There he was, standing in the lobby of the Hacienda Hotel and Spa, the man I had been talking to for more than three months, Eddy the Realtor (not his real name). A strong, beautiful man, originally from Calgary, with a winning smile, perfect Spanish and a crushing handshake.
“Owwwwww,” I said as he let go of my withered limb. My wife Michelle blushed with delight as he took hers and gently kissed it.
“Isn’t he nice?” she said while I nursed my hand.
So there we were, off in his car on our new adventure in the early summer of 2011.
The ruins of the 2008 economy were still evident. Eddy explained it was a buyer’s market, but when I told him how much our budget allowed for a Puerto Vallarta home, a tiny wrinkle appeared on his forehead. He muttered something about not being that hard up, but that he would try to make these cheapskates happy anyway.
Apparently Americans were leaving in droves, squeezed by their falling investments at home and the dead resale market in PV. My wife looked at me lovingly as if I had known all this. I smiled back triumphantly, hoping I would not be asked any “economic” questions.
My wife had been clear on what she wanted in our future condo:
- a sea view
- a new kitchen
- a swimming pool
I had been careful to pass this information along to Eddy in every e-mail interaction. Although we lived in Victoria, B.C., for 11 years, there had been no ocean glimpses from our balcony, mainly because the temperature drops the closer you get to the water, and because a sea view costs more.
Also in all the houses we had owned or rented in Canada, Michelle had never had a new kitchen and she was becoming bitter. We had had a pool. The trouble was that I was generally away at work so she was left to remove the very clean but dead chipmunks from the filter. She now wanted a pool with none of the headaches. We did not think any of these things were out of the question in PV.
I had quietly explained to Eddy that we had a finite amount for our purchase so we were not interested in exploring any option that was above our budget. That was final.
The first place Eddy took us to was someplace called Fluvial, which means river, although to some it means “flood plain.” My wife wondered where the ocean was. Eddy pointed at the street and said: “Somewhere over there.”
Michelle gave me a chilling glance. I quickly said we will probably be on a high floor and can see it from there. Eddy led us to a shabby apartment building beside some droopy palms in a gated community with a pool that looked a little green. I hoped it was the reflection of some wonderful tile work on the bottom.
Our realtor pointed to a restaurant that was part of the complex. Michelle saw a small sign and, using her high school Spanish, discerned that it said “Out of business.
Up the stairs we went to the third floor and into a dark and woody condo with no view of the blue Pacific. The lights did not work, which caused us to crash into a 900-pound couch. I hopped around painfully, saying that while I admired good workmanship, how the hell had they got it up the three story’s?
The kitchen was clearly from the 1980s and the two bedrooms had a few families of something creepy crawly living in them. Eddy said in Mexico it was good luck to have geckos sharing your quarters. Michelle left.
As we reached the outside we heard weeping. By a large bush we saw what turned out to be the owners. “Does this mean you are not buying our wonderful home?” they wailed. The couple from Ohio had put their “wonderful home” up for sale two years ago and we were only the second viewing.
The place was for sale for several thousand more than our budget allowed. A sour feeling arrived in my tummy. Michelle said “Next” and disappeared to the car.
I said I was sorry to the blubbering couple but that as beautiful as their place was my wife did not want to live on a flood plain – she was funny that way. Then I bolted for the car and our next appointment. I crisply reminded our realtor that the next one better be within our “our agreed-upon” budget. It was still a beautiful day.
NEXT COLUMN: November 5
Copyright: Christopher Dalton 2014