We hadn’t planned to come to the DR. I knew it was a possibility, if our cruising path worked that way – but I hadn’t though we would need to when we left Caicos. I had already spent $400 to check in and out of Caicos for one week – it really hadn’t seemed worth it. I didn’t want to go to DR and spend another $175 for a couple of nights passage through to Puerto Rico. When I woke in the morning after our awful passage, I found us anchored in a secluded spot in the DR.
We thought maybe we could just stay there for the day and depart in the evening without checking in. We wouldn’t go ashore and hopefully it would be no problem. We weren’t there for more than two hours before a boat bearing a group of men, including a fellow in military gear – motored out to visit us. “Habla Espaniol?” It was time to brush up on my rusty Spanish skills.
Three of the fellows spoke Spanish, but the dingy pilot spoke moderate English – and was able to help clarify between us what we were trying to do. They were very friendly and polite. They asked for our exit papers from Caicos, and our passports. They left and said the captain would be back later in the afternoon with some paperwork.
As the day passed, I realized I still felt exhausted after our trip. We put our wet clothes and sheets out to dry. We pulled Annika’s foam mattress out – and the carpet… it smelled horrible like a boys locker room. Jay went to the top of the mast and retrieved the loose halyard from the broken jib. While he was up there, we realized there was a massive coral reef about 50 feet from the boat. We looked across the bay and saw a bunch of open air markets and there was periodically Spanish music coming from the shore. We wanted to join the party.
I thought about it, and I realized that I had NO interest in bashing the rest of the way to Puerto Rico. I wanted to do the gentleman’s passage and take it easy on us and the boat. Even repairing the engines would still leave a vulnerable sail and leaks through hatches that needed professional reworking. Also, I was dying to explore the area around us. I decided that we would pay the fee to enter DR and just enjoy the country we found ourselves in.
Immediately – everything began to feel better and easier. I knew I’d made the right decision and all the crew felt a weight lift in our boating life. It was going to get fun again. It started getting fun that afternoon when the captain returned to the boat. This time, there was no guy who spoke English to help me, I was on my own. I had to explain to him that we’d decided to go ahead and enter the country. We didn’t want to go directly to Puerto Rico, but to make many stops along the coast and visit the towns and cities. He was very kind and changed the wording on the paperwork he’d brought me to reflect our new plans. He informed me that what he gave me was temporary for a few days, and when we went to Luperon we would have to do the official check-in at this point. He seemed pretty comfortable although he said there was no fee for his efforts, I felt that this was the time when an official would expect some sort of bribe.
From what I’d read, it’s better not to go there, and not to be asked for a bribe. I circumvented the entire thing by expressing my gratitude repeatedly and then I gave him and his friend the last two of Rusty’s beers. As soon as we offered these, he rose, took them and with many gracias, left the boat. We were in, and he said it was okay to go to shore. Yay!!! The start of some repairs both physical and mental was about to begin.