Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dodged a Bullet and a farm visit

Here we go, day 2 of the 21 day challenge.

So, long story short - there are some shady people on the planet. We have been off and on looking at new places to live for the last few years. We quite like our apartment, the location and the people who live in our community. And the simple fact that we have a neighborly community is something of a rarity in the Paris area.

But, once and a while I freak out and crave a yard or more space or more storage or a quieter area or or or whatever and we start looking at the internet for the ads for houses or apartments. Here in France, of course, things are done differently than in the USA. Buying a new residence brings those cultural differences up to a whole new level. More on that later, but suffice it to say we had been really close to me writing a blog entitled, "We are Moving!"

Alas, that is not what this entry will be titled. It will be "We dodged a bullet". The quick version is: we found a quaint apt with needed some work, but it bordered a lovely forest, a 7 min walk to the school I want Sabine to go to and seemed like a pleasant place to live. We had visited the apt four times, met people who were moving out, met people who were living there, went for a hike in the forest, took lots of pics of the apt, had 2 contractors visit, read all the apartment diagnostics, read the meeting minutes of the co-prop owners, did a trial walk to the school. We really were getting invested in this place.

We went again last night with a different contractor to talk again about the work that needed to be done. The evil agents had to leave after about 15 minutes, so we were left to stand and discuss the work in the hallway. A woman was returning home and my bold and fantastic friend who  also joined to give us her opinion on the place asked the woman something in French. Fast forward 15 minutes and we had heard enough from this woman who chose US to tell the real deal to exit the process. And there was some real shady shit going on. The entire group of co-property owners colluded to not include in the minutes of their meetings the major upcoming and very expensive repairs needed on the apt as they all quietly sold their apartments. Also, blatantly lied about the ability to (hard to believe I know) USE the lawn directly in front of the apartment. This was one of the most appealing things about the apt. It is very common, more common than not, that the grass in forbidden to walk, play or lay on all around France. But, we had been told by the agents that the lawn was ours to use.

The helpful neighbor of course asked that we not say anything. She included a lot of other tid-bits about the dramas and conflicts between the neighbors. But for me it was the grass. She said it was really not allowed.  To have a living room with 2 beautiful doors opening out to a large grassy area but never be allowed to walk on it, well fuck that.

Like my many other major life projects, getting a driver's license in France, having a baby in France,  - buying a new home will be highlighted here. And no doubt, the stories coming will be head shakers, eye brow raising and fist poundingly frustrating - but so it is in the land not known for efficiency or customer service!
Breastfeeding at the farm

Beyond that 2 very heartbreaking situations recently came to my attention. I include online petitions to sign to show your support for two very different aspects of being in touch with nature.  Even if you don't live in France, your name will make an impact.

The first one relates to a family's decision to have their baby at home, which France is trying to eliminate by making it nearly impossible for mid-wives to get insurance. Here is that petition:

The second one is to protest the closing of an incredible resource here in France. A teaching farm which is really second to none in it's awesomeness. We happened to go there today and cannot believe that this is the first time we ever did as it is so close to our home. Here are just a couple of not-that-great pics taken with Hicham's phone. But the petition follows. Why they want to close it, is unclear to me. I hope to find out more.

Here is the petition:

Please sign! :)

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