Penalty Phase Under the Palapa

Good news. I sat down with Eddy the Realtor for an audit after Juan the contractor whispered in my ear that Eddy was using our money to fix his own condo. These were funds we had given to him in trust for the final payments to the developer and for extras such as the palapa, the bodega and painting on our new condo.

The point was that there was no money missing from the bank account, so it was just a case of two men getting into a dispute and one of them fighting dirty. But in spite of the “not guilty” verdict, Eddy was not himself.

The other good news was that our terrace was finally getting tiled. You will remember that Sergio, our dear developer, had become furious at the deal we had made for the condo: a little over half of what he wanted originally, which he took because he unexpectedly needed the cash. So in a fit of anger,  refused to tile the cement floor at the top of our building. And now, surprise, he jumped at the chance to tile it when I told him we would pay half of what was left earlier than what the schedule called for.

But of course into any tropical condo deal a little rain must fall. We did not get a choice of tile. When it arrived, pulled up by hard labour using the biblical pulley system, we did not realize it was a type of tile designed to appear like it was always dusty, in order to give it that authentic look, I suppose. We thought it was just terribly dirty tile. It was only days later, after struggling with mops and every kind of cleanser we could find, that the truth dawned on us. So please, if you ever come over here, don’t mention it, as my wife Michelle remains a little sensitive.

We were still, however, in an optimistic frame of mind, because even though we could not occupy our new condo, we had entered the “penalty phase” of our contract with Sergio, meaning compensation for all our living and hotel expenses should be coming our way. I had our contract on the bed of our boutique hotel, where it clearly said we should have been in our condo by Nov 15th, 2011. It was now Dec 18th. So we had roared through the month of grace time and into the penalty stage, but I could not find the part where it would tell us what the penalty would consist of.

I phoned Eddy the Realtor and asked where in the contract with Sergio did it specify how much and how soon. Dead silence. Then “I’ll get back to you” was said in a very cold way by the man who had meant so much to us over the past six months.

One of the things you might ask when choosing your realtor in Mexico is “Are you going to have a breakdown?” because this was the moment when mine went off the rails and down the embankment. Unbeknownst to us, Eddy was having marital troubles, and they were fast coming to a head in the middle of our sale. When he phoned back, he was a man on the ropes in every sense. “Your money is in the micro-wave in your apartment. It is all I have. I take responsibility for the contract. I forgot to insert what the penalty was. I don’t want to see you right now. I will not be giving you any more money under any circumstances. My wife has asked me to leave and I am living at my office. I am going back to Canada to stay with my father for awhile. We will talk when I come back. Goodbye.”

Nothing more.

Sadly Eddy had forgotten to stipulate in the contract what the penalty was and so gave me what he had (about $3,000, which was close but not all of our expenses, which continued to mount). His business had not been going well, and his wife, I guess, had had enough. So there we were, on our own in Mexico.

Then I discovered that a realtor license in Mexico was not mandatory, therefore there was no higher recourse for me. There was no governing association to which I could plead my case. If there is one now, I believe it is the kind that meets once a month at the Cheeky Monkey bar or some place like it, for “Crab Night’ to swap gossip and tips.

My new friend Don had to wrestle me to the ground on this one. He shouted over my wailing, “It’s Mexico, don’t let it get to you. The developer would never have paid up anyway, and you would have been in the courts forever.”

My heart was racing and I could not slow it down. My wife asked what it meant for us. I answered through clenched teeth, “My little love sponge, it means that we are in the pooh!”

As we approached Christmas with our kids, all of us were in a sympathetic hotel across the street from our object of desire. We had a beautiful condo with all the appliances, furniture and newly painted walls ready to go, except for one little thing, the missing electricity. And no hope of that on the horizon anytime soon, because in Mexico at Navidad, the country shuts down for at least two weeks, sometimes three. I won’t sugar-coat this. Michelle and I took to drink.

****Happy Birthday to Michelle xo (March 25th 1960)

Next column: April 8th “Alone in PV”

Copyright Christopher Dalton 2015

[email protected]


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1 Response
  1. Sharebeauty

    Enjoy reading this column . Enjoy you’re writing and humor . Though have a question ? In this instance to blame “Eddy ” 100% seems well , a little lacking in self responsibility . Did you not hire an attorney when purchasing condo to look after you’re welfare ? To review paperwork ? In any country laws & customs differ , not just Mexico . I am from the US and would not expect that the laws are the same in Canada , Nepal , France or wherever …..

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