After a whirlwind trip to Boulder, CO, I am now back “home” in the Casa, in Mendoza, Argentina.
Karen and I had been renting our house in Boulder since we left on our trip, and the renter we had in the house had made an offer to buy it. While the offer was not great, it was good enough so we decided to sell. We had actually tried to sell the house back in June, but at that time the market was very slow – thus the rental.
Selling the house was , if not traumatic, a definitive milestone on our path from raising 4 kids to empty nesters. Our adventure was not the reason the sell the house, we would have done that anyway as it is too big for just the two of us, but the adventure did complicate the sales process.
We decided that I should fly back and close on the house, “oversee” the move (i.e. actually move all of our stuff), and run some much needed errands for stuff that we can’t get in S America. In the meantime, Karen would hang out in Mendoza, take Spanish classes, drink wine, flirt w polo players, etc., etc. I can categorically state that Karen got the better end of this deal.
In order to sell the house, we needed a Power of Attorney, POA, so that I could sign for Karen during the closing. Now in the US, with $20 and a pulse, you can become a notary. In Argentina, not so much. Here notary is a much grander title, and the process of getting a piece of paper notarized is fairly complicated.
The first thing we had to do was to find a notary, or escribanio / notario. We had asked in the tourist information office, and as with many things in S America, businesses tend to cluster on certain streets; there is a tire street, a hardware store street, a hair cutting street, and hence a lawyer / legal street. So we headed down to lawyer street and started asking questions at local stores for an escribanio. As always, people are very friendly and in one store they directed us to the Colegio de Notario, a notary school. At the Colegio, they directed us to Senora Crivelli. Sra Crivelli is both a lawyer and a notary, and had numerous certificates on her wall from notary classes she had taken.
Sra Crivelli prepared what I thought was a gorgeous POA: not only did she sign our POA, she added a second page stating that Karen had signed this paper in her presence, and also stating who she was herself. This notary statement was then officially signed, embossed, and a sticker applied (think old-school green stamps…) to a water-marked, serialized piece of paper. Much classier than what I’m used to.
This gorgeous POA was by itself not enough, we also needed an Apostillo, a piece of paper notarizing the notary. So back to the Collegio we went. Here, you hand in your POA, and they then add additional pieces of paper, signatures, stamps, and stickers, that essentially say that the notary is who she claims she is; a process that takes 24 hours. The end result is a package of five (5) pages that is highly official looking; the only thing lacking was a wax seal embossed with a signet ring.
Two days, and US $60 later, we had the POA.
Armed with the POA and a list of errands to run, I headed to the US. After seven months in S America, a few things stood out in Boulder:
- It’s really easy to rent a car, you book it on the web, you show up, show your license and credit card, and away you go. (This would have been even easier back in my business days when I had “premier” membership with a couple of rental companies, but this was easy enough). After the POA experience, renting both a car and a moving truck were a pleasure.
- It’s clean, none of the trash that, even in Argentina, tends to be lying around in the cities and along the highways close to the city.
- There’s parking everywhere; no matter what store I was going to, there is a large parking lot, with typically large spaces, right next by – none of the driving down small streets, worried about over-hanging branches trying to find a parking space that the Casa will fit into.
- People drive very calmly and stay in their lanes.
- There are actually lanes painted onto the street that people can stay in.
- All light bulbs in all traffic lights work. In Argentina, the hunt for a working light bulb comes as you approach an intersection. Out of the four traffic lights that control the intersection, only one of them may have a working red light bulb; you better find it fast.
- The stores are large and self-service: oftentimes the stores, such as hardware stores, in S America are the clerk-behind-the-counter type; you enter the store, take a number slip, wait for a clerk to become available, try to explain to the clerk what you want, he goes into the back to find it for you and bring it to the counter, if it’s the right thing you then proceed to the cashier where you pay for it, and then finally to the inventory clerk who verifies your receipt and then hands the item to you.
- There are no loose, roaming dogs.
- All toilets are clean.
- All toilets have seats; even in Argentina this is a 50/50 proposition.
- All toilets have toilet paper; no matter where you are in S America, odds of finding toilet paper in a toiler are vanishingly slim.
Our son, Erik, and I put in one very long day, and then a half day to get our stuff moved. Thanks Erik! The rest of my time was filled with errands and brunch / lunch / drinks / dinners with friends. While Karen did get out of doing all the work, she missed seeing our friends. Perhaps she didn’t get the better end of the deal after all.