Last Wednesday I checked the balance of my new Slovenian bank account and found it to contain over 3000 euros. This was a good thing for several reasons. Firstly, the info I gave Sarah was correct and the wire transfer from the US bank to the Slovenian bank worked. The money -- almost all of my money -- didn't get lost somewhere over the Atlantic.
Secondly, it means I can now get paid directly into my Slovenian bank account from the publishers in London because I know it won't get lost over the Alps.
Thirdly, and for you at least, more interestingly, I could tell my prospective new landlord that I had the means to give him one full year of rent on the apartment. We arranged to meet on Friday.
I was nervous on Friday morning, to be honest. I was about to give away 80% of my money to a man I had only met once and who's only apparent proof to being the owner of the apartment was that he had a key. He lives in Ljubljana too, which gave me cause for concern and I still have no idea why.
I spent the morning examining the situation as if it were a crime scene and the more I thought about it, the harder it got to find Gregor guilty of anything. I liked him when I met him that one and only time, and we have been exchanging emails. I had the contract read by a neutral party and it seems ok. As the appointed hour drew closer I came to understand that I was nervous only because I was handing over a large amount of money, and I don't like handing over even small amounts of money. I agonize over any purchase, and what at first might appear to be iron self-control on my part is actually a fear of letting loose and enjoying the concept of spending. I would have made a great Puritan or member of a similar 'don't buy that'-type religion.
We met at the apartment at 3pm and went over everything. During the next hour I became happy with the place and happy with Gregor. By 4pm we went to the bank and all that money became his. We signed the contract, spent an hour in a bar drinking coffee then went back the apartment building.
There is a woman called Maria who lives upstairs, a pleasant woman in her mid sixties (maybe older, I don't know) with bright eyes, a quick smile, and absolutely no knowledge of the English language. Until now she has been the only full-time resident in the 10-apartment building. Because she speaks no English, Gregor took me up to meet her and performed the introductions. He gave her 300 euros as payment for the year toward water and garbage (she pays the bills because she's there all the time), and she plied us with blueberry schnapps, made by her own fair hand from fruit gathered from some Heidi-esque Alpine meadow. I shall try to learn Slovene so we can chat on the stairs. Two people -- the only residents in a 10-apartment building and neither speaks the other's language -- this is an indie movie script in the making.
The other apartments are owned by people who, like Gregor, use them for weekends and summer holidays. The rest of the time it's going to be just me in number 3 and Maria in number 6.
Frank and Sally are going to Venice tomorrow and I shall keep one foot in both camps for a few days. The new apartment is only five minutes away. We have had such a deluge of rain that Frank's basement is flooding, so I'll be here to sweep water into the pump-hole-gurgling-thing down in the basement. I shall move in slowly this week. I also want to spend just a little longer in this large house. I am about to move into a nice clean modern apartment with cable tv and broadband, a wood fire and a balcony, but it's really just a large open-plan room. It will be the smallest living area I've had since the late 80's. I am desperate to start my independent life in Slovenia, but I know that the change in living space will be an issue for a while.
Ah yes, I have a wood-burning stove despite it being a new apartment on the 2nd floor, and a balcony big enough for a small table and chair that looks out to the church and a farm. I spoke to the wife of the farmer the other day. Her name is Sabina, she is the same age as my son David, she has 4 children, she is actually Swedish and told me that I can buy milk from them in the evening. Already I have neighbours with home-made schnapps and unpasteurized milk.
It's going to be fun.
[ps...Have you tried the Armchair Detective Challenge yet?]
Slovenia, writing, other things