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Friday, 25 April 2014

Everyone's Gotta Have a Dream: The Winter of More Winter

Everyone's Gotta Have a Dream: The Winter of More Winter: As fall turned to winter, the dread of another season hibernating was already setting in. Since I was a boy, I knew my destiny was of sun, s...

The Winter of More Winter

As fall turned to winter, the dread of another season hibernating was already setting in. Since I was a boy, I knew my destiny was of sun, sand, a life lived on or near the ocean. I tried to ignore the onset of winter, by riding my motorbike as much as possible, as late as possible. By early December, the bike was putting up a stern argument, starting only reluctantly.

We planned a trip to St Maarten, leaving December 7, to make up for the summer that wasn't, and research the island as a future destination. You may recall that Leanne has a dutch father, which could give us a pass onto the island. I had flown to the island 25 years ago, and remembered thinking we were landing on the water. I looked forward to this beach side landing again. Unfortunately, our window seat booking, ended up being a bulk head seat in between two windows... I'm sure those on the beach still enjoyed our approach. Fortunately our hotel was right beside the airport beach, so we had ample time to take in the many landings from the beach. The most exciting landings are when the 747's come in. I t'd up perfectly, an Air France approach, until my camera battery died, just before the snap of the perfect pick! Not to be deterred, I set up a perfect pick of the KLM the next day, until a woman jumped into my frame as I snapped. These planes don't lend much time for a do over!

While in St Maarten, we looked at some real estate, did some tours, and got a flavour of day to day life. Simpson bay is a beautiful location to anchor, in spite of the fact it was still sparsely populated in December. We were told most of the cruisers would arrive soon. Unfortunately, any real estate with a peek of the ocean, in St Maarten, was beyond our reach. We filed this island under the 'maybe one day'.

Upon our return to Canada, we were greeted by the first snow storm of winter. As you may recall, we were greeted by many more, as the winter wore on, and on, and on, and... I digress! Over the winter, we spent our time hibernating, and discussing every possibility, to ensure our escape from dreary hell, before the snow flies on the winter of 2014-15. It seems that I have made Leanne's head spin, as a result of my constant ideas, new ideas, and revisions on the new ideas. I'd like to think I'm just being detailed. She would like to think I would just figure it out, and get it done!

In February, we went to a seminar hosted by Florida Home Finders. We listened to a speaker tell us about what happened to the Florida Real Estate market. He also shared with us, some insight into buying property in Florida. As we investigated further, we came to realise the Florida market is still priced at approximately a 50% discount over 2006 prices. We picked up a book written by David Altro, and came to better understand the rules of owning Florida property, as well as do's and don'ts of everything from property ownership, to operating a business there as well. Perhaps we may have found our new home!?

However, I am the guy, allegedly, who makes Leanne's head spin with my many ideas? Not willing to rest on one idea, we also visited Dominican Republic in April. Through our many travels, we have seen a few excursions that do not exist in the DR. We felt it important to visit there, and investigate those possibilities. We chose to visit the Sosua area. I last visited Sosua 25 years ago, while in college. It had changed a bit! While there, we viewed some real estate, did some excursions, enjoyed the sun, and had a few mojitos. We fell in love with one penthouse condo, and thought about putting in an offer. Unfortunately, we still have two houses to sell in Canada. Rumour has it, financing in the DR is tricky at best. We also found a beautiful property in Cabarete, but still, we have two houses to sell in Canada. We settled for more mojitos on the beautiful Cabarete beach.

Thursday was excursion day, we ventured out to Paradise Island, for incredible snorkeling. Paradise Island is located close to Haiti, close to the fishing village, Punta Rusa. The village was once a thriving resort area, but the government shut it down in the late 90's, due to environmental concerns. The area is now coming back as a resort area, but the charm is not lost. As for Paradise Island, it is literally a sand bar, about 25 minutes from shore. It is in the middle of a large reef, and other than sand, there are only 6 tiki huts, and great snorkeling. The excursion features a 2 hour bus ride, 25 minute ride, in 'Dominican speed boats', and 2 hours to snorkel, drink, snorkel some more, drink some more. On the return to shore, they take you on a tour through a river lined by Mangroves. We witnessed the marine life, and raw beauty the island offers.

Leanne was not keen on the two hour bus ride, but I insisted we experience this excursion, as a means of evaluating the possibility of developing a similar excursion. She left with no regrets, after seeing just how special Paradise Island was.

Nearing the conclusion of our Dominican trip, we had many discussions about how suitable this country was as a future home, and location to start a business. Dominican has some beautiful country side, and even more beautiful beaches. It is still very much an affordable island, and it is clear the Dominicans are making an attempt to keep the island cleaner than has been in the past. While Dominicans are truly some of the friendliest people in the world, it is very common to experience Dominicans who will go to great lengths to con money from unwitting tourists. They often forget their English language skills, as soon as they are questioned or challenged. Perhaps con is a harsh word, since their ploys usually are innocent attempts to guilt a few bucks, or collect money for something that is free. But it can wear on you over time.

Corruption in the DR, is not the worst in the Caribbean, but it does exist. We left the DR feeling that perhaps there are better places to venture first, as we begin our adventure.

So here we are, 4 months away from our planned departure, with a framework of our plan, a boat we hope will cooperate, and a teenage son who THINKS he is coming with... maybe. Stay tuned, as we head into crunch time, and hopefully figure all this out!!