Tightening the Purse Strings!

Again we have had Medical appointments and this time Veterinary appointments, so work here is slow, fortunately this time the Medical appointements have been for Marcela and my Mother-in-law, not me (with the exception of my annual prostate test, which was fine), but since they were not local, and Marcela is not keen on driving in unfamiliar territory, I end up as Chauffeur!

The Veterinary visit was with Pepe, he has had a problem with a leaking backside, not only is it unpleasant for us, but it was upsetting him as well, I put it down to age, but we will see. The Vet sent off some blood samples, and we had to take in a stool for testing, the latter came back clear, but he has a slight kidney infection, we don’t know if that is causing the leak, but he is on antibiotics, the only other possibility is his anul glands, but he goes for a wash and brush up monthly when they check, or should check his glands. The Vet said one was empty, the other inflamed, so we just keep our fingers crossed.

So much for prices coming down, across Colombia, as per the promise of President Petro, prior to his election, everything is shooting up, and will rise much further from next month, as he starts to double the price of fuel, rising in monthly increments, all the changes are not going down well, not because they dont want improvements, but this Government hasn’t got the money to introduce them, and when people are already suffering following the Pandemic, to have everything increase in price is unacceptable, so tomorrow there is a Nationwide demonstration again those changes, not that I think Petro will take a blind bit of notice, he is already showing himself to be a dictator, and we have 3 years 46 weeks more, before there is change, unless he does a Maduro!

With the problems here and the sudden decrease in the value of the pound in the UK, things are going to be tight, in the matter of a week, the value of my pension has fallen by 10%, and may fall further, add that to inflation here, and it’s not quite so cosy. I am not going to moan yet, because I fully expected highs and lows, it comes with the territory of being an Expat, but I still hope it is not a long term change.

To counter all the negative, I have been back in the workshop every available moment, and I am getting on with making the Mother-in-laws Wardrobe and Dressing table, since it is made entirely with plