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Long route home Our trip all the way home, trying to catch no planes and stay on the ground like civilised people. It's taking us via India all the way to Europe from Japan, the furthest of the Far East...

A place to lay our heads

COLOMBIA | Tuesday, 3 July 2012 | Views [535] | Comments [1]

I should begin by saying that we rarely do things the easy way. On day two of flat hunting, we did find a lovely furnished two bedroom appartment with a landlady who did not need us to have a guarantor.
Flat hunting in Colombia has been an experience. Unlike other countries we've lived in, you don't look on the internet or in estate agent windows. You walk around the area where you want to live, and you look for 'ARRIENDE' in the windows. Then you phone, make an appointment, and finally view the appartment. Which is great if you both speak Spanish and know which area you want to live in... On day one, our friend Duncan kindly helped us and spent a morning walking, looking and making the phone calls. He did not expect us to take a further 4 weeks to make a decision!
That's 4 weeks of walking up and down streets, 4 weeks of umm-ing and ahh-ing and 4 weeks of indecision. On the plus side, our Spanish has improved. Not only do we have the stock phrases down pat ("Tiene una apartamento para alquiler?" "Podemos hacer una cita para ver?" "Cuanto es" "Sin o con administracion?"), but now we can also understand some of the answers! On the down side, our language deficiencies meant visiting almost every place, because our eyes are far more reliable than our ears - as long as we haven't misunderstood the time/day of the appointment. 
The other major complication is that many landlords want a 'fiodor' - in fact, some of them want two. A fiodor is like a guarantor - a Colombian who owns property and has a certain ammount of cash in their account, often with a certificate to say they can be a fiodor. While we have some Colombian friends, there is nobody we could really ask to be our guarantor. Plus of course, we don't yet have our visas, so some people baulked at giving a year's rental to tourists.
But eventually, after many places that were too big, and many places that were too small, some that were too expensive and some that were in completely the wrong place, we found a place that was 'just right'. Rather than risk being caught by bears, we asked a few people who spoke Spanish to ring and find out exactly what papers he'd need, and to offer a three month guarantee instead of the fiodor. Several missed calls and mixed messages later, he decided to let it to someone else who had the right papers, and we were back to trudging the streets of Chapiniero.
Second time around and we made the decision in days rather than weeks. The staff at the hostel were really helpful in making calls and before we knew it, we had 24 hours to raise 4 months rent in cash! While the rent is cheap by London standards, 4 months is still more than our combined daily cash limits on the ATM, ensuing much discussion about whether the daily limit ended after 24 hrs or midnight UK time; multiple trips to multiple ATMs and some scrabbling under the bed for the final pesos.
Which brings us to the next experience. The agent was really keen that we read and understand the contract; cue google translate to the rescue. After signing, we were sent with a man in an over sized suit to the notary office, where the notary agent pored over the contract, our passports and our other documents. We were then FINGER PRINTED before she stamped, counter stamped, signed and dated every page. It took about 45 minutes before Mr Oversized Suit took us to the appartment and gave us the keys.
We didn't move in immediately as it took a few days to find a bed - and a few more until now when it really feels like home. For the cynics, no that doesn't mean that it's untidy and filled with clutter, it means we have a sofa, table, pots, pans and even a kettle to make a proper cup of tea. 

Tags: flats

Comments

1

It's rather cool to be fingerprinted, as though they'd chop them off in the even of non payment. Did you dig-it ?

By t'way, what an excellent hat Emma is wearing in the above photo !

  Fiodor Dontchaletyaflatski Jul 24, 2012 9:04 PM

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