Traveling Solo vs Traveling with a Friend – Advantages and Disadvantages

I went to Cuba with my good friend Barb. She’s an enthusiastic young woman who’s both smart and attractive. Because accommodation and car rental prices would remain the same whether they serve one person or two, I thought that if I were to take that trip with a friend instead of going solo, the price would be more bearable and we could both enjoy an affordable, yet action packed vacation. This was in fact true and having Barb with me proved to have further advantages. If you’re in a country where average monthly wage equals to what you spend on a nice dinner for two back home, you get hustled a lot. This is understandable because one dollar is a lot of money for those people. However, regardless of how much you can relate and how much you would like to help, there is only so much you can do before you run out of resources and patience to put up with this. Hustling in third world countries is overwhelming and follows you on every step of your trip. Sooner or later it’s bound to get extremely irritating.

Photo: Me and My Friend Barb Traveling Together to Cuba. Picture Taken on a Plane to Varadero
Photo: Me and My Friend Barb Traveling Together to Cuba. Picture Taken on a Plane to Varadero

Having a friend by your side is a huge help in such cases. Not only does it allow you to use your friend as an excuse when all other excuses are countered, you are also less likely to fall for shady tricks because one of you two could pick up on it while the other one is talking. There is hardly ever such thing as a friendly local whose sole interest is to help you – even though that’s the way they present it. They are only and solely looking to help themselves, however they are ready and willing to say anything that will make you spend that dollar. And after spending a lifetime of trickery pulled on foreigners visiting their land, they know very well what works and what doesn’t so you can count on right psychology to be used against you. Having a moral back up in form of a friend who’s on your side is invaluable and could save you from a lot of disappointment.

However after Cuba, I went to the Dominican Republic solo. While Cuba was mind-blowingly awesome, The Dominican Republic was even better. Yes, I had to pick up the tab for car rental and the rooms myself with no one chipping in and yes, I had no one to help me out when locals were trying to take advantage of me, but I had no one to discuss where we’re going and what we’re doing next, whether we’re going to pull over and have a beer where those hot chicks are or not, etc. There was no one to compromise with, no one to be telling me that hitting on random chicks was boring, no one to go through their backpack while I was feeling like taking a nap.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both traveling solo and traveling with a friend (or a group). I have learned overtime that traveling solo strums my cord better than traveling with someone else. But it truly is nothing more than a personal preference. The best way to take it is by having your mind open. For me personally – I know that I will start each travel on my own, however if I was to meet someone interesting along the way who wishes to explore the same place as me or is heading in the same direction as me, I would not mind for them to join me for as long as they don’t mind me joining them. We’ll enjoy each other’s company and when we hit the place where our paths part, we will simply go each our own way.

I do personally like travelling solo better than traveling with a friend but that doesn’t mean I would ditch latter for former. Again, there are advantages and disadvantages to traveling with a friend as there are advantages and disadvantages to traveling solo. You will probably figure out which works best for you after you have tried them both.

Photo: Girl from the Dominican Republic I Wouldn't Have Met If I Wasn't Traveling Solo
Photo: Girl from the Dominican Republic I Wouldn't Have Met If I Wasn't Traveling Solo

There is one specific advantage to traveling solo, though which applies particularly if you are on the road for a long time. As you move from place to place, you meet many interesting people – both locals and other fellow travelers. Some happen to be interesting to a point that you would like to get closer with them. Having a partner traveling with you could hold you back and prevent you from exploring this part of local culture. Whereas if you travel solo, you are on your own devices and you decide what you do with your time and who you spend it with. If you want to get to know someone you have met while traveling, as a solo traveler you can do it without issues. But if you travel with a friend or with someone you’re in a relationship with, you are likely to give in on the opportunity without even trying or else it could cause needless tension. And that strips you from some of the most joyous experiences you could stumble across while traveling.

I’m not necessarily talking about having sex with people you meet on the road. People engage in all sorts of activities many of which could not be presented to you because you are there with somebody, or you could feel awkward explaining the wheres and whys. Being with somebody, regardless of what type of relationship is between you makes each of you feel as though you are responsible for answering to one another. But being on your own leaves you answering to no one but yourself. You don’t need to explain anything to anyone if you want to do something spontaneous.

