Most expats who end up in the DR either live in the villages, in gated communities or in nicer neighborhoods in the cities. We did not. While talking about the neighborhoods of Santo Domingo, they will often be referred to as being on either the right or the wrong side of the bridge. The bridge goes over río Ozama and divides the city into the east and the west. West being the part where most of the good neighborhoods are, and east the one with the less desirable ones. There are good parts on the east side as well, they are just few and far between. We lived our whole stay in the DR on the east side of the bridge.
The apartment that Mr P and Abuelo had purchased years before, while it was still in construction, was supposed to be across the street from a new shopping mall that was going to make the area a more desirable neighborhood. But, as often happens, the company ran out of money (I understood from some gossip that the man in charge died, and the son didn’t want to go on with the project) and left was the shell of what was supposed to be the mall. Most of the people that had purchased apartments in our neighborhood were either middle class looking to save a buck or two purchasing while under construction, and Dominicans who were living in the US or in different parts of Europe who had purchased them for family members. With the abandoned mall and now nothing to attract people, the neighborhood quickly became run down. So instead of looking out the window and seeing people on their way to the mall, we were left with the backside of a Cabaña ( a “love hotel” where you pay by the hour).
We had electricity for 4 hours, then it would disappear for 4 hours. Whenever it disappeared, our inversor would kick in – which is like a backup generator. But it was not strong enough (especially since it had so few hours to charge) to power our fridge or washing machine during blackouts. Which meant that almost all household chores had to be scheduled. We quickly learned what appliances took most electricity. During blackouts we could still use our blender, for example, but not a hair straightener or the toaster.
We did everything in our power to make the best out of the situation and the apartment. Dominican construction often leaves much to be desired, and during our time in the apartment we had to install new stairs for the fire escape, a tank for the water, new doors and windows, and so on and on. Some times we were left with much better results, Other times we were worse off. When they were going to install new windows, they made the holes in the walls too big. Naturally, they sealed them. With plaster…