May and June 2024

We worked on many projects during May and June. I didn't want to get rid of my round table for sentimental reasons, as I have so many wonderful memories with the kids around it. I was longing for something different, so I painted it. Mother's Day was a hit, as it is every year. I received many thoughtful presents from the boys and from myself. We went to church and had brunch at Gourmandise afterward.

Our 20th Anniversary

We are as surprised as everyone else. We are two very different, very stubborn people. We love each other and try to choose each other every day. We went to a wonderful, romantic restaurant in the mountains of Utah. The food was excellent, and it was very romantic.

Boca Chica Apartment

Jared and I gave each other big presents this year: a Cybertruck and an apartment close to the beach. I honestly wasn't planning to spend as much money as I did, but Jared insisted on getting a place close to the beach. He pretty much doubled my budget. I bought a 200 square meter apartment on the 8th floor, which translates to around 2,152 square feet. The balcony is 105 square meters with an amazing view of the city of Boca Chica.

My goal for this trip was to have everything ready to my liking: bedding, furniture, paint, fixing the water leaks, changing lamps, adding fans, AC units, etc. I was the first person to ever live in that apartment. Everything broke down when I was there, from the water heater to the tubing for the bathroom (the saline eats away all the metal).

Boca Chica is a local beach, nothing too fancy but with many things to do. I also didn't want to be charged tourist prices for services. I arrived at the building at 2 am. I had been prepping for this trip and bought a bunch of stuff from Amazon, having it delivered to the place. Sometimes we forget that the Dominican Republic is not the USA. I will never go back to the Caribbean from June to September again; the heat was excruciatingly painful. I also forgot to bring Five Hour Energy drinks and was lethargic beyond words.

I had a list of contractors ready to work. I sent them measurements and photos of the project but didn't give them the location. Well, all my projects doubled or almost tripled in price as soon as they saw the apartment.

In the Dominican Republic, you can't reliably buy things online. They let you make online purchases, but if there's a problem, you're on your own. They never refund you for anything, so you need to be careful with any purchase you make. They don't get very excited when you pay with credit cards. You also have to go to Santo Domingo to get anything done with shopping. The local market in Boca Chica is very nice but limited.

I also did some paddle boarding and met my new friends Marlene and Loli at the beach. We had brunch and dinner a few times.

My new bedroom has new curtains and a fan. I wanted to do something called lime wash on the walls to give them a stucco cement type of look. No one knew what lime wash was, and they wanted to use Venetian plaster instead, which would cost me four times more!

I also had to go through many contractors. Some would show up, others would come once and never return, and the ones who stayed charged me as much as American contractors in a developing country. I was mad, and I am very frugal. I honestly prefer not doing anything than getting ripped off.

This was the process to fix the roof on my huge balcony. They had to remove all the old material, clean the area, put everything in bags, and dispose of it. I had to find someone to get rid of the garbage myself, which was an extra cost. The second photo shows other contractors redoing the grout in the apartment. I only redid some areas because the price increased significantly, and I refused to pay more. The bedrooms have rugs, so the old grout isn't visible. To be honest, no one cares about the grout except me, but seeing the dirty grout bothers me. They also tried to charge me for moving three pieces of furniture out of the way.

I bought AC units, but they came without the necessary tubing. I had to go back and forth to the store to get everything. I don't own a car there (Jared asked me to buy one, but I won't drive in that chaotic place), so I took Ubers for everything. Speaking of Ubers, in the Dominican Republic, you can pay your Uber drivers in cash. I don't use cash there because I don't want to get robbed. The Uber drivers would call me and tell me the ride cost more than the app said. When I refused, they would cancel my rides. My credit card company also blocked my cards a few times, leaving me stranded with no money. Once, I had to ride a motorcycle for five miles with a random guy who took me back to my apartment. I paid him with the little cash I had. Some of those Uber drivers made my skin crawl with the creepy things they said.

You could also see that it was just me among a thousand men. The level of chauvinism I experienced was beyond words. I had to pretend that Jared was with me in the DR and would be coming back soon. When that didn't work, I would call some of my cousins to pretend to be my husband. Apparently, the contractors didn't understand me unless a man translated for me.

On one of my trips, I went to see my dad, and that didn't go as planned. The boy in the photo is my Uber driver, a 19-year-old local from Boca Chica who stayed with me because I was making a lot of trips. I took him to lunch with me. He just wanted his trip back to Boca Chica paid for, so he waited for me instead of going back on his own.

