Well, yesterday, July 28th was a momentous day for us. Our 35th wedding anniversary and the final negotiation for our house in Marindia. For the first time in our lives, we would be homeowners, instead of home "owers". Though we always checked "homeowners" on every application or credit request- to be honest, we have always owned just a share in any house we've lived in- the bank actually owned the house. For the first time, we would own our house outright. It was with great anticipation that we have looked forward to this day. It started out with a serenade on the bus coming in from quite a good guitar player and Willie Nelson look-alike. He had quite a nice voice, so we gave a little donation and took this picture.
Then we headed on into town to try and find a motorcycle accessory shop, where we could buy some high quality (DOT approved) helmets and other safety gear. We found the place and were a little surprised at the prices. We ended up getting only one helmet for the day, clocking in at $340 (US), and will get the second and more gear when we have a little time to shop. The new motorcycle is due to be delivered this week, so we needed to have a helmet for me, since it will take a couple of weeks of practice to get comfortable enough to ride with Denise.
By that time, we were scheduled to meet with the escribano (notary public) who was going to help us exchange one of our cashier's checks for two of like value, to be able to pay each participant from their own check. Unlike Argentina (where all real estate deals are transacted in hard cash, Uruguay transactions use bank issued letres de cambio or cashier's checks). That completed, we went on to the office for the closing.
Now here is where it gets interesting (you knew you kept reading for some reason). The closing takes place with all persons involved in the transaction present. In this case, there was a prior agreement of sale, so that means that the original owner of the house, the 2 sellers (Dr. Andrés Garcia and his wife Claudia) , the 2 real estate agents, the 2 buyers and the escribanos (both the buyers and sellers representatives) and office staff are there to complete the transaction. First, the original agreement of sale was finalized. To do this, the seller's escribano had prepared a sales contract to transfer ownership of the property to the sellers (the Doctor and his wife). This was done by reading the entire document out loud, with both parties listening, then signing the document and transferring the money (which we provided in our purchase price). Then after kisses all around (this is Uruguay), the original owner left, and we continued on with the last portion of the purchase. We now went into the smaller office and Rose (the escribana) read our purchase contract, first in Spanish, then in English. Then we each signed our signatures. After that, the Doctor turned over keys and some utility and tax receipts and offered any help that we needed. There was a warm round of kisses all around and even a few tears.
I think you can get the idea that a real estate transaction in Uruguay is not like a real estate transaction in the US. These people had somehow become almost family. This was, of course, a business deal. But it was much more than that. The escribanos were like our older brothers or parents helping us through this arrangement. We felt we were being accepted into the family circle and not just buying a property, but taking over a family possession- to be cared for and cherished. I know it sounds a little over dramatized, but this is how we actually felt. When we finally left, with another warm round of kisses, we were finally home owners in Uruguay.
After coming back to Atlantida (since it was long after dark, we resisted the temptation to rush over to the new house. We dropped off the papers and helmet at the hotel, then went out to a nice restaurant for dinner. You have to take a look at this delicious meal. I had some wonderful beef (look at the size of that) and Denise has a great fish dinner. We ordered a bottle very nice Tannat wine (2000, supposed to be one of the best years). Then we couldn't help ourselves and had these fabulous desserts.
This was quite an anniversary. Lots of work, lots of business and lots of food. We should sleep in tomorrow, but I doubt whether we can keep from running over to our new house- but that is another story.