The Road to Leo

I was adamant that I did not want a car when I moved to Uruguay. Thought for a hot second about a scooter only to find out they slaughter scooters on Uruguayan roads, so I said, “Nah, better not.” I lucked out making friends with a person who had a car, (though his car is not why I am his friend) and he graciously gave me rides to school every morning and most afternoons in par cool. Buses are fairly easy and cheap in the city proper. And Uber is prevalently used as a final resort. I really saw no need for a car or the financial burden.

That was until Brad decided to blow this popsicle stand for Costa Rica and I got cancer. The British Hospital is a good 20 minute drive (45 minutes by bus) from my school. Between blood work and doctor’s visits, my Uber bill was quickly escalating. People at school are more than willing to give rides, but a majority live the complete opposite way from my house and the hospital. My friends, Mike and Vicky, once went completely opposite of where they needed to go just to make sure I made a doctor’s appointment in time. The amount of gratitude I have for all of the rides given to me over this last year and a half is insurmountable. But I detest being a burden and I am the worst at asking for help.

As soon as Mom got here, she pushed buying a car. “It will give you freedom. You can be more involved at school. You have a boyfriend who deals with cars and can help you. You won’t have to hear Brad honk every morning.” Her reasons were legitimate (especially the last one) and I started to really think about the prospect. However, I was not going to be in debt again, which meant it had to be under 6000 total.

I know absolutely nothing about cars, so I called in the expert. Nico works with mechanics and buying car parts for a living. Plus he restores old ones as a hobby. (Right now he is working on a Chevy Impala 1964.) Although I have heard a lot about cars these past six months, I still have no clue what to look for, especially in Spanish. Nicolas became my car guru. Sifting through pages and pages of used cars on Mercado Libre (Spanish Craig’s List), we narrowed it down to Peugeots and Volkswagens. Cars in Uruguay are unique in the fact that they don’t depreciate like they do in the states. A used 1998 in good condition can sell for up to 10,000 USD. Plus, the insurance and registration is way different. Both are paid based on year and make. Older cars are hella cheap for both. Bring on the older cars!

Oh, and buying used cars are a process. It isn’t pay cash, get car. You have to go through a notary (a lawyer here) and have a background check on the car. Then you pay the notary to change over all of the documents to the new owner and do the entire transaction process. Again, thankfully Nicolas knows people to get the process started if and when the car was found.

We went to see a few potentials over a few weeks, but they were all duds. I was getting a little discouraged and felt so bad about making Nico take time to go with me every time a potential car popped up. So after a long trip to Atlantida that resulted in yet another disappointment, I decided to look first and only involve Nico when I was absolutely sure a car had potential. That is when this hot rod popped up on Mercado Libre…76bb1b91-e56b-45e7-bf26-9baadc095128

Okay, I was instantly enamored. I mean if there was ever a car for Kim Coyle, it was this one. The perfect color, a decent price, and the pictures looked so clean and shiny.  I recruited Brad to take me and see the car. Brad and I tend to get into these strange, yet surprisingly comical adventures. And as much as I rag on him about his grandma driving, I am going to miss driving with the dude. Plus, he taught me to drive stick; it’s only fitting that he be the one come with me to buy a car.

We show up to this guy’s house and freaking Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men greets us. Which can be a little disconcerting when it is a total stranger taking you for a test drive. (If he had flipped a coin, I think Brad would have lost it.) Miguel, the owner, was VERY passionate about his car. It was clearly his baby and he took impeccable care of it. He would have driven us around forever had Brad not said it was time to return. (Brad was really freaked that there are no seat belts in the back and Miguel was talking about taking us on the highway.)  We returned to Miguel’s house and I told him I wanted the car. And let’s face it…I have no poker face when I want something.

But, I needed Nicolas to see it first. The very next Saturday, we headed again. Nico was massively impressed by how clean the car was inside and out. It had clearly been taken care of. Side note here: I never thought I was one of those girls who cared about guys who work with cars. But as soon as Nico looked under that hood and started asking questions and touching things, man, my libido went BOING 😍. Trying to explain that to him in Spanish later was real fun. I now know the words for “to look under the hood.” As I was ogling my boyfriend and he was ogling the car, it was agreed that this car was going to be mine.

Insert the notary, lots of texts back and forth, a slightly frantic call from Miguel about timing while the notary was on vacation, a bank experience, a bank transfer from the states, a deposit experience at Red Pagos (Mom’s first), a frantic email to a colleague about insurance, and a week of waiting and deciding on names…

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