Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Our finish by September 16th, or if we can a week earlier.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

so american......and so dominican.

Today was Blady's first day of school. We took great care to mark all of his school supplies with his name; laid out the school uniform the night before; and went to bed early. It had already started out to be quite the morning several hours earlier. Miguel woke up at a quarter to 2 in the morning to make yet another trip to Santo Domingo for a hang up in my residency papers. However, on the way to the bus stop in Puerto Plata, the jeep ran out of gas and he was left to desert it on the side of the road until I could do something about it in the morning.

But anyway, Blady and I woke up early, got dressed for school, and gathered all his school things to take. On one last revision of his things I realized that he was short the two roles of toilet paper that were on his supply list. So off we go on foot to the little super market near by and then finally out the door to flag down a motoconcho. Thank God for motos! Everything is going well and we get to school on time before 8 am. As we approach, I start to get a little worried...there are no kids around and it appears to be closed. Did we have the wrong day? We entered and the director and teachers were all there, but obviously surprised to see us. I asked, "School starts today, right?" The response, "O yes, starts today but the students don't arrive until 11am if they come at all on the first day of school." So here we were ready to go on American...but actually, the first real day of school starts Dominican.

While Blady was dropped off for what I imagined to be a quiet morning at school, I walked to the other school work site; checked on the workers to make sure they knew what they were doing for the day; went to the hardware store to buy some nails and to hurry along the delivery truck with the zinc for the roof; and finally hopped another moto with a gas tank on my lap to go rescue the jeep.....I guess you have to live here to believe it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

introducing blady or vlady...its all the same in spanish.

Well, its been about a month now with Blady in the house. There has been an increased amount of energy added to the house. I think Miguel and I are still trying to adjust and figure out if that is actually a good thing. There has definitely been some additional, random at the top of your lungs singing going on. Yes, Blady is a singer or we guess would like to be one. Maybe we should find a singing mentor for him. One thing is for sure, its definite that Miguel has someone to compete with now. I just hope the neighbors don't get too disturbed!
We originally planned on only taking Blady in on the weekends and see how it went. But after a conversation that Miguel had with his became clear what our decision needed to be in the end. Vlady told her, "Finally, I have a home. We eat dinner at the table and pray. I have clothes and a place to put them. Finally, I think I'm going to be ok." So what started as a weekend trial, turned into indefinite.
Pray for us as now we've become parents over night to a 7 year old boy who has never had parents and who has 7 years of undisciplined energy. Pray for patience for all. Blady starts up school this coming Tuesday and we are excitedly getting all of his things together for that. We hope that a regular schedule will be soon in coming for all of us.

the paper trail.

There is a line that runs out the doors of the Oficina Civil.....pockets of people congregate on the sidewalk in front....some people are quietly waiting.....most are boisterously talking.....some are yelling.....and some are throwing up their hands in the air and are walking away. The Oficina Civil. This is where you petition for a certified copy of your birth certificate; declare your children when they are born (some children actually reach adulthood without ever being declared); get married. Miguel and I were legally married in this lovely green building. You need certified and legalized (a whole other process of sending the paperwork to Santo Domingo to be legalized) copies of birth and marriage certificates to get an ID card, passport, apply for a visa, enroll in school, get a driver's lisence, etc. But the thing is that when each of these legal documents are petitioned for and deposited you never see the original paperwork again and you have to start all over from scratch with each new application.

Strategically I start to wade through the packed building.....for most, they will spend their entire morning and afternoon in this building petitioning for their documents and hopefully leaving with a little yellow receipt telling them when to come back and retrieve their document. I reach the information desk but I'm still about 5 people deep from the front of the line. People are yelling, arguing, cursing....just trying to get noticed by someone behind the glass pane. I try to catch the eye of a contact I have on the inside. (You quickly learn to make contacts...sometimes you need to give away a coke or sweet to get attended in a decent amount of time). Finally, Alex hears me calling his name. I quickly scoot to the front of the line and he takes my request. The fans are few and far between, the people are packed shoulder to shoulder, people wipe the sweat from their brows, vendors somehow squeeze their way in selling fried foods and juice. If you do manage to get a receipt the whole process is repeated when you pick up your documents. If you don't return on the scheduled day that is printed on your receipt, you risk the people behind the glass panes throwing your document away. But at the same time if you do come on the due date, its usually not ready. It takes persistance, money, time, and determination to be legal in this country. No wonder, most people don't even bother.

Migracion in the capital, Santo Domingo, where I needed to do my residency paperwork was no different....except for the fact that the lines start at 6 in the morning and Miguel and I had to hop a bus from Puerto Plata at 3 in the morning. I've made up my mind that the only way to wade through the lines is by trying to find humor in the situation....if you don't you'll end up in a frustrated state. In one line that I was in, lawyers openly strategized on how they could get up to the front of the line. For the pregnant lady it was easy, you just automatically walk to the front of the line and say you're pregnant and that it would be a detriment to you and your baby's health if you had to wait at the back of the line. Some people stategically tried to confuse the army guards into asking the supervisor to deal with the "confused" person before they actually made them crazy with all the questions they don't know the answers to. Yeah, I too was a little confused with that one. One woman lawyer pushed passed the guard and walked straight into the supervisor's office, stuck her hand on the guy's shoulder, and shoved the papers in his face. He attended her right then and there. So you see...many strategies do actually work. Its clear you have to have a strategy or know someone who does because posted on the walls of the building are signs saying that no money gifts would be accepted to get what you need. My stategy was persistence and a happy face.....most times you'll end up getting rewarded by a friendly official.

So, all of that to say.... the last of my paperwork is supposedly deposited for my Dominican residency. The only snatch we have had is that yesterday we found out that the laws have changed and we need another legalized, notarized, document from Miguel on my behalf. We have less than a week to get that done and submitted before my legalized police record certificate expires.....its good for only 1 month and our month is up on the 23rd.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Llego la fue la luz.

Lights come on for 5 minutes....laundry goes in.....lights go out for 4 hours. Lights come on for 1 hour....finish laundry and run pump to fill up water tank. Lights go. Lights come for 5 minutes.....boot up computer. Lights go for 5 minutes....log off computer. Lights come again....lights go again. Lights come again and stay for the night, but voltage is not strong enough to boot up computer again. Lights go...gone all day. Lights come again at night. Lights come and stay on all day! ....laundry get done. New transformer is installed on top of refrigerator just to boost the lights to run the refrigerator. Light voltage still too low for transformer to boost enough to run the refrigerator. Lights come....lights go....don't forget to fill up water tank!

Well, this is my first summer experiencing the lights or I should say lack of lights in Montellano. Most small towns function this way especially in the summer when the main power generators overheat and people are trying to run their airconditioners in the bigger towns. As they say.....there are just not enough lights to go around.....llego la fue la luz.....light arrives....light goes away.


We've had some sweaty days....many sweaty days; late work hours; laughing times; frustating times; more laughing times....and hopefully some progress. There is still a lot to finish, but there is so much that has been done as well. We're pressing on to finish well within these next few weeks. The roof is going up this week. We have left to finish the stucco on the inside and outside walls, lay the floors, put in windows, doors, finish plumbing, finish electrical wiring, paint, installment of bathroom essentials, sinks, counters, shelving, furniture......Wow! Just listing the stuff to finish is making me tired! Remember us in prayer as we try to finish this project and get the school year under way!