When you travel solo, you don’t have to take care of anyone. There are no rules, no restrictions, no boundaries, except from those you set for yourself. On the other hand, traveling solo also means that there could be no one for you when you need to talk. There could be no one to offer different perspective when you could be opting for something that may not be good for you. There are advantages and disadvantages to both traveling with a friend and traveling solo. You should always explore both possibilities and find one that works best for you. And keep in mind that the universe likes change. If you’ve been on the road on your own for a while, don’t oppose the offer to explore the city you have just got to with someone who just got there too.

Formatted CF Card Files Recovered

As soon as I got back to Canada from the Dominican Republic where my laptop was stolen I started the process of data recovery from the Compact Flash card I have previously formatted. I believed I will be able to recover most of the files that previously occupied the unused space of the card, however there were many files on the card that were taken after I have formatted it. The space these new files occupied was unrecoverable. The question now stood – which of the files missing will I not get back because the sectors have been overwritten with new data.

I must say it comes with great relief that the process of recovery went without major problems and I did recover most of the files I lost when my laptop was stolen. There were more than 7,000 pictures on my CF card when I formatted it and I recovered more than 5,000. The files I was not able to recover were those that were overwritten by new files and unless I get my laptop back (I still keep hoping that by some magic divine intervention I’ll get it back) I won’t see them again. However I can’t complain because after I found out that my laptop was stolen and realized that I lost all of the pictures I took in South East Asia, I was truly devastated. Seeing most of the pictures again was a great relief.

Photo: Sandisk Extreme III Compact Flash Card I Recovered Formatted Data From
Photo: Sandisk Extreme III Compact Flash Card I Recovered Formatted Data From

This basically means that I’ll be able to continue with my journal without the need to skip and never cover the rest of my trip in Cambodia and my enjoyable stay in Vietnam and Thailand. Most of the pictures I am missing are from Siem Reap, Cambodia. Those include smaller temples in and around town, and small venues and cultural events I visited or participated in before going to Angkor Wat Archaeological Park. Occasional image here and there is missing from the rest of the card as well, but I’m still happy and grateful that I was able to get 5,000 unspoiled pictures back. I do not have any of the emails I sent and received since August 2009, I don’t have any contact information on people I met during my travels, I lost all of the documents I was working on, website updates, videos and so on and unless I get my laptop back, I may never see those again, but at least I have most of my pictures back because pictures will serve as memories for years and years to come.

I have a lot of work ahead of me trying to catch up with where I was before my laptop got stolen. So much headache caused by one malicious person who did not hesitate to steal from me while I was helping her. It was a really painful and expensive way to pay for my willingness to make the world a better place. I keep my head up high and remain positive about the fact that for each bad person, there are a dozen nice people. Getting over this horrible experience will take some time, catching up with loss it caused will take a lot of money and extra work, but I do keep my head up high and continue looking forward because no matter how much I like it or not, I cannot change the past. It has happened. I had my laptop stolen for being trusting and eager to help. It’s time to learn from my own mistakes and move forward. I did all I could to recover my laptop and so far it has not paid off, however If I am meant to get it back, I will. In the meantime, I’m moving on and looking forward to new, better life ahead of me.

Politur Dominicana aka Dominican Republic Tourist Police

As soon as I found out that my laptop was stolen, I wanted to report the crime with the Dominican Republic Tourist Police known domestically as Politur Dominicana. Because looking up Politur in Santo Domingo proved excessively difficult, I eventually reported the theft to the Policia Nacional which is the national police of the Dominican Republic used primarily for investigation of crime not involving tourists. Unfortunately Policia Nacional officers don’t speak any foreign languages so communication is difficult and while they are pretty much useless and will make you feel that they are filing a report, but nothing will get done on your case, they are actually much better than Politur. If Policia Nacional seems completely useless and uninterested in investigating any crimes, Politur is even bigger a joke. Politur is there to show intentions of the Dominican government to ensure safety for all travellers, but when it comes to it, Politur will do even less than Policia Nacional would.

