A new country, a new set of keys?

IMGP7108 So the money was in the bank and the date was set for 15th August. The venue – Casa Piano, Belgrano, Buenos Aires. Have I ever been more nervous? Possibly not. I have learned over the weeks of this process, that nothing is certain until it’s completed. And here I was with US$59000 dollars converted into argentine pesos that I would only be allowed to withdraw to pay for this apartment, hoping that nothing would go wrong. Would someone suddenly ask for a document that I didn’t have? Would the ‘cleanliness’ of my money be queried at the last minute? Would I leave the meeting with a home, or disappointment on my face and in my heart?

Part 3a: (Almost) the final deal

 This part required patience. At 12 noon on 15th August I was joined by eight argentine gentlemen: Carlos (my interpreter and general supporter), my contact at the bank, the escribano (solicitor), a representative of the builder, a representative of the agency brokering the deal, the ‘vendedor’ (seller) who was a tiny old man, his son, and his son’s son. It sure was a good job that they had a room big enough to seat us all – on previous visits we had been crammed into a space no larger than a telephone box with standing room only – especially since as it turned out we were there three hours…

At first things went smoothly. I was asked for only one original document – my divorce certificate. I had previously obtained a legalised translation of this, so all was well. I was amused that my parents full names appeared on the contracts, as if giving me a history to prove that I exist. We all signed and the keys were placed on the table about two feet from me. I was given all the certificates for the electrical and gas installations. So far so good and only thirty minutes had passed. I was feeling confident.

Then the bank asked for the vendor’s documentation. It was handed over, and we waited. And we waited. Eventually a man appeared who I guessed was the manager of the bank. He had a number of queries and had to check with the bank’s central office. We waited some more. As we sat the men discussed all the problems that can exist for foreigners like me getting their money into the country. I heard tales of money lost for weeks in unidentified bank accounts, banks not releasing money at the final hour, endless red tape preventing transfers from occurring in the first place. I heard them say that normally the ‘escritura’ (the final deal) takes about 20 minutes. We had now been waiting about two and a half hours. The old man barely spoke but occasionally he smiled at me from across the table. I felt like he and I were in the same boat as we sat there in our coats saying nothing and doing what we were told: his sons handling everything, but his signature required; Carlos handling everything for me but my signature required.  It was our money involved but we were the silent ones.

Finally the escribano was called into a room next door and I knew there was a problem. After three hours I was stiff from sitting and desperate for food. I felt exhausted. Somehow I knew I wasn’t going to be celebrating just yet. When the escribano reappeared we learned that the problem was fixable but an amended contract was required specifying the amounts of money in pesos and not dollars. We all needed to return the next day. I watched the contracts we had all signed get torn up, the keys were removed from the table, and we agreed to reconvene at 11am ‘manana’, the 16th August.

Incredibly all I could think of was how I was going to manage getting hold of tickets for the final of the V Campeonato Metropolitano de Baile de Tango which was also on the following day. Would I have time to go and queue up at 10am – the allotted hour – for my two free tickets, and afterwards get to the bank by 11am? Would it all be over in time for me to get to the final of the milonga category starting at at 4 o’clock in the afternoon? As the men were heading up the stairs I was urgently saying to Carlos in whispered tones, ‘But how are we going to get the tickets?’ There I was with my life savings, my new home in Argentina, my future at stake, and all I could think of was watching a tango competition. ‘Loca, yo? Si, es posible.’  But perhaps the reality is that actually amidst all the stresses and strains of trying to build a new life, it is tango that keeps me sane…


3 Responses

  1. dear sally,

    hang in there — you are intelligent, beautiful, talented, and resourceful — you’re going to succeed in everything you desire. including a new home to set down roots in the city of all cities, buenos aires, which is in all of our hearts. 🙂

    here’s to cutting red tape… and red ribbon!

    cheers from nyc–.

  2. I knew it was difficult to buy a home in Argentina but didn’t know it was practically next to impossible. I admire your diligence to get through the bureaucratic nightmare to get those set of keys.

  3. Have you watched “Nueve Reinas”? I admire that you actually made it to the end – like me, you have nerves made of steel – but that seemed a bit like the ovie. A whole “Argentine theatre”, they HAVE to make you SHIVER in fear so that, at the end, you feel SOOOOOOOOOO lucky. Cmon!? Do you reaaaaally think, NOW, that you would never make it? What money in the world is more sure to come all in one than yours? Money from an Argentine??? Pfff… congrats.

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