On this spring day in 2008 Bruce and Mary have put their big plans of buying a B&B on hold for a bit to get down to the business of making their move into Mérida, where the cost of living is much less. Their month of decompression on the beach has come to an end.
Mary and Fernando in Our Calle 59 Flat
It is time to get down to the nitty gritty of getting an apartment lined up in Mérida as our month at the beachside condo is coming to a close. We had called Fernando, the Mérida landlord and abogado, lawyer, we had met through our crazy Canadian friends, John and Amber, and made an appointment to view an apartment on Calle 59. This is in a great location, right in the middle of gringo gulch and close to La Plaza Grande, the heart of downtown. This was the apartment that John and Amber had stayed in while waiting for their house to close.
We take the Progreso bus into town and leg it to the apartment where we have scheduled an 11:30am meeting with Fernando. We’re a little early so we check out the grand French hotel, La Residencial across the street. We’re a little bummed that we can’t afford more than a one bedroom flat, so we want to check out nearby hotels for rates for visiting friends and relatives. The lobby is quite impressive in a French colonial way and we see that the rates are 872P per night, about $85US at present exchanges. This is a little pricey for our needs. We cross the street back to the apartment and presently Fernando arrives, at 12:10, precisely on time, Mexican time, that is.
While Fernando gives Mary a detailed tour of the place I fire up my laptop to see if there might be some stray wifi signals that I would be able to tap into and I am pleased to see signals from La Residencial hotel we’d just visited. Hmm, this might solve the internet question quite nicely for us.
I join Mary and Fernando on the tour. The telephone is 180P per month, the electricity will run about 200-300P every two months and garbage collection is free. Fernando then shows us the back garage area which houses our common washer and dryer and storage area. It even has separate outlets for the washer so the juice gets charged to us or our new neighbor Violet, another crazy Canadian.
Everything was as we remembered from our visit with John and Amber when they lived here and we liked it then so we want to seal the deal. Fernando has already told us that he doesn’t care if we pay 3000P or $300US for the rent or deposit so I take advantage of the exchange and pay him 3000P to secure the flat, saving about $12 on this day’s exchange rate. In retrospect, Fernando, whom we will come to know as possibly the nicest man on earth, would have put our name on the apartment on a handshake. But given the cash, Fernando counts it out carefully, shakes our hands and when I don’t get a receipt, I ask for one. What little English Fernando knows quickly goes away. I have Mary try to ask in Espanol, a couple times. It becomes clear that a receipt will not be forthcoming, but none the less I keep bugging Mary about it. Finally she hisses at me, “Give it up for Chrissakes, he’s a lawyer!” I desist, I guess a handshake will do for a receipt.
Done with business, Fernando takes us on a tour of that part of town and then drops us off at La Flor de Santiago restaurant, which he recommends as nice but not pricy. We have a bite and then we catch the Progreso bus home, happy to have lined up our new home in la corazon de Mérida, the heart of Mérida.
The last couple of days at the beach we stroll the shoreline, have Tom and Pam from Spokane over for dinner, complain with Justo about inconsistent Mexican prices and generally flat-line our blood pressure readings.
Get away day dawns bright but I’m feeling a little sluggish; I taught Tom how to sip, not shoot, tequila last night. We have a quick breakfast and start packing our meager belongings. Jaromey is due at 10:30 for exit inspection and having business in the city she has volunteered to haul us and our stuff to our new apartment. We’re done a little early and with our gear we are sitting in the shade, it’s going to be a hot one today. There’s only a couple cars in the parking lot, just a handful of the 20 some condos are occupied but we hear from Tom and Pam, later, that by this evening the parking lot will be full and the party will go all night. We did not realize that this Friday is the start of Semana Santa, Easter, when Mexicans party their hearts out for two solid weeks. We will leave in the nick of time, considering we like to sleep for a least a portion of the night.
Jaromey arrives and the inspection goes off without a hitch. On the way we chat and it seems that Jaromey has a lot of properties she manages and Mary, jokingly, tells her to give her a call if she ever needs help. Little did we know then, how that would develop.
We arrive at our apartment and quickly haul our gear into our new home and invite Jaromey to lunch at La Residencial across the street. We are seated in the restaurant and the first thing I do is ask the server for the security key for the wifi. I fire up my laptop and I am online very quickly. I shut it down right away, very happy to be in possession of the code. We have a light lunch and we entertain each other with tales from back home. Jaromey tells us that she is trying to talk her 19 year old into joining the Canadian Navy. When I ask why she would want her son to be in the service she says, “Well it isn’t all that risky, we only have three ships!”
After lunch we give her a short tour of our cozy little apartment and see her off. Then we call Fernando and he is right over to whisk us to his office to make this rental agreement official. He makes copies of our passports and visas, does a little bit of internal paperwork, and informs us that he would like 2 weeks notice whenever we would move and that is it. I don’t get a receipt for the cash payment and after looking at Mary, I don’t ask.
Fernando ferries us back to our new home and we see we have a voice message on our $10 Mexican cell we had left behind. It is Amber, asking us to happy hour at their place. We like the sound of this, it’s like our lives will be getting some rhythm back with regular Friday night happy hours. I remember where they live, a few blocks away, from Fernando pointing out their casa on our mini-tour, so we waltz on over, picking up a couple six packs of Tecate at a San Francisco chain grocery store along the way. We are met at the door by a shirtless John and ushered back to the pool where we find Amber, looking as good as a 59 year old possibly can, in a skimpy bikini. She sees where my eyes track and she volunteers, “No, they’re not real, honey.” We relax at pool’s edge with beers in hand and start exchanging stories. We are officially settled into Mérida.
Thanks for visiting, gentle reader. Please tune in soon as the Ramblin Rose B&B adventure continues. And Bruce would love any feedback from readers. Hasta Luego!