Try Again!

We received another call from the Solar Engineer, saying that he wanted to come on Friday (yesterday), and would be here between 6 -7am as he would be travelling up from Cudinamarca overnight, so we re-arranged our plans, and called our Electrician, who agreed to come, as he wanted to at least oversee the work, with regard to isolating our electric showers from the Solar system.

So yesterday morning, I was up at 5.30am, which to be honest is my usual time, organised and ready for the Engineer to arrive, which he did, the wrong side of 9am, which was no surprise, followed shortly by the Electrician, after they had conferred, the Electrician got on with isolating the showers, which it turned out, that he was able to do without damaging any walls, he floated new cable (I had to go down town to get some more) along the existing conduit.

The Electrician brought a colleague with him, who moved a neighbours electric meter on the roadside pole, it was high up, and the men who come to read the meter kept walking on my flowers whilst trying to read it, despite numerous requests no to, now they have no excuse.

After all our moaning, it turned out that the problem with the solar system, was the Engineers fault, he had not wired up the panels correctly, as a result the Invertor had closed off contact with the panels, and we have not been receiving any benefit from the system. You should have seen his face, when I asked if his Company were going to reimburse us for the last electric bill. To be honest, I am just glad he found the problem, and hopefully our next bill will show that it is now working.

We were told that the solar panel, that has frosted, is working fine, but since we paid for a 100% system, it would be replaced under the warranty, now we will just have to keep on top of them until it is replaced.

This morning I was assembling drawers for the bunkbed stairs, the pieces had all been cut and pocket holed, now they are assembled.

Now I will attach the drawer slides, then cut the drawer faces, and the steps, once that is done, I have to do a bit of burning to the top platform step, where it was cut, then stain and varnish the rest, after which it can be installed. It sounds easy, but it’s still going to take a bit of time, as long as it’s finished before the family come for Christmas!

Time Flies!

Blimey, I didn’t realise I had been neglecting my updates, two weeks have flown by, and to be honest, I haven’t got a lot to show for it.

There have been no further updates on my Passport, so true to form, Government Departments working at a snail’s pace, thank goodness I don’t need the passport urgently.

I have been working on and off on the bunkbed staircase, I certainly wish it was going faster, but I keep having to drop my tools to undertake other duties, the outer carcase is now complete

My current phase is the building of the drawers, I had cut the treads for the steps, but then realised I hadn’t allowed for the drawer fronts, so will have to recut some more, that hasn’t caused a problem as such, because I can use the first attempts, to make the drawers, it just meant kicking myself! It is certainly one of the setbacks of not working to plans.

Last Saturday, I gave in to family pressure, and went for an influenza vaccination, I had been receiving texts and emails from my Health Provider to go, but I haven’t had one in years. When in the Police I had a couple, and then during the winter caught flu, I said never again, and had never really suffered more than a ‘man cold’ since, but as age creeps on, maybe it was a sensible decision. I have had no reaction to the jab, and hopefully I am not protected for a year.

We had notification of our electric bill this morning, and it wasn’t good, it had risen again, partly due to the Service provider raising the price for the fourth time this year, but with the Solar it should have reduced if only in part. So Marcela being Marcela, contacted the Installer, who spoke to her civilly this time, and told her that someone with a similar system, had had similar problems, and their showers had blown the Invertor, which is totally contrary to what he had told us, but at least it’s a step forward.

The Engineer said that as a case would be raised with our Service Provider, he wanted to come on Monday, to look at the solar panel that needs replacing, to replace all the supply cable with heavier cable, which makes me think, he should have done that in the first place, and he wants us to change the showers, and gave us two options, one to install solar showers, which would mean at least one tank on the roof, and a lot of plumbing work, including retiling the shower cubicles, which I wasn’t prepared to do. Second option, to take the three showers out of the solar system altogether, and wire them via a separate fuse box, direct to the main breaker in the street, and at the moment that is the way we are going, he did tell Marcela he would do the work (at a cost), but no thanks, I’ll have my own Electrician do the job, so he has been spoken to, and will be here on Monday morning, then we will see how easy it is to do.

Last week, we took my Mother-in-law home, and whilst there had a Guy we have used before come to give a quote, to repaint the whole house inside and out, and install a new main bathroom/shower room, when the quote came through, I gave the go ahead, so last Monday, we went back over and purchased all the materials, ready for them to start work, which should have been this morning, but his son who is overseeing the work, had an accident on his way ( he sent photos to prove it wasn’t an excuse ) so is starting tomorrow instead, at least he made contact, most just wouldn’t turn up.

