09 August 2010

Apartment Hunting and the Mysterious Italian Bikers

After a single night in the god-forsaken apartment from hell, things are looking up. I could not stay there another moment, and spent the entire day scouring the internet for potential places to live. I have quite a deadline, considering my visa appointment is in a few days, and I absolutely must have a permanent address to prove residency! I haven’t found a permanent apartment yet, but I’ve found temporary relief in an Italian couple who rents out a room in their beautiful Toulousain apartment on a short term basis. From the tranquility of their apartment, I can sleep insect-free, and also search for an apartment with use of their phone and WIFI connection.

I’ve been with them a few days. They are a lovely couple named Cetina and Luigi. They speak a very sing-song French, rolling all the R’s in typical Italian style. From what I’ve gathered, they do not work. I noticed they sleep quite late, and never seem to be going off to work. I asked what they did for a living, and Cetina replied, « We’re authors. We travel the world on our motorcycles and write about our adventures. » I asked them how many books they had published, and Cetina declared “This will be the first one, when it’s finished.” I did not want to push the issue of how they could afford to travel the world on their numerous expensive motorcycles, live in an affluent apartment in downtown Toulouse, and wear exquisite leather outfits... so I smiled and told her how much I admired them as a couple.... they are in their mid-forties, too young to be retired... Their income is a mystery.

They have shown me photos of their numerous trips. They have travelled throughout Europe exclusively on their motorcycle complete with sidecar. Not just your standard Western Europe. We’re talking far-flung places like Bulgaria, Latvia, and Serbia, and the Ukraine. They’ve been everywhere. They have even traveled to tip of Southern Spain, where they took their vehicle on the ferry to Morocco, and travelled throughout Africa. It’s really incredible.

They’ve been very lovely in helping me find a new place... I was too shy to phone my landlord of the hell-hole apartment to ask for my deposit, so Cetina took the phone from my hand, and very eloquently informed him that his residence was in shameful unhygienic conditions, and that HER CLIENT must be reimbursed for her deposit in a timely manner. I expected a protest from the landlord, but he really must have believed he was speaking to a lawyer, because he relented immediately and agreed to pay me back.

Additionally, as we all recall with my recent laptop disaster I was dealing with an 800 euro hole in my pocket due to the repair costs I had to shell out. Maurice was not returning my calls and I had lost all hope of getting my bill reimbursed. I had phoned his insurance company, who informed me that because I did not carry my own personal insurance, I had no possibility of recuperating the expenses, and that they could not help me. Cetina advised me to write a letter to his insurance company, and assisted me in the wording, ensuring I express candidly the emotional distress it had caused. I have no idea if anything will come from it, but I appreciate the effort she took to help me in so many ways. I adore her persistent attitude. She’s just relentless!

I’m channeling her energy as I hunt for my apartment.

I’ve been searching like mad. My strategy:

1. Search websites like www.crij.org and www.seloger.fr for apartment ads. Go to local Crous office and edge your way into the crowd of fellow apartment searchers copying down the newest ads on the bulletin board and hope no one else is writing down the same ones. Mark ones with potential.

2. Phone and make appointments to see the apartments. Only a small fraction of them will even answer, as this is a competitive time of year to be finding apartments, as students will be starting university this fall.

3. Circle the locations on map, and hit the streets.

4. Meet with various landlords who will show the apartment, which most of the time is a big disappointment.

5. Start back at step 1. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Naturally by now, I have a very good understanding of the layout of Toulouse, seeing how I’ve been everywhere on foot in my search. made a lot of progress, I’ve looked at 10 apartments the past few days, and they were either in a dangerous neighborhood, too far away from the city center, or their was an OCD roommate who reminded me of Hélène and her endless demands for neatness beyond human comprehension.

In the meantime, I’m staying in one of the most beautiful apartments I’ve ever seen with a fantastic couple that I get along swimmingly with. I keep fantasizing about living with them, but I know it’s only a short-term rental...


The clock is ticking, the date of my Visa Appointment is nearly here, and I absolutely must have an address....

Doubts in myself are rapidly returning.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Jamie. I remember all of this. I am really glad you met Luigi and Cetina. And your photos from Andorra on Facebook were really cool. Keep up with the good writing on the blog. I love you.


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