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...of Mice and Men

Sorry it has been a week since my first posts on this trip. It had been a crazy week of ups and downs, and scrambling to recover from lost plans.

Before coming to Europe last week, with the help of a friend in Cologne, Germany, we identified and bought the perfect maxi-sized Ford Transit hi-top diesel cargo van with a 3-person bench seat. My friend trustingly even paid for it himself based on my commitment to pay him back upon arrival. It only had 60,000 miles on it and was in perfect condition. The owner had to make the final payment to the bank and receive the lien release and original title certificate via registered mail. I timed my arrival to Germany to coincide with the day that certificate was to be delivered. I showed up, but it didn't. The next day it didn't show up. So we figured, "OK, tomorrow it'll be here"... but it wasn't. Then Friday... then Saturday... nothing. So, meanwhile, the owner had the vehicle and the money, but we had all the keys, the plates, the insurance and first-tier registration card. Sort of one of those stand-off's from across the southern border. Neither one of us had the original title certificate, but we both had security that the van could not move. Meanwhile, the owner is all over the bank tracking the title and turns out, it's lost in the mail. So... we all agree that we are going to look for a new van. If we find one before the title comes in, we'll buy it instead and swap all the money, keys and such back with the owner of Van #1.

Scowering of the internet begins again from scratch for a second-hand van, in a language that YET AGAIN, I don't speak (German). My German friend meanwhile left for Italy for 3 weeks for summer holiday with his family, but was kind enough to leave me his car and apartment. So, I had a base to work from and solid internet access, speaking fluent Google Translate. After sorting through about 200 vans on the market, I found one! Another perfect one! It was about 100km away, so I went and looked, and drove it. Yup! Just as good as #1, AND he has the original title certificate! GREAT! We discuss how the money will work and agree that the van will be mine 'the next day'!! GREAT! GREAT! but wait... not so great... cant find the little registration card, a critical part of the deal... ugh! great.. (a different kind of great, tho). On to van #3. Keep in mind that the import tarriffs into Ukraine are free until only June 30, but crossing the border with a new car will incur 40% effective July 1. YIKES! FORTY PERCENT! Time is important here, and I still have to drive across Germany and Poland and then get across the border. Sooo... Now to start looking for van number 3.

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