Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Save the Drama for Your Momma (or your daddy)

When we moved to South Africa I thought the hard part would be the move and then once we were living here everything would be smooth sailing. But in 2015 two things happened that were challenging and made us feel like getting settled here was going to take longer than expected. The first thing was the drama with our house and potentially having to move and second was the ongoing saga of having to re-apply for our visas. Here is an update on both situations. 

"No, I am your father" - Darth Vader

Let's have a little refresher. "Previously on Tales of the Visa Reapplication..."

The visas that Mr. Deep and I currently have are less than a year old. Unfortunately about six months after we arrived in South Africa, we learned that we needed to reapply for new visas due to a slight name change at Mr. Deep's company. Having to reapply would have in itself, been a total pain but the real pain for me came when due to my inadequate fingerprint quality (it's a condition that I suffer from.) I had to fly back to the US to have my fingerprints taken electronically so that I could submit them as part of an FBI background check which is needed for the visa application. The situation was outlined in this post

After my quick trip half way around the world and back, we got the fingerprints, the FBI background checks, the chest x-rays, the updated documents and letters from Mr. Deep's company and everything else required under the sun put together. At the end of October we visited Home Affairs to submit our applications for new visas. To facilitate the application at Home Affairs, we had a local expert from an attorneys office who met us there the day we had the appointment to submit our applications. Even with his help we spent over four hours at Home Affairs that day while our "handler" visited all of the different counters on our behalf shuffled around the paperwork and called us to come up to the counter to sign various documents in the presence of the Home Affairs staff when needed. At the end of the four hours we were told it would take 3-4 months to process everything and then we would receive our new visas. 

Then the day before we were scheduled to leave for the USA for our Thanksgiving holiday we received word that the visas were ready and we were told to send our passports to the lawyer to have the new visas attached. Of course we couldn't oblige because we needed our passports to be able to fly so we advised the experts that we'd send them along when we got back. 

Now, do you want the good news or the bad news? 

The good news is Mr. Deep's visa is a-ok and he will be getting his passport back shortly with his shiny new visa affixed. Once he receives it he can resume having a jolly good time working in South Africa and flashing his visa to anyone and everyone at any opportunity just to prove that he is official. 

The bad news is that my visa is going to take a little bit longer because an error was made. Here is a snippet from the email Mr. Deep received regarding the error. "However, there is bad news in that the South African Dept of Home Affairs have messed up your wife's passport endorsement. They have stated in the visa that it is 'dependent on father' rather than husband. This has been flagged to them and they have requested the passport back to rectify. They should issue the correctly worded visa next week."

Mr. Deep wonders if it might be easier (and faster) if he and I get divorced and then he adopts me as his daughter so that the visa will be accurate.

"I feel we are all islands - in a common sea" - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

The house drama has ended as the house has been sold. But there was one last thing that happened with the previous owner/landlord that I never wrote about and like the visa situation it is so ridiculous that it needs to be shared publicly. 

A day or so before the closing on the house both the new owner and the previous owner came over to take a look around and to discuss a few items that, according to the previous owner, were not included with the sale. Even though I had inquired as to what exact items were not included I was never told, so as they were looking around I too was learning what was considered extra. The purpose of all of this was that the previous owner wanted the new owner to buy these items from her or, the previous owner was going to remove these items from the house. 

It turns out that the main items that were not included in the sale were pots. As in about 15 large pots with plants in them. These pots were outside in the garden and on top of the third floor roof deck. While it makes sense to me that potted plants would not be included in the sale of a home, there is something called an "aggravation dollar" which is a phrase that I learned from a very smart boss I once had. The aggravation dollar means that sometimes it is not worth it to worry about such matters because you will end up paying with your time and aggravation. 

All of the pots were quite large and heavy. In order to move them the previous owner would have to find at least two strong guys to carry them for her and would have also needed some kind of truck to fit them all. Even with a bakkie (pick up truck) or an SUV, I still think several trips would be needed to collect all the pots. The new owner said she wanted a few of the pots but not all and while I liked the pots I certainly wasn't going to buy them being that at some point we will be leaving South Africa and we will not want to be lugging around a bunch of pots. So the previous owner said she would come and collect the pots that were not going to be purchased by the new owner.

After we were done looking at pots we were standing around near the kitchen area and the previous owner casually announced that the "chopping block" also was not included in the sale. Both the new owner and I were shocked. First, chopping block is not an accurate name for this piece of furniture. While yes, it has a butcher block type top and it is used for chopping food, it really is what would be considered an island as it measures 3 feet high, 5 feet long and 3 feet wide (or as we like to say in South Africa .91 meters high, 1.5 meters long and .91 meters wide.) In addition, this item clearly matches the kitchen cabinets and another non removable island in the next room. 

In America we call this type of behavior on the part of the previous owner "reaching for shit."
Like, let's see if I can get these either the tenants or the new owner to pay to keep the island, (which I'll call a chopping block because then it sounds like less of a big deal.) True it would be nearly impossible for me to move this island, I mean uh er chopping block, as it won't fit through the door of the house without being disassembled and sure it was custom made to fit in and match the kitchen where it resides currently but hey, lets give it a shot. That's the definition of reaching for shit.

As everyone was so surprised to learn this bit of information the fate of the chopping block (aka island) was not finalized on that day.  Later when Mr. Deep and I moved the island (before this incident we didn't even realize this thing was movable - it's that big) was saw there was a hole in the floor for an outlet of some kind thus complicating the situation because if the island was removed, the tile in the floor would also need to be replaced. A few days later the new owner asked the previous owner how much she wanted for the chopping block and was told the original purchase price was R30,000 which equals a lot of money. Also, that was the cost before people spent countless hours chopping on the thing. So the new owner said thanks but no thanks and Mr. Deep and I decided to buy a new more generic island that we could take with us when we leave here. Yes, we were sad to the see the lovely island go but what were we going to do? Just like the pots we can't be bogged down carrying an island around that is never going to match another kitchen of ours again.

Then, similar to some other points in time during the course of the housing drama, the new owner consulted a lawyer about the situation and told the previous owner, sorry but my lawyer says no way...the chopping block must stay. 

And so the previous owner went off into the lovely South African sunset and was never heard from again. All of the pots and the chopping block/island remain in place for the Deep family to continue to enjoy and chop on. Unless I get deported. Then, Mr. Deep will have to enjoy these items for both of us.
large pot with pen for scale.
Smaller pot which is not that small.
"chopping block"
Other furniture that matches the chopping block.

1 comment:

  1. Love it! I can SO relate. My Home Affairs was Eskom, but we also had some home owner issues along those same lines. Thanks for the laugh:-)


About Me

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have just moved to Geneva, Switzerland for a few months following a few years of living in Johannesburg, South Africa. The two places could not be more different. I'm excited to share our adventures, challenges and insights with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.