Was among several of the choice phrases used that day.  As I told you earlier, I have to work back from several days ago and recall. Oh, and this I do recall – fear not. So while I am sitting here using a really confusing French keyboard and downing a Fanta (what is it with these citrus drinks?? If it’s not Fanta orange then it’s Fanta lemon, or Orangina, or Limonade, etc… the list goes on and I am really not complaining – I find them quite refreshing actually) I am putting all my thoughts in order.  This particular post is one of the ones that will describe the crap we have gone through and I am putting a disclaimer up right now so none of you tries to board me on the next plane back: This story has a happy ending. It’s just several posts down the line… =)  No freaking out ok? Ok? With that understood, you may read on:

So us girls had been trying to find a real place to live for the remainder of the semester (or however long each one of us is staying) and we came across a villa. The outside looked nice, and it was located in Cap D’Antibes which we heard was a little further away from Antibes, Juan les Pins and the city life but beautiful (I mean it IS right by the water) and there was a bus that came through the area. So we started to get in contact with the owner, a guy named Johan. A name that we say very bitterly if even at all now. At the very beginning he was very nice, although he was in Paris at his “prestigious business school,” HEC and therefore could not meet with us yet because he was to arrive back at his home in the cap on the 5th of Septembre. And that was the day that we had to be moved out of our Residence in Antibes, and we could not just arrange to stay there for another week because the weeks to follow were booked. So we made him very aware of this fact. So Johan speaks English pretty well- really well in fact so at least that was good. At least. So the guy told us more about the place and he said he could not really find pictures on his computer of the inside of his villa. The stats on this place are: 4 bedrooms, two bathrooms, one half bathroom, an equipped kitchen, a dining room, a living room, internet (I asked), a garden, a pool, a patio and a terrace (balcony that you can walk out onto from one of the rooms on the second floor) with a view of the sea.  So basically so far we would have to see his villa in person on the day that we had to be moved out… risky right? But so far we had not found many other options, and most places were taken… make that every place. We literally walked into every real estate place etc that we saw and they all told us the same thing – that there were only studios left, nothing with two or more rooms available and the ones that were wanted a three year contract or they were not furnished, no beds, nothing. So we asked Johan if he could come back sooner and he wasn’t really going for that. So over the next couple of days he would call pretty much three times a day. Each time he told us something new. For example, he told us that because we were not French citizens, we had to have all the money up front because normally where if it was a french student renting, the owner could just ask that they have their parents sign something that says they would pay it if their son/daughter didn’t. Ok. Then he said that we needed to have that letter anyways. Ok. Then he said that we would have to have one account to put all our money in and that we could make it so that nobody could touch it/put a lock on it and the bank would take out the money for each month every month and put it in his bank account. So basically either way we needed to have all the money upfront. Ok. And then he says that he will be staying 5 days with us while we are there after we sign the contract because he wants to enjoy the place for a few days while he is there and he needs a room to stay. Ok. And then he said we needed to pay 200€ a year for insurance in case someone robs us and steals our things. Not his things but ours. Ok. Then he tells us that his pool is broken and needs to be fixed so we couldn’t use it the first month. Ok. Then he says that he pays 300€ a month for a gardener, a housekeeper, and someone to take care of the pool. And we have to pay for it. We asked if he could cut the cost of the housekeeper if we clean the villa ourselves. He said that if after one month and the maid comes and sees if our cleaning is satisfactory then he might be able to cancel it. Ok.  Then he calls to say that the services are combined so he can’t cut them. Ok. Then he calls to say that there is a guy who is interested in taking the 4th bedroom… ok, that means one of us would have to share a room with another girl. Ok. Then Johan lets something slip about not having internet. Turns out, the place CAN have internet, but for 30€ a month, along with telephone and cable. But then he has a tv and he won’t let us use it. Ok. So then we ask that when it gets too cold to swim if we don’t use the pool, can he cut the costs for the person who comed to maintain it. He says no, because they would have to empty the pool and if one of us fell in it would be a liability for him. Ok. So then we find out that having the guy move in and take a room does not help decrease our rent, it stays the same. Ok. So he gave us the guy’s number, Jonathan is his name… too weird for me (especially when I keep getting text mesages from him) but no one else can talk to him cause they don’t have phones yet. So I also have to deal with Johan the owner this whole time.