It is certainly one of the problems of owning a second property, some distance away, not only fuel and time, but here nearly all the main roads are covered by Tolls, and it gets expensive, however it’s time to do some more updating, last year we put in a new kitchen, so it’s getting there.

Today, I took the boys down to the Doggie Peluquería, for a wash and trim, but as the temperature has dropped, Tito is just having the bath, and Pepe is having a Schnauzer cut, so at least part of him will be warm! I am just waiting for them to ring and say they are ready for collection, then it will be another trip down to town.

I think that about brings me up to date, I’ll try not to be so long next time.

Back to Work

Yesterday, morning I received an email confirming that my supporting documents for my new passport, had arrived at the Centre in the UK, which was a relief, I now wait to see how they intend to send it back!

I then had an appointment with the pain Specialist, regarding my knees, she is happy that the injection I had to block the nerves is still working for me, she thinks the effect will last about six months before I need another, which takes us until December.

She told me, that I can keep having the injections until they no longer have any effect, and then they will have to look at Surgery again, whether there is a problem with my bones or not, and if she decides that is the best option, she will make the decision. What a difference from the Vertigo Specialist, this Doc, is friendly, talks at a pace I can follow, and is interested, I have every confidence in her.

Following my appointment, we went for lunch, and then my Mother-in-law and I, went and did some shopping, whilst Marcela returned to the car for her telephone medical consultation. We are certainly getting our monies worth out of the system!

On our way back home we carried on to El Santuario and picked up a couple of parcels that had arrived for me, and then back home, whilst the girls took the Dogs for a walk, I got started on marking and cutting the staircase.

As with all the wood I buy in Colombia, I am not happy with the plywood sheets, I found that one has obviously either been damaged, or had a construction defect, because is had been filled twice with filler, fortunately I can cut around this, or position it so that the damaged area will be on the inside of the staircase and not seen, but it doesn’t make life easy.

I have been storing the plywood in the covered area between the workshop and our drying area, but last night, we had the mother of all storms, rain was lashing down in all directions, and I was rightly worried about the plywood, I ventured out in my pyjamas, and moved the plywood, which was getting wet, into the workshop, I thought I was going to get a soaking, but ended up just a bit damp!

This morning, it was back to work, and I managed to get both sides cut, I actually shortened the first side, because when I tested it alongside the bunkbed, the extra large post was blocking the top step.

Anyone using it, risked falling back down the stairs, I decided that a double width platform gave people room to then climb the last two feet into bed, I hope to reduce this by an inch or two, by using some of the thicker left over timber, from the bunkbeds, to make the top platform. I will also put a hand / grab rail at the top to make it safe.

Some of the ‘waste’ will be used to create a support at the back, and front of the stairs, the rest will be used when building the drawers, nothing will truly go to waste.

It was then time to clean up!

Myself, included!!

Now it’s time for a snooze, I got into the habit of afternoon siesta’s when living in Spain, it’s not so common here, but why break the habit of a ‘lifetime’.

Stay safe!

Twenty Weeks until Christmas!

That made you sit up, ha! ha! ha! It’s just that time flies, don’t get worried, I can’t believe how fast this year is going, even with all the problems the world has thrown at us!

Pepe, has claimed his outside space, he likes the sun, but isn’t so keen on being a dog, when it comes to lying about.

He perches here in the morning sun, and returns when it is in the afternoon shade, he’s no fool!

Our problems with the solar haven’t been resolved to our satisfaction, the Engineer threw a dickie fit, and said if we weren’t happy, they would come, rip it out, then give us a refund, and if I thought it was a cure for cancer, I was wrong! Wow! so much for Customer service.

As I pointed out, I didn’t leave the original solar batteries charging in a Hotel car park, only to have them stolen, I didn’t tell the Client that it would take two days to install, and then take four days, and I didn’t give the Clients a quick half hour instruction on using the system, and then leg it, to get the last bus back to Bogota. We just want a system, that works as contracted, and to have confidence in it. We have heard no more, and I don’t intend to contact them again, until we have had a couple more electric bills, to see if it goes down or not. Also to chase up the replacement solar panel.

