Our recent trip to Santo Domingo to finish our residency renewal process was bizarre on so many levels. I don’t even know where to start!

We chose to take the Metro bus because managing a car in Santo Domingo is just such a huge hassle. Metro has historically used busses manufactured in Brazil. Some have WiFi and some don’t. Recently we have seen cheap Chinese knock-off busses enter the fleet. They are new and are already showing signs of deterioration. My previous experience with this has been – no WiFi. The bus on our trip down didn’t have WiFi, which makes the 5-hour trip seem even longer. People always ask if there are chickens and pigs on Dominican busses. No, there are not, at least on the main bus lines, Metro and Caribe Tours. But they are noisy and often there are very annoying things going on. But you just try to weed it out.

This time, we did get a reservation at the Embassy Suites, which is a stunning property. I stayed there when I got my new passport, and loved it. This time, however, when we tried to connect to the Internet using their high-speed VPN option, both Bruce’s computer and my tablet couldn’t connect. My phone connected, no problem. I called the front desk, and they sent someone up who knew even less than I did. Clearly, the problem was either their connection to the outside world, or some issue with our attempts to connect. It was a full 24 hours before we got this resolved, and that was very annoying. Once we got back from our activities the next day, the front desk finally got tech support on the phone and it was a 2-minute fix. You can imagine that I let them know how unhappy this made me in the follow-up survey. This (admittedly first world problem) should have been a non-issue.

On this trip, I also experimented with the small lightweight Bluetooth keyboard I got so I could work from my phone… just in case there is a laptop ban implemented on international flights. I love it!  I couldn’t do really heavy duty things, or maybe I could. But certainly I can get the work done that I need to do when traveling. So that’s a good thing.

We were to meet our attorney’s representative at the Department of Migracion at 7:45 the next morning. She wasn’t too late this time, but already the front of the place was packed with people. We actually got there about 7:15 because you never know what the traffic will be like, and there basically wasn’t any.

She was managing two other clients as well. But she was kind of a disaster. She spent most of her time engrossed in her two telephones doing who-knows-what and not being proactive with the process. The other two clients were taken care of and we were still waiting. The process starts with her filing the papers, then getting called to a window to pay the taxes, then we get called to get photos taken, and finally they print out the residency card.

After almost four hours (!!!) we still hadn’t been called to the cashier window!  She kept saying they didn’t have our paperwork yet but had no answer as to why. Finally (and I shouldn’t have waited so long), I called our attorney to complain. He made some calls, located our files, and told me the manager would be out immediately to apologize and walk our paperwork through.

Well, that didn’t happen. Finally I just started getting in people’s faces, first the supervisor, then her manager, and things started moving. But really, we pay our attorney to do this for us and they were not doing their job. The last bottleneck was retrieving the printed card. Mine came through but Bruce’s didn’t. The woman at that window gets a stack of cards from the back office and has to manually enter each one of them in a book. So if she gets 15 cards at once, you are hanging around waiting for her to enter all the info, while she is constantly interrupted with people coming up to the window. Then if you are lucky, she finally calls your name. I think she was annoyed with us because we kept asking where the cards were, and she sat on Bruce’s card. Finally I went back to the supervisor, told her we were still waiting, she went over and yelled at the clerk, and then 15 minutes later we were done. Geez! I told our attorney that after all the years we have been working with him, I expected him to personally take care of us next time.

Throughout all of this, there was a Chinese attorney managing about 10 clients. She was buzzing around, getting things done, and all 10 were in and out way before we were. We should have gotten her card!

By then, we are starving, annoyed and tired. It’s almost 1:00 at this point. So we hopped in our taxi back to the hotel, and hotfooted it to the Wendy’s down the street to get a quick lunch. That was necessary because I had a 2:00 appointment with the eye doctor.

Dr. Battle is fabulous. Duke University trained, he does a lot of eye research and has a very good clinic. I hadn’t had my eyes checked in dog years, and figured it was about time. Plus I was having some problems with my eyes watering and feeling tired.

The good news was, I didn’t need to go back again for a year. The medium news was he prescribed glasses. The bad news was, in about a year I will likely need cataract surgery. Oh, well.

The on-site shop for glasses does a pretty good job. They do the digital analysis and they send the glasses up to me in Sosua by Metro when they are ready. I almost feel like family going in there. Bruce has gotten glasses from them several times. Frankie assisted me … he’s sure a snappy dresser!

I should be getting the glasses in the coming week. We’ll see how that goes. Progressives … I’ve had them in the past and I really didn’t like them. But I have gotten used to wearing reading glasses, so maybe it will be okay.

The next morning, we had to go to the Junta Central Electoral to get our cedulas (national ID card). That process was much smoother and the people there are really nice. We didn’t need any help from the attorneys for this. It was so quick, that we ended up having to hang around the bus station for about 2 hours since the morning busses to Sosua are at 8 and 11 …

Oh, no, a Chinese bus! Well, it had WiFi, so that was a good thing. But the suspension was so bad that my Fitbit logged 7,000 steps on the journey home!

It’s always nice to get back to Villa Samia. Bruce will go back to the capital toward the end of the year for renewal of his pistol license – you have to have a ballistics test every year – but I hope I don’t need to go again till my eye-check-up at the end of 2018. What a trip!