In my last post, I described the arduous drive from Querétaro to Merida. Here’s what has been happening since.
We booked a cute little Airbnb for a month, figuring that we would need at least that long to conclude the purchase of our home and get some initial repairs done. It is a tiny (may 500 sq. ft.) casita in front of the owners house in an area called Montebello. The street we are on boasts enormous houses with gated entries and private security. There are a couple of empty lots, including one next door to the casita.
The location is great. We have good access to the highway and to all of the malls and shopping centers. And, best yet, our landlord, Fernanda, loves animals and has three dogs of her own. She is very sweet, and we are enjoying getting to know her and her fur babies.
Due to the pandemic, she is also VERY careful, which we really appreciate.
We arrived around 3:30 after a five-hour drive from Campeche. Exhausted, of course, we both immediately took to the bed (after settling in the children). I started not feeling well almost immediately, and within an hour, had diarrhea and was vomiting. I thought initially that perhaps I had gotten run down and picked up a bug in our travels. I was, thankfully, wrong. Turns out some convenience store food probably struck me down. I was terrified, though, as we had appointments on Friday at the US Consulate that we just. couldn’t. miss.
Forty-eight hours and a few Cipro later, I was feeling much improved.
If you aren’t already aware, non-Mexicans can buy property in Mexico, but, if the property is within 50 meters of the border or coastline, you must hold the property in a trust (fideicomiso). Despite being Permanent Residents here in Mexico, we are still US citizens, so, we have to have one.
To remind you, we came to Merida in September and signed the purchase contract shortly after. At that point, our passports were still valid; however, they expired in November 2020. This did not cause us any inconvenience, as we have government-issued Mexican ID cards that are based on our passports. That said, the only restriction was international travel.
I started working on getting our passports renewed just after the pandemic started in 2020. At that time, the US Embassy and consulates were virtually closed and only emergency passport applications were being accepted. I continued to follow up on this throughout last year, but no options were available to us.
As of today, we have been waiting almost five months to close on this house, for which we are paying cash. In the US, this would have taken about two weeks. Well, guess what. We live in Mexico where, in good times, things are very bureaucratic. With a pandemic, social distancing, reduced workforce issues, etc., nothing is moving very quickly.
Just before we moved, I received a message from the current owner of the house we are buying (we met through Facebook). She told me that the bank was “still” waiting for our passports in order to close.
WTF? First, this is not something I should be hearing from the owner, so I got on the horn with our realtor in order to discuss options. I reminded her that
- Our passports were good when we started.
- We are permanent residents in Mexico and have government-issued IDs.
- The closure of the Embassy and consulates make it impossible for us to do anything about it.
She believed it “was the law” and we were stuck until we got new passports. Well, after talking with several Mexican realtor/lawyers, it turned out that it was NOT the law, just the policy of the bank (Scotiabank) to require a valid passport. You would think that, due to the pandemic, this requirement could be waived or deferred, as there were, at that time, no options to renew our passports. But no.
The interesting thing here is that our Permanent Resident cards are official ID, which is what the bank needs in the form of our US passports. Our Permanent Resident cards were issued by the Immigration National de Mexico and are based on our passports. Therefore, one would reason, they should be considered just as valid as our expired passports. But again, No.
I also want to point out that the embassy is in Mexico City — a 2.5 hour drive (on a good day) from QRO. There had been a consulate in San Miguel de Allende — only 45 minutes away — but it had basically be closed due to the contingency. I was not about to brave driving to Mexico City, nor was I willing to take a bus in a pandemic, so I was feeling quite trapped as a result.
Fortunately, after a few emails with the US Consulate in Merida where I described the issue and begged for mercy, we were granted an appointment on Friday, 29 January.
Remembered, we arrived on the 26th, and I spent two days in bed with food poisoning (did I mention that earlier?). I was terrified I wasn’t going to be able to make it. But I recovered, and we did make our appointment.
Luckily, we had everything we needed — applications, old passports, photos, fees and mailing envelopes. We were told it might be two weeks (or possibly 10) and are hopeful for the shortest possible return time.
Check that one off the list!
Visiting Our “New” House
On Wednesday, we took a drive out to the new house. I was shocked to see the state of disrepair it was in. Apparently there had been some strong winds that blew around a lot of junk. Man, do we have a lot of work to do!
I came away feeling a little overwhelmed and with a bit of buyer’s remorse. I have been assured, however, that it will all come together in time.
Here are some of what we are dealing with:
On the upside, we will have free coconuts, as there are 4 or 5 palm trees on the property. Additionally, I had the opportunity to walk down to the beach and stick my toes in the water for a few minutes.
Now, Back to Work!
With the Christmas holiday and the stress of the move, I haven’t taught any classes since 16 December. It was definitely time to get back to work, so I texted and emailed my students to arrange a schedule.
Thursday night, I received a call from Aldo. He’s both a student and the owner of a business that supports its employees by giving them English classes through us. In addition to being his teacher, I work for his company (Regulab) when they need English-language services for their clients. It’s a great gig for me, and Aldo, his wife and children have become a big part of our lives as friends as well.
To make a very long story short, Aldo wanted to me sit in on some conference calls later that day, which I was happy to do, of course! What I didn’t know was that it was going to be four hours of calls!!!
Interestingly, while we were on the calls, I was receiving private messages from everyone on the team about scheduling classes. In other words, I was able to kill two birds with one stone. I now have 12 classes each week and have once again started teaching English. I’m glad for the diversion (and the income), as we are paying a lot right now for our Airbnb and the bodega where all of our worldly goods are being stored.
Phew. That was just the first week.
Tomorrow we go to see the inside of the house with the contractor. I’ll keep you posted!