We have had ten days of summer, it has been lovely, the early morning mists are lovely to see.

Albeit, there is no point in asking Marcela, they have been and gone before she wakes!
Unfortunately it looks like other parts of the world, we are about to have a change in the weather again, the forecast is for storms starting mid week, that having been said, we had rain all night last night, so it may come sooner.

Wednesday, was work down in the abyss again, I was reasonably happy working down there, I had the walkie talkie, also Joaquin was picking avocados with a helper, so I knew there was someone within earshot, if I had knee trouble.
I had gone down with my mini chain-saw, and was cutting dead and wild trees along the fence line.

Joaquin came over when he heard the chain-saw, at which time I was trying to cut the dead tree to the right of centre in the photo, he said he thought it was too much for my saw, and he would cut it the next time he was down, he was right, and I am grateful for his help. So I cut the others, then cut them smaller to put on the rubbish pile and called it a day.


Thursday, we had a run out to Guatapé, if we go mid week, we don’t have traffic problems, it only takes 30 minutes from here, and without the traffic, it’s a pleasant run. So Marcela, Maria Elena (Mother-in-law), and I had a nice lunch out., albeit, we ate in the Town Square, because the wind was blowing a gale on the front.


Being a Tourist town, most of the Kiosks were shut, they only open Friday to Sunday, so after a walk around after lunch, we made our way home, in time for the Mother-in-law to watch her soap operas!

Friday, it was time to do some work again, this time grass cutting.

Cutting the grass so short with a brushcutter is an art, if you are not careful, you end up with a patch of dirt and no grass, I much rather have a hover mower, but they don’t sell them here, and an ordinary mower would be too dangerous in the incline. After ten years, I am finally getting this off to a tee, and on Friday, for the first time, I finished, and had no knee pain, things are looking up.

Today, I have been preparing to start my bunkbed stair project, the treated timbers are still not dry, but I needed a raised platform to cut my 8ft x 4ft Plywood panels, the days of me crawling around in the floor with my circular saw, are long gone.

I have the two home made saw horses, so half the job was done, I am using timber left over from other projects, so it’s not true and square, which created a problem, as I need the panels to sit on top, flat. Therefore for the two long side pieces, which had to be cut to sit on the saw horses, I clamped them together so that the squarest sides would be on top, and I would cut the notches on the uneven side, that way, they would sit level, or as near as I can get it.

They turned out to be a pretty good fit. I then had to cut the notches for four cross pieces, this didn’t go quite so well, because I didn’t check the back piece before each cut, and on two of the notches, I hit knots, anyone who knows anything about woodwork, will know getting a knot to cut square, is near enough impossible, but in the end, I got them near enough, albeit they are not a tight fit, and they work.

Now I am ready, to start cutting the plywood!

Solar or No Solar?

It has been a mixed week, as I guess it is for most of us, on Thursday the Electric Bill arrived, this included a week of the Solar system, and yet the bill had actually risen, and the Kilowatt hours were similar to previous usage, so it was time to look into it some more, there was always the possibility it hadn’t been read, and they had guesstimated it, which does happen.

I went and read the meter, which is due to be read again next week, and sure enough there was similar usage, and no sign of any reduction, as I had been suspecting, we were not running on solar at all, but still on the Power Company, so Marcela spent the afternoon talking with the Company, the Engineer who had installed the system was on holiday, so it was a case of talking to whoever was available, which wasn’t ideal.

The advice, was to isolate our electric use for forty eight hours, using only solar, apparently we should have been told to do this from the start, this kicks the batteries into use, and ensures they are fully charged, however although I still don’t understand the screen information on the Invertor, I believe it is telling us that the batteries are at 100%, which after a month, they should be, especially if they have not been providing power.

The only problem with this, is that the Solar system, is not strong enough to power the showers, which are 6.5Kwh each, and the system is 2.5Kwh, so as soon as the shower is turned on the system trips, I decided that for two days, I would switch back to the Power Company in the early morning whilst we showered, and then back to solar.

However what they were telling me was the battery indicator, and states ‘Load’, to me is the power transfer from the panels to the batteries, and is backed up by the fact that when the sun was out, the numbers shot up, when a cloud passed, they went right down again.

I decided that I would get the ladders out, and see if the panels needed cleaning, those that know me, know I hate ladders, I have known too many people who have had accidents, so if I can avoid them I will, but up I went, and started dusting them, with an extendable window cleaner, suddenly it dawned on me that we have a major problem.

