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Just when things

A thousand here, a thousand there – pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

(A tip of the hat to the late Senator Everett Dirksen, who, contrary to popular opinion and according to the Dirksen Congressional Center, never said that, or anything like it.)

Back to the thousands: That’s the nature of renting apartments around the world. Strike a deal, send a deposit, and hope that no one runs off with the money. We’ve done that without contracts or other legal instruments ever since we began to travel, and so far we’ve basked in a glow of mutual trust and respect.

So far.

But Mexico – where we planned to spend six months, where we were headed in just a few weeks, where we hoped to spend enough time to meet some people and learn the language – yes, that Mexico…

…well, we have a problem.

We emailed our agent Lupita (I’ve changed her name because none of this is her fault) a while back: “Are we set?” we asked, our enthusiasm unrestrained. “We’ll be there in a few weeks.”

There was a pause. A long, email pause.

Finally: “I can’t find the owner of the condo!”

That’s Lupita, the consummate real-estate professional. Lupita, the unflappable. Lupita, the woman with our money. Lupita, who is now in tears.

The owner is not returning Lupita’s calls. Perhaps he has changed his mind. Perhaps he’s in another country. Perhaps he’s under witness protection. Perhaps he’s incarcerated. Maybe he’s dead.

Lupita is frantic, but not as frantic as we are. There’s a considerable deposit in limbo, six months on the line, and – starting September 28th – no place to live!

Stay tuned.