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Thread: Lot Dispute Follow Up

  1. #1

    Default Lot Dispute Follow Up

    I'd posted earlier about being shaken down for a few cords by the original seller of a small lot I'd bought. The lot was above my farm, and the reason I bought it was the presence of a small -but very reliable spring. Even now, despite the lack of rain, we have been getting a significant amount of daily water.

    The water comes down in a pipe, with a pressure of 40 lbs at the farm, quite a boon. I'd paid $1600 for the lot, which was described as 3/4 Mz in the escritura, but turned out to be a little over 1 Mz after the surveyor came out ($150) and measured it. He provided me with a detailed plano, gps points at corners and along the lot lines.

    I'd been pretty pissy about the whole thing, but as the complete story started to come out, and I met with the various principals, things settled down. This would be considered a scam in the US, but here ?? The property originated as a gift from the Lauareano Flores cooperative to the woman and her husband, Each got half of what was supposed to be "una manzana y media" total. The husband walked off the property with a piece of rope to measure it, using a machete to mark various trees as corners and boundaries. What he marked off is more like 4 Mz. Nothing else to delineate corners or lot lines. . This was some years back, so the machete chops have grown new bark.

    The property was sold to a notorious gentleman, Don Denis, for the spring it contained, for $800. That was the original escritura, and there was an error in the escritura in the description of the south boundary. The boundary was described as the cooperative property, when it fact, it should have been described as the "main road" into Venecia. We didn't know this until we talked to the Cooperativa yesterday.

    The property was then used as collateral for a loan to Don Denis, another escritura now naming Israel something or other as the new owner. Don Denis saw the opportunity to make a buck, so he offered the spring to me for $1600, and telling me he needed $800 to re-secure the title to the property. So, we now have the third, almost identical escritura for the same property, returned to Don Denis,, only the names changed. This had to be the easiest money that lawyer earned.

    Mine is the fourth escritura. I proceeded to put in some 2" pipe form the spring (most of the way, but the muchachos ran out and rather than say anything, cleverly substituted 1" for the last 100 meters or so. I was in the US. Like using the skinniest and cheapest piece of wire to power your house here, there is no comprehension of many of the laws of physics in the campo. If it had been up to them, they would have used that cheap 1/2" black hose, saved a lot of money, and the time gluing the PVC together. There had been some push back to using the 2" originally, I tried explaining . . .I need to learn how to say, "Hey, humor me, I'm a Gringo". It would save a lot of time.

    About two or three or four months later the original seller (La Senora) appears, claiming she didn't get paid, and wanting C$ 5000. Despite everyone pointing out that she acknowledged in the escritura receiving the money, it was "I didn't get paid". She was well aware of the transaction when I purchased the property, but said nothing at the time. These are very simple people, I sat with them yesterday in front of their dirt floored shack yesterday in Venecia, a mess of kids staring at me. When one got too close, her husband threw a rock at the kid and he retreated.

    Their story: they simply didn't understand the payment part of the escritura they signed. Don Denis was supposed to pay them, but only provided milk, cuajada, tomatoes from his farm, never any efectivo (which is the reason they sold the lot in the first place). They figured that there was a C$ 5000 saldo and they wanted me to pay it.

    This is one of those situations where, I think anyone who comes to Nicaragua, will eventually find himself. These are my neighbors, they are dirt poor. They were cheated by Don Denis, nothing at all unusual in Nicaragua, the pulperia at the corner in Condega shortchanges the mentally challenged kid next door when he takes the few cords he earns from me for taking out the trash or washing my car,, and goes down there to buy a gaseosa and chips. I see this in more subtle forms every day, in my purchases.

    Once I had the plano in hand, we were all able to agree to a solution. Both the seller and her husband are going to execute an acuerdo in my favor, acknowledging the accuracy of the lines of the plano, the receipt of the C$ 5000, and my uncontested ownership of the lot --and more importantly, the spring.

    I found a new lawyer to draw up the acuerdo. The old one was too close to Don Denis, and that means that he was probably complicit in the various frauds that Don Denis perpetrates. Don Denis owes everyone in town money, tries to borrow from me regularly. His current caretaker is a nice young fellow, a wife and young baby, who needed a roof over their heads, Don Denis pays them C$150 /week and all the bananas they can scrounge. His caretakers never last, because he doesn't pay them. Eventually they get the idea and walk, and he finds someone else equally hard up.

    So, we could say that, "All's well that ends well". I owe a lot of the credit for the solution to my foreman, Jaido, who kept saying, "tranquilo, tranquilo," when I would rant on about being "robbed", and how the Nicaraguan justice system ranks 145 out of 149, just below Chad on the UN's transparency index.

    I'd also built up a lot of points in Venecia with loaning the cooperativa my truck whenever they needed it, and helping to rebuild the little church (future post with lots of pictures, just waiting until we have the final paint on the outside). Whether the original escritura had indeed been correct in the south lot line description, I'll never know. The cooperative now says it's mine to the road, and there are no other planos or escrituras to dispute it. They were all very amable, with lots of smiles. I'll never "belong" in Nicaragua, but that is probably as close as it gets. My eyes are tearing as I think of their warmth and welcome.