I reported my laptop theft to the Policia Nacional because I was unable to find the office of Politur Dominicana and everyone I’d asked for help was useless and unable to offer any assistance in the regard. But after I was done, I still wanted to bring it up with Politur thinking that they might be more interested in investigating the crime because I was a tourist and that’s what they are – a Tourist police. Politur officers are also supposed to speak at least one foreign language each so I thought I might be able to explain the theft in more detail, detail Policia Nacional never cared about hearing, such as the description of the suspect or where I picked her up and dropped her off.

When I got my first chance to go on the internet at the internet cafe, I looked up the Politur website and contacted them via their contact form with al relevant details, including my case’s file number so they can look me up with the National Police. They have never even bothered to respond back. Not even as much as just acknowledging that they have received my email and will be processing it. Not even as much as telling me that I can go eff myself cause they are too busy cruising their motorcycles. Simply nothing – they have likely just deleted my email to never be bothered with again.

Uselessness of Politur Dominicana was later confirmed by a person from the Canadian embassy in the Dominican Republic. Upon my return back to Canada, I found out that serial number I have provided Policia Nacional with was not actual serial number of my stolen laptop, but its item number, which is a whole different thing. This is the number that appeared on the invoice from Future Shop where I had purchased the laptop and it was the only number I had. I thought it was the serial number, but for some reason Future Shop doesn’t put serial numbers of their receipts, but rather irrelevant item numbers. I still had the box my laptop came in so after I’d returned home, I checked out the box to verify the serial number, only to find out that number on the receipt is not it.

I really didn’t think Dominican police will do anything about my case, but I still wanted to make sure they had correct serial number on file. Sometimes when larger operations are pulled – such as busts of drug houses – various articles are seized which oftentimes include stolen items. If during such unrelated bust my laptop was recovered, they would not have it registered as stolen because my file shows different serial number on it, not one matching the unit. Hence even though seemingly pointless, I still wanted to make sure Policia Nacional had my correct serial number on file.

Photo: Politur Dominicana Motorbike
Photo: Politur Dominicana Motorbike

But how would I go about having it changed? Politur is useless. They don’t act on any emails sent to them so that would be the waste of time. Policia Nacional are too busy sleeping to be bothered. So the only way to get it updated seemed by getting Canadian ambassador call them and get them to do it. Embassy people are paid from taxes of us, regular Canadians. It is their duty and their purpose to assist all Canadians who need assistance in that given country. So when I emailed Canadian Embassy in the Dominican Republic, I was happy to have received a response the following day letting me know that the captain with whom I filed my report was contacted and updated my file with correct serial number. It’s always a smart thing to do to contact the embassy of your country in the foreign land if you get in trouble there. That’s precisely why they are there, paid by dollars of tax payers.

In my case, Mr. Yanik Beauregard who’s Senior Consular Officer in the Office of the Embassy of Canada in Punta Cana showed me that he’s worth his money and took immediate and appropriate action to assist the citizen he represents and contacted me back in timely manner to inform me that my request has been completed and that the file has been updated as per my instructions. His response included the following:

I have contacted the Department of Crimes and Investigations of Policia Nacional and spoke personally with Capitan Dipre, who wrote your report. He informed me that they are still investigating your case and will inform us as soon as they have new developments. I also provided him with the proper serial number of the laptop (ZBBX93ES700101), as requested below.

For your information, the Embassy of Canada does not perform investigations in foreign countries. This has to be done by the local authorities. We do liaise with them and collaborate and exchange information in order to help Canadian Citizens. You have done the right thing by reporting the theft to the local police (Policia Nacional).

Great job, Canadian Embassy in the Dominican Republic and thank you for swift and useful actions. But let me get back to useless Politur – don’t assume for one second that just because Politur are meant to be there for you the tourist, that they will actually be there for you. Politur is useless.

Good Bye San Pedro de Macoris

This was it. I was leaving the Dominican Republic the following day and only had a few more hours for San Pedro de Macoris. I had to drive overnight to Punta Cana to get there in time for return of my rental car and check in for the flight. The die was cast – I did what I could to recover my laptop but it didn’t work out. Yet. I however knew that I was leaving with one strong contact in San Pedro de Macoris on whom I could rely. Domingo became my good friend and I feel truly grateful for all the help he provided me with. My time in the Dominican Republic was up and I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there. Getting my laptop stolen by a person I was helping was a terrible experience that will put the country on my personal black list.

