A HOUSE IN MIAMI
At the end, we bought a house in the gated community “Hawks Landing”, in Plantation, Florida, very close to where my office was going to be located.
The house had three bedrooms, Jacuzzi and temperature- controllable water in the swimming pool and it was located, as we said, in the prestigious gated community “Hawks Landing”; our house being the cheapest model there when compared with the authentic mansions that surrendered us.
The complex had mobile and armed security 24h a day, with a day and night guarded booth at the entrance. The community, very luxurious, had a large clubhouse with a gigantic communal pool and several tennis courts, which also had artificial illumination and a lot of man-made water-ponds and beautiful gardens.
We were given office-space with the Domestic Division of C Healthcare, in Plantation, Florida.
The specialized personnel of C took care of everything: office design, divisions, furniture, office supplies, etc.
For the first time in my career, I felt what it was to form part of the family of a big company!
The new unit that I led, LASU (“Latin American Service Unit”) was composed of six people and its mission was to develop new A&H business, principally with banks, in those countries (Central America and the Caribbean) in which C didn’t have a license to operate.
Therefore, we used the fronting of a local insurance company, usually the same company that was part of the financial group of which the bank was also part (the local insurance company issued the policies and later reinsured — at least 90% — back to C).
NA, my boss, with his ignorance, made us work unnecessarily and we wasted a lot of our time.
For instance, if you know your area, it doesn’t take a genius to order, say, Guatemala as first, Honduras second, and El Salvador third, in terms of where to start visiting those countries.
By the same token, we automatically would exclude Costa Rica, as there was a state monopoly in that country, and we knew that the National Institute of Insurance (NII) had rejected in the past any attempts to use it as a fronting.
But A didn’t know the Region, nor the business itself, so he asked us to elaborate detailed written reports justifying our decisions, hence we were forced to invent a regresion model that with the use of variables like geographic extent, population, number of banks, number of issued credit cards, amounts of conceded credit, etc., to which we (subjectively, anyway) assigned weights in points to each variable, helping us as justification in front of A of our decisions to enter one country or another, based on the total points obtained in our model.
What a waste of time and effort!
In spite of A, we were able to sign a dozen agreements with banks (And corresponding fronting reinsurance agreements, with local insurance companies), in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, having also good prospects in Jamaica and Panama, totaling $ 10 million Dollars of written, renewable premiums the first year.
In the office we celebrated it as a success!
Nevertheless, in a visit in the middle of 2002, A informed me that my days at C had come to an end.
I received the notice without any surprise, for I was already prepared for it.
I had concluded that NA was taking revenge, as during my tenure at CG of Brazil, A, as V.P. Systems Manager at that time of C International, was responsible for the sending of a subordinate to CG, who was kind of useless and who, in my opinion — which I was asked to put in writing — never should have been sent abroad.
For that reason, I believe, is that NA felt such animosity towards me.
In any case, I didn’t blame him for my exit from C, but I blame Human Resources and high Management, both in H.O., for their ignorance and bad judgement.
However, I had a dilemma now: did we stay in the USA or returned to Spain?
Human Resources had told me that they would notify USA’s Immigration of my exit from C, which had “sponsored” our USA visas B2, for Isabel and B1 for me, which remained valid for only a few more months, so if I wanted to stay in the USA, I’d have to hire an Immigration lawyer or find another employer that “sponsored” our stay.
Besides, as part of the Firing Agreement, C agreed to a condition by which it would pay all my moving expenses, inclosing air tickets to Spain for my wife and me, which would expire after 30 days.
Maybe those factors influenced my final decision, I don’t know.
The fact was that we put the house for sale and prepared to leave the country and go to Spain.
It wasn’t long before the house was sold. In only more or less 1 year, we obtained a profit on the sale of the house of as approximately $ 100,000 dollars, as the market was still at the peak of the real estate “bubble”. So, we paid the sales-agent commission with the product of the sale, as well as the legal expenses, and still there was plenty of spare money.
The truth is that I was eager to return to Spain, as I missed the food and also, my parents still lived in Madrid, and I thought that being closer to them I could help them better.
But, with the benefit of time, I have to recognize that -–definitely — I made a mistake with the decision to leave the USA. I should have stayed and, probably, my family’s life, and my own life, would both have been better. Certainly, I’d have saved everyone in my family the sad episode of the restaurant in Spain, which I will describe later.
But anyway, once in Spain, we lived for a short while with my parents in their apartment in Madrid.
Later, I rented a big apartment in the gated community “Ciudad Santo Domingo”, in Madrid’s suburbs.
I then invited my parents to live with us, as I’ve rented such a big apartment with them in mind, so they would be able to put their Madrid’s apartment for sale faster, and sell it also at the peak of the Spanish “bubble”, which they did, and then moved to Asturias, as planned (After a year living with us, they sold the apartment at a very good selling price, also tax-free, moving to a cheaper apartment in the city of Gijon, Asturias).
The apartment at “Ciudad Santo Domingo” was big but old, and as it was frequently the case in Spain, the owner had not evidently invested at all in its maintenance for a long time (if ever).
For example, the tubes of discharge of water of the “split” air-conditioning equipment of the apartment, discharged water outside, into the streets, and very often its discharge’s conducts were obstructed by insects or debris, so the water could overflow and inundate the interior of the apartment.
The owner of the apartment warned us against the occurrence of that eventuality, recommending us the use of a device that he left with us, consisting of a hard wire of a metal hanger tied to a piece of wood to make the reach of the device longer. Introducing the point of the metal hard wire into the tubes, outside of the apartment (Doing a juggling act through a window, for instance), we could unblock the tubes (An authentic botch, rather than investing into a more professional and permanent solution!).
Once, in our absence the water discharge duct of the hall’s A/C equipment of the apartment blocked, creating a big pool of water in the middle of the hall, and damaging a considerable portion of the wooden parquet floor, forcing the owner (and us partially as well, in order to speed the repairing job), to absorb the cost of the repairs.
In that apartment we spent a year, after which we moved to a brand- new penthouse, an unused apartment in the newly constructed area of Sanchinarro, in Madrid, in which we were to spend the next five years.