Bad Boy!!!

This morning I spent preparing lunch, as Maria Elena, Sandra and Sebastian were coming, and I didn\’t want to be responsible for giving them food poisoning!

On their arrival, I went with Sebastian to the swimming pool, but that only lasted ten minutes, as I was kicked out, for wearing swimming trunks!!!! apparently they only allow lycra, haven\’t a clue why… and can you imagine me in lycra, I don\’t think so. What made me angry, was not so much the regulation, but that since our arrival, loads of young lads have been using the pool in Bermuda shorts and nothing has been said, and nothing was said the last time I went either! Anway, the rest of the family went back to the pool with Sebastian, so he did not miss out!

Lunch came and went, I was a bit disappointed with this shepherds pie, I think it was the sauce, instead of using stock cubes for gravy like last time, I found a goulash mix, that in the picture looked like gravy, but when made was bright orange!! so it is back to the stockcubes!

I have decided to leave Facebook, with the oncoming invasion of privacy, I do not feel that it is any longer the place I want to be, so I have started using Google+, when and if I get those people I want to stay in communication with, to open an account, then I will close my FB account, or if they are not interested I will close it anyway.

Now Marcela is just getting herself ready, and then we are going for a walk.

Could do with more hours in the day!

While I was getting ready downstairs, Marcela was forcing herself to get out of bed…ha!ha! I went up to use the bathroom, to find that the proverbial was well and truly blocked, so a Plunger was something else to add to the shopping list!

We set off just after 9am, and headed into the city, the mapping I bought for my Garmin is rubbish, so we ended up turning it off, I will be sending an email to Garmin, and see if I can get a refund. I will have to buy a new machine locally.
We eventually found the Immigration Office, and met my first challenge, they would not let Marcela in, only me, but I did not have much of a problem, however, I was told that the requirements listed on the website had changed, and I needed more photocopies, so I left, to find that Marcela had disappeared,  I could not phone her, as I was not allowed to take my mobile into the building, so her was taking care of it…five minutes later she  turned up, and after a couple of false starts we got the required copies, and I returned to the Office, to find a longer queue!
All my documents were checked, and in order, I then had to sit and wait my turn to be processed, at which time, I found that I was sandwiched between a Canadian, who could speak no Spanish, and seemed proud of the fact, and a man from New York who had his own business here and seemed disillisioned with all the red tape. When I was being processed, there was a commotion behind me, and I saw another American being ejected, he had apparently taken it for granted that he would receive an extension to his visa, and booked his return flight in a months time, but they woulod only give him ten days, due to his attitude, they certainly have you by the short and curlies!
Having had all my documents scrutinised, I was taken through to be fingerprinted, at which time I asked if I had to return to declare my change of status after the wedding, and was told that was not necessary, only if I decided to work or move house. I thought of a joke at the time, then thought better of it, after seeing the earlier incident!  I was then told, that the Cedula (Residency Card) should be ready in fifteen days, and I left.
We then headed into the city, as Marcela had some errands to run, then back to Bello for lunch, and to buy some bits, including buying a plunger.
Back home and loo unblocked, we set about doing some more wedding planning!

Change of Plans

Todays plans went out of the window, quite early! Marcela was having her shower, when half the electrics in the house blew. Other than the shower overloading the circuit, I could think of no other explanation, the fuses had not tripped, and that baffled me… not that it takes a lot these days!

Marcela rang the property Agent, who agreed to call out an Electrician, and rang back to say he would be here about 10am. I then decided to mess! and flicked each fuse off and back on, and the last one, brought the electrics back to life. Marcela contacted the Agent, who said she would still send the Electrician, as the fuse should have tripped.

Sure enough he turned up as arranged, and after wandering around turning on all the lights, he removed the fuse box cover, and discovered the problem, the cables were far too light for the current they were carrying, and the fuse box itself was something out of the ark, someone when building these apartments had saved a few bob by using old stock. He described the system as dangerous, but as a temporary measure agreed to change the fuse on the offending circuit, which was 20amp, and he said it should be 40amp.

The local shop did not have the right fuse, so whilst I prepared lunch, Marcela took him to buy the fuse, which he then fitted, but warned us that when using the shower, to ensure that nothing else on the circuit was being used! I have told Marcela, that a priority now it to get some contents insurance, in case this place goes up in flames!

After lunch, we headed off to the Shopping Centre, to one of the Banks, to pay for and get a receipt for my Residency card, to take with us, now tomorrow, but neither the Bank, not the Call-Centre for the relevant Ministry knew what should be done, so we were kept hanging around whilst they worked out what to do, which they did…eventually!