Before saying my final Good Bye to San Pedro de Macoris, I wanted to have one more beer with Domingo and hoped lovely Keira would be there to join us. We drove down to San Pedro’s Malecon and yes, Keira was there. She looked stunning and was happy to see us as much as we were to see her. She’s an amazing companion who made my time spent at the beer there very enjoyable. It gave her sads when I mentioned that I was leaving San Pedro de Macoris to catch the plane in Punta Cana the following day. It meant that this was the last time we are seeing each other to which she reacted in such genuine and sweet way it made me feel warm after all the disappointment in the Dominican Republic so far.

I made two wonderful friends in San Pedro – Domingo and Keira even though Domingo later corrected me to make it three, because his wife considered it a pleasure to have met me and enjoyed the time with me. To her, all Domingo’s friends are also friends of hers and are welcome anytime to their house. I tried to look at the bright side of life and told myself that all of the laptops of the world are temporary, but true friendships are forever. Keira insisted that I come to the Dominican Republic again. She promised that this time around it will be her who catches a ride with me and she’s no thief. She enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed hers and was shocked I was leaving because it meant she was not gonna get a chance to spend more time with me. She thought I was gonna be here for at least a few more days but the reason I was not too social during my stay was that I felt down all the time after my laptop got stolen.

Keira was a sweetheart from start to end. Domingo was an amazing support from start to end. So much headache caused by laptop theft but if it wasn’t for this stolen laptop, I would have never met these two wonderful people. I was torn between my feeling of hatred towards the country that put me through the biggest stress of my life and love for it because of wonderful people who showed so much support and offered so much unconditional help. There are good people in every walk of life and one must strive to not ignore them. This is something I’ve always been aware of but my mind was clouded by ruthless crime committed against me.

My last moments in San Pedro de Macoris were truly enjoyable. Keira has a little sister who despite her young age (she’s 8 year old) could speak great English. I had one last pack of chewing gums on me because I gave all the rest to Domingo’s children when we went to visit them at the place of his former wife so I gave it to Keira’s little sister who rewarded me with the sweetest “Thank You” I have ever heard. San Pedro de Macoris is not a tourist trap. The town is on the coast, but it doesn’t have the beach or anything otherwise attractive to tourists so locals don’t see many foreigners there. As such these people are more genuine and unlike Dominicans from popular tourist areas, they are not used to getting free gifts in exchange for looking cute. When I gave little Shakira (Keira’s sister’s name) chewing gums, it was the most genuine child’s appreciation I have ever seen. So definitely worth it.

Alas, I had to bid my friends good bye. Domingo was a little concerned about me driving over night all the way to Punta Cana but I explained that I actually preferred to drive at night because traffic is less crazy and I needed to get there early anyway so I have time buffer in case something goes wrong. Leaving my great new friends was not easy, but I really needed to go back home to Canada as I had a lot of stuff to take care of now that my laptop was gone. I said my final good byes to San Pedro de Macoris, sat in a car and drove off into the night.

Getting on the Dominican Radio Stations

The rumor of a Canadian guy who was robbed spread across San Pedro de Macoris quickly. My story was published in local newspaper and featured on national TV. Domingo lined up three live interviews during prime time hours with three of San Pedro’s top radio stations. I can’t speak any Spanish, but with Domingo by my side I had nothing to worry about. It was weird, but through my misfortune with stolen laptop I ended up getting an opportunity to be on the Dominican Radio.

It was a weekday which meant Domingo had to go to the college in the morning where he works as a teacher. He said he was gonna ask the principal whether he’d release him so he can assist me with interviews on the radio. He was gonna explain to him what exactly is happening with me and why it is important that he goes to the radio stations with me. Unfortunately the college was short staffed for the week so he was only released for one and a half hour. This was enough to get us on two live shows with two different radio stations.

