Sunday, October 15, 2017

Here we go again

So, remember the tale of the balcony?

The house has lovely patio doors all across the back of it


So there is an amazing view and I can have all the doors open which is like being outside even though you are inside. But there is an 8 foot drop outside of the windows.


So we built a balcony out of treated wood so it wouldn't rot or be eaten by termites. Many visitors like to sit outside on the balmy Caribbean evenings and some like to grab a bit of sunshine during the day.


It was on wooden tree trunks so looked a bit like Brighton Pier and even had a little staircase down into the dog house.


It was a lovely balcony, great to sit out on and all the visitors loved it. However, bit by bit it collapsed.


And collapsed a bit more


Until it totally fell down and was recycled as hen houses and goat houses. Now just like the phoenix it is rising again from the ashes - only this time in concrete. The dogs were amazed as bags and bags of cement were unloaded into the house. Here are Rasputin and Canguru watching on.


I am once again surrounded by semi naked men digging and laying blocks


The plan is there will be walls of concrete blocks and then they will build a wooden frame which will be placed on top of the walls and will be filled with concrete, left for 3 weeks then the wood is taken away and it (apparently) won't fall down.


Now Mr.  Always thinking of New Ideas Danilo, had the idea that chickens (or other animals) will live under the balcony so although this looks like a row of public toilets it will actually be a row of animal houses. Not sure what animals he has planned - just hope it isn't pigs. Once the concrete floor/roof is ready there will be treated (haha) wooden railings and a tiled floor. Wonder how long this one will last. It is much bigger than the last one so could work as a dance floor or roller skating rink as well.

On the goat front they are all still adorable and mother Oregano seems to think it is funny that her kids are inside the bran bowl.


I will leave you with what I see every morning when I go out to call them for their breakfast. They are usually right at the end of the second paddock so around 1000 metres away. It is always fun to bet on who will win the race.




Saturday, September 30, 2017

And it's twins!

Another busy few weeks which kicked off with yet another hurricane, this time Maria. It took a similar course to Irma passing north of the DR but was closer to the north and east shores so they took a hammering. Also Maria was  much slower so the rain lasted longer.


Other Caribbean islands were not so lucky and those affected by Irma had no time to gather breath before Maria smashed into them, and some will take years to recover. Our neighbouring island Puerto Rico was particularly badly hit along with the Virgin Isles, Dominica and St. Martin.

Here on the mountain it was windy and rainy but not as bad as Irma.

The weekend after Maria I was expecting a visit from two British/American ladies - mother and daughter - who had read my books and were here in the centre of the country teaching English for a few months. They  wanted to see the books come to life so came up to visit from Saturday to Monday and having gone out to see the Moncion dam on Sunday morning, we got back to the news that Oregano the pregnant white goat had given birth to twins. We charged down the field and there they were - perfect.


They could stand up, they were all furry and to die for. The only problem was they would walk a little way then lie down and sleep and Oregano would go looking for them, but they sleep so soundly they wouldn't hear, so we had to trek all over the fields looking for them.

Here are my visitors, Harriet and then Bahama with one of the goats.



Someone, I think it was Chivirico who was here, said they were both males so we were trying to think of names until we discovered it was a girl and a boy. So the boy is Harry, after Harriet and the girl is Bahama.

Here they are in their house.


It was obvious we would need another house as Oregano wouldn't let Picante or Maggi into the house, so Danilo built one, using wood from the hen house which had previously been the balcony.


And now they are nearly a week old, running and jumping and are so cute. I will leave you with Harry who has taken to sleeping in the bran bowl (I wondered where my washing up bowl had gone) so no one can eat.


Next stage is to learn how to milk a goat so I can make goat's cheese. That should be fun - not!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hurricane Irma by a Dominicana (at last!)

Well this has been a busy time. At last the day arrived for me to be sworn in as a Dominican - August 31. Danilo and I left for the capital on the Caribe Tours bus, and spent the night at Casa Sanchez Boutique Hotel in the Colonial Zone. After a lovely meal in the restaurant there and a good night's rest we set off for the Ministry of Interior and Police in the morning, as we had to be there at 9 am.