Then it was to my favourite shop, to buy a hosepipe, so that we can wash the car. That done it was back home, and we are now waiting for the rest of our furniture to arrive.

Collected my Visa!

This morning we were on the road by 8.40am, and went to pick up my Passport, with the attached Visa, now I feel more comfortable, at least I will not need the return plane ticket!

From there we headed back home, or so I thought… Marcela had other ideas, as it had not taken us long to pick up the visa, we went to a clinic to obtain my blood group certificate, required for my Residency card. On arrival, there was a sign outside saying they were completed within two minutes!!! quick work by any standards, then I found out why. The lady asked me if I knew my blood group, so I told her, and the certificate was completed without any blood being taken! I am not sure that it should be done that way, but I\’m not complaining.

I said previously, that I would write a bit about the local culture, I know it crops up from time to time, but driving in Colombia, is something, I find fascinating and frightening at the same time!

Drive here, and you take your life in your hands, I know that city driving is aggressive where ever you go, but here it is tantamount to suicide. You not only have to watch in front, and behind, but both sides as well, and to be safe, above and below as well!

Professional Drivers are the worst culprits, especially Taxis and Bus/Coach drivers, they will drive out of junctions at speed, and cross three lanes without any indication, the road is theirs, and woe betide anyone who gets in their way. If you try to drive defensively, you might as well stay at home, because you will get nowhere. Leave a gap for safety and two seconds later someone has filled it, motorcycles will pass you on both sides at the same time, and at 80kmh with no helmets or protective clothing, it makes your blood run cold.

If you are in a queue of stationary or slow moving traffic, make sure you are tight up against the vehicle in front, otherwise, you can guarantee that a motorcycle will try to weave in and out of the traffic, and not be too concerned whether they hit your car when passing, with no chance of catching them for any details if they do.

When you are at the front of the queue waiting at a red traffic light, do not take your eyes off the lights for a second, because, when they change to green, if you have not done a formula one start, the drivers behind will immediately sound their horns, once a millesecond has passed.

Most of the road around and through the city, are either dual carriageway of three lanes, once you are on these roads, you hit the fast lane and stay there, the other lane is only used for ancient wagons and men pushing handcarts, yep! pedestrian vehicles happily take up a lane!!!

On the plus side, the cities, have what is called Pico and Placa, which depending on the last number of your registration plate, restricts the days you can freely you can drive into the city, and eases traffic congestion. Private vehicles are restricted, and not allowed on the city roads between 6.30-8.30am and 5.30-7.30pm, Taxis and commercial vehicles are not allowed at any time during that day. There are cameras all around the city, monitoring, and ensuring that drivers comply with this regulation, and it seems to be one of the few that is enforced.

The other fascinating fact is that people seem to be able to adapt their vehicle to suit their needs, most of it self done by the looks of them, and apparently unless there is an incident, the Police are not interested, and that is backed up by the fact that despite riding or driving along beside these contraptions, that range from ingenious, to downright dangerous, they ignore them. When I remember to put my camera in the car, and I am not driving, I will try to get some photos.

Having said that, and you haven\’t been put off, then welcome to Medellin!!!!

Busy again!!!

Yesterday was taken up running around for Sebastian\’s Birthday, he was four going on ten!!! 

This morning it all started over again, we were out early and met up with Marcela\’s brother-in-law Oscar, and Sebastian, at the Wedding Outfitters, where they were kitted out for the wedding, and I just needed a waistcoat and cravat. Sebastian was hilarious, he caught the eye of all the women working there, and he loved being dressed up, and did not want to give his suit back!

That done, it was off to the Notary, with our documents, to enable the marriage to go ahead, fortunately it all went smoothly and everything is now in place for the wedding to go ahead.

From there we headed back to Bello, where we had lunch, and then did some shopping, before returning home.

Back home, I washed the car, whilst Marcela was doing some phone enquiries for me, whilst doing this, I received a call to say that my visa/passport had returned and was ready for collection subject to the fee payment, so we have altered our plans for tomorrow, and first thing, we will go and collect it, if a copy is not received in Spain tomorrow, I have to pay another months storage, on my items waiting shipment.