First we went to Jumbo shopping mall in San Pedro where on the second floor is the studio of Radio FM 103 (if I’m not mistaken about the name) and after that we headed to another one the name of which I can’t recall but it’s presumably hosted by the most popular radio host in San Pedro. The guy also took a picture of me and was gonna post it along with my story on his website which is frequented by young locals. He also said he was gonna keep making an announcement that I am offering a $1,000 reward for return of my laptop for a week, three times a day as he host three different live shows each day.

I’ve done my best to give my story exposure in town in hopes that it will reach either the ears of the girl who stole my laptop or a person she may have sold it to. One way or another, I knew she was not gonna get a grand for it if she were to sell it so my offer was more than generous. There was material on that laptop that’s of great value to me so I was able to give financial reward for safe return of it back to my hands – no questions asked.

This was my last full day in the Dominican Republic. I spent my 7 day long vacation trying to recover my stolen laptop. I knew I did all I could and even though I didn’t manage to get my laptop back, the message was out there so I could leave the Dominican Republic with some hope that I may see my laptop one day. Statistically, more than 97% of all stolen laptops are never recovered. Chances of me having luck with it were extremely slim. I’ve tried my best, I’ve sacrificed my vacation to chase for its recovery. I hope it was not all in vain and karma will bring it back to me by some means.

Dominican Ice Cream

It rained most of the day today and at one point it was coming down so heavily, the streets were filled with three feet of water. There didn’t seem to be any drainage system in place in San Pedro de Macoris even though the town is right on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. Driving through flooded streets near disabled my brakes. I was in a 4×4 SUV so I could plow through it, but as I got out of the flood, brakes would not work. There was no resumption for a while but I kept stepping on them after acceleration to heat them back up as I figured they don’t wark because water cooled them down rapidly.

Domingo tried calling the number of the potential notebook theft suspect, but there was no answer. We made appointments to appear on live radio shows the following day and decided to wrap this one up as it was nearing midnight already.

Domingo mentioned that he told his wife about me and how I was robbed by a girl I was helping and said it made his wife very upset. She was angry at the girl for doing it and could not take it off her mind. Since it was nighttime again and I was as stressed as can be because my time in the Dominican Republic was running out yet I still have not recovered my stolen laptop, I asked Domingo if he would go for a beer with me again and asked him if his wife would be interested in joining us. He phoned her up and made arrangements for her to dress up so she’s ready by the time we get to his house.

Domingo has a beautiful wife. They ended up in this weird relationship because she was once married and had two children but her husband abandoned them. He simply picked up one day and disappeared never to come back. Domingo on the other hand was also married and had two children with his wife whom he caught on several occasions at home doing bumping business with another man. He was putting up with it for as long as he could but eventually had to go his own way. Now he’s married to a woman whose previous marriage didn’t work out either, but they seem very happy together and create a beautiful couple.

I knew Domingo didn’t drink and I was sure his wife didn’t either. I was gonna have my Presidente Grande again and thought Domingo will do a small one, but didn’t want to drag his wife into this drinking game so I suggested that take her to an ice cream parlor. The plan was to get a big ice cream for Domingo’s wife so she can savor it while the two of us are sipping on Dominican beer.

We walked into that ice cream place which was just on the opposite side of the road from those mini bars by the shore and as we were choosing which ice cream to get, a girl working there offered us samples of a caramel one. I had my taste buds focused on beer which I was gonna chug in a minute but I gave that ice cream sample a try and was blown away. That ice cream was so good I don’t think I’ve ever tasted ice cream this irresistible. One small sample and my mouth was watering with lust. Dominican ice cream is the best. It was so insanely awesome I was seriously contemplating ditching beer and having a cone instead.

Despite amazingly tasting ice cream I have resisted the urge and stayed true to my original intention to grab a beer before sleep. We went back to the bar where Keira served us the night before, but she was not there and their bar was closed. That was kind of disappointing but Domingo explained that many social places in the Dominican Republic are not open every day. Sometimes owners get a better gig somewhere else, sometimes they simply take care of their private matters and sometimes it’s simply not worth it as some days during the week are generally slow. We ordered beer elsewhere, I took Domingo and his wife back to their home and set out on my own way to get some sleep. Still insanely stressed out because of that laptop theft. but I tried my best to get some rest at night. That Dominican ice cream was seriously yummy, though.

