We decided that we would move to Pedasi August 1st, after Connie’s family reunion in Lake Tahoe late July. (Yes, I know. This has been posted afterwards, but I am trying to catch up first with a few postings of how we got here, and then start blogging about our daily life.) Knowing that there was a lot to do before, we spent almost every day preparing and researching through blogs and forums about what we needed to do as we continued our life in Auburn, CA. We made a calendar so we could keep on track. Started selling our furniture and other household goods on Craigslist and at the local monthly Grange Hall flea market. It somehow becomes very freeing when your home is less crowded with your treasures, but it was sometimes difficult giving up things we had kept for years. Boxes and boxes of photos were given away to the various family members; we kept about 2 boxes to ship. Mikkel decided to build a crate: 4x4x6 ft. to save some cost. All of our possessions were to be consolidated into this crate or suitcases. So things were slowly being sold or given away to family and friends.
Planning ahead, we reserved our airline tickets; we had miles with United airlines, so virtually the flight was free. Actually, we had enough miles to book 1st class individually, but after Connie clicked the submit button, Mikkel tried but was denied, only to find out later that there was only one seat available in 1st class using miles. So he reserved a seat with more leg room in coach. Connie had never flown 1st class and Mikkel had, so it was agreed upon to keep the reservations as is. Connie also reserved a rental car for the month of July, preparing for the possibility of selling both cars by then. She got a really good deal & the planning paid off; Mikkel’s Honda Civic sold in May and Connie’s Ford Focus sold July 3rd (both through Craigslist).
Next was the decision to sell our condo. We had been trying for over a year for a modification loan with the bank, but as modification applications go, the bank had been stringing us along. We knew that we were underwater with our present mortgage, and wanted to get the payment down so we could rent it out. But after the 3rd re-application was requested by the bank, it became evident to us that a short sale was our best option at this point. In late April, we contacted our realtor who helped buy us our home and put it on the market. In about 3 weeks, we had a good cash offer and applied for a short sale with the bank. As of today, we are still waiting on the bank’s approval. Luckily we have a buyer who really wants our condo and is willing to hang in there. And the bank’s run-around hasn’t stopped our plans. We made arrangements for Connie’s daughter to have power-of-attorney it the short sale was still pending, which obviously it is.
Having found an attorney when we first visited Panama, we knew what we needed for our Pensionado visa. There is a timeline involved where all required documents were to be dated and apostiled (authenticated) within 90 days of when we applied in Panama. So we created a calendar to obtain each document. But it wasn’t as easy as one might think. As in a previous blog, we had already sent in our fingerprints to the FBI for a required background check; and Mikkel’s was rejected as unable to read. This time we again both sent in a set of 3 prints taken by the local county sheriff (hard inked copies required) the middle of April, knowing that it takes 6 weeks to come back, and giving us time to re-submit if these prints were not accepted. Sure enough, Connie received clearance as before, but Mikkel’s was again rejected. One more time, Mikkel got another set of 3 from the sheriff and mailed them Express mail to the FBI in West Virginia. In the meantime, Connie sent her clearance to the US State Department in Washington, DC to be apostiled and received it back in about a week.
While waiting for Mikkel’s clearance, we first went back to the sheriff dept. for another local background check, only to find out that we had to have it notarized before having apostiled. We would have to make an appointment with the actual sheriff and arrange for a mobile notary to come to the appointment, which we did. We also discovered that we had to get our certified marriage certificate apostiled in state where we were married (Nevada), not California. So we sent it off with a self-addressed Priority mail return envelope, praying it would be returned before July 25th. Otherwise we would have to make a trip to Carson City, Nevada and pay a lot of money to expedite it. Last of all, Mikkel needed to get a letter stating his monthly income from Social Security. Knowing it also needed to be notarized, he called the local office to confirm that it was okay to bring a notary with him. Whoever he spoke with agreed, and he arranged for the mobile notary to come with him. But when he got there, he was told that no one was allowed to have their signature notarized. They would have to send a request for an authenticated letter of income from the regional office in Richmond, CA and could not guarantee when it would be received. It seemed nothing was simple and each and every document had its different requirements to get notarized and then apostiled.
With that being said, we took the notarized sheriff’s background check along with the un-notarized income letter to State Department in Sacramento to be apostiled. Luckily we were told that the income letter could be apostiled if we got it “jurat” from a notary. It just so happened our bank had a branch across the street where their notary could give us a jurat (notarizing Mikkel’s signature that the document was true and authentic). So off we went and a half hour later we had the background checks & the social security letter apostiled. All the documents were scanned and sent off to our Panamanian attorney to be reviewed and translated into Spanish for our visa application, with the promise of the remaining documents to be sent as they came in.
The final plan was for Connie to resign from her job as a Parenting Specialist/ECE Behavior Consultant/Community Resource Liiason as of June 30th. We planned that she would apply for early Social Securiy starting on her 62nd birthday in September, as well as she was eligible for a small CalSTIRs pension. Mikkel was already receiving more than adequate from Social Security, but the extra would help. Anyway, this was a difficult decision for Connie. She loved this job, and did not want to quit or leave, but knew she had to. But God knows our desires and works in ways that are beyond our plans in our best interest. At the end of April, Connie was given notice that her positions were being eliminated due to the federal grant monies being cut back that paid for her positions. This would be as of June 30th, the end of the fiscal year. It took everything for Connie to act disappointed but understanding, while inside she was praising God for His ultimate timing. And now she could receive unemployment for a short time as well.
Next blog: “The Last Month Before Leaving”