Things are Starting to Look Up Under the Palapa

The unexpectedly large “closing cost” of $18,000 USD had just dropped into our lap and I wondered what more the condo gods could do to us. Where was Lady Luck when you really, really needed her?

We returned to Victoria with our minds whirling. On the plane, I did sums on sick bags to see whether I had forgotten some little cave stuffed with money. No, sadly, I was right the first time. The cupboard was bare (too many metaphors perhaps, but I was under some strain).

Then it happened.  While we were preoccupied with our troubles, the Canadian dollar went for a walk up the stairs and coincidentally, the Mexican peso stumbled. I came across this happy phenomenon as I was about to send another large amount of pesos to Eddy the Realtor’s trust account.

I looked hard at the peso vs. dollar figures the bank had just given me, and at first I thought a bank error in my favour had taken place.  I won’t say I wasn’t tempted to leave the bank quickly (Start the car!) and say nothing, but Libby the cashier at the CIBC had two children in university and didn’t deserve to be fired for an honest mistake.

“Er…Libby, I think you’ve made an error here and given me a lot of pesos,” I said regretfully.

Here is where the sun came out.

“No, Mr. Dalton, the peso has dropped substantially while the Canadian dollar has strengthened,” she said.

I did the new math and on the overall cost, (wait for it) I came out more than $20,000 ahead! We could pay the closing fee and have a bit left over for the other extortionists we were dealing with. Hooray.

Sergio the developer had promised we could take possession of our condo no later than Dec. 1, and probably by Nov 15th, so our plan for a family Christmas in the sun was still on. It was now late September. Also Eddy (not his real name) had reminded us that although it would never be the case, he had insisted that Sergio provide a penalty clause in the extraordinary situation that the place was not ready.

We decided to return to Puerto Vallarta` by late November to start moving the furniture and appliances in. However in the back of my mind I wondered how we would manage with the larger items such as refrigerator and pull-out couches. The penthouse is a long way from the ground and the still empty elevator shaft looked too small to fit most of our stuff. When I asked that question Eddy merely said that normally you throw more Mexican labour at the problem, and it would be fixed. OK.

I should give a tip of the hat to Eddy here, because I cannot imagine anyone else doing what he did. After we had picked out the furniture and appliances, with Michelle crying in front of the stackable washer/dryer at the store (El Tio Sam), because “I have never had a new one,” they wanted the stuff gone to provide more space for the next year’s models.

So dear old Eddy had everything delivered to his small office in the Romantic Zone. This meant that any prospective client had to climb over new TVs and couches just to get to Eddy’s one employee. If he or she wanted an audience with the owner himself, they had to duck and weave through the king-sized bed, dining room set and two-door refrigerator. Eddy lived like that for three months. It was very hard on him and with business poor that year, I should have seen what was coming.

Essentially we were his only large commission of 2011 and unbeknownst to us, that was putting a strain on his marriage to a Mexican aristo who was expecting much better results. He was as hard-working a man in his field as I had ever seen, kind, generous and thorough, but he had acquired a little tick in his left eye that quivered noticeably whenever I asked him if everything was fine.

He had paid for the glass walls in two of the bathrooms, the outside door to the third bathroom and various mirrors. He was holding all of our money in his trust fund and using his lawyer to translate the papers and get our deed done with the bank. Now he could not see out of his office because of our belongings in a poor business year.

Things were fast coming to a head in his personal life. Juan our contractor told me that he was working on Eddy’s kitchen in order to cheer up his wife, who was getting annoyed by it all. The strain was beginning to show.  But this was still in the future, for we had made an unexpected windfall on the currency exchange, the place was painted, the palapa-bodega was up and two  of our four children would be able to join us for our dream Christmas by the sea in the tropics. Go Mexico!

Next column Feb. 11: “Oh, yeah”

Copyright Christopher Dalton 2015

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