It’s always fun, isn’t it? No matter in which country you reside. This past week, we went to Santo Domingo for step one of two steps to renew our residency, a process we need to undergo every four years. Every year, it seems to get more difficult.

Now we need to make two trips to the capital – one to undergo a medical exam of sorts, and then another to actually get our residency and national ID card (cedula). For renewal of the pistol license, we can go to a lab here in Sosua for the required medical screening. But for residency? No, there are three approved clinics in Santo Domingo, and the process seems unnecessarily complex.

First our attorney had to file paperwork and wait for the government to respond with an approval to get an appointment at one of the three clinics. At the same time, I was getting a new passport and had to wait for that to arrive before we could take the first step, since you need to have your passport with you. Well, the first issue is that the new passport had a different number than the old one that was used to file the initial paperwork.

When we arrived at the Department of Migration at 7:45 AM, there was a huge crowd outside. We are given to understand that most of the people were from Colombia and Venezuela, who seem to be flocking to this country. Venezuela, you can understand. Colombia, not quite sure why. Our attorney’s representative said it would take at least two hours for us to get the appointments for medical, and advised that we might want to return to the hotel. This time, we stayed in the Colonial Zone, a half hour away. So we took her advice. We had barely been in the hotel for 15 minutes when she called and said she had the appointments! Meanwhile, our taxi driver, Jaime, had taken another fare since we said it would be at least an hour. He needed 30 minutes to get back to us.

The other crazy thing is we each got appointments at different clinics! We went to Bruce’s first, and I sat in on the interview since he wasn’t comfortable with his Spanish. It went pretty quickly. Then we were off to mine. The funny thing is, the questions they asked in the interviews were totally different!

Anyway, done and done. Back to the Hodelpa Caribe Colonial. We likely will not stay there again. We wanted to be in the Colonial Zone because we hadn’t been there in some time and wanted to see what had changed. A lot! Some good, some not. First, they have redone a lot of the streets, which were quite narrow, with cars parked catawampus everywhere. The streets are quite nice now, but there is not much parking!

Also, the main tourist shopping street, El Conde, was pretty deserted, and most of the restaurants and many of the shops were closed. Lots of pigeons, though. One we went to in the past was still open but had a different name:

But we did discover that a parking structure had been built. It looks like it accommodates a lot of cars; not sure if there is a charge. But they did a lovely job making it into a garden!

You can see there weren’t many people out, and hardly any tourists. That’s kind of sad.

They weren’t very busy, despite the fact that they were heavily advertised on a map of the old city.

You can see it in the middle of the table. Cute.

We went back to the Hodelpa for a very nice lunch. I had the Dominican meal with fish, Bruce had a chicken sandwich that looked delicious.

My photography skills leave a little to be desired since I cut everyone’s heads off. The waiter was excellent. We sat outside since Bruce smokes, and they gave us a button to push when we needed anything.

There certainly was traffic on the street in front of the hotel. You can see that some things look new and classy, while other things are pretty run down. Pretty run down is the majority of what you see in the Colonial Zone. The hostel across the street has recently been redone, and to the right of it is the hotel’s gym, which was also redone. But notice all the electrical wires, which haven’t been redone.

I have a trip next week, and we hope the results of the lab work will come back while I am gone. They say 10 days, but you never know. The attorney is supposed to email me copies of all of the documents that show my residency is in process, and hopefully they will accept that at the airport. Otherwise, I guess I will just pay the tourist tax. But I have used that process before and it worked. As I said, though, nothing here is consistent.

So two nights there, and boy, we had forgotten how noisy the street is at night, mostly due to one idiot who kept chirping his car alarm every 15 minutes or so and speaking to everyone that came by in a loud voice. He seems to be a bit of a bully. No one wanted to do anything about it although they all promised they would.

So all in all, it was a good trip, but I don’t think we will be staying in the Colonial Zone again anytime soon.

Off to the 5-hour bus ride. We were able to capture front row seats, but picked the wrong side of the bus. Not much of a view! At least we had leg room. And perhaps obscuring the view took out some of the stress since the driver seemed to spend most of the time riding the yellow line, and passing on a double yellow. Oh, well, back in Sosua safe and sound. Maybe we should drive next time.