My Experience: How I Got Out

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Lucas61

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Jun 13, 2014
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retired English teacher (30 years)
I fully intended to remain in the D.R., my “home for life” where I have lived for eleven years.

On Saturday, my long-term girlfriend reported robberies of customers leaving a market in Santiago; reports of two robberies of merchants on Duarte, near where I live, today or yesterday, a colmado on Benito Gonzalez and Altagracia wiped out of all cash and merchandise, blocks from my house. I have instructed her not to use the bright yellow La Sirena bags but to walk with her son and to carry items in a non-descript bag.

With 80% of the population in the informal sector living, at best, “hand to mouth, “ and now no income and no prospects of buying food, one need not be a rocket scientist . . . I decided on Saturday “better safe than sorry” and “err on the side of caution."

I am now in Palm Springs, CA where the informal sector does not exist. In the D.R. I faced two foes: crime and COVID, here one foe: COVID.

In this post I want to bullet my experience getting out, should any of this information benefit others at DR1:

1. Find the direct website of the international airport you plan to leave from. For “Las Americas,” SDQ, I found departures in real time, both cancelled and scheduled: https://www.santo-domingo-airport.com/es/aeropuerto-santo-domingo.php

On the upper left, use drop down menu for “Vuelos” and select “Salidas.” There you will find another drop down menu for time of day. All flights to MIA were cancelled. The only airport in the U.S. that had departures was—surprise!--JFK. My flight plan included SDQ < JFK < PSP (Palm Springs, CA). Nothing was available for four days, the following Wednesday. So I tried buying two tickets, one to JFK, the next to PSP, and this was successful. I booked on Saturday, March 28, and left on Sunday, March 29. The price from SDQ to JFK on JetBlue was $130.00 USD, from JFK to PSP on Delta, $90.00 USD.

(2) I left with my backpack and essential items only: electronics, meds, miscl., no clothes. No checked luggage. I also brought a blanket and warm shirt for sleeping, possibly, at airports.

(3) I left four hours early on Sunday. The Uber driver balked and said I must pay cash. I didn’t have enough money as I left quickly, no time to go to the bank. We compromised. I paid the RD$595 via internet and gave a cash tip of RD$400.

(4) At the airport, all cash exchanges were closed; only ATM’s available. There were two lines. One had more than 100 people waiting (I could not ascertain the airline), the other, JetBlue, my airline, had no passengers waiting except for me. Be prepared then for a humongous line, think two hours in advance.

(5) **BIG BOTTLENECK at immigration after passing through security. It was evident that all visitors who were in the D.R. for less than 30 days, had already left. The queue to pay overstay tax was about 75 persons long and very, very slow. Only one staff person collecting fees and many instances of argument and unavailability of change. I’m sure that most people in this line missed their flight. I waited in this line about 1.5 hours and barely made it on time.

(6) Arrival at JFK. The immigration section, which was set up to allow hundreds of persons to queue, had only about ten passengers. In JFK there were more employees than passengers and almost everything was closed. I arrived at about 6:00 P.M. with my PSP flight scheduled to go out at 6:50 A.M. on Monday.

No food available except for donuts and coffee. I found a discreet area on the floor at some gate and bedded down for the night. No gate information was available on my boarding pass, only the terminal. Very, very few people at the airport was a big plus for minimizing COVID infection in spite of the fact that NYC is the epicenter in the U.S.

(7) On Monday, my morning flight was cancelled and re-scheduled for the afternoon. Then my afternoon flight was cancelled. I got on my third flight, some 34 hours after leaving Santo Domingo, and arrived late at night after a layover and another flight, successful, from SLC, Salt Lake City.

I spoke with my long term girlfriend today, via video, in Sto. Dom. She is 57 years old. Poor thing. She thinks I’m coming back in a month or so. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it will likely be a long, long time—if ever.

My life is in the D.R., not the U.S. But I left for self-preservation, the future unknown.
 

Mr Deal HD

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Sep 11, 2019
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And just contracted the virus as you traveled. Oh well. Sometimes fear pushes us to heighten our risks while thinking we’re doing the complete opposite. Good luck...
 

alexw

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Sep 6, 2008
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NYC-SDQ BABY!
Don't worry about the attacks. I thought this was a well written entertaining report. Did you sleep in the airport?
 

Ecoman1949

Born to Ride.
Oct 17, 2015
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I don't walk in your shoes and I'm sure you had what you believed to be, good reasons for leaving. You took a risk leaving your loved ones behind and I don't know if it was a calculated risk because I don't know how much thought you put into it. Rioting, looting, and muggings are commonplace in many countries, not just the DR, during hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters. In the US where you now are, the National Guard is often called out to patrol the main streets and secure deserted neighborhoods to reduce those problems. In my estimation your excuse to leave the DR because of potential civil unrest is questionable. If the situation in the US gets worse as it is predicted to do, you may have jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

My good friends who rent in Costambar intended to return to Canada in mid April. They were safe in Costambar and the landlord said they could stay as long as they wanted. They chose to get one of the last flights out at the end of March. They went straight home, friends stocked their house for them, and they went into self isolation for the mandatory 14 day period for travelers coming into Canada from countries where the virus was present. One of them is now in ICU with the virus, pneumonia, and a collapsed lung. He may not survive. He probably contracted the virus on the return flight.

