Week of May 29, 2005
As we returned to Curitiba, we had a feeling of dread hovering over us for we knew we now had to get back to business. Gerson has a home that he inherited and we had to straighten out many legal issues relating to the property. What we did not know and were shockingly made aware of was that Gerson's assigned property caretaker (I will not mention the person directly out of respect for Gerson but let's just say that it was a person that is closely related to Gerson and Gerson unfortunately trusted) had not paid the property taxes in four of the last six years and had "taken" all the rental income.
As a result of the lack of tax payments, the home had accrued massive fines and legal fees and not to mention the house was in the equivalent of government foreclosure (on May 30, 2005). Fortune was with us as we just happened to visit the tenant and the tenant had just received the auction notice that morning - what timing!
On top of this, we found out that the taxes being levied against the property were incorrect. We had carefully scrutinized the collected paperwork and we discovered that Gerson's 190 square meter property (about 2000 square feet) was being assessed for taxes for about 2000 square meters (or about 20,000 square feet). Seeing as there was a 90% discrepancy in the tax amount, we realized that not only do we have to block the foreclosure, we have to protest the actual tax amounts for the past five years (as that is furthest back you can go).
Needless to say, in four scrambling days we managed to hire an attorney friend of Gerson's to stop the foreclosure process, initiate the legal process to protest the tax amount and request a refund of taxes that were paid in the last five years (a process that will take 2-3 years), open a bank account, place a rather sizeable deposit with the government to show our good faith to pay the back taxes, hire a trustworthy property manager, sign power of attorneys, transfer all property rights to Gerson's name (as the property was still had his siblings names on the documents), inspect the home/property with the tenants, etc.
Let's just say it was a rather stressful week and an eye-opening experience on how the Brazilian system works. Frustration was not the only "F" word I was muttering under my breath.
However, with our determination and our ingrained United States training for organization, documentation and how to deal with bureaucracy, we persevered without strangling anyone (even though there was one person in particular that I was fitting my hands for his neck).
So, that was the distasteful part of the week...now, let us go to the very tasteful part of the week...
We were able to squeeze Cindy alongside of Gerson's cousin's home, but not before we had to remove a concrete pillar that supported the also-removed gate. Cindy nestled into her spot and we spent the week with Vinicio and Evelize and their son, Carlos. There was not a morning or night that their house did not have the hypnotically intoxicating smell of fresh baked goodies as their business is making desserts for area bakeries, restaurants, etc. They would always make a small version of the cakes they were contracted to create and of course, I had to try each one (several times on some of the more tasty ones).
Vinicio's home is protected by a rather zealous beast called "Juca" which I nicknamed "Cujo". The dog never really threatened us; however, one morning we were thrown face-to-face with Juca and movement was not an option. Juca is a little intimidated by fences so Gerson was able to place a small gate between him and Juca's warning growl. I, however, was a tad more exposed as I was between Cindy and the back door. Juca strutted over to me and giving me that glare that translates the gutteral growl as "Don't even think of running", I remained frozen. Fortunately, I had a small bag of food we were giving to Vinicio and Evelize and I slowly placed that in front of me. The growl quickly moved to obvious sniffing as Juca recognized the smell. Gerson called Juca's name which brought Juca toward him and I wasted no time in backing myself into Cindy.
Evelize recognized the rather controlled yet determined knock on the back door and she ushered Juca into a small contained room. VERY GOOD watch dog, not so good for playing with...
A quick look at one of the first buildings built in Curitiba and walks along the beautiful mosaic tiled sidewalks infused a little tourist time in our week as well. The walks were especially welcome as we were indulging in way too much of that wonderful Brazilian food.
We spent the week enjoying Gerson's family and friends and had wonderful visits with his sister and her family. Somewhere in between all the legal gymnastics, we wrestled time with Gerson's friends, many of which were involved in helping us through our bureaucratic mess. From bar-b-ques to dinners to more food opportunities, we had such a fantastic and funtastic time with everyone.
Marco, one of Gerson's friends, lent us one of his company's cars and a cell phone which kept us in touch with Luiz Renato (Nato), a long-time friend and now attorney that is helping us with the legal mess. Many of Gerson's friends work together in various businesses and/or in the same building. It was like an Ilha do Mel (see SA Diary page 22) reunion seeing all these friends of Gerson's that have rather outrageous stories from the island (I really need to learn Portuguese).
We also had some time with Julio and Bela that had moved back to Brasil in February and are now looking to move back to the US. We welcome them on any side of the equator.
Another indulging bar-b-que at Julio's and his father's (Julio as well) shop and we got to say good-bye to our extended family of friends.
The next day, we frantically made Cindy ready for her long sleep while we are back in the United States. Julio and his father were generous in their offer to store Cindy in their huge warehouse and we tucked her into her enclosure. We tearfully dragged ourselves into the airport and had ample time to reflect on the end of this part of our journey. As we were walking through the terminal to proceed to our gate, a befitting sign reawakened our realization of (what we immodestly feel) our magnificent accomplishment. I hope you feel the same...
We sleepily made it home and were happily picked up by my dad and his ladyfriend, Taffy at the airport. We are glad to be home but a large part of us still remains in Brasil.
For now, this website will be on hiatus and we will return to the airwaves once we set off on another adventure. Wait! You exclaim..."I thought you finished your journey in Curitiba?" Well, in part that is true...which means, in part, it is false. We still have many places to immerse ourselves in and after a few months in the United States taking care of personal business and a bit of working, we will return to Brasil and begin yet a new adventure.
At present, we are working toward importing Cindy into Brasil and having her there for our forays into the interior and further up the extensive coast of Brasil. Also, we have some unfinished sights to enjoy in Argentina so that is a yet another future jaunt.
Keep an eye on the home page for updates as to any additions to this site and to where we are or where we are heading...We have immensely enjoyed our journey and particularly, the people we met along the way. We hope you have also found pleasure in this website that even due to limitations in the written word and the stillness of photography, can never quite grasp the warmth of the hugs we received, the tingle of happiness in the laughter we heard nor the awe of the beauty of the land we touched.
For now, we remind you of the poems carefully chosen and lovingly placed on the Home Page of our website.
all of you know what it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the