    There was a lot of pain in the story that unfolded during my conversation with the woman (original seller, lot was a gift from the cooperativa) and her husband. They were NOT eager to tell it. It was only after we had sat around for a while talking about the lack of rain, the fresher climate and cleaner air in Venecia, and anything else my limited Spanish extended to, that they opened up. They really needed that $800 and trusted in the good will of Don Denis, and the lawyer who helped him cheat them. They DIDN'T need the milk, cheese, and tomatoes.

    My solution wasn't the way things are done in the US, but hey, >> no estamos en los estados unidos. That's another thing I need to learn to say in Spanish: "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore".
    Last edited by KeyWestPirate; 06-11-2014 at 09:17 AM.

  2. #2
    Active TRN Member StickMan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lot Dispute Follow Up

    Well done. As you say, all's well that ends well. Sometimes I tend to get caught up in what I think is right and proper for me. Sounds like you have come up with a solution where all parties are satisfied with the outcome ~ not necessarily how they originally wanted it, but a satisfactory result. Thanks for sharing.
    "Find out what it is in life that you don't do well - and then don't do that thing." -The most Interesting Man in the World

  3. #3
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lot Dispute Follow Up

    Nice story!
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  4. #4
    Viejo del Foro Just Plain John Wayne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lot Dispute Follow Up

    Welcome to Paridise....

    A agreement is the best way to go..

    Over time that water will more than pay for the inconveniance...
    To be called a "Has Been" I must surmise, is much Greater than to be called a "Nevah Been"... JW...



  5. #5

    Default Re: Lot Dispute Follow Up

    Well handled and hopefully it won't come up again.

  6. #6
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lot Dispute Follow Up

    On one of the FaceBook Nica pages there is someone who bought land and has no water, sounds like they assumed they would just call the water people have a meter installed and presto there would be Agua. I cannot imagine buying in a rural area and not asking (and seeing) about water before buying. I think the land is a farm, maybe there was a reason the previous owner was anxious to sell.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
    Ernie K Doe

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    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lot Dispute Follow Up

    KWP, I know in many parts of the Country people depend on springs. Do they dig any wells up there, if so how deep?

    Here is all wells but you seldom need to go more than 20-30 feet, Bluefields I hear they go to 90, hand dug wells.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
    Ernie K Doe

  8. #8

    Default Re: Lot Dispute Follow Up

    Quote Originally Posted by cookshow View Post
    KWP, I know in many parts of the Country people depend on springs. Do they dig any wells up there, if so how deep?

    Here is all wells but you seldom need to go more than 20-30 feet, Bluefields I hear they go to 90, hand dug wells.
    We have quite a bit of water on the property. I have two lakes, one decent sized, the other smaller. We drained the larger in anticipation of getting someone out there to combine the two lakes and extend the overall size. The larger lake filled back up. I have one other small but good spring that is still flowing about 1 gal/minute, and I have two good locations for wells. The major spring is in a baranca, and there are a couple of small dams that catch the water. I would have to pump all of this, which would eventually be a lot more money than what the spring I bought cost me.

    The spring I bought (and is the subject of the dispute) is still flowing although we have had almost zip rainfall so far. Obviously, it can't continue forever without recharge. The combination of water arriving under pressure, the quality of the water (soft, and a good flavor, potable) made it a good buy. I'm not discouraged, just annoyed.


    The water seems to be at about 20- 25 feet in wells, but information is very hard to come by. There are a lot of springs where we are, and even more seeps that could probably be developed. The farm is on the north down slope of El Fraile, a 5000 foot peak. We're part of the Rio Coco watershed. There is a finite amount of water in any case that arrives on, and exits the mountain, , but no one irrigates much, if at all, so the springs are used for domestic water. I'm currently irrigating some potatoes and watering my apple trees. But, I plan on drip irrigating quite a few coffee plants eventually, so I'm trying to get the water and other infrastructure in place now. I've only got two cows and one pig (Nicolas) consuming water at the moment. But, I'd like to have a few Mz of intensively managed pasture, and for that I need steady water.

    I would agree, if you're buying a farm, you need to do the due diligence on the water as well as on the title. You can't believe a word anyone tells you here; EVERYTHING has to be very carefully verified. I bought the farm in two 11 Mz pieces, the first was held up for almost three weeks because the seller had an undisclosed gravamen. Luckily, I had an excellent lawyer. It took her that length of time to get the gravamen lifted and the title cleared. I walked around NicaLand for three weeks with $30K in hundred dollar bills strapped to my belly. I was supposed to walk off the plane and do the deal, didn't happen.