The Ministry is in an unattractive grey government building


where we were taken into a large auditorium, signed some papers and had a Dominican flag pinned on us. Danilo had bought me a new outfit, and instead of his normal choice of high shoes and skin tight hooker jeans, I looked like an American gospel singer. Perfect.

The ceremony was lovely, short and emotional and I was sworn in and awarded my certificate, You are not supposed to smile in official pictures as you can see.



We then met Olga, who had helped me throughout the process and off we went to the Junta Central Electoral to hand in my file to be able to obtain a Dominican birth certificate which would enable me to  have a Dominican identity card, or cedula.

We went from total efficiency to total inefficiency. On arrival we were sent back outside to get a photocopy of the file - from a man in a truck. (Apologies I can't get this picture to go the right way up so you will have to tip your head to the side).



Then back inside and wait in a crowded room for your number to be called where they checked the file and sent you to another window to pay the basic fee. Then back in line to go to the first window again with your receipt to be told if you wanted the document quickly, which I did, you could pay VIP and go back to the payment window and pay more, then back in line to go back to window 1. Danilo thought it hilarious that VIPs had to wait longer.

Two hours later it was done and Olga agreed to pick up my birth certificate and put it on the bus to me the next day, so we set off for lunch at Adrian Tropical, a restaurant specialising in Domincan food.




A lovely meal was had by all, but due to the traffic we missed the last bus to Mao, so had to go to Santiago then catch a local bus home.

Next stage was to take the file when it arrived to the local JCE in Moncion, which neighbour Margarita who works there did for me, then I had my birth certificate and a day or so later went for my cedula and Ya, now I am a Dominican. It only took 3 years!!

Between being sworn in and receiving my cedula Hurricane Irma decided to visit. We knew it was coming, but hoped it wouldn't be too bad. As it was we were woken  by the torrential rain at 3am which did not pause for 12 hours. The winds were strong but not hurricane force, and the worse thing was being worried the internet aerial would fall. As it was I had internet all day, which was just as well as I was doing interviews for various tv and radio stations and was feeding information all day long to the Washington Post as their normal person who did it was not in the country and recommended me.




The house flooded constantly so Danilo was mopping while I was typing with my feet underwater. We fared with no serious damage but Mao and Esperanza were both flooded.

There is now another potential hurricane on the way, so fingers crossed she comes nowhere near here!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Dogs on the increase and Goats on fire

So, as you know we decided to get Rasputin to replace Rin Tin Tin and in the same way we were sort of semi keeping our eyes out for a Great Dane as we missed Belinda dreadfully. Unfortunately there are not many Great Danes here and they are all very expensive - out of our price range. Then Danilo had a phone call from a Great Dane breeder who said a friend had Dane puppies and would we please take on as they were not being kept in a good condition.

Off we went, and they were actually close to us in Cacique. First we were taken to see the father called Ecooby (Scooby lol) and I have never seen such an enormous Great Dane in my life. He was being kept in a wooden enclosure and was standing up on his hind legs and even towered about Danilo. Then to see the pups - 2 of them, one black, one white and the mother was a Belinda lookalike but bigger.

We found out the price, a third of the normal Dane price, and came home to discuss it and I wanted to research white Danes as they can have hearing and sight problems. I told Danilo to check the white one out for signs of blindness or deafness and probably best to get the black one. They were also being kept in a small wooden cage with a mud floor and the white one was too scared to come out.

Danilo returned with a three month old Great Dane puppy in tow - the white one.


He appeared to see well and hear well so that was nothing to be concerned about but he was scared and made a beeline for Lobo. We had been planning to have him in the house but he only wanted to be with Lobo and the two of them do everything together. Slowly he is becoming more used to people, and he has now stopped peeing where he lies (he had no choice before). He is ecstatic to be able to lie on comfy rugs and has his own sofa as well.

He is already enormous at only 3 months. Here he is with Rasputin and they are the same age.