I then tried to ring my Brother on a new Voip program I had found which enables me to ring the UK at a cheap rate, but although I could hear him clearly, he could not hear me, and from reading forums online, this may be a problem I cannot resolve. I have sent a Technical Support Request, before giving up. If this does not work then  I have two options, one to top up my skype account and use that for talking with the family, which is not a great reception from here, or pay for an international plan with the phone company, which is not cheap but cheaper than not doing so. As a result of the problems I was having, Marcela, went on the phone Company\’s site, and found that each call to the UK was costing  six pounds a min¡ute, and three calls had cost me over one hundred pounds… Don\’t they know I am a Pensioner!!!!!!

Marcela is now in contact with the Ministry for Foreigners, and arranging for me to go and apply for my Residency card. Hopefully once that is sorted, we can sit back for a while, as it is the last hurdle. although this is just a formality now my visa has been issued, I have to go and get a certificate to show my blood group, I already have the photos, now I need to go to the Bank and pay the fee, before going to submit the application. Knowing the cost of getting Residency here, those in Spain get it on the cheap!!!

First easy day!

Yesterday afternoon, we went to do some shopping, and then at 6pm we set off with Maria, Marcela\’s mum, to the Salon where we are having the wedding. The place was set out for an evening reception, and looked lovely, albeit the colour scheem was different to ours.

We were sat down, and a sample meal was brought out for us to eat, don\’t get excited, it was one meal between three ha!ha! and it was lovely, generous portion, and much to my relief. the sweet, was not on the same plate as the meat! it will certainly be value for money. We were also brought out a sample of the coktail we will be having, but I passed on that, much to the delight of Maria and Marcela, who shared mine between them, and it got the thumbs up.

Today, has been the first day since my arrival, that we have not had to rush around, it has been bliss. When the swimming pool opened at 9am, we went across and had the pool to ourselves for half an hour, and I managed to do some serious swimming, for the first time in years.

Maria, came for lunch, and then Sebastian came to keep us occupied, ha!ha!

I am an inch shorter!

Yesterday, was a long day! We left here at 10am and Marcela had to do some chores in town, after which we headed for Medellin.

Firstly we went to look at some second hand office furniture, but decided that it was too dangerous to get out of the car in the area, so scrapped that idea. We then parked in the centre of Medellin, and Marcela went into her Company office to drop off some documents, after which we went for lunch.

From there we trudged across town ( Yep! you guessed it, traipsing around Cities, is not my idea of joy!) and went to a couple of Jewellers where they make rings to order, to order our wedding rings, we checked on mainstream Jewellers, but they were more expensive. We ended up back at the first one we had visited, and placed our order.

Then it was another hike, to Marcela\’s Notary, to get copies of her documents for the Notary conducting the wedding, we go to see him on Monday.

After wearing another inch off the soles of our shoes, we were back at the car, but far from finished!

On the way back we stopped off at the hypermarket, and bought another desk and chair, and a unit for the lounge to put the phone and music centre on, then did our food shopping, then home!

Back home, I put together the unit for the lounge, and then checked my email, there was one to say that my visa has been granted, but there was a mix up over the payment, I had paid too much, and the Agent in Bogota was returning on Monday to get a refund, however this was wrong, and the lower price only applied to US Citizens, and was going to cause an unnecessary delay, so I fired off another email…

This morning I received a reply apologising, and that my passport with visa, would be back either Monday or Tuesday, so fingers crossed!

I was up at 7.30am, leaving Marcela to sleep in,  I cut up a pineapple, and some meat we had bought, and put the meat in the freezer. Then I put together my desk and chair, and now I am up and running! By this time Marcela had appeared, we had breakfast, I went for my shower.

Now I am preparing lunch of cauliflower cheese, and then we are off out again!

Wedding Plans

It has been ultra hot here today, or maybe I should say humid with no breeze, and really it has been the first day that I have felt, uncomfortable.

This morning was spent cleaning, and catching up on correspondence, just after midday we left here, and went first to pick up my translated and legalised documents for the wedding, now I just have to wait for my visa.
Then after lunch in one of the Shopping Malls, we went to the Wedding venue, Marcela has picked a very nice place, the set up, is similar to having your civil wedding at a Hotel in the U.K. the differences are in the way the Reception is handled, I am told by \’Her Indoors\’ that you receive your meal altogether on one plate, main course and sweet, should be interesting!! You also have your photos taken with a false cake, which ke.eps the cost down, and you are dished out something from behind the scenes, but if it is as tasty as the piece I was given today, it will be very nice. We have been invited on Saturday evening to go for a sample meal and cocktail, although I will decline the latter, and let Marcela make that decision!

The fault list is getting shorter.

