Made It Back Safely To The Other Side

Good morning, everyone!

I would like for everyone to know that I made it back safely to Washington DC! I must admit that I was nervous about being interrogated by the Dominican custom authorities as I exited the country. Nonetheless, I made it through without any hassles and I did not even have to pay the fine for overstaying my visa.

I felt so relieved as I walked towards my assigned gate to await my connecting flight to Puerto Rico Wednesday afternoon. As I waited, I walked around and enjoyed the feeling of being a “free man” again; browsing the different stores and enjoying a nice cup of coffee. As the time came for me to board, I returned to find out that my flight had been delayed for 4 hours. Then I was told that I would have to wait and return tomorrow at the same time. I immediately started to worry about my parents who were driving 4 hours from Lynchburg, Va. to meet me. I negotiated another flight that would bring me in early Thursday morning. I phoned my parents to let them know that it would be one more night in the Dominican Republic (they’ve been waiting for this day for a while now). They were content knowing I was given a voucher for hotel, transportation and food.

The following morning I returned to the airport and had to go through the same process with the Dominican authorities. Again, I made it through without any hassle. Coming into the USA via Boston it was cold, snowy and I was thoroughly interrogated about overstaying my visa in the DR. Eventually, I was allowed to pass through. It feels good to be back home, despite the colder weather. I’m excited to see the many friends and family members who supported me through this difficult chapter of my life. I’m grateful to have such wonderful support and readers who’ve followed my story since the beginning.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I look forward to keeping you all informed about life after being trapped in other country. I will miss the Dominican Republic..the tropical beaches, sancocho soup, the many wonderful people, bachata music, motoconchos, and fried fish along the riverside. However, its time to reflect, restore and move forward.

Much love,

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I’m Coming Home!

Thursday marked 3 months since the robbery and fire. However, Friday I received the final document officially dropping all charges and which gives me permission to finally leave the Dominican Republic.

The days of waiting have been humdrum and routine. I felt like the character in Ground Hogs Day. It was easy to forget the day of the week and the date. It was easy to succumb to occasional depression and anxiety. I tried to stay active and to enjoy more of the present moment. That included long walks on the beach, swimming in the ocean, taking kayaking lessons, morning motorcycle rides through the countryside, small conversations with foreigners and locals, giving English classes, people watching, writing, billards and simply laying on the beach and continuing to dream. What will the next chapter of my life be? Where will I go? Where will my dreams take me next?

During my last week in Cabarete I moved in with a couple of Dominican friends in the nearby town called Sabaneta. This allowed me to save money and the opportunity to be in the company of others. I had to fletch water from the backyard well in order to bathe…a humbling experience to say the least. However, I learned the importance of still believing in others and, most importantly, myself! I could not have gone thru this without the continual support of my family, friends and extended community of people I haven’t seen in years…I’m one lucky individual! I appreciate you all and look forward to seeing each and every one of you upon my return.

Due to last minute logistics I have not yet bought my ticket home. I will keep everyone updated. In the mean time, I’ve returned back to Santo Domingo with the family of my good friend, Miguel.

Thanks again for taking the time to read my story!

“What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”

The Waiting Game

Today marks two months since the fire and robbery. Despite having paid the negotiation to the lawyers of the rental agency two weeks ago I’m still unable to leave the country. I’m currently awaiting the federal prosecutor to officially dropped the charges. Initially I was told everything would be cleared as early as last week. Yesterday I returned to the northern coast to inquire as to why things are taking so long. Along with my lawyer I went directly to the Department of Justice. We were informed that the federal prosector for my case is currently “on vacation”….frustrating to say the least! My lawyer inquired about having another prosecutor to review my case in order to expedite the process. We spoke with another and she stated that there’s nothing she can do and that I must await the return of the one assigned to my case.

This obviously left me annoyed and with many more questions. As I asked over a dozen questions to my lawyer and members of the Justice Department, I was told that there still remains a possibility the prosector could pursue the charges against me since it is a public case. Upon hearing this I definitely became scared. My lawyer immediately debunked that statement and told me not to worry.

So what’s to expect next? On Monday I will return to the Justice Department in Puerto Plata will my lawyer. Hopefully my assigned prosector will return from vacation. If/when he decides to officially lift the charges we have to return before the judge. I’m told then I will be able to leave. I am hoping this can be all done as soon as early next week. In the mean time I’m trying to stay calm, faithful and optimistic.

Thanks for your continued support and prayers!

Next week…fingers crossed!

Happy 1st day of February! I can’t believe that it will be almost two months ago that the fire took place. A lot of people are wondering if I’ve returned back to the States. I’m currently still here…still playing the waiting game. On Friday the 24th of January my lawyer and I met with the lawyers of the rental agency. I gave them the money negotiated and they gave me a notarized document dropping all charges. The reason for the delay in the exchange of money was due to money gram. Long story short, when my lawyer and I went to retrieve a transfer from my parents the bank here stated that the money was “already paid out”. They later admitted a system error and told me it would be 3 business days to get. That ended up being over a week.

Now that we have the document dropping charges, I’m waiting for the judge to sign off. Initially I was told that it would be as early as Wednesday. However, my lawyer just called and said it would take longer. I’m not sure why but they keep reiterating that “you’re not in the US”…meaning things just take time. I’m trying to be patient, strong and faithful all at the same time. So it looks like the earliest I can get a flight will be next week.

I continue to appreciate your support, thoughts and prayers! I’m optimistic that this chapter of my life is coming to a gradual end and I’m looking forward to moving forward.

Sincerely,

Sherman

Offer Accepted!

Yesterday morning I returned back to Cabarete. The purpose was to meet with my lawyer and start the negotiation process with the rental agency.  They did not accept our first two offers. We offered a third. This morning I received a call that the lawyers for the rental agency agreed on $5,500. So it looks like Monday or Tuesday this will take place. This is a limit to the amount of cash I can take out daily per banking regulations. So the faster I show them cash, the faster I receive their document dropping both criminal and civil charges against me. As I stated before, there is a process before I can leave the country. According the my lawyer the process is as follows:
1) receive signed document of dropped charges;
2) take the same document to local police station where charges where initially filed and receive their stamp;
3) take same document to the Judicial Palace for their stamp;
4) take same document to Department of Immigrations to have my name take off the “no-fly” list.
Unfortunately, their institutions are not as well connected which is why the process could take up to a week. However, I will try my best to have it done as fast as possible. In the mean time, I want you all to know that I’m safe and feeling content. However, I would be remiss not to mention that I feel awkward for having to pay for a situation of which I am the victim. I’ve lost more than just money while being in the Dominican Republic. I lost more than my burnt clothes and other personal items, including a poster my students signed for me on my last day of teaching…I lost my desire to stay in a beautiful place where I feel I could have contributed and invested a lot more than the things stolen from me. Maybe one day I will come back…I met many great Dominicans along the way. But for now, I’m ready for move forward.
I thank you all for your continued support, thoughts and contributions. So many of you helped in very unique ways. I will let you know as the updates come.
This ordeal is one step closer to coming to an end.
Sincerely,