The panel on the top left, is totally frosted, in other words broken, producing nothing, and maybe why we had been getting the wiring fault light, from day one, which the Engineer had insisted wasn’t a fault at all, unfortunately by the time I had found this, the Company have closed down for the week-end, so we will see what they say on Monday.

This isn’t the only problem, I still believe the wiring is not correct, because we were told that we would be running on solar, and only if the power used was greater than the system, would it automatically switch to the main grid, and then back again. At the moment, the only time we use solar, is if I turn off the connection to the main grid in the street, and then I have to turn it on again for showers, or to work in the workshop… not ideal, and will have to be sorted, if the Company honour the guarantee, and there lies the worry, as Marcela suspects they wont, I hope she is wrong.

The work in the guest bedroom is coming on slowly, on Thursday, I cemented the holes I had used to inject the damp proofing, then Friday, I repainted the wall, and yesterday, put in the new shelving, cleaned up, and it’s ready for use.

Now I can get on with the stairs for the Bunkbeds, I went with the trailer last Wednesday, collected a load of treated timber, to use as framing, I wanted treated, so there is no insect problems, it wont be seen, so I wasn’t bothered how it looks, and it’s a shade of green.

I’ll have to ensure before I start that is has dried out sufficiently to use.

When I returned with the trailer, I had literally just pulled in through the gate, when I was cornered by the organiser of the local Residents Association, it goes by another name here, but in effect that is what it is. Our access road, if you can call it that, is little more than a mud and gravel track, in some places wide enough for two vehicles, but in the wet weather it suffers.

With the heavy lorries delivering Building materials, the local Bus etc, there are many times when a 4×4 is needed, or at least easier, so he had arranged for a Dumper of gravel/mud mix, which had been dropped off at strategic points, but unfortunately not quite as close to each pothole as it could have, so he needed help, I grabbed my barrow, pickaxe, shovel, and rake, then joined him, we worked solidly for a few hours, I had thought after doing those outside our house I had done my bit, but no, he needed more help, unfortunately walking to and working on the second stretch, finished me for the day, I couldn’t walk another step with my knees.

I honestly don’t think he realised, what he had done to me, my neighbour, who knows me well, says I should have explained and refused, but I need to do my bit for the Community, and that’s my bit done for now.

History Repeating Itself?

July 20th was Colombian Independence Day, yet another Public Holiday in the Colombian Calendar.

Our contribution, did not go unnoticed! Albeit I am having to source a smaller England Flag, to match the Colombian one, it didn’t matter at our last house, but here the wind took the flag up onto the razor wire, and was a bugger to disentangle!

I have had the wildlife camera out in the orchard again, and other than catching myself

There was nothing to see, I think because I have had it placed further up the orchard, the wind in the trees kept activating it, so now it is further down the mountain, hopefully away from the worst of the wind.

I have done the damp proofing in the bedroom wall, I am supposed to leave it to activate and dry out for seven days, so it will be the middle of next week, before I can seal up the holes, paint it and reinstall shelves.

I have made new shelves to fit in the wardrobe, I had a load of MDF left over from my shelf building in the Pantry, it was a good excuse to use some, I have sealed it with a varnish wash, which will hopefully stop it from warping.

Unfortunately I haven’t got round to doing anything with the plywood, for the bunkbed stairs, I have changed the design again, so will need to go and buy some treated timber to act as framing, maybe next week.

As the title may suggest, it looks like the problems we anticipated with our new neighbours are coming to fruition, they moved in to the new build as Renters less than a month ago, and think they are Lords of the Manor, we had a confrontation with them when they first did a site visit with the Owner, they demanded we move our septic tank, which is alongside the boundary fence, and had been there some time, I refused, they are supposed to build not less than five meters from the boundary, but the owner had marked out a meter, because it is the only flat spot available, without expensive earth moving, after we objected, the boundary was moved to two meters, big deal, with the roof overhang it is back to one meter.

We came to a compromise, and ran the air pipe from the septic, further down our land, at their expense. At that time I was fuming, they hadn’t even built, and the Renters were dictating what the Neighbours would do, so I stated, just to wind them up, that I had a project lined up to have a few pigs, at which the man, who I believe is a retired Doctor, blew a fuse, and said I couldn’t, they were smelly, I told him, that we are on a working finca and would do as we wished.