We were trying to think of a name, and people suggested strong names like Samson, but he isn't a big strong confident dog. He is just Goofy in everything he does - so that is his name. Welcome Goofy.


In the meantime the goats are fine - Oregano and Picante. It appears that Oregano is definitely pregnant as you can see here when I am giving her her evening snack.


Luckily I have been put in touch with a goat lady, who keeps goats in Spain and her Facebook page is Experience Olvera if you like goats. She has told me she can tell when Oregano will give birth by looking at the area under her tail so my job this afternoon is to take a picture of Oregano's bits. Don't worry, I won't post it.

In the meantime I was taking Rasputin for a walk the other evening and noticed that the goats weren't in their hut. I asked Danilo why not, and he said a chicken had laid eggs on the straw in the hut and the goats broke the eggs so now the straw was full of ants and goats don't do ants in their bed. Which is fair enough as nor do I. He said he would fix it.

The next night I was taking Rasputin for his walk and noticed smoke coming out of goat hut. Danilo explained he was fumigating by burning the straw. Fair enough. Until at 10pm neighbour comes running to the door to say the goat house is on fire.

Danilo rushes outside, back and forth with buckets of water, while I sit here chatting on FB to friends and shaking my head. Suddenly the back door opens and in walks Danilo, naked. I asked why he was naked and he said everyone knows you have to take you clothes off when you put out a fire, as they get dirty or may be set on fire too. Wonder if anyone has told firefighters this?

Here is burned out goat hut.


And here it is with new roof and new straw and goats are very happy. As  you can see Danilo is an expert roofer at using the "just chuck it on there" method.


And we have a new goat called Maggi (after the stock cube).


And the big news from a couple of weeks ago is that my books arrived. The truck was too big to get down our track


And when I opened the box - there they were, along with a load of goodies and a 50 pound bag of rice sent by the lovely lady who arranged for them to get to me.


Now I need to start getting ready to do a nationwide tour signing books. The book is selling well, with 25 reviews on Amazon so far, 2 4 star and 23 5 star which is a great relief.

"This book is beautifully written and does an incredible job of drawing you into the culture of the Dominican Republic"

"The author of this book is amazing it is the only book in my life that I could not put down until it was finished !"

"Lindsay took me on this journey with her. I felt like I was watching a movie through her eyes. Her love for the country, for her husband, for her life and living her dream inspired me and touched my heart deeply. What a great book for women not to stop before the miracle told brilliantly by this author."

Please do think about buying it if you want to learn more about me, my life and the Dominican people and the country.

Have to go now  to take a photo of a goats bottom and start preparing for the imminent arrival of Hurricane Irma. Hope all of you in the path of this nasty woman can avoid serious loss and damage, and I leave you with happy dogs playing in their sandpit.



Saturday, July 22, 2017

The arrival of Rasputin

When Rin Tin Tin was poisoned not only was it very sad but we had also lost our only real guard dog, as the huskies would lick any burglar to death before biting them. Danilo contacted the breeder of Rin Tin Tin and asked if he had any the same as Rin Tin Tin, and as luck had it the mother had just given birth. She, the mother, is the daughter of Meg and Lobo and the father is a Belgian Shepherd.

Last week the puppy arrived. Danilo wanted to call him Rin Tin Tin again, but I said no, so in the end he settled on Rasputin. When I asked him if he knew who he was he said he was a merengue singer in San Pedro de Macoris. I explained that he was a Russian Sanky and played him the song by British group ( I think) Boney M.


He won't stop singing it.

When Rasputin arrived he was in a dreadful state and appears that the watchyman who was supposed to be feeding the puppies had left for a week, leaving them with no food and no water. This is what he looked like.


To be honest I wasn't sure he would survive and in addition to being painfully thin, he was covered in fleas

A week later, a diet of chicken and rice three times a day mixed with evaporated milk and water, a bath, a flea treatment and worming meds, he is a different dog.


He still has amazing green eyes but has no ribs showing and is acting like a proper puppy.