More Stolen Laptop Tracking

I made clear plans to continue with my stolen laptop tracking the following day. I met with Domingo and Cesar – guy who knew the girl who may have been the one who stole my laptop and we went to her house again. This time I provided Cesar with a whole pile of instructions on what to do and what to say in any possible situation that could arise. I was gonna stay out of direct contact so the possibility to bribe the suspect remained untouched. Afterall, my primary goal was to get my laptop back, not to launch any form of revenge. Tracking down the thief and offering her payout to get my laptop back which would be higher than what she could get from any pawn shop owner seemed like a smart way to go.

Cesar came back with not very good news. The girl who left for Santo Domingo on Friday last week has still not returned. Last time her family heard from her was when she was leaving. This could mean that she’s still in Santo Domingo shopping for the best offer on her newly acquired laptop or that she’s already sold it and is living it up with the money gained. Luckily, Cesar followed my instruction and got her cell phone number. That was his task to do in case she’s still not there.

Now I had the phone number and gave instructions to Domingo to call her and told him what to say to make it work. Domingo did call, but there was no answer. We have tried to call several times that evening but while her phone was ringing, nobody was picking it up.

The day of my return to Canada was approaching. I was really looking forward to it as I couldn’t wait to get out of the Dominican Republic, but if I were to leave without my laptop, it would drop the chances of recovery to infinity. I was considering this option and wanted to do everything in my power to make the message I had to say in the Dominican Republic heard. I asked Domingo to take me to popular media outlets in San Pedro and ask them to cover my story. Since economy of the Dominican Republic is vastly dependent on tourism, having a citizen of Canada in distress approaching media after a terrible experience in their own country, they should be more than willing to respond and use their reach to spread my message. It was already after dark, but we sat back in my rental car and drove around San Pedro de Macoris to visit several radio stations to ask them to announce that I am offering $1,000 reward in exchange for recovery of my stolen laptop. My stolen laptop tracking was yielding some results, but the vision of holding it in my hands was still very distant.

Keira the Bar Girl

Domingo directed me to a road that stretches along San Pedro’s malecon, which is the sea-side of this coastal town. Southern side of the road, the one closer to the sea is lined by small booth like, independently owned and run bars. These look like roofed hot-dog stands you would take with you to a fair to sell from, but inside they were full of shelves with booze and fridges with cold beer. It was already almost 10pm and there were many cars parked along this side of the street but I was able to find one spot and poked my rental there. We sat at the booth closest to the car.

The booth seemed served by a mother and daughter. One young lady in her early 20’s and one in her 40’s looked strikingly similar to not be mistaken for family. Pretending I was joyous I ordered myself one large beer (Presidente Grande) and a small one for Domingo (Presidente Pequena) as he insisted he couldn’t do the large one – he’s a non drinker, but made an exception for me. Young bar lady served us these beers right from the freezer with frost covering the glass. We were just meters from the sea so the sound of waves bashing against rocky shores accompanied our drinking time. Unfortunately, as it goes in the Dominican Republic, many of surrounding bars were competing in who has the most powerful speakers and played that atrociously irritating Dominican Music extremely loud. Luckily, the tiny outdoor bar we were in was a bit further from main sources of noise so we could actually talk to each other and hear what we’re saying.

I was eager to try to forget the ordeal I was going through at least for a couple of minutes which was luckily not difficult since Domingo was a really nice and positive guy who made me feel comfortable even though I was still in the country I started to perceive as extremely hostile. To top it all up, young bar girl who served us beers joined the debate and tried her English skills with me. It was funny because she lacked knowledge of fundamental vocabulary, but was familiar with phrases I would not expect a beginner to know – such as “give me five”.

Despite difficulties and utter sadness, I felt happy for a moment. Domingo was a great companion and that bar girl added her gracious presence to the equation so I could take my mind away from the pain I was feeling inside. Domingo told me that he’s seen way too many people like me being robbed by bad people of the Dominican Republic. He confirmed that I was not the first, nor will be the last who had something valuable stolen from them. He also said that relying on the police in the Dominican Republic is completely futile not only because they won’t do nothing, but also because if they did find my stolen laptop, they would not give it to me. They would simply keep it for themselves. That’s the way it works in the Dominican Republic and whether I liked it or not, my presence was not gonna change it.

