Monday, March 31, 2014

In The Land of the Living

I don't have a camera or computer yet so there aren't photos but I thought I could write some initial impressions down. I feel like I am in the land of the living. I just heard a train and it is a soft sound in the background. It is also a REAL train and not a super loud fake-out car horn. I have picked up exactly 5 pieces of garbage after hiking/walking for at least 15 MILES. I have not heard anyone on a microphone. There are doves here -but they are not amplified sounding. I have seen lots of birds and rabbits and dogs on leashes and only one dead animal - a skunk. There are no offensive smells - the library even asks that women not wear heavy perfume or they will be asked to leave. There is a library. Roads are flat and straight with lines and reflectors and NO HOLES. Haven't seen a ping-pong, super swerve, inch-worm or pass-up back up move. Also no intersection blocking. I do have to say it is hard to adjust to the mesmerizing speed (70 or 75 in a lot of places).

Stores have an abundance of things in them to the degree that I have gone in, stood around looking and left without anything. Overwhelming and I have cried a couple times. There are breads of every grain and fresh vegetables or every color and even COSTCO has locally sourced organic, free range, non GMOS antibiotic free stuff.

I have lots of intelligent conversations with lots of strangers who care about the same stuff I do because people look you in the eye and are interested.

I set up utilities over the phone, got a driver's license in under ten minutes ( good for 8 years), set up a bank account without waiting and all I can say is that I am very thankful to be back in the Land of the Living and will not take these things for granted!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Final Moments in Puerto Rico

After the house closed Honeywell decided that Jeff should go on travel to Albuquerque. This did not give me much time to sell the car, close accounts, get vet checks etc etc. it was easy coming to PR but not easy to escape. It did however give us two weeks of free hotel and 40 bucks or so for food and a rental car! It also let us go together which made things easier since I had never been to NM and without a job thought it may be hard to open bank accounts, buy a car and rent somewhere to live. I did the best I could to make things as easy as possible for when Jeff returned for the final packing and cat shipping.

The new owners were moving in just after we left and I had been transitioning cat feeding to downstairs which is where Jeff would live for a few weeks before leaving for good. The new owner has a dog (normal from-the-states- dog-that doesn't chase or kill cats) and cat and I worried about cats taking off before jeff returned to ship them. When the time came we put Pollo (had to go in the cabin since she has a smushed face) and Jackie (we thought she would be alright for a couple weeks in a hotel) into their carriers and headed in a rental car to the Aguadilla airport at midnight or something. We had two check ins full of some tools, a small number of appropriate clothes, a pot, a pan, towel, jewelry and medications. I had my iPad and some papers. Jeff parked the car in the lot and we shuffled our booty to the padlocked airport doors. Yes. PR makes people stand outside in the dark at midnight like animals before letting them in to check in and go through security. What other airport does this? We get in and the line is long (of course). We move from line to line and them Uthey want me to take the cats out of their carriers. I make them take me to an enclosed room since Jeff cannot even touch Pollo (except when she is on the bed at night). I manage the cat thing and then we sit and wait some more. I just want the plane to take off so I can be out for good. I don't want some problem to make me be on the island for even a minute more. We board and a short time later take off for Newark!

Jackie did a little yowl-talking but settled in ok. Pollo was silent. We only had an hour in Newark but got to the gate and got some breakfast and I already knew I was in a different land...even the airport food choices were better than what I had seen in years! Then we headed to Denver and had an uneventful flight. After a couple hours we had a little bit of a walk to get to the turbo prop plane that would take us to Albuquerque. There was an empty seat between us and we were the last seats and Jackie was very vocal with an occasional chiming in by Pollo. We landed, drove 40 minutes to the hotel and finally could relax! Cats were afraid and hid under the bed but we were able to shower, feed them and spend some time with them before heading out for food. Our first meal was sushi and it was wonderful! The hotel was silent and the room dark and those two things are things I hadn't experienced in years! In the morning I took Jeff off to work and then went to look at rentals.

I had investigated areas we may want to buy in and narrowed the search to Placitas. A lot of artists live there, houses generally have an acre of land and it is only a half hour from Albuquerque. Jeff found a couple rentals on line and I had appointments to see them. The first one could have worked for non winter months but was kind of run down. The second one was the one. I had a realtor show me another that also would have worked but we would have to show the house and figured it would freak out the cats. Jeff looked at house 2 after work that night and we applied and gave references and credit check info and were set to move in 2 days before had to go back to PR! Perfect timing! Next on the list was a bank account. Did that. Then the driver's license which was trickier because you had to have a bunch of stuff to show residency and we are without jobs and everything else! I started looking for a car. I knew what I wanted, found it and bought it! That gave us enough residency paperwork to get a license. I got an eight year license in about 10 minutes with zero hassles. Long story short - in two weeks I found a place to live, bought a car, got a driver's license, got insurance, got Obamacare (thanks to Jeff's hard work), moved in with cats and got settled. We also walked along the Rio Grande river a couple times, hiked in the Sandia Mountains, hiked around Placitas, went to a gathering with new neighbors and then Jeff flew away.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Our new home for at least a year.