The new book is going well, sales are steady and the reviews are fabulous which is a big relief to me as I wasn't sure it was as interesting as the first one. The publisher had assured me it was much better, and luckily it appears she was right. Here is a selection of this week's reviews.

"OK... I loved this book!!! I read it almost without stopping and before I knew it it was 5 am. I had read all through the night. It transported me INTO the story bc of the detail Lindsay described in her stories. I felt like I was a fly on the wall so to speak and watching it unfold. I also had a wide range of emotions whist reading. I teared up a few times, I laughed out loud, a lot. Having been a frequent traveler to the DR I could completely relate to a lot of the story. I've often asked myself if I COULD relocate there would I- after having read BOTH of Lindsay's books and went on the wild ride that IS her life I would say, YES... yes I would live there if I could. Her love of the island, the people, as a reader I FELT it. When I read I want to be taken away and I was. If you want a fun summer read, get this book and be prepared to be taken on an adventure full of ups and downs. I can hardly wait for book number 3. So glad to read you Lindsay."


"Life After My Saucepans captivated me, few expats have assimilated into Dominican life the way Lindsay has, and she takes us on a trip with her while she walks the life of a gringa in the Dominican campo. As someone who has been traveling to DR since 1975 and owns a home there, I can tell you that this book will open your eyes as to the "real" Dominican Republic, the one that tourists and snowbirds aren't privy to, especially if they haven't spent time outside the resorts and big cities or north coast of DR. Lindsay has the gift of painting a picture with her words, sweeping us along with her "Perils of Pauline" life in a mountain town.
I enjoyed the book, and wholly recommend it to anyone with any interest in the Dominican Republic, whether you are a resident, a potential or actual tourist, married to a Dominican, or just love non-fiction Caribbean life stories.
Do read What About My Saucepans first, if you haven't already done so!"

"Lindsay's new book is a wonderful story telling of the sometimes difficult, sometimes sad, but always joyful love story of an English woman and Dominican man. Her story telling ability reminds me of Junot Diaz in the humorous manner of explaining the cultural clash between two cultures and Lindsay's attempt to adjust to Dominican country life. This is a must read for anyone who knows Dominican culture or is thinking about moving internationally. Just a good book for anyone, absorbing and hilarious!"

I do hope those of you who enjoy the blog will also enjoy the book.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The new book has arrived - Life After My Saucepans

At last the new book as arrived. Years in the writing, which was not easy. Many people, having read What About Your Saucepans? asked me when I was going to write a new book, as they wanted to know the rest of the story. I put off starting it as I wasn't sure it would be very interesting - given we were not being hunted by gun toting crazy folk, and I hadn't been shot, but in the end I decided to give in to the pressure and give it a go.



When I write, for me it is like going to the toilet. I think about something for days, and wait till I am bursting to write it down, and put finger to keyboard and then the words just fly across the page. It is as much relief as when you are dying to go for a pee and you have to wait and wait and wait, and then the relief is indescribable. It took a while, as sometimes it took a while to get inspiration and some things were hard to write about, and in fact I cannot re-read some parts of it, even now.

So what is the book about? 

It starts where the first book left off, and goes up to the current day - well about 6 weeks ago! It is about me, and Danilo and life off the grid in the mountains - which is very different to life in the town or a tourist area. For the fans of Chivirico he stars throughout.


There is more information on sanky pankies and relationships with Dominican men, and more about Dominican culture.

Who should read it?

Well, those who enjoyed the first book should enjoy this one I hope, and anyone who wants to know more about the Dominican Republic, either who is thinking of moving here, or who lives here already and wants to expand their knowledge about the country, the people and the places. For those married to, or in a relationship with a Dominican I think you will enjoy reading it together, and laughing as the Dominican remembers days in the campo and can tell you all about them. Those thinking of living off the grid may also enjoy it, and those frustrated with first world living and all the stress that brings.

What do people say about it?

There were three pre-production reviews - all by fellow authors, for which I am very grateful.

