So, just to get you up to speed, remember that Jenny and Steve are working on renting apartment 1435 in my building. And by “in my building” I mean “across the hall”. They are finally at the point where they agree to put down a deposit and are ready to proceed with the paperwork. We know it may not be smooth sailing, we hear the process is formidable, even for a Colombian. But we are all-in at this point so we put on our big girl and boy panties and are ready to see how it plays out.
The next day Jenny and Steve meet with the property management company yet again to “sign papers”. Signing papers turned into an 8-hour ordeal involving the real estate firm, a bank, another bank, a third bank, a notary lawyer, the insurance company and then finally being given a tour of the apartment. We are kind of wondering why no one finds it odd that this couple, in Colombia no more than 10 days, is ready to plunk down a $12,000 deposit on an apartment that they’ve “never seen”. No one seems to think that’s strange? But ok, we feel like we are in pretty deep at this point so Jenny and Steve just go along for the ride and say that yes, they’d love to see the apartment. This is now probably the 5th time they’ve been in the apartment thanks to the guard’s kind loaning of their set of keys, but Jenny and Steve are ready to prepare for their Best Actor and Actress performance.
Hearing that Jenny and Steve are headed over here for a tour, I prep the guards to pretend not to know them. For some reason we felt like this, “don’t tell anyone you’ve been here before” story was worth continuing. Why? We’re not sure. Anyway, they were scheduled to tour the apartment at 2 p.m., the exact time the Shermanitas are due home from school. So now I prep the niñas (through WhatsApp, which is literally my most-used app and I would cease to exist if it went down). I tell Haley and Zoe to play it cool and pretend not to know the Bates if they see them when they arrive back from school. The fact that we are the only 8 foreigners in this building and in a 2-square mile, well that’s hopefully going to go unnoticed.
This is where it gets funny. At 2 p.m. I’m minding my own business taking my stress out on a jigsaw puzzle, waiting to hear the tell-tale signs of an apartment tour across the hall. With the deck doors wide open I hear a crunch of a car accident down on the street somewhere. A few minutes later my phone rings and it’s Helpful Taxi School Transport Guy who says, “Allison I got into an accident right here on the corner, can you come down and get your kids?”. Before he even finished the sentence I was looking down at them from my deck and saw that it was a very minor accident involving a motorcycle bumping into the back of the taxi. So I knew there would be no injuries. But as I head downstairs I start to overthink. It’s what I do. I wonder if maybe the kids got bumped around in the taxi a little bit, maybe they hit an arm or a shoulder on the door, so perhaps I should hurry a bit more. So I started rushing and as I’m rushing through the lobby, I pass right by Jenny and Steve, who give me their biggest Buenas Tardes smiles, while pretending not to be totally not surprised to see another gringa face in this “new” apartment building. Meanwhile the guards are looking at all of us like, “What do we do NOW??? Who do we know or not know here??? Why are these gringos all so crazy??? AAAHHHH!!!”.
I get the girls, who were fine and who had declared a secret sisterly pact about telling me that they were both wearing seat belts (later confessions revealed that only 50% of them were) and they listened to my lecture about seat belts while in the elevator on the way up. We share a laugh at the memory of the dude who crashed into Dan’s moped in Guatemala, declaring that we ruined his expensive Italian bike (which was neither expensive nor Italian). There were shades of that situation with this Colombian motorcycle dude too. His limp was decidedly fake even though it was clearly his fault.
Now that the accident excitement was over, we watched Jenny and Steve’s progress from the peephole in our apartment while simultaneously watching the accident aftermath from the deck. I tried to come up with reasons to be in the hallway, maybe needing to take out the trash multiple times or go down the elevator or something. But alas I had to be happy with my peephole view.
After touring the apartment and happily hearing nothing about any fridge being removed, Jenny and Steve proceeded down to the lobby and headed back to work on their banking issues. Haley got this photo of our worlds colliding on that day.
But alas, the troubles are not over. Now that they’ve all agreed on a deposit amount, now we have this little issue of getting the money into Colombia. The insurance company needed the money to go into an account opened by Steve, which would then be transferred to an escrow type account held by the insurance company. You cannot even imagine all the things that are difficult about that process.
Banks are a little picky about money coming in and out of Colombia, especially by non-residents. Some banks won’t even allow you to open an account with a tourist visa. Others seem to forget that rule and say, “Accounts can be opened but you want a wire transfer into it? Oh, that’ll take 6 months of account history first.” What??? In 6 months we will be living communally with a shared Instapot. We don’t have 6 months, people!
So at this point Steve starts jogging from ATM to ATM to try and get money. He is limited by how much his bank allows him to take out of the ATM each day and the ATMs in Colombia limit you even further. But before I continue with the story, here’s a math problem for you:
If you need to give someone $12,000 and the largest bill in circulation is $16,
what size of bag do you need to carry all that cash?
Do you know the story of how Pablo Escobar bought a rubber band company because he was using so many of them to wrap up his cash? #samesame
In addition to the mere physical problem of all the cash, there was that silly little issue of ATM fees. To get the full deposit out in cash, it would cost $600 in fees and could only be done over 6 days. There’s got to be a better way, people!
After a few hours of the ATM Shuffle, the insurance company was content with the attempts to get cash and the Bates declared that they’ve done all they can do for the day. Literally, they have pulled out all the cash their bank allows with all the cards they have attached to all those accounts and everyone will simply have to wait another day to get more. The insurance company seems to be fine with this effort and declared them “approved” to the leasing company. The sun sets on the week, the Shermanos and the Bates head out for a celebratory dinner. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t at Crepes and Waffles.
We got to take a break from All Things Apartments for the weekend, although Jenny and I did some preliminary “where do I find all the things?” shopping. Thankfully Medellin is a major city, there is no shortage of options for one’s home and there are robust delivery services ready to bring it to your door for a few pesos. Jenny’s daughter may or may not have created a Pinterest board of how she wants her new room to be decorated. Spoiler alert: she did.
By now you’re thinking “Surely this must be the end!” and “This blog can’t possibly have 4 parts” and “I’ve got to get back to my life”. But, indeed, the story is not over. Tune in tomorrow for the final chapter of “Bates Family Moves Across The Hall”.
You need to write a book about your adventures. You are such a great writer!
Linda, thank you! I’m pretty much writing the book already.. one small chapter at a time! haha!