Luckily this villa mate guy seems pretty decent and actually pretty nice on the phone, and he has a car. Sweet.  He is from Belgium and speaks perfect English and he works in Sophia Antipolis which is where CERAM is located.  Things are looking better cause it is normally a 40 minute bus ride to our school from the Cap. Ok. So then in the meantime us girls are running around getting everything we need set up, getting french bank accounts, etc and doing everything we need to do for orientation and classes for Sasha and Hazel who are in the Masters program. Ok. So then Johan calls to say that he can meet us on Friday, the day before we have to move out. 1 day is better than none. Ok. So then on friday he calls to tell us where to meet, we find his place after a half hour. And find out that… he has been there since two days ago. And that the pool is literally green and brown. This “garden” is dry yellow grass. The lawn chairs are dirty. So are all the sheets on the beds. Olga sat on one of the beds and it broke (and she is my size just a little shorter). The beds were pretty much cots. The bathroom for J.H. on the first floor was messed up and there was only a pipe sticking out of the wall for his shower. Heh. and A window was broken, etc. the whole place needed cleaning. So then we say we have to discuss everything with each other, and the problem is that we are desperate. And do not have a place to live for the next day… so Olga and Hazel are thinking it’s too far from the city, the guy is just not worth trusting and it’s too expensive (1650,00€ for us girls and that split comes out to $577.00 each month BEFORE utilities of water, electricity, etc.) And this decision is stressing us because we don’t want to split up… but finding a place for four people would be very difficult. Oh and he has a fireplace but he just won’t let us use it because of liability issues. heh. Figures. Also there is a projector to watch movies on and a sound system (which we find out from Jonathan the next day that Johan was actually charging 200€ a month to use it but didn’t tell us). So anyways I am pretty sure that Johan was listening to us talk amongst ourselves so he comes over and says that he plans to fix the front door. And that he will have the pool cleaned in 2 months tops (and we have a feeling he means the 2 months more than sooner) Oh and then he says that it will take 2 weeks for the services to install internet. And then when he heard that the distance would be a problem, he says that he has actually been talking to this other guy named Benjamin who is French and goes to CERAM who has a car. And that there was a room in the basement he could stay in. And so we thought ok, well if the guy is fine with it, and maybe he would not mind driving us and that would lower the rent for us too. But no, then we find out that Johan has put all his stuff into the basement room and says that if we want him to stay there then we could help move the stuff out. And then he says that the room needs a new coat of paint and we have to help him paint it. And then he says that no, no, Benjamin’s crap room is not helping to lower our rent, it is just 300€ more for him to open that room and an added person using everything. And then he says he is planning to put down new grass in April. Really? Lot of good that would do us… So then he says that actually, this is his family’s home and he has to ask them for their final say on everything. So we leave his place, after asking if we sign the contract the next day would we be able to move in that day (just asking in case we had no other options) and he said yes.

So then we leave his place and head to Juan les Pins to at least try to have a good night and enjoy ourselves because we haven’t even been to Juan les Pins yet, which is supposed to be a really nice beach city. So when we are on our way there for a night out on the town (before we have to wake up early and move all our stuff by 10 in the morning to Johan’s place and we are dreading it) we get a call from Johan saying that his family is not ok with six people living there. I was starting to get pissed off (heh. Sasha, Hazel and Olga were already there) and said “well our answer depends on if he can stay there because he is a means of transportation.” and he said “oh…” so then he calls back in an hour and says “I convinced my family to let him stay there.” and so ok, things are right back to where they were, still in sh*tville and then we try to eat dinner at a nice Italian place and he calls again to say that we can’t stay at his place without signing the contract first. So he says something about staying there for 17€ a night each. We have nowhere else to go so we say ok. So then he calls back one more time to say something else but he said there was a miscommunication and he meant that our bags could stay at his place but we would have to stay in a hostel  for a couple nights until the contract was made. WTF. Knowing that we have nowhere to go, who the hell puts 4 girls out on the streets when NO ONE is staying in your place?? And why would would we leave our stuff with him? Haha. Sasha then said one of the best quotes of the night; “Is that why the French have condom dispensers on the side of the road, for f***ing people over?!”  Yeah… they really are on the side of the road, easy access.

We barely had an appetite, we could not really enjoy our meal. So the busses stop running around 10 at night or so we find out, and either we would take more than an hour to walk back, or take a cab. We bought 2 bottles of red wine, called a cab and we were on our way back to our residence. So we start talking and suddenly I get the urge to tell our situation to our cab driver and ask how renting a villa works and if we really have to go through all this crap. He said that if it is a villa they have different rules and that we do in fact have to pay the 2 months security deposit in advance and the money up front, but everything else sounded strange to him. So then Sasha then says “Oh yeah? How do you say ‘bullsh*t’ in French?” LOL. He laughed and told us but we didn’t remember it. So we got back to the residence, were exhausted, hadn’t packed yet, and we cracked open both bottles of wine. Oh and Hazel started throwing back shots of the wine… and started to turn red since she is one of those who lacks the enzyme that helps break down alcohol… (she’s Asian). Ha ha so then we decide to skype Jonathan and see what he has to say about all this.

So we told him how bad his room was and found out that Johan was making him pay 580€ for it (that’s a lot).  Basically, he was supposed to meet Johan the next day and Johan didn’t want us to meet at the same time… shifty. So Jonathan says “How bout this, I meet him a little early, and you come a little late and we ‘accidently’ meet? Oops.” And so starts the collective scheming against Johan the Terrible. We found a residence that we had been looking at in Juan les Pins earlier that day that might be available (just one room and it would be all of us crammed in there for 420€ for one week) but the reception desk was closed so we would have to ask if it was still available in the morning. So we went to bed not knowing where we would sleep the next day and it really put things into perspective. I hope none of you ever have to experience that feeling.

P.S.,  Basil finally jumped.