Thursday, 29 January 2009

Despacho, dismay and the laws of the land

We were welcomed with bravado to the Dominican Republic. It too exactly 2 minutes for the naval commander to spot us from wherever his vantage view was. As we made the final adjustments on the anchoring manouvre, a skiff with three men pulled along side, and a man in an interesting mixture of English and Spanish announced the arrival of the anticipated commander. They summarily jumped onto our boat, polite enough to ask if they could be allowed to keep their boots on, and requested boat papers. After filling in a long document in many duplicates, the commander via his non-english speaking second in commander who then looked at the translator, asked for a present. I laughed and I was reminded of the Congo. Cadeux. That word I had not heard in a year. Ha, welcome to the third world Pamela.
There was also a litany of papers waiting for us to be signed at the immigration, customs, agriculture, tourism and whatever else office the Dominicans could dream up. This was all starting to sound familiar. I swear, were it not for the Spanish, I would have thought I was in central Africa. IAs I was the one checking us in, I got my pen, all our papers, my charm and patience ready for the hours ahead. And the commander had made it clear that we could not wait longer, no time for another cup of coffee, he adamantly expressed. "You have to check in immediately," after which he departed our boat with a smiling translator who was trying to sell us a Dominican Marine Courtesy Flag. I doubt he, the translator, would get anything of the 'present'. Ergo, he had to push his own businness. As they say in South Africa, i-job yi-job. Viva la vida. I had my own job to do: filling out papers and getting through the authorities with non-existent Spanish.

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