I then vowed that I would never speak to either of them again, and I haven’t, but it seems that isn’t good enough for them, they tried bad mouthing me to another Neighbour earlier this week, saying I had told workmen to stop using a plate vibrator to flatten some second hand tarmac the owner had laid down the driveway. When in fact, I had spoken to the Labourer, and asked him to be careful when up against, ‘Our’ boundary wall, because if it cracked, they would have to pay for the repair, he had assured me there wouldn’t be any problem, and that was the case. Fortunately the said neighbour, had been present at that conversation, and put them right, which gave them the huff.

Yesterday, I had to have a fire to burn rubbish, I had put it off as long as possible, but either the new neighbours had been home, or I had been out, it had to be done. The fire pit is alongside their house, and has been there since shortly after we moved here, they knew that, but they decided this was their chance, and husband drove up the drive, stopped alongside Marcela, and started being abusive towards me, much to his amazement she gave back as good as she took, by the time I was on scene, he had driven off, leaving Marcela in mid sentence.

Not prepared to take what he said, Marcela rang the Landlord, and he said he would come down, later yesterday, which he did, I accepted that there was some rubbish that shouldn’t have been on the fire, and explained that as much as possible, I tried to have the fires when they were out, and that would continue, I would also be more careful as to what went on the fire. However despite the demands of the Tenant I wasn’t moving the site, as the only alternative, would have blown directly into their house, and it was the house causing the problem, because prior to it being built, the wind had taken the smoke in the opposite direction.

As I have told the Landlord previously, I have no intention of talking with his Tenant, any problem will still go via him, and sent a message, that if he was ever abusive to Marcela again, or I found out that he or his wife had made any more false accusations, I would ask my Solicitor to make it official with the authorities, and also would go ahead with the Pig project, just to spite him.

Having left to see his Tenant, the Landlord rang us back later to say the other Party were satisfied with the outcome, I doubt they were, but it was probably explained to him, that he is playing with fire, the Landlord knows from many convivial conversations we have had over the months he has been building the place, that I will take no messing from anyone.

Hopefully that is the end of the matter, but I sincerely doubt it, I had better start reading up on pig husbandry!

It was such a lovely day yesterday, Marcela asked me to do some fruit picking, for donations to Neighbours… NO not those neighbours!

So between avocados and mini bananas, the neighbours are all (well nearly all!) happy!

Today, we have been out to do the food shopping, and tomorrow is cleaning day, so I do not anticipate much to report.



No Peace for the Wicked

This exercise lark is no laughing matter, it was never one of my favourite pass-times, even less so now, but I have started doing my daily exercises on the static bicycle, I am only doing ten minutes a day, eventually I will extend that… a little!

I went back again for my Vertigo therapy on Tuesday, she gave me even more exercises, and had me doing them in the Consulting room, unfortunately there were repercussions, that afternoon, I was in agony, and my knees had swollen up like footballs, Marcela mixed up some Epsom Salts, and soaks the knees, which eventually went down, it may be the case that these exercises wont work for me, simply because of my knees, but I will keep trying them, and see what happens.

At home, Marcela called me the other day, because she had found that the wardrobe in the guest bedroom was wringing wet, we pulled everything out, and unfortunately a lot of bedding was effected by mould, and has had to be thrown out. I took the cover of the ventilation tube I installed last year, but it was bone dry. The shelf in question was wet on top and underneath, it was one I had installed last year, plywood with a spray coating, I don’t think that is the problem, as my desk is made from it, and there is no problem there.

The likely culprit is rising damp in the wall, I thought I could get this sorted, as I had a container of damp proofing liquid you inject into the walls, but on reading it closely, there is an expiry date, and mine expired in 2019, I bought it for a similar problem at our house in Copacabana, but never used it, that was an expensive waste. Now I will have to buy more, tomorrow, if I can source it.

I ripped out the bottom of the wardrobe, and found that like everything else in the house, they were built out of scrap. The original owner, Don Carlos, had this and a neighbour’s house built, and then flipped them, we bought this, from the first buyer, Carlos supposedly a ‘Man of God’, that’s a joke, he should be strung up!

Everything was held together with these tiny angle brackets, which was nothing short of a joke, so maybe this has done me a favour, I will rebuild the bottom of the wardrobe, then in the future, have a look at the one in my room, which is identical.

