I haven’t been writing for a while because there has been a lot going on.

I got cataract surgery on both eyes with Dr. Batlle in Santo Domingo. He did Bruce’s eyes a couple years ago. In the States, they typically make you wait a few weeks between eyes, but he did it all over 3 days. Makes it easier since it is a 4-5 hour trip each way and a pain. No more glasses!

Meanwhile, living on the ocean has its pros and cons. I still think the pros far outweigh the cons, but we have been paying the price for some of those cons. Salt is so corrosive … we had to replace the metal circular staircase that goes up to the area where the solar panels are … it was the original staircase from 15 years ago that has been repaired before but finally was no longer repairable. So a couple days of a lot of noise getting that installed. Meanwhile our clothesline poles also rusted out, so we had those done at the same time.

The bigger project, which we have been putting off for a while, is replacing all of the balusters on the ocean side. There are 190. The original balusters (also about 15 years ago) were hand molded with a piece of rebar in the center. Ultimately, salt and water gets in there and they start exploding – well, really just falling apart, but it was getting pretty bad as you can see from the picture below.

So about 7 working days of noise while they cut out the old ones, chip out cement, replace them and do the finish work. These are the new ones. They have PVC in the middle, are machine made, and are not just plain cement. They have some kind of fiber or something in the cement and hopefully we never have to replace them again.

I have to say, though, that the team putting them in has done a great job. Very professional and considerate. They clean up every day before they leave and are careful not to damage anything. You can’t always say that about workers here. Also, because I couldn’t reach our regular contractor to do the work – I don’t think he really wanted to be bothered, and I can’t say as I blame him – I asked another supplier who installed both of our garage doors and our gate, and has been great to work with, to looking into it for me. Not only did he do that, but he has acted as project manager, rounding up the materials and workers to get it done. He’s very conscientious; he does not want to risk the relationship by having us be unhappy with any work he is involved in. What a concept!

We still have to paint them, but we really need to paint the whole house anyway. We have a great painter. Meticulous. I hope he is available for most of January, because that’s probably what it will take!

Ah, the joys of paradise! At least labor is pretty affordable here. All that baluster work was about $4,000 – we had four guys here for 7 days. And the cataract surgery? About $3,400 all up, all in … not counting hotel and meals while we were in Santo Domingo for 3 days. So there are lots of pros to go along with the cons!