Viiew from the front door.

Main room.

View of the house.

Pollo's new spot.

View from the bedroom.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Posts

New Posts from New Mexico will be coming soon. We have been busy and don't have our computer yet. It's been really nice so far. Our perspective sure has changed. It's easy to make us happy. No dead animals, garbage, barking dogs, no smell of death, neighbors with microphones, people running every red light and cutting you off, and no lines, 10 minutes to get a driver’s license, 10 minutes to get power turned on, it’s like we are in heaven. It’s so much easier.


I wasnt going to make a post like this but since I got so many comments on how I shouldnt say anything bad about PR and how it's all my fault ect, ect, I decided to post a few pictures I took on the way to work ONE morning in a 6 minute drive.

These are only pictures of garbage, not of dead animals. I can't bring my self to do that. I had one commenter who is such a liar (or blind, but then they shouldnt be driving) say they drove from the West Side to San Juan and didnt see any dead animals. LIAR.

This what I see/saw twice a day. And yes it is my fault and yes it is ok because they are poor as I have been told. Give me a break.

I have more. This is only one road. Enjoy.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

You Can't Make This Shit Up- Chapter "Still Trying To Get Outta Here!"

So the house has closed, the money is in an account, the water and power are switched over. What's left? I sold the car last Tuesday after driving it down to San German for a mechanic check. The friend of a friend wanted it to we headed to her bank around lunch. Lines out the building like everywhere here. We had lunch, she went into the bank and came out strangely clutching a bag to her chest. "What's Wrong," I ask She has $9,500 in 20 dollar bills in that bag...the bank doesn't have any 100's! Can you believe this crap? 20 dollar bills! We continue on to a couple errands and then to the collectoria. I know where it is but no one else does since it is in an unmarked building so there are no lines. We go in, sign over the vehicle and pay $10 for stamps and she will have to go to the dreaded CESCO (but I don't have to). That went smoother than expected.

The next day we try to tackle DISH and Claro. DISH has to SEND AN EMPTY BOX IN THE MAIL so Jeff can mail back the receiver. Bizarre. Claro on the other hand says I have to return the modem IN PERSON. What a pain in the ass. Then I get the news that I have to go to the Mayaguez Office (45 minutes each direction away) to return it. Can't mail it in. So I dutifully drive past 30 or so Claro offices to get to the one...take my number (271) and wait in line when I have a million other things to do in my one day left (we kind of needed internet to be able to do things so I couldn't shut it off sooner unless of course I had guessed that I had to drive to Mayaguez to do it)! Next stop a different office of Oriental to close a bank account and wire money out. This went smoothly. We tried to do it at a different office and the women had us sit and wait (even though she wasn't really doing anything and wasn't with a client) and then wasn't helpful and didn't make eye contact. That is the shit we are sick of. As a person here you don't matter. They'd rather watch their phones or chat with each other and ignore everyone (Puerto Ricans and gringos alike) as a passive aggressive power trip than do a little work. This office was very efficient and the deal was done in 5 minutes. Hooray! Then off to Optical Express for Jeff's glasses (this place is reasonable and efficient) and then home to pack up! So all that is left is closing Banco Popular but we can't do that yet due to auto bill pay and auto deposit of Jeff's checks. I won't be here so I am sure there will be some kind of problem but maybe not since all important things here are done by men and women don't count. He can forge a note and signature from me and do it himself I am sure!

So off we go to the Land of Enchantment! I am sure it will have problems but not all the stupid shit that takes up entire days here. We aren't even there yet but have 2 rental house appointments, know which car lots have the car I want on them and know what is required to get a driver's license and bank account. There appear to be procedures that make sense and are consistent. Now all we have to do is survive the flight with 2 frightened kitties, survive 2 or more weeks in a hotel with them until we find a rental house, find a car, get a rental agreement so we can have an address and get a driver's license...then Jeff can come back to ship cats and boxes and we'll be well on our long road back to a sane life. It may not have the super adrenaline highs of Puerto Rico caving but it also won't have the filth and exposure to the animal horrors that are part of Puerto Rico's landscape. No more Bi-Polar PR. Countdown begins...7 hours til take off!