I could have done without this problem, at the moment

My plywood arrived this morning, you wouldn’t think it at the moment, but hopefully, these four sheets of ply, will turn into a staircase for the bunk-beds, in the not too distant future!

We are trying to get hold of the owner of the land adjoining us, he built a new house, like many here, without permission, and the tenants are in, I have nothing to do with them, apparently he, is a Doctor, probably retired, but I am not sure. However they don’t have a ‘grease trap’ their grey waste water is piped straight into the field, and at the moment let loose into the soil alongside our boundary, we confirmed with Marcela’s Associate in the Avocado business, and that water will poison our trees in time, so something must be done, if he won’t, then we will have no option but to make it official, hopefully he will put in a grease trap, or re-route the water, that’s his problem, as long as it doesn’t effect us.

Today my Mother-in-law arrived (Marcela fetched her) for a month, fortunately we get on well, so there shouldn’t be any problem, I think this is a test run, for what might well end up being a permanent arrangement in the future, she stays in the Cabaña / Apartment, so we all still have our privacy, spending time and eating together during the day. We’ll see how it goes!

Surprises!

On Tuesday, we started by going for my weekly Vertigo therapy, and as I haven’t had an episode since my previous appointment two weeks before, it appears to be working, I was hoping she might cut me loose, but not a bit of it, she has given me more exercises, which are even harder to complete!

Following on from that appointment we went to Comfama which is a big Family Park, they are associated with SURA, our Health Care Provider, and where the Drive-In Vaccinations are now taking place. The appointment was at 11.30am, but it was 12.25pm before Marcela had her vaccination, thank goodness we were waiting in the car. As Marcela anticipated, she had the Sinovac vaccine, which wasn’t what she hoped for, but at least she has protection, and her second shot will be in the first week of August.

Wednesday, Jaime arrived with his Crew, and started stripping our roof, looking for the cause of the nightly noise. They firstly found a family of birds, and moved the nest with fledglings into a tree down the garden, there was also bat faeces, but no sign of the bats. Suddenly, one of the Crew shouted out, and all three of them backed off, they had come face to face with a Chucha, or as you will know it a Possum, baring it’s teeth, no way were they going to try moving it, so they found a baton, and dispatched it.

Then disposed of it, well out of reach of Pepe. The roof was then sprayed with poison, and sponges soaked in peppermint oil, following on from that, the tiles were relaid, and cement used to block all accesses…we hope!

Yesterday, I went down the Orchard, and retrieved the wildlife camera, after downloading all the files, I started checking through them, but only came up with this little fella, a red squirrel.

The camera is now back down in the orchard, and hopefully something else will come along!

In the afternoon, we had a call to say my Static Bike had arrived at Jaime’s, so we jumped in the car and fetched it, no one to sit around, I then assembled it. I had been told to buy one by the Orthopaedic Surgeon, to help my knees, but 20 seconds later, I was in agony. It didn’t seem such a good idea, not that it seemed one before, I could think of plenty of tools I could have bought with the same money! However this morning, I tried again, this time releasing all the tension first, and I did ten minutes, before my hip started playing up, so I will build up slowly, if I don’t lose interest altogether.

That’s it for today, time to put my feet up.

Disappointed!

I had my appointment with the Orthopaedic Surgeon on July 1st, in the hope he would be able to sort out my knees, but unfortunately that isn’t going to happen, the problem isn’t the bones, apparently I have advanced Artrosis, which is irreversible, and therefore they can only help by Pain Management, which I am already receiving.

I had the nerve block injections, in both knees, and it certainly helps, but I am still limited in how far I can walk, and my hopes of running a marathon, have now vanished! I already have knee braces, but they don’t work for me, so I am buying what are referred to as knee sleeves, and see if they will help, there seem to be mixed reviews, I guess it depends on the individual problem, so I will just have to wait.

As regards my hip, the Surgeon, stated, he didn’t want to operate on that, until I couldn’t bear to walk on it at all, the reason being, prosthetic hips also have a limited life span, which I understand, therefore operating now, may leave me in a wheelchair later, again I understand that, but with our family history, that’s unlikely to be a factor… So for now, it’s grin and bear it.

