Life begins at 30?

It’s actually been quite an eventful week, I was not planning on a post quite so soon but I’m sitting on the balcony with a nice blue sky, beer in hand and thought I would fill you in on my week.
It was my 30th Birthday over the weekend and I was dreading it. Where does the time go… although I really don’t feel like 30! Then I sat back and decided it’s not actually that bad, I mean I have had an awesome past few years and have had some amazing experiences. Plus, the fact that I am writing this on a Caribbean Island…

Birthday trip to Punta Cana
Birthday trip to Punta Cana

So back to my birthday weekend; we decided to go to Punta Cana for the weekend with one of Katherine’s cousins, her cousin’s boyfriend and Griset – one of Katherine’s friends. It was a long weekend which wasn’t ideal as the prices of the resorts were not that cheap but we found a good deal at the Rui Macao Palace – advertised as an adult only resort, awesome! So I thought.
One thing I was looking forward to was the drive (yes you heard correctly), the new highway has just opened and I heard rumours that it only takes 2 hours to get there. The old road took around 4 hours and you were constantly trying to find places to safely overtake slow moving trucks. So I at the edge of the city I hit the stop watch – the new road was awesome although I am sure in a few months’ time it will be full of pot holes like every other road here. We arrived in Punta Cana in 1hr 45minutes – not bad at all!

I love this bridge
I love this bridge

It was a relaxing weekend as I didn’t really fancy a big party and the hotel on the most part was really nice. I mean you can’t complain when you have a free mini bar with liquor in your room. The only problem about this adult only resort was the screaming kids! Apparently I needed to read the small print when booking as out of season they let children in – a little bit of false advertising I think, but hey was a really good long weekend.

I am now in my 30’s so decided to get active. Myself and Jose were sitting down over sangria and decided that we would join the gym – now I know that people join the gym and never go however I am going to stick at this. There are a few gyms close to me but I will be moving to the Colonial Zone when the house is ready so decided to go to the gym there. It beats paying 2000 pesos (about $55) a month to go to Golds Gym which I feel is a crazy price to pay. The gym I go to is only 500 pesos and month, is clean and ok it doesn’t have air con but they open all the windows and you have a view of the sea.

My new wheels
My new wheels

There was only one thing in the way – how to get there? Now I love my Jeep however with the price of gas and the very low MPG it gets to go to the gym and my Spanish classes (that start next week eekk) it would probably double my already high gas bill each week. I have been considering converting to Natural Gas but the cost of getting it converted is pretty steep and there are only a few natural gas stations in the city. So… how to get there… the answer is I bought myself a bike, no, not a motorbike but a good old bicycle. Not quite the midlife crisis red convertible car but it is going to get me fit and save me money.
I managed to find a half decent used bike online for a reasonable price so I was all set.

Little bit of rain...
Little bit of rain…

The traffic is crazy in Santo Domingo and most people (including Katherine) have called me crazy but it just makes sense. The good part about it is my university is on the way back from the gym so I can kill two birds with one stone.
It is a 7.6km trip each way to the gym but it will be worth it. The route is not that bad as 5km of it is along the Mirador Sur – a road which they close off in the mornings to traffic for cyclists and runners, so I have only 2.6km of traffic to negotiate. The first day I went I met Jose halfway and it only took 45 minutes to get there which I thought was not to bad for a first attempt.
So, progress on the property… I have received the plans back from Rodolfo and we had a meeting to discuss what we require from the property. I really want to keep as much as possible original without splitting up too many rooms. The place has really high ceilings and the beams will look awesome. Now the property itself has basically no plumbing so the placement of the bathrooms is a huge consideration as after the roof and floor of the main building this is the next biggest cost.
I was informed that when we get the estimate we have to be aware that the budget when renovating a colonial property could vary by up to 50% – my mouth did kind of drop when I heard this. Now I know that things come up that you don’t expect but not that could raise the renovation costs up by 50%! But hey I am not worrying yet – we have a budget and even if it’s me and Jose up putting a new roof on we will get this completed.

Finished plans
Finished plans

So where from here? Well next week I will see the proposed plans from the architects and this week we have to go and pay the taxes on the house. Now the taxes are around 3.5% of the government appraised value of a property but that is well below market value. If you pay over 5 million pesos for a property then you have to pay a yearly tax of 1% of the property’s value above 5 million pesos – unfortunately ours is over that threshold so we will have to pay a yearly tax. I believe the 3.5% property tax goes on what you paid for the property according to the contract of sale rather than the government appraised value, but I will find out for sure this Friday – I am hoping it’s the latter…
I am hoping we will have the required plans submitted to Patrimonio by the end of next week, at least then we will have started the official process – I still have my fingers crossed that we can start work before Xmas but I suppose we will have to wait and see.
So a week Wednesday is the start of term at the University where I start my Spanish classes – 5 times a week for 2 hours, it should do the trick. I am so glad I found out about this course as private schools charge an absolute fortune. I am a little nervous and excited at the same time. Finally, I will sort my broken Spanish out!