You Can't Make This Shit Up - Chapter "Trying To Escape"

We have some bank accounts here. We don't have an address in the States yet and can't open a bank account without being there, renting, buying, having a Driver's License, employment etc. So what can you do? We set up an account with an on-line bank using a relative's address. Now we can link accounts and move money out, right? is Puerto Rico and just like the "we don't ship to Puerto Rico" problems the same holds true with banking. No problem, we will wire the money. Yah, for $100? Extortion - putting money IN an account here - no problem- getting it out? Big problem. Our own money. So how do we do the house transaction? Usual way is to get a Cashier's Check or Manager's Check, deposit it and then what? Another kink - they put a HOLD on a local guaranteed Cashier's Check from a local bank, and hold it even longer (like weeks) if it is from somewhere else. Fortunately for us the buyer had accounts in the states that COULD just get wired into our in the state's account like normal business. We lucked out. Now we have to cough up $100 to wire the rest out or risk getting a Cashier's Check that maybe no one in the state's will deposit because it is from here. Maybe we will just get it in cash. Whatever we do we will NOT try to link to our account here because then we are doomed to a bunch of problems we will not be here to resolve.

Now that the house is sold I went with the new owner to put water and power on for her and off for us and to try to get back the $40 and $100 deposits. House papers were signed in 45 minutes and these 2 things took 5 1/2 hours to do! First the electricity - we get a number and there are 35 people ahead of us. Instead of sitting down we go to the water place and wait in line for the number, then wait in line for the number to be called, and then switch water on for her and off for us. Do we get the deposit back? In 3 WEEKS we have to wait in the lines again, in person, Jeff only since his name is on the account and beg. WE ARE CLOSING THE ACCOUNT! If we were going to BE HERE in 3 weeks we would probably need water. What are they thinking? We go back to the electricity place and no one is there and they are past our number. We have to get a new number. Luckily it is now 4 o'clock and we are next. It goes into her name (I won't even go into her problems since she already has an account since she is renting and this confuses them), it is turned off for us, but the $100 bucks? 1 little piece of paper (one of many) has to get signed by Jeff only despite my having a note from him giving me PERMISSION to close his account. Being crafty I tell him to wait a minute and I run outside with the paper, forge his name and return (yah, like he is in the car). Then he needs Jeff's license which I just happen to carry around a copy of for situations just like this. So will we get it? Doubtful but I tried my best! A very long day of ridiculous procedures that I swear they just make up as they go along.

You Can't Make This Shit Up - Chapter House Sellling

Puerto Rico is almost like the Thunderdome...easy to go in to but you may not make it out! As we started to try to prepare for the day the house would sell we ran into all the ridiculous scenarios that are typical for here - the ones you can not foresee because of their ludicrousness.

Within 3 weeks of listing the house we had our first "buyer." I kind of suspected he didn't know how the loan thing worked/doesn't work so I suggested they were already having problems and that it wasn't going to work out. I explained EVERYTHING. "No, no" they say - "there is no problem with the bank."  We get earnest money and a contract and they change jobs at the beginning, don't tell us, appraiser never comes, bank never calls and the contract runs out. Then they expect the money back (despite them breaking a contract in 3 places - the contract THEY had made). In that time buyer two wants the house so we try to make a contract that will kick into place when the first one expires (so WE don't break it). People reconsider after seeing tax ramifications when they try to liquidate retirement accounts. Buyer three visits a bunch, spends time in and near the house and purchases it!

Before the paperwork can be done...after over thinking all the possible problems...there turns out to be one SO bizarre you'd never see it coming in a million years. When we purchased the house 2 years ago we paid off the previous owner's loan at Scotia Bank and paid them the rest of the price. This is the process...the bank has up to 120 days to process the NOTE even though they have already cleared the debt so things can be sold. At that time they give the note back to the ORIGINAL owner (not the new one) who is supposed to go pay for stamps (in this case $1,600) and THEN THEY give the NOTE to the new owner. There are several problems with this scenario. 1) why would the old owner do this? they now have no interest in the property 2) what if they die or in our case they go to Panama-address- unknown? 3) you HAVE TO HAVE this ORIGINAL (we had a copy and the lawyer had a copy) to resell the house. Our title search said we owned the house, no liens, no debts...but we couldn't sell it without this piece of paper. So we have a buyer but now, if the original piece of paper can't be found we will have to go to court (3 months) to get a new one issued. Bye-bye buyer. Thankfully, in true PR style, the bank (in San Juan 2 1/2 nasty-drive hours away) happens to have never done anything with this paper so off we go to collect it two years later. This is the exact reason everything is vacant...nothing can be sold without bizarre relative agreements (inheritance laws) and THAT PAPER. So yes, if you can find a house where the owners HAVE this paper and it is in the registry then yes you can buy something here....but getting out? Lots of obstacles. (to be continued)