I hope you are luckier and I sincerely hope your loved ones in the DR survive the virus storm. If they don't, you have to be prepared to live with the consequences.
 

irsav

Well-known member
Jan 26, 2019
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All those who could afford to flee - they already left. Remained only those who do not have money to move. Or who invested their life savings in the RE or business in this country. All these years I strongly warned my friends against it
INVEST IN THE DR ONLY AS MUCH AS YOU CAN AFFORD TO LOSE ANY MOMENT. It is a Third World banana republic.

I do not want to be mean to these poor souls. I sincerely wish you to be strong in these horrible times. To survive. We are all brothers. Stay home as much as possible. Never leave home after dark. Never be in the street without a group of two or three friends. Keep doors and windows locked all the time. Do not open to anyone. ESPECIALLY POLICE!
God bless you!
 

Africaida

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Jun 19, 2009
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I spoke with my long term girlfriend today, via video, in Sto. Dom. She is 57 years old. Poor thing. She thinks I’m coming back in a month or so. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it will likely be a long, long time—if ever.

My life is in the D.R., not the U.S. But I left for self-preservation, the future unknown.

Not judging but this is the difference between men and women. 99.9% of women would have stayed by your side.
 

caribmike

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Jul 9, 2009
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Weak.

But that was already obvious from the barrage of previous "sh*t my pants" threads.
 

cobraboy

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Jul 24, 2004
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Not judging but this is the difference between men and women. 99.9% of women would have stayed by your side.
I don't walk in the OP's flip-flops, but I could never leave my wife/long-term GF, dogs and cats behind.

EC-uaTGUUAItLnN


"For better or worse"
 

bob saunders

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Jan 1, 2002
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Canada is MUCH safer but I would never abandon my wife...etc. It is without a doubt more dangerous here than where I come from, but I am here come but may. My children are all safe, with my step son working from home, my oldest still manages to find work with most construction shutdown, he fortunately having many tools in his toolbox, carpenter, plumber/gasfitter, and heavy equipment operator. My other , unfortunately works in a hospital so faces the potential virus exposure daily. I am staying home because I agree getting the virus in this country, and in my case in any country is a likely death sentence. No way I would get on an aircraft at this time.
 
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NanSanPedro

Nickel with tin plating
Apr 12, 2019
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I could not abandon my adopted kid. Sure, I can send him $ via western union or somebody else, but he would always have doubts. I could not do that. If I die here tomorrow, I do not regret staying.

And I could have afforded to fly out. It was just not under consideration.
 

johne

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Jun 28, 2003
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Wouldn't want this guy as my foxhole buddy. Forget that.Now if she should pass, would you go back when this crisis is all said and done and pay your respects?
 

cobraboy

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Jul 24, 2004
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I could not abandon my adopted kid. Sure, I can send him $ via western union or somebody else, but he would always have doubts. I could not do that. If I die here tomorrow, I do not regret staying.

And I could have afforded to fly out. It was just not under consideration.
Leaving has never crossed my mind. Not once.
 

caribmike

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Jul 9, 2009
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I have 2 sons, 1 more on the way and 1 adopted. I never would leave any of them or my wife behind, ever.
 

Africaida

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Jun 19, 2009
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Guess I am judging

Ok, there is hope for Men after all (I had lost it reading the OP :cheeky:)
I pray that the pobrecita will have moved on to a REAL MAN, if the OP decides to come back after that coward move.
 

AlterEgo

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Jan 9, 2009
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Everyone has to do what’s best for them, pointing fingers and making snide remarks when we don’t know a person’s circumstances really isn’t fair.

Unless I have him confused with someone else, I think he has an elderly mother in the USA.
 

Africaida

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Jun 19, 2009
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Everyone has to do what’s best for them, pointing fingers and making snide remarks when we don’t know a person’s circumstances really isn’t fair.

Unless I have him confused with someone else, I think he has an elderly mother in the USA.

True but still believe a long time girlfriend deserved the truth, but that s jut me.
 

william webster

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Jan 16, 2009
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We all have our opinions..... right or wrong

what struck me about the experience was that they are charging the overstay fee.

Many long time stayers (our OP) may - repeat may - face difficulty if they decide to return

A gov't that charges overstay in these times id capable of anything (IMO)
and may take the chance to clean house so to speak
 

cobraboy

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Jul 24, 2004
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Unless I have him confused with someone else, I think he has an elderly mother in the USA.
He never mentioned her as a reason for leaving, just fear of crime because of the virus.
 

malko

Campesino !! :)
Jan 12, 2013
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Well it was a girlfriend lol...... not as if he was leaving his wife and kids behind.....
maybe his wife and kids are back in the states ;)
 
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