A few years ago, while vacationing in Mexico, I decided to rent a scooter. It was an old, beat up, scooter, but it was functional and cheap. I had a lot of fun with it, and the day came when it was time to prepare to go home, so I headed back to the shop where I’d rented the scooter, and proceeded to cross the street to return it, but I hit a barrier and took a minor tumble. A piece of plastic broke off the scooter – and the owner had been sitting in front of his shop the entire time watching me!
I wasn’t hurt… at least not physically, but I was embarrassed. I expected the owner to have me fill out a bunch of paperwork, pay a hefty fee and document everything. That’s how it would work in the US. Instead, he laughed, looked at it, and suggested $10 as compensation. This was in Cozumel, an island with a reputation for friendliness.
Fast forward to 2021, and I’m about to check in for my flight from Nashville to Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. It was a fairly long wait to reach the check in lady, and when I got there, she asked me for my “electronic check in code” or something to that effect. I had no idea what she was talking about, as this was not required last time I’d traveled internationally. She explained that this requirement had been in place for a few months, and she gave me a piece of paper with a bar code on it. Luckily, I was able to struggle through the process on my smart phone and produce the bar code she needed to get checked in. It was a stressful situation – and nobody had said anything about needing such a bar code to enter Dominican Republic at the other end of my trip…
Upon arrival in Puerto Plata, I breezed through Immigration, but when I got to Customs, the attendant asked me for my electronic check in barcode. When I made it clear that I had none, and hadn’t realized I needed it, he smiled and said, “try to remember for next time,” and let me through.
What is it like to rent an apartment in Costambar, the suburb I’m now staying in? Having helped my daughter look for apartments in the US, I did expect some paperwork, a background check, a deposit, first and last month’s rent, fees and an interview of some kind. Instead, all that was involved was taking a photo of my passport, paying rent for the expected time I’ll be here, and actually moving in. I’m guessing that evictions are a lot simpler here than in the US. Therefore, rentals are also a lot simpler: Establish your ID, pay the money and move in. I haggled a bit about whether I’m paying the monthly rate or the daily rate, and right now it’s “daily with the option of monthly if I choose to stay longer.” I’m hoping to move to another apartment if it becomes available. They seem to all come furnished and with swimming pools.
Life is too complicated in the US. Practically every human activity involves government bureaucracy, and is subject to reams of regulations and codes – all to “keep us safe.” At this point, many of us simply want to be safe from the bureaucracy, codes and regulations. It’s a case of the “cure” being worse than the disease. I’d rather live free and take the risks.