Jack Scott, author of Turkey Street and Perking the Pansies.
www.jackscott.info

“As Lindsay de Feliz explains with unflinching honesty in her gutsy follow-up to What About Your Saucepans?, the Dominican Republic takes no prisoners. From the outset, we find the author ensconced in her dusty roadside house with Danilo, her Dominican husband, two stepsons, a dwindling back account, a growing menagerie of cats and dogs and swarms of voracious mosquitos. Things start to look up when they move lock, stock and barrel to the superior sounding ‘Pink House’, even if the cooker has to be wheeled round to the new house in a wonky wheelbarrow. But when blocked showers, troublesome septic tanks, a stroppy local ‘witch’ and an unscrupulous vet who moonlights as a taxidermist all take their toll, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary tale about living the dream.
Life After My Saucepans is packed with warmth and infectious humour, even when the clan moves to a pile in the mountains that needs pretty much everything: walls, windows, doors and gates – not to mention an emergency wasp fumigator. We witness in full technicolour the ups and downs of life in Wasp House, the drama and corruption of Dominican politics, the expat women suffering at the hands of their polygamous ‘sankies’, the lush, mountainous landscapes, the pig-roasts, the traditional Noche Buena feasts and a succession of madcap, local eccentrics. In Chivirico, a five-year-old barefooted boy who proudly announces he will be the author’s bodyguard, we get a touching and poignant relationship that tugs at the heartstrings from the outset. And in the end, it’s the life-affirming human interest stories that make this book special. Lindsay de Feliz tells it as it is, warts and all, but it’s her affection for her adopted country and the people around her that shines through.”

IlanaBenady, co-author of Expat FAQs: Moving to and Living in the Dominican Republic, Culture Smart: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture in the Dominican Republic, and Aunt Clara’s Dominican Cookbook

“Fans of What About Your Saucepans? – the book and the blog – won’t be disappointed. Life After My Saucepans is another enjoyable and engaging glimpse into life in the Dominican Republic as seen through Lindsay’s sympathetic eyes. The setting, the story and the people will come alive in your imagination whether or not you know the country. The simple pleasures and niggling irritations, and the tragedies and triumphs, both great and small, are described with the honesty, empathy and deadpan humour that Lindsay’s readers have come to know and love.”

And Margarita Vallazza, author of El FrutoMezclado – Mixed Fruit

“Lindsay’s new book is a combination of amusing adventures and sorrowful occurrences. The book carries forward the story of her new life in the Dominican Republic. All is not a ‘live happily ever after’ fairy tale in the Caribbean paradise as there is always something or someone to trip up our Happy family to try to prevent them from fulfilling their destiny. In the end, though, Love triumphs in the de Feliz (aka Happy) family.”

“Read this book to learn what has happened to the Happy (Feliz) family in their new location. Lindsay’s personality comes through in her writing. I’ve never been to the Dominican Republic and, thanks to the realism of Lindsay’s writing, I want to visit and see the places she’s told us about.”

Since publication there has been one published review on Amazon.ca.

"For anyone remotely curious about life in the DR 'off the beaten track' please start here! Lindsay de Feliz reveals her personal experience with honesty, compassion and unrelenting love for the island."

Where to buy it

The book is available on all of the Amazon sites in Kindle and paperback versions. It has only just been published so it may take a couple of days for the paperback versions to arrive. It is also available in other digital versions such as iPad, Kobo, Nook on Smashwords. It should soon also be available in Barnes and Noble and Waterstones.

I am arranging for some books to be sent to me here, which could take a month or so and then will do a countrywide tour to sign them and meet people. Once that is sorted I will let you know.

In the meantime, I do hope you buy it and even more, I really hope you enjoy it. As blog readers you will know some of the events, but the book delves much deeper into what happened.

Thanks!!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Update on the goats and chicks

The chicks were really not expected to survive, but around 25 did. They are now getting feathers and the little boy chicks have bright red combs on their heads - they look really sweet, apart from this one who we call Grumpy.


They have been living in the cellar as it is nice and warm and dry but we have just moved them out into their own chick apartment which has more light and they are doing well.


The goats are another story. First we had to build them a house as apparently goats need a house to sleep in and hate the rain, so they need a shelter.


Next stage was to moved them into a small area around their house, so they didn't need to be tied up and they were very happy campers, coming to the fence every morning for a carrot. Here is Oregano


And here is Picante


The stepsons and their mates came over most days to put up fencing around the whole area and split the large back field into three so we could move them as they finished eating everything in one field and so when the herd gets much bigger (haha) we can split up boys from girl and nursing mothers.


So all is well, the goats are very happy in their big field and take themselves off to bed at night and snuggle down in their masses of hay and I decide I love goats.


Then I go off goats. Last week was sitting in my normal place at the computer when I hear a tapping at the back patio door. I look up and there are the goats, knocking to come in. Not a good idea, I thought and it took Danilo and I an hour to get them back in the field, and it took them 5 minutes to get out again. This performance carried on all day and the following morning Danilo called Dany to fix the fence, which he did and that night Danilo left for Santo Domingo.

The following morning no goats to be seen. I tracked them down to a neighbour's field which was full of his goats, and mine had just gone to visit. Neighbour (aged 90 something with one one tooth and called Niño meaning child) sat on his front porch laughing as I tried to round up the goats while avoiding a particularly evil looking billy goat who followed me around. Niño told me to lassoo the goats and laughed even more at my pathetic attempts. In the end I got them back home again and into their paddock.

Twenty minutes later Niño was at my front gate, demanding I go and collect my goats again. This time I enlisted the help of Miguel, another neighbour and it was much quicker between the two of us to get them into their paddock, Miguel spotted where they were escaping so I called Dany and back he came to fix it. As he was fixing it, the goats watched closely and then went to another part of the fence and escaped through there, and the more places Dany fixed, the more they found to escape! Anyway to cut a long story short they haven't escaped for the last week - thank goodness and I can now add goat herding to my list of skills.

In the meantime we have our very first grapefruit which I am overjoyed about as you have not lived if you haven't eaten a grapefruit straight from the tree.


And the war between Canguru and the cats continues. She doesn't attack them, she washes them which they are not impressed with, and has now decided to stop them coming in through their Dominican cat flap.


Next blog should not be long coming and will have some exciting news about my new book!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

From cows to chicks and ...wait for it.

Danilo came home from university late one night last week. I was in bed and he called me to come and look. He had found a box of chicks dumped at the side of the road. It appears they were dumped battery hen chicks which did not meet the minimum requirements to be a battery hen - lucky them. There were 55 of them. We kept them in the study overnight, gave them antibiotics in their water and a heating lamp to keep them warm.



The next day they went into the basement and were allowed out in the day to feel the sun. Very happy little fat yellow chicks who behave totally differently to the other baby chicks, which just potter about. These run at top speed! We were concerned that the other hens would attack them but they don't touch them. Danilo says it is as these are Americana chicks, gringo chicks and the others respect them lol.

Then fish man turned up again and this time he brought us dorado which I am not sure what it is called in English. The dictionary says Mahi Mahi or Gilt Head Bream but it is neither of those.


This fish is a monster, well around 6 pounds and we are saving it until my citizenship is sorted - if that doesn't take too long.

The work on the goat fencing has come to a standstill as Danilo is too busy with exams, but when he was at university on Friday, he had just left after lunch, a car arrived with the two stepsons, Dany and Alberto, Saya the dwendy and another guy. They brought with them a box of mangos which was nice, and two goats. Yes goats. It appears that the other guy in the car had won them in a raffle at the cock fighting ring, and as he owed Alberto money, and couldn't pay, he paid with two goats. Alberto has nowhere to keep goats, hence they came here. It is now vital to get the fencing done and to build a house for the goat so that is next on the agenda.

In the meantime here is brown goat


And here is white goat


They are cute, and wag their tails when you go and see them, but have to be on long ropes tied up until the house/enclosure is ready. Danilo had better hurry up as they are both pregnant. In fact the white one will probably give birth before I write the next blog. I hope she can do it all by herself as I have no idea what to do!