a post a month, and it has just snowballed.
Do you have any favorite blog entries of yours?
That is a difficult one. Some are funny, such as when my toilet disappeared, and some very sad, such as about domestic violence. I think my favourite posts were a series I did on the A to Z of the Dominican Republic, where I covered each letter of the alphabet with something specific to the country. It begins with A for Avocado.
Tell us about the ways your new life in Dominican Republic differs from that back home. Did you have trouble getting used to the new circumstances? Did you experience culture shock?
The culture shock I experienced was all positive. The lack of rules and regulations, whilst sometimes dangerous, was very liberating. Dancing in the streets and the supermarket, riding on scooters with no helmets, riding in the back of trucks. I was, however, amazed at the level of poverty and had no idea how large the country was.
Do you think you were fully prepared for what awaited you in Dominican Republic? If you could, would you change some decisions/preparations you made?
As I thought I was only going to stay for 6 months I made very few preparations. I was travelling the world as a scuba diving instructor and the DR was just supposed to be one of the stops. I did put all of my possessions in a lock up in London, and carried on paying for that for years and ended up giving them all away, as I would never need them here. In hindsight I would have given them away immediately, but I had no idea I would stay in the DR!
Every expat knows that expat life comes with some hilarious anecdotes and funny experiences. Care to share one with us?
On experience I had which wasn’t exactly hilarious but really marked my time here, was when I was shot through the throat, interupting a burglary. I ended up being found by some local Dominicans and Haitians, and due to the lack of ambulances and emergency care, I went to hospital being carried and then on the back of a motorbike. Amusing in hindsight!
Which three tips would you like to give future expats before they embark on their new life in Dominican Republic?
Learn Spanish. It is the language of the country and very hard to really integrate and manage daily life unless you do. Secondly be careful with your money. It has a habit of disappearing more rapidly than you might have thought, and some things can prove to be very expensive. Thirdly, take out good health insurance.
How is the expat community in Dominican Republic? Did you have a hard time finding like-minded people or fellow expats?
The expat community is concentrated in certain areas, most of which are on the coast. I lived in one and did get to meet several expats. I also became a member of a Dominican forum and met people through that. Now, where I live, there are no other expats but with the internet I can keep in touch with other expats here.
How would you summarize your expat life in Dominican Republic in a single, catchy sentence?
I would never want to live anywhere else, as, despite the frustrations, in the DR you learn what is really important in life, over and above material possessions. You learn to be truly happy.