Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Got our Flight Reservations!
Tickets are purchased and our plans are set in concrete. First I'm flying to Santo Domingo on Sept. 25, doing the red eye to NY and the early morning to Dominican Republic on the 26th. Andre will be waiting at the airport for me, as always. This will be my fourth time down there in little more than a year. I hardly ever repeat a country that often (except Mexico), but it isn't just the fried bananas that keep me coming back to the D.R.
Our friend Hubert will be flying in from NJ the next day for a quickie 4-day trip. He plans to rent a car and take us and his girlfriend Antonia to the western edge of D.R., next to the Haitian border, where Antonia and Nena are from. Nena is already in her village at her mom's, awaiting the birth of her first child. I'm bringing a ton of baby clothes, so Nena's son will be the best dressed kid in the Dominican Republic. Some of the bigger clothes will go to Andre's nephew in Haiti and Margarita's grandson.
We won't be in the D.R. long because on October 6 we fly to Sao Paolo, Brazil. I'm going up to Berkeley tomorrow evening to play racquetball and spend the night with a friend so I can go early the next morning to the Brazilian embassy in San Francisco. Americans have to apply in person and pay $100 for a Brazilian visa these days as retribution for how our government treats Brazilians who apply for U.S. tourist visas. At least it's possible for a friend to pick it up for me, so I'll only have to make the trip once.
Andre's Brazilian visa has to be activated by October 9, so that's the reason for the rush. I've sold my car and rented out my house, but still have a lot to do before I take off in 2 weeks, like my 2006 taxes, finish up the DVD project of Maya's memorial party, get a mammogram and ultrasound, order more photos, calendars and photo mugs to take as gifts to his family and friends, pack up all the wonderful donations friends have given me, and finish up the paperwork for Andre's interview with the U.S. consulate next spring.
Andre's Brazilian visa is good for 3 months and is multi-entry. We'll probably head southwest first because miracle of miracles: Haitians don't need visas to travel in Argentina. I'm suspecting that it will be easier to get visas to other countries once we're in South America. Maybe we could visit my Mexican friend Gabriel who is studying in Uruguay or my cousin Zack in southern Chile. If not, maybe they can hook up with us in Argentina. I'd really love to go to Bolivia in December for the World Juniors Racquetball Championships, if Andre can get a Bolivian visa. I taught racquetball all over Bolivia for a month in 1983 and I'd love to see if I can find any of my former students.
On January 3, we fly back to Santo Domingo from Sao Paolo. We'll just miss a friend of mine who I introduced via email to Andre's best friend Junior. She's going to be in Santo Domingo from mid-December until just after New Year's while her kids are on vacation with their dad. I really wish we could be there with her to double date. But I know she'll have a wonderful time with Junior because he's such a great guy. I just hope he can get some time off from his factory job.
Andre and I invited Maya's dad Daniel to join us in Santo Domingo in mid-January, after we get back from visiting Haiti again, so we can be together on January 16, the anniversary of Maya's death. That will be a really hard day for us and it will be nice to spend it together in a place that Maya loved -- the 11th country she visited in her short lifetime. A Dominican girlfriend of mine has even offered to accompany Daniel while we show him around.
So the countdown begins. Only 14-1/2 more days until I'm together with Andre again. On the one hand I wish I could fly tomorrow, but on the other hand I wish I had two more months to get everything done.