When we were done drinking I had to take Domingo back home to his wife. he had school to go to the following day anyway so I couldn’t keep him up too long. I was really happy to have found a friend in this country despite of all the trouble I was experiencing because of bad Dominicans. Domingo was right – there are too many dishonest Dominicans in this country who will not hesitate to steal from a person who is helping them, but he also insisted that among all the bad apples, there are some good people here too. I knew he was one of them and after the bar girl learned about my ordeal, she offered a great deal of compassion and support too. This day I made two new friends who made the rest of my stay in the Dominican Republic more enjoyable. As we were leaving, the girl introduced herself to us as Keira. It’s not a typical Dominican name but it’s cute and suited her well.

Visiting a Suspect of Laptop Theft

We drove a kilometer or two east of San Pedro de Macoris to get to a place where the girl who looks exactly like the one I described as thief of my laptop lived. The guy who knew her got off the car and went to ring the bell of the house. When he came back he said the girl was not at home. Her parents opened and told him that she left for Santo Domingo on Friday evening and has not returned yet. This information alone was a hit on the head of the nail. Friday evening is exactly when I picked up a girl who was hitch-hiking to get to Santo Domingo. Pieces of puzzle started to fall into each other and offer bigger picture. According to the boy, this girl looked exactly the way I have described and according to her parents, she left for Santo Domingo exactly on the day and at that time when I picked up the thief. This sounded just like the suspect I was after. My investigation was yielding some results, which was giving me hope that I could eventually recover my stolen laptop. And since Dominican police care less about investigating, I had to do it myself.

A visit to suspect’s house didn’t bring me closer to my laptop, but it suggested that things are moving in the right direction. We have returned back to the traffic circle to drop off that guy and I asked Domingo if he’d be interested in going to grab a beer with me. I was so stressed out as result of my stolen laptop I really needed a cold one. Domingo said he had a wife at home waiting for him, but he could do one beer. I really grew to like Domingo. He was a sincere guy, nothing like the thief who stole my laptop. His actions, his words, his eyes – none were lying. He was a sincerely good guy who felt really sorry for me and was willing to try to help regardless of reward. I lost near all hope in the Dominican Republic after this theft, and here I found a friend with whom I felt comfortable and didn’t have to worry about being robbed again. I was glad he accepted my invitation to go for a beer.

Stolen Laptop Recovery Reward

As I was done talking to Domingo, we went across the street to talk to the guys who were at the spot where I picked up a hitch-hiker who stole my laptop. Since these boys are there every day, they were the ones most likely to match the description of the thief with an actual person. Domingo was always by my side interpreting from English to Spanish and vice versa making everything go smoothly. When he translated my offer that I would pay a $1,000 reward for information that would lead to recovery of my stolen laptop, I noticed that the eyes of those guys instantly popped and their ears were listening faster than Domingo was able to speak.

I made it absolutely clear that I wanted my laptop back and was able and willing to pay a reward to a person who could get it back for me. $1,000 reward may not seem like a big deal to most western people, but it is a huge chunk of money in the Dominican Republic. It was clear that if I am able and willing to pay such reward, the Dominicans will instantly be able and willing to go out of their way to deserve it. I once again went through thorough description of the thief making my best to give as much information as I could recall, even though as a driver I kept my eyes locked on the road, not on my passenger so my memory of what she looked like is very sparse. Afterall, I am a responsible driver who realizes that my own safety as well as safety of all other people aboard are in my hands and I don’t take that lightly. Unfortunately, because of that I did not gawk at the thief so there were only sparse details.

Several key points I have mentioned instantly rang the bell of one of the boys from the area who said he knew who the girl was and knew where she lived. He said he remembered her because she comes here hitch-hiking for Santo Domingo often and spoke to her on several occasions. As somewhat friend, he knew her family and address so we got in the car and drove to where he said she lived. The reward I offered for recovery of my stolen laptop was a massive motivator so these boys were on their tiptoes to find the way to recover my laptop. Off we went to the house of potential thief.