Yes! Really! This is truly the last post in this saga. To figure out what the heck we are talking about, be sure to read the first three chapters starting here.
So the new week arrives and with it the expectation that Jenny and Steve might finally have a place to live soon. Progress has been slow and painstaking but we’re on the final stretch. Right?? The Bates gave up on their Panama-located Airbnb in the north of Medellin and moved back to our part of town at the Mariott, where they can literally see our balcony from their window and the kids are given free breakfast and dinner. Scurvy is a real possibility for the Bates Kids while Jenny and Scott continue to work on all the arrangements for this apartment.
During the weekend, Steve says, “Peeps, enough of the shenanigans… I need to get some work done” so he flies off to the USA for a business trip. This is well-timed because looking through all the scenarios of how to get the rest of the money for the deposit to the insurance company, the Bates came up with the best way to do it: bring back cash from the USA.
Now you see why: 1) Steve’s identity is being protected, and 2) this blog is being published long after all money has changed hands. The Bates currently have about 30 pesos in their apartment and 1435 isn’t even a real apartment number. Good try, Weirdo Internet Stalker Reader, but I’m one step ahead of you and your thieving ways. Not to mention, our guards would take a bullet for us so don’t even think you’d get past them!
Monday was Apartment Cleaning Day, which makes Jenny very happy. The cleaners were supposed to be there first thing in the morning but thanks to a nosy neighbor across the hall, Jenny knows that they were not there until the afternoon, and they were there for a surprisingly short time. Jenny arranges to do the final walk through the apartment on Tuesday, checking inventory and finally signing the lease and getting keys. Is this it? Finally the day where she can hold those keys??
The inventory tour had some amusing twists… Jenny and I had purchased one important item for the house over the weekend: a tape measure. It was at my apartment so before I left for Pilates that morning I put it in the corner of the hall by my door, so she could pick it up on her way into her apartment and begin her measuring while the inventory was being done. This little tidbit becomes relevant later so hang onto it.
When I showed up after Pilates we decided that we’d finally come clean about her knowing the neighbor and I burst onto the scene in my loud and clumsy Spanish. The two real estate guys looked a little surprised when I started getting bossy but it was time to wrap it up, I didn’t have time for this! I need a neighbor…STAT!
So we took inventory which – to our great delight – included the fridge. Jenny does her measuring and in the process does a few white-glove tests on a few surfaces.
White Glove Test Results: FAIL
The floors seem to have been mopped and the counters wiped down but that was about it. Baseboards and oven hoods and faucets and sinks were all covered with a layer of dust and grime. This was not happening. So we debated for awhile with the realtor dudes and learned that Jenny could not sign the lease only on her own, she had to have Steve there with her. Well, Steve was currently in the USA working and hoarding cash so this was not happening that day. After a lot of “Really? Are you sure?” comments from the gringas, we decided that the lease would be signed on Friday morning after Steve returns from the USA. That also gives the property managers time to get the darn cleaners back in and do a real cleaning job.
A funny thing happened as we were getting ready to leave. Jenny and property manager dude were wrapping up the conversation and he holds out his hand to Jenny, as if to shake it, but it was an odd placement for a handshake. Jenny gingerly takes it, uncertain as to his intent. He smiles and points to the tape measure in Jenny’s hand. She says “This?” and he says “Yes. That is mine.” and she says “No, this is mine”. He says ‘It was outside the door” and she says ‘Yes, in front of my FRIEND’S APARTMENT, where she LEFT IT THERE FOR ME”. His eyes darted from her to me and he figured he was outnumbered and caught in a sneaky attempt to be the proud new owner of a tape measure. Jenny and I were not impressed. Does his sister work at the [not mentioning name of major hotel chain]? #chapter1reference
So as Steve is working and acquiring cash and a few critical items for the casa (read: brown sugar, Instapot), Jenny is arguing daily with property managers about why the internet has not yet been installed and why the cleaners have not returned. By Thursday of that week there had been no progress on either of those items despite a lot of pushing on the part of said gringa. Jenny and I decide to take matters into our own hands. I shall now introduce you to:
Oscar is the guy who manages my apartment and he’s a super helpful and handy guy. We call him “McGyver” because he seems to be able to do just about anything and he wears a vest with all kinds of pockets that have nifty tools in them. He was at my house earlier in the week with his equally helpful and handy aunt, who was cleaning my apartment. I mentioned to him my gringa friend who might need some handyman help and he said that as a side job in the afternoons, he does that kind of thing. Now we’re talking.
So on Thursday when Jenny’s property managers had become as unhelpful as Elmer Fudd, I called Oscar: “Oscar we need internet and a thorough cleaning. STAT!” Oscar gets busy and within 2 hours his adorable aunt Nelly was over there cleaning and Oscar was giving us prices and specs of the package he ordered for internet, cable TV and phone. This was significant because here in Colombia if you are a foreigner you cannot open an account with the cable company. They’ve had too many “open and run” accounts from foreigners so they made a company policy of “no Colombia ID = no account”. This is a problem because Steve, like Dan, needs internet to do his work, and therefore to pay the bills. Only slightly less important, Jenny needs internet to create new Bitmoji pictures based on how she’s feeling.
Oscar is fully versed in the FSO (Figure Sh!t Out) approach so he did what he had to do: he opened up an account in his name. At this point Oscar had not even met Jenny yet, he was merely going on faith that a good friend of mine is a good friend of his! He did show up later in the day to meet her and at that point he gave us a very sincere lecture that he was going out on a limb by putting the account in his name and if we were to skip town and abandon the contract, it would put him in a very bad financial bind. Jenny and I start emptying our wallets of bills to throw at Oscar, trying to reassure him that the Bates are good for the commitment. He checks in on his aunt, who is a rock star, cleaning over there at 1435, and we send him off with hugs and cheek kisses. Later that day we hear that internet installation will be the next morning at 10, which is the exact time as the lease signing. I’m not sure how anyone would manage this process as a single parent or even a two-parent family. It’s taking all 4 of the adults to be in all the places at the right times.
The next morning I am managing getting Haley home from school with an illness for the second time that week (a lot harder than it sounds when your only transport is taxi) the apartment opened up for the internet dudes to come install using the guard’s keys and I’m pretending my name is Oscar, and Jenny and Steve are signing papers and handing over stacks of cash to the bank. The property managers tried to tell Jenny and Steve that the rent needed to be paid over at a different bank than the 3 they were already working with, but at this point Jenny and Steve were having none of it. They said “Today you’ll take the rent in cash. Gracias and adios.” They asked for the keys and the property managers said “The only set is over at the apartment. We heard your friend has them.” So this whole time as we were asking the guards for favors by letting us sneak off with the apartment keys from time to time, this was The Set that makes it official? It seemed like we needed more of a formal ceremony, kind of Olympic Gold Medal quality. But Jenny was handed a lovely silver key chain so there’s that.
Having completed the offloading of all the cash, Jenny and Scott headed up to the apartment, where I was supervising the internet installation. The nice boys from Claro not only showed up when they said they would, but they installed a faster speed than Dan and I have, and they put in a special connection into Steve’s office. Between Steve’s private bathroom and now his dedicated Ethernet cable, Dan is ready to move into 1435.
Is this it? Is this the end of the story? For now, yes it is. The rest of the day and the days following were spent obtaining beds and silverware and food items as the Bates settled in for the long haul. That’s a lot harder than it sounds but not as hard as getting apartment 1435 so it’s all relative.
It’s official! Jenny and Steve are neighbors!