    The second purchase, the lawyer made numerous trips to Somoto to check the registry, including one the Friday afternoon before the Monday morning closing. The seller owes everyone in Nicaragua money, and we were anticipating him tipping off one of his creditors immediately before the sale. This is how it would work: If I didn't catch a gravamen prior to registering my title, and gave the seller the money, the creditor would then come to me for the money he was owed by the seller (much as what happened with the dispute with the spring). The court system here is not going to do anything about something like this, lawyer assisted fraud is very common, and the Nicas who sell property to Gringos know this.

    Court decisions in matters like this come down to who has a bigger bribe for the judge. It's just a fact of life, but some naive buyers assume business here is done as it is in the US. It's not. I SHOULD have talked to everyone whose names were on the various escrituras when I bought the spring. Had I done this, I could have insisted that the original seller be paid what she was owed. It was a small purchase, I didn't take the time. The money that it is costing me is small, the surveyor at $150 (which I should have done anyway); some money to the crooked lawyer in cahoots with Don Denis (I'm really going to enjoy grinding him, I think I'll offer him C$100 initially). And a few bucks to the "honest lawyer" who is drawing up the acuerdo. The C$ 5000 to the original seller. So, another $500.

    It's not the money here though, it's the opportunity cost in time. You can't multi-task things here like you are used to doing in the US. Every project requires your undivided attention. I can't use the phone like I could in the US to ask questions or push buttons. Much has to be done in person, face to face. I could get more done if I could manage more, but I can't. Even people I have built up trust with want me to show up and order the shipment of blocks and bags of cement , and the quintales of iron in person. If I weren't a Gringo who by definition has tons of money to waste, the shipment would be paid up front. I avoid this prepayment, although I will give them something if they ask, as I've learned that they will put me off a few days if they have easier, closer money to make. It's at least an hour to the farm over it dirt road, all the way up hill, for a heavily loaded truck. Not cheap.

    The dispute over the spring should be completely settled by 10AM this morning. It was supposed to be 9AM, but I just got a call from Jaido that they missed the bus I'm buying everyone lunch at Las Vegas afterwards, (the husband only has two teeth, I hope there is something he can gum on the menu), and giving them a ride back up the hill. There goes half of another day -or more!

    A final note: the new lawyer told me that he does work for the bank that holds the note on Don Denis remaining 10 Mz, and that he owes over $40K. Don Denis has some almost dead coffee, a bunch of bananas, but that's it. The word has gotten out about his situation, and I doubt that anyone else will help him. With luck I'll have a new neighbor soon, even if it's a bank. Don Denis can always go to work for Isla Mariana.
    Last edited by KeyWestPirate; 06-12-2014 at 09:11 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Lot Dispute Follow Up

    Nice you are helping to expose the Camelot image of Nic. pushed by some. Nic is a land of Privilege and Fear, and living proof of the old US adage that Life is a Shit Sandwich. And that goes double for the tortured Segovias, a land of poverty, violence, and environmental destruction going back at least 400 years.

    As far as the weather report, lasts years pleasant light rains allowed the crops to squeak by, but there was no groundwater recharge. By mid dry season the wells and creeks were drying up and farmers are debating weather to even plant or not. The rainy season is late , Eneter even saying it may not get into full swing until September. Bad year to be an unirrigated, uncapitalized, under managed farmer on marginal farm land, to say the least. Netnet, what I am seeing as the weather reality up north is that if there is not flooding one year there will be no groundwater recharge for the next year.

    One of the first properties I looked at was conspicuous because it had the smallest laguna in the neighborhood and the handdug well was crude and very deep. In the process of wondering the property, one of my relatives talked to one of the lower-downs living on the property and she admitted that they never had water in the late dry season and had to move their cattle to another farm until the rains. The property still had merit for my purposes, but at a lower price. I chose not to make an offer based on the bad road and my wife`s reluctance to live with the mind robbing, life robbing life in the countryside.

    The scam on this property was that one of the sons was trying to con Mom into selling half the farm to pay for a coyote for him. There were other relatives living on the property and no telling what the title situation was. Glad I never got that far.

  10. #10
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lot Dispute Follow Up

    With all that water drip irrigation will make you money. Grow Banana, Plantain, and other crops, irrigate during the dry, prices are highest then. My initial idea was to do lots of drip irrigation in the dry months but I quickly saw it would be an issue here. People here are odd when there are things they don't understand. This year many wells are low and you can bet your ass that if I was irrigating all fingers would be pointed at me for causing it.

    Have been researching drip irrigation again some the past week, I would love to see a big time farm using it, so I can understand the set-up better.

    I have a few bits and pieces for a drip irrigation system if anyone needs them. Would have to look to see what I have, just stuff for a small garden, got it at Home Depot or Lowes years ago. My understanding is that the commercial Agro stuff is available in MGA.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
    Ernie K Doe

  11. #11

    Default Re: Lot Dispute Follow Up

    Here's the Acuerdo and original Escritura in case anyone is interested (attached).

    Carlos (the abogado) hammered Don Denis pretty hard

    It's all done.

    (I'll scan these again when I get back from the farm, it looks like the bottoms were cut off.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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