• Mario Alberto Gonzalez Robert

(Brussels, Belgium) The kot adventure.

My brother came to Brussels in late December after a ten and a half hour flight. My cousin (who had lived there for several months) at that time, had gone to try his luck in a job in the Alps in southern Germany, but said we could stay in the room that he used to rent before, something called in Belgium "kot", which is like a big house with many rooms which are rented by several people, usually students and they share the kitchen, bathrooms and a common area. He had vacated that room but no one had taken it yet and the owner was hardly ever there so we planned to stay one night before starting our great train ride. Besides, all the housemates already knew me and were friends of my cousin so for them there was no problem with our stay. We arrived from the airport, the Belgian friend opened the door for us, we got to the room and my brother, who was very tired, lay in bed to get some rest while I was sitting next to him checking facebook and stuff on the internet to plan the trip further. After a while, I heard a noise at the door, turned and saw it opening. There was the owner, who said confused "and you are… who?". I, surprised, did not know what to say and he continued, "I have no idea who you are but here are the new tenants, they come with their luggage to move in and sign the contract so you have to leave". I started to explain that we were there because we were cousins of the previous tenant and the Belgian friend told us there was no problem with us staying that night, to what he replied "oh so it's his fault!" and knocked on his door which was just opposite. The Belgian opened with a look of surprise and hangover from the night before, the owner asked if he knew about us, he also said that we were cousins of the previous tenant, to which the owner answered that he could not let us stay the night in one of the empty rooms without asking for any authorization and that they would have a conversation later about this situation, meanwhile, we had to leave asap. The Belgian friend told us to go to the kitchen to afterwards think what to do, so then, my half-asleep brother and I started carrying our bags down to the kitchen where we met the Belgian who after a brief conversation told us "You know what? Spend the night in the room below, it is always empty and everyone uses it for guests, plus the owner is gone and usually does not return the same day. "He then told us to leave our stuff in his room for them to be safer, he would leave the door open for us to come and take whatever we needed. We did so and then went for a walk around Brussels to enjoy the rest of the day. When we arrived at night, around 21:00, we went to the room to get our stuff and found that the door was locked. We met another friend of my cousin who lived there, a Spanish guy, and asked if he knew where the Belgian was because our stuff was in his room, to which he replied that he had just left to a party and did not know what time he’d be back. We tried to contact him but his phone was dead. I asked him if he knew a way to open the door because we had a flight at about 8am the next day but he said no, there was only left to wait. Around midnight, I went back to check if he had arrived, but no luck and then decided to go to sleep and wake up early the next day to see if he was back by then. The next morning we woke up at five and went to recheck the room. We knocked on the door and no one answered, the door still locked. We were thinking of ways to open it, tried the technique of swiping a card, but nothing, we tried to push the door open but it seemed as if the frame was going to break so we thought it wouldn’t be a good idea to leave him without a door as this would cause him more problems. Not knowing what else to do, we woke up the Spanish guy who came out sleepy-faced trying to think of other ways to open. There were not many options, so finally, he came up with the idea of going out through his window to try and reach the Belgian’s and check if it was open. Seeing no more options, I decided to do it, so I took off my shoes not to soil their beds and got out through the Spanish guy’s window, stepping on the gutter of the fourth floor right next to the edge, took a few steps forward and got to the other window, pushed it and saw with relief that it was left unlocked. I came in, reached the door and tried to open it from the inside without success because the lock needed a key on both sides, therefore, I saw that the only option would be to move our luggage from one window to the other through the gutter. I carried one by one, which weighed something like ten kilos each, carefully walked on the edge and passed them to the Spanish guy while my amused brother took pictures of me. Among our luggage were my old shoes that were already well damaged and even had an ax blow, but I might leave that for another story, and I decided to leave them there as a souvenir. After the feat, I closed the window again and went back into the building, we took our things, I thanked the Spanish guy, who said he would not to tell anything to the Belgian because he wanted to see his face when he saw that our things were gone but everything was closed as if nothing had happened, we said goodbye and left to the airport without any further problems.

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