With regard to the Solar System, we have been having teething problems, and it appears the problems are ours, because we don’t understand the system, which is true. I have a shower every night before going to bed, and at that time the system is obviously running on battery only, immediately after my shower, a red warning light entitled ‘Wiring Fault’ (In English) has been coming on, and as the Engineer did when here, we have been turning it off, and rebooting, but we don’t want to be doing that every night, it will also be a problem when we eventually go on holiday, and family come to look after the Dogs.

Marcela messaged the Engineer each time, but we never got an explanation that made sense, so yesterday, I sent a long message explaining the situation, saying that I now regretted the investment. A while later we received a lengthy reply, in which a full explanation was given, it turns out, that a ‘Wiring Fault’ is not a wiring fault at all, it is a warning light, to say that we are drawing too much power for the batteries to supply us, and therefore it has switched to Mains power, and will switch back, and the light reset to battery power, once we stop using whatever is causing the alert. If that is the case, great! why that wasn’t explained earlier I don’t know, but I’m glad we now know, and we will archive that conversation just in case, it turns out to be a problem later, but for now everything is working fine.

On Saturday, we had some good news, or at least I thought it was, Marcela is now on the active list to have her Covid vaccination, and she has an appointment for a ‘Drive-in’ jab tomorrow morning. However she didn’t seem happy, so I asked why, and she believes that she will be receiving the Sinovac vaccine, which many Countries have yet to accept. I told her that as we have no intention of holidaying abroad in the near future, to accept it, and get some protection, and once the vaccination program is complete, she can choose which vaccine she has in future, even if we have to pay.

This morning Marcela was looking a little happier, she read that the EU was looking at accepting Sinovac, during the coming week, I hope that is the case, then I will have a happier Wife, let’s wait and see.

We still have our Lodger in the roof, Jaime said he was coming today, to do the work to remove and stop it, however, it’s a Religious National Holiday today, it’s already 10.15am, and no sign of him, so I am assuming something else has cropped up, albeit we haven’t heard from him. I don’t think there is time to complete the work now, but we wait and hope.

Solar System Installed

It’s been an interesting, sometimes frustrating week, which has resulted in me being housebound, fortunately this time not for health reasons, but I have been limited in what I could do.

I forgot to mention in previous posts, that we have an unwanted lodger, it has been running around in the roof for weeks, our roof here consists of Spanish tiles, sitting on timber 1/4″ planks, with a black tar paper in between, from all the scratching, my concern is that whatever it might be is damaging the tar paper and rain will damage the roof timbers.

Our friend and contractor, Jaime has been out, and he and Marcela believe it is bats, but I am not convinced, because at night they normally roost, and from the sounds, I believe there is only one animal, and it can move fast between the tiles and roof. It’s driving me nuts. Anyway last week, we believe we found the entrance

where Jaime removed the tiles and replaced the tar paper from an earlier leak, there is cement missing, and access for anything smaller than an elephant, which leaves a lot of options. Whatever it is has enough strength to move tiles.

The plan is for Jaime and his team, to come, strip the roof of all the tiles, clean any animal waste, repair any damage, cover the roof in poison, and also pads filled with peppermint oil, and then replace the tiles. Unfortunately shortly after that decision was made, Jaime was taken ill, at one point he had to have a Covid test, which fortunately was negative, now we wait until he can slot us in.

Last week we received a phone call to say that the Solar Team would be coming to start work on Saturday, and the installation should be complete in two days!
Saturday arrived and so did they, the Engineer along with an Assistant, who was given the title of Technician, albeit his real title was Odd-Job, I’m not decrying his work, as he did a good job whilst here, but it was an odd set-up.

The Engineer had come up the day before on Public Transport from Bogota, stayed in a Hotel in Medellin and teamed up with the local ‘Technician’ who provided transport and muscle power.

On their arrival, the equipment was unloaded, and I immediately noticed there were no energy storage batteries, I asked the question a couple of times, but received no reply.

The first job was the installation of the panels, we had chosen the Cabaña / apartment as the site, but after a few minutes Marcela called me, the Engineer was asking if they could use the carport roof instead, as our tiles were fragile… yep, you’re right he was breaking them, considering I had seen photos of their installations, and he had said it wouldn’t be a problem, this surprised me. When Jaime works on the roof he removes the tiles as he goes clearing a pathway, this Bloke was walking across them, in the process he had broken a couple, fortunately I have a supply of spares, and he later replaced them.

