As many of you who have spent time in the Caribbean know, a washing machine can be quite an electric hog. My high efficiency washer here in the States would be impossible to run on my rock, the Dominican Republic. It may be water efficient and mostly energy efficient, but the cycle is so long that it would end up using twice the amount of energy as the old version washers you see here use.

Many of the expats we’ve met in DR have a love/hate relationship with island washers. The washers are simply a spinner that you use a hose to fill. You then manually drain the water and hang your clothes to dry in the sun and wind. (A dryer is even more of a luxury here, as it uses as much electricity as an air-conditioning unit. We have heard there are gas powered dryers, which is something we’re considering for those towels and sheets that take so long to dry outdoors!)

We only had to use a “Dominican washer” once to decide that we were willing to pay extra for the convenience of a “normal washer.” This was during our first stay in our island house over Christmas and New Year’s 2015. Until we create a utility room on top of a future larger cistern that we’re planning to build on the back of the house, we decided we will have to keep the washer in the kitchen for now, European style.

We had quite a time searching for a washer in DR. We knew we could buy a Whirlpool standard washer for about RD $24.000 at La Sirena in Puerto Plata (about a 2.5 hour drive). On the way, we stopped at Inoa y Reyes just before Cabarete and saw the same washer for RD $21.000,00 cash. Unfortunately, we didn’t have that much in cash, so we drove into Cabarete to get dinero from an ATM. On the way, next to Janet’s Supermercado, there was an appliance repair and sales place and we spotted the exact same washer (two months old, gently used) for RD 18.000,00 cash. A little negotiating brought it down to RD $15K – the equivalent of about $200 USD less than we had been prepared to pay. Talk about an island score!

But then, as is so often the case in the islands, there was a little hiccup…

The thread I started on Expat.com seeking help with our washer saga is a real time account of the whole, tedious affair. Here are my posts:

–   –   –

Post 1

If anyone knows the used appliance store next to Janet’s supermarket in Cabarete and knows whether or not the guy is trustworthy, we would appreciate some advice. We bought a used washer (Whirlpool… we have photos) and discovered after hooking it up with full water pressure and full generator power that it did not work. We called and told him we were bringing it back and wanted our money back and long story short, he claims the washer is repaired. But they aren’t open and we are leaving DR for a bit. Is there any chance he will honor his guarantee and deliver it to us? Would having a local talk to him help or a lawyer?

 

Post 2

Just an update! We got the washer back and it “turns on” (meaning the lights come on… haven’t attempted a load because we’re back in the states at the moment). After calling and requesting to return the washer for the cash, we showed up with the washer and the owner was gone with the money to take his sick wife to Santiago (grain of salt…it was possible…although odd that he would take the money we had been told would be waiting for us…) So, with a receipt stating that the washer was returned and assurances that the money would be there the next day (from the owner via the phone in his store), we made the bad choice of leaving the washer and found out that they were not open the next day (New Year’s Eve) even though they assured us they were going to be. So we left DR thinking this was our first lesson in what can happen, but have friends back in Cabrera who offered to pursue the issue… and were successful! But, to his credit…he fixed the washer (we hope) and our friends went and picked it up! So, no harm no foul…hopefully! Lesson learned: You have to have someone local (and very fluent in Spanish) to help you out of these sort of binds when you don’t live there full-time.

Post 3

Update to our used washer episode: It works! So now I can officially say everything went well!

So the list of surprises in building our island home remains at 10: Water lines cut, and then cut again; power lines cut by Edenorte; two toilets stolen; one pane of a three panel sliding door stolen; one pool pump replaced; one cistern pump replaced; two circuit breaker boxes corrected (…looked like someone rigged a bomb so it would explode if tampered with!); three pad locks cut and replaced because keys couldn’t be found; sand filter plug hot-glued back into place; and counting…

Post 4

 Okay, final chapter on our washer saga. Turns out to “repair the fuse” meant to rip out the circuit board of the washer and slap in a much simpler board (probably from a Dominican washer) and break the connections that allow hot water to be added, or load size to be selected, etc. So, it works… but, not beyond filling with cold water and spinning… LOL. So it’s essentially a Dominican washer now. We’re thinking we will be bringing a new circuit board to install and will maybe bring the guy back his old circuit board so that he can rig together another fix! Ha!

–   –   –

Washer Status:

We replaced the whole circuit board from a parts place on Amazon or Ebay for like $20 and later some springs for $18 and it worked like a dream and even washed with hot/warm water! So much better!

 

Final Note:

The gentleman’s shop has since disappeared.

 

Final Final Note:

Never mind the above.
RIP used washer. We had to buy a new one today…
 
This post was originally published on Brodies in Paradise.

Written By:

Rene Lee

Current Rock of Residence:

The Big Rock of the Dominican Republic

Island Girl Since:

2015

Originally Hails From:

Michigan

Rene once made the mistake of exclaiming to the heavens, “I would rather live anywhere other than Southeastern Michigan!” And guess what? The Gods deemed her in need of a lesson in humility. She then spent the next 20+ years raising a family in… yep, you guessed it: Metro Detroit! Having learned that one’s locale most definitely shapes one’s quality of life, she set off to find a tropical paradise to call home. Stop numero uno was Cabrera, a little farming town on the north coast of the Dominican Republic away from tourists and resorts. Next stop was… no wait, there was no next place to visit. She fell in love with Cabrera and has a cute little casa with a pool on a hill taking in the trade winds off the wide blue Atlantic Ocean. Much better.

She’s currently a part-time rock dweller in transition to full-time. She’s learning that her life can be much simpler, that deadlines and meetings and the rush-rush of a North American modern existence isn’t real life. Young Rene traveled and read books and painted, met amazing people from all over the world, and never owned a TV.  Mature Rene looks forward to those things again on her big rock in the Caribbean Sea.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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