It has been a funny sort of day, this morning I did some cleaning, and then an hour ironing, whilst Marcela was working. We then had an early lunch, as the man was hopefully coming to repair the shower, and some other jobs.

Sure enough, first a woman from the rental Agency came first, followed by the Plumber, he sized up the job, and then we went off with the woman to buy the parts!!! We bought the shower head, because they were happy to leave us with a cold shower, and they bought the other bits needed. Marcela had the idea that when we leave, we would take the shower head with us, but now it is fitted, I am not so sure, in fact I will be happy to leave it!

On return home, the Plumber got started, he repaired the cistern, the leaking tap in the laundry room, and took the \’cold\’ shower head from the en suite and put it downstairs in place of the old electric one, and the one we bought he installed upstairs, but could not get it to run hot water… eventually it was found that the slower the water, the hotter, but that means a trickle. This makes sense because the heater is in the shower head itself, and therefore the faster the water passes through it, it has no chance to warm up. At least Marcela is happier that there is warm water in the shower.

Marcela then started working again, so I then put together a unit to install in the shower room, but we then found it would not fit in either, so it has ended up in the under stairs space, not exactlñy what we had planned, but it gives a bit more storage.

I then had a shower, and I have to say, other than the water being a little warmer, I am not that impressed, I certainly wouldn\’t want one in our house, I rather pay more and have individual boilers, or electric showers, but time will tell.

I must be really wicked… ha!ha!

I think that I was as little naive to say that there would be nothing to report yesterday, I should have said, there would be no time to report it!!!

Sebastian arrived at 6.30am, and he ran me ragged, it is long long time since my Nephews were that age, and I had forgotten how demanding they can be… Marcela, spent the morning in the bathroom, doing God knows what! but everytime she appeared she was doing her hair, in the mean time, Sebastian had found the boxes from the washing machine and everything else, so we had to build a house, and I kept being \’invited\’ into it, even though I did not fit! and then I became a horse, and this morning my knees knew it, there are times when I wish we had carpets.

Eventually lunchtime came, and we took Sebastian out for a burger, I was good and had a chicken wrap! Then we took him to the Kids Centre, which is a bit like a Wacky Warehouse, but in addition there are also simulator machines, driving cars, motorbikes etc. and Sebastian thought these were great fun, as he enjoyed mowing down Pedestrians and crashing into anything he could see! So to end it, we went on the Bumper cars, he insisted on going with me, so we had to keep crashing into Aunty, who I think was glad when it was all over!

Back home, I was knackered, but Sebastian was showing no signs of tiring, he was eventually collected about 7pm, and I was fit for nothing!

We had put out the rubbish for collection, it is a different system here, but it works, the rubbish is only collected twice a week, so in the house, you separate food from the rest, and keep food in a plastic bag in the bottom of the fridge until collection day, then you can put out as much rubbish as you want. If you are in a gated community you just put it on the edge of the road outside your building, then shortly afterwards someone comes along and goes through all your rubbish looking for re-cyclables, and then an hour later the bin wagon comes along for the rest.

I went to bed just after 9pm, and went out like a light, and we have got him again this afternoon, but he has school for a few hours, so it will not be quite as exhausting!

This morning, Marcela has started working again, so I mopped through, and then after filling the washing machine, I did some odd jobs, before starting the ironing, and there is plenty of it, because all my clothes that have been in cases for two months need pressing, so heaven help me when my boxes eventually arrive from Spain! Whilst doing this the Technician arrived to sort out the fridgefreezer, which had a small electrical problem, in that the fridge light would only come on if you opened the freezer door, he soon sorted it out, but then I was in trouble, because he needed the serial number, and unlike any normal manufacturer, it was not on the back of the machine, it was on a label inside, and I emphasise was!, because I had scraped it off, as it looked unsightly inside the fridge! anyway he got around it somehow.

Now I am just having five minutes, before we started a whirlwind of jobs, and of course Sebastian, this afternoon!

We went out as planned, and then picked up Sebastian from School, on arriving home, we could not unlock the front door, but there was some movement, so it was not a case of a key being in the lock on the inside, I was happy that the lock had shifted inside, and was bust. Marcela contacted the Agent, who said it was our problem, so we found a number and Marcela eventually had someone en route. In the mean time, Sebastian\’s Dad, Oscar, arrived to collect him, and he agreed the lock was broken. Eventually the Locksmith arrived, and agreed, so Marcela phoned the Agent again, who spoke to the Locksmith, and eventually gave the go ahead, we would pay, and be re-imbursed!!! It took the lad a while, but eventually we had a new lock, which worked.