Work commenced in earnest, but it wasn’t a fast process, as the panels had to be adjusted to receive sufficient sun to provide the correct voltage.

Sunday, they were back, but had come on a Scooter, so Marcela and I were naturally concerned, as there were still no batteries.

They installed the Invertor which I decided to put in the washing area, as it is undercover and out of plain sight.

Apparently this is the most expensive part of the whole system, as it is the brains! While this was going on Marcela found out the truth about the batteries, when the Engineer arrived at the Hotel in Medellin, he asked the Staff if he could charge the batteries, and they said they would be secure in the Hotel car park, to be honest… this is Colombia! anyway when he came back for them, they had gone, and no one was very helpful, making it look as if Hotel Staff were behind the theft. As a result he had to source more special batteries.

Due to the delay, whilst he had tried to find the batteries, work did not move forward as hoped, and the Assistant left mid day, because he wanted a beer! The Engineer finished about 7pm, and decided to find a Hotel locally, and go back to Medellin early Monday to collect the batteries.

So I gave him a lift down to town, on my way back, I was approaching the turn to our lane, and as always I gave plenty of indication, because the turn is just after a blind bend, I stopped for a stream of oncoming traffic, the Taxi behind me stopped, then a few seconds later I heard the crash, and a motorcycle came sliding down the road past me, followed by the Rider, he had hit the back of the Taxi!

I knew I had to stay put for Transito (local Traffic Police), so I went and put warning triangles out so there wasn’t a pile up, then phoned Marcela, to let her know I would be late.

I then turned my attention to the Motorcyclist, fortunately unlike many, he had a leather riding jacket, but although he had denim jeans, he had these fashion ones full of holes, so he did have scrapes to his legs, and a sore wrist, he said a passing motorcyclist had gone over his leg, whether it did or not, I don’t know, no one else saw it. However he was more shaken up by the experience than injured.

There were a lot of people standing around with phones out, so I think we all thought someone had called for Transito, it turned out they hadn’t.

I then saw Marcela appearing out of the gloom, trotting at a fair lick, by the light of her cellphone, she hadn’t even stopped to pick up a torch, bless her! She like me, was worried, because Transito have a reputation for pinning the blame on a Foreigner if one is involved, whether they are at fault or not, however we have a forward facing camera in the car, so I could have used that in my defence.

It was pointed out to the Motorcyclist that he was at fault, and he accepted that, he offered to pay for the damage to the Taxi, and everyone was ‘happy’, 8it turned out that the bike, other than missing a couple of lights, was still rideable, so we all went on our way.

Monday came, we had a call from the Engineer to say, he had the new batteries which were charging in a secure location, whilst waiting, he had gone to talk to the Service Provider, to see what was locally required to connect to their lines, he asked if we could get hold of our Electrician to be at the house at 2pm for an onsite meeting, to establish what cables went where.

Marcela spoke with our Electrician Hugo, who said he would do his best to be here, and bless him, he arrived on time and before the Engineer, who arrived ten minutes later, in a Taxi with the batteries in the back.



The two of then spent hours trying to get the equipment to connect and work, it turned out that the problem was that from the meter in the street, they ran 220v via two cables to the house, and the fuse boxes of which there are three, one in each building all had 220v entering them, but then ran a 110v system, after they had that figured, the Engineer carried on with his work, whilst Hugo drew up a wiring diagram, which would have to be then drawn up on CAD for submission to our supplier.

Hugo eventually left, with our thanks, he said out of the hearing of the Engineer, that if the problems to continued the following day, to give him a call, he gave the Engineer a lift down town to a Hotel, again. Not the one we had recommended as he thought that was too expensive, we thought so to when he told us the price.

Yesterday, I had to go into town early, so I picked up the Engineer, firstly after buying come cable, we went for breakfast, Marcela and I were both concerned because he was like a stick insect, and even though she had prepared meals for him, he never seemed to clear his plate, he was hyper, and work obsessed, he had a breakfast, then it was back home for work.

To move things along a bit, I helped with the cabling, and clearing up, by mid afternoon, the work was done to the Engineers satisfaction, he tried to explain everything to us, but t5o be honest a lot of it was technical, and went straight over our heads, it is going to take a while, before we master how the system works, but hopefully it will be a worthwhile investment… Now we need a powercut, and you can bet it will be weeks before we get one!