After a thorough search, with all we have learned during our stay, we make a decision. It’s April, and we are signing papers for our new flat, a 60 square meter, pied-à-terre in the center of Glenwood, Durban.
There is so much going for this little place. Location and the third floor with an elevator, (although I promise to take the stairs whenever I can), forth-floor views of the park and the harbor through a wall of South-facing windows that I expect will yield partial sunrises and sunsets, newish kitchen, tiled to the ceiling with a built-in stovetop, oven and dishwasher, (some bachelor flats have hot plates and no oven) fresh bathroom, with a walk-in shower and washing machine that drains into the pipes, not the bathtub, I really wanted a tub for Sam's baths but compromised because of all the other positives.
The one negative and unknown until the carpet is torn up, is the floors. And they are bad. I would call Durban, with its humid climate, the capital of the borer beetle. I have seen their damage firsthand in our daughter’s previous rental. Big holes can be eaten by these critters and when exposed, our flat has considerable damage, but not so much that the all rafters are compromised.
My daughter has signed on as the General Contractor. Fortunately, she recently renovated her flat and had all the contacts to call upon for services. We have installed an air conditioning unit, started the painting process and replaced the subfloors after a chemical remediation for borer.
She has ordered new lighting, hardware for the charmingly 60’s paneled doors, accessories for the bathroom and cleaning equipment for the dusty footprints that must be removed after the workmen leave. She has calmed me when things at a distance make me feel helpless and convinced me that she really loves doing this. It is amazing for parents to watch their children competently navigate the adult world, but hard to let go of being in charge.
There are still plenty of chores that only my husband and I can execute. We must apply for the extended Retiree Visas that will allow us to stay for periods longer than 90 days. We wrestle with the nine-plus page application and the 30-or-so pages of accompanying documents. The fingerprinting/FBI reports, the financial profiles, the VD tests and chest x-rays, invitation letters from our South African family, proof of accommodations, flight itineraries, new passport photos, money orders , surrendering our passports and flights to New York to appear at the South African Consulate in person to submit this pile of paperwork.
I am walking a lot to quell the anticipation of receiving approval. With phone calls to the Consulate unanswered and unknown reasons for being “not verified yet,” my typical optimism is dampened by the dragging heels of bureaucracy. Finally, after 3 and a half weeks of waiting and resigning myself to the usual 3 month visit if all our efforts fail, the big, self-addressed priority envelopes appear. I do more than my usual happy dance for this one and get to making my flight arrangements.
I am here, beginning the sequel to last year’s emotional journey. Our flat is refurbished and ready for the necessaries. Hubby will join me in August.