The day started off at the wonderful hour of 5am. As the alarm went off - quickly followed by the whines and jumping at the door from our dogs, Lucy and Snickers - we sleepily rolled out of bed, grabbed our shoes and keys, and walked outside to take the dogs for their regular morning walk when we realized that we lost Snickers collar the night before as we had left it on the back of the CRV and then went out. What could have been a huge crisis was quickly adverted by our quick thinking, suprisingly our minds were still working, and we found a substitute! We made one quick lap with the dogs, hurried through the shower and hopped in the car. We picked up our traveling companian, Lowell, and then began our trek down the mountain and to the capitol for their (Josh and Lowell's) 8:30am appointment with the US Embassy. Josh had a few things to do for our residency process, and Lowell needed more pages in his passport, so we decided to go for the adventure together!
We made great time getting to Santo Domingo 1 1/2 hours, but then something happened... traffic! And not just any kind of traffic, Dominican traffic... the worst kind! We thought we would be okay, that we would make it right on time because we still had one hour - who knew it would take us 1 hour 20 minutes to go 10 miles. But the fun doesn't end there - who knew that the directions from the embassy website would be incorrect! So, once we found the embassy another suprise was awaiting us, the embassy was not where we were suppose to go, we were suppose to go to the consulate (none of these buildings were clearly marked). Once the embassy people directed us to the consulate building we were so worn out just from trying to find the embassy AND parking, that we disappontingly staggered our way down the street to the consulate - really frustrated that we drove all this way and probably would not get assistance.
Once we finally made it through the first line (which is outside in like 110 degree weather) to went to the second line, Lowell remembered something... no cell phones allowed. Just as he said that, the woman who was checking my purse said I'm not allowed in with phones (as she's saying this Josh and Lowell handed me theirs and walked through to the next room - boys). They direct me back outside and tell me to come back when I have no phones. Great! All I could think was "I'm alone, in the capitol, I'm American, and I'm a woman... awesome." So after I thought over my options I decided I would walk back to the car, lock the phones inside, and try to get back in even though I have no paperwork and no passport. Once I returned to the consulate the guards decided that they "didn't remember me" (I had only spoken with them 5 minutes ago) and they made me go stand back in line in the increasing heat. After about 5 minutes a guy came to tend the lines. When he got to me and I told him what had happened (with the phones and all), he didn't believe me and thought that I was lying. At long last I was able to convince to speak with the woman who had helped me before, once she noticed me she said that I could go back in.
After I made it in, I wasn't sure I really wanted to be there, the waiting room was like something out of a movie... only worse. It was hot, the air was muggy, and there were probably 200 people waiting in uncomfortable chairs just sitting and waiting for their situation to be addressed. After I looked around a little, I remembered overhearing what the attendant had told Lowell earlier on and recalled that he and Josh probably wouldn't be waiting in this room. I found my way through the sweaty crowd to - at long last - find Lowell and Josh. The process was a little crazy, but both Josh and Lowell were tended too, even with having missed our appointment.
The experience in the consulate is something I hope never to repeat, it was insane. But one thing I really do appreciate is how friendly the Dominicans are, even the ones who work in jobs like these. I can recall every visit I have made to the DMV in the states, and each attentand was rude, appeared to be annoyed just from the sight of the people in the room, and short in their dealings with me. The attendants here, aside from the guy outside, were all friendly and patient.
And this was the start our first full vacation day... oh the adventures*