San Andres Boca Chica Ward

I love going to church and meeting people. This time, I went to the closest ward and loved it. I made so many new friends. I was hanging out with the Stake Young Women President, Grace. We got along so well.

In a Relief Society activity. This is Grace (pink pants)

I went to church 3-4 times. The ward is mainly Haitians and they speak Spanish and Creole.

My new furniture! I went to the city to buy furniture, but that turned into another adventure. I ended up at an outlet called Ilumel. While I have a washer in my place, I don't have a dryer. I went to the laundromat, where they did all my laundry including my bedding for around $20, which was pretty affordable. The hard part was walking two blocks with everything, but I managed it.

I had planned to build a gazebo for shade up there, but that project got canceled when 4-5 contractors quoted me between $5,000 and $7,000. Too much for a developing country, come on!

I also had to replace the stopcock water valves for the apartment. One of the walls in the laundry room got electrified, and one of my contractors was almost electrocuted. My water heater broke the last week I was there. I had to travel to another city to buy a new one and find a contractor to install it. I locked myself out of the apartment—the intense heat had me not thinking clearly. I had to pay a locksmith to change the locks, only to find my keys two hours later.

I painted some closet doors to match everything. I went to Ikea to buy some outdoor umbrellas. Ikea in the Dominican Republic is for rich people; the prices are comparable to RH. I ordered special turf for upstairs to install after firing the contractor who tried to take advantage of me regarding the upstairs tile floors.

I bought some inexpensive art frames and repainted them to match my decor, got new blackout linen window treatments, washed all the linens and curtains from the living room, and assembled all the Ikea furniture by myself. I set up internet services, electricity, and our monthly apartment building maintenance. I met with some lawyers, built a map with restaurant recommendations and prices for when I return with my family.

Dealing with contractors was exhausting, and doing everything without a car was even worse. I do enjoy working on projects by myself, but this was a different level of stress. Every day, I went for a morning walk on the beach, had breakfast, stopped at a fruit stand, had lunch, and tried my best to relax a little bit. I loved my experience there, except for the nighttime experiences of sexual harassment. I hired a security person to accompany me at night. I didn't tell Jared about all the strange things that happened until a few days before I returned to Utah. I'm glad I always carry my pepper spray and stay very aware of my surroundings.

The apartment looks amazing! I still need to get some stuff done like installing hurricane shutters and more security cameras.

I came back to Utah with the worst case of covid and 15 pounds heavier! It took me three weeks to get over it. By week two I was ready to go to the hospital. I am still dealing with covid fatigue. I have never been so sick in my whole life.

Milo's first trip to the temple.

I was really sick but we had things to do. I took Milo to his rock climbing class that I signed him up months before. I only did that once because as I was getting more sick, I couldn't even get out of bed. At the end of my covid stuff, I took the boys to get haircuts. Milo asked for a really short haircut. The hairdresser kept looking at me for approval... I mean, it is his hair. He can do whatever he likes with his hair.

Father's Day

I was still sick with covid. Mario and Milo made the meal and cooked for Father's Day. They also bought Jared presents and cards.

When I was in the Dominican Republic, I was also working remotely with Rick Poulsen which is another of my reliable contractors for the cabin. He added more sand to the beach at Hobbs Hollow and cleared some roads. I still need to build some wood stairs attached to the porch, finish the painting inside of Milo's room, install bathroom fans, finish the kitchen. There is always something to do.

Jared took the boys to see an actor from the Princess Bride movie. I think they had a great time.

Finally feeling better and getting back to my normal routine. We went for a long bike ride. Allergies were killing me and I could barely open my eyes and my face has been so swollen for the last month. This summer I really hit a wall with my health.

Milo gave a talk in church about the power of scripture study.

The young men of the Garden Park Ward

We drove the same day to the cabin because the next day we were going to have a side by side tour. Every year we look forward to do something like that. We met in Ephraim and had pizza at Roy's pizza place. After that, Jared drove around the mountain with our group. We were following the red group when the leader of our group got lost and we had to join the blue group.

At the end of the day, we had pizza, ice cream with brownies, sodas and listened to some cowboy poetry. It was the perfect end to a perfect day. I am thankful for my familia and for all the wonderful memories that we are making.

Jenny Hobbs

Jenny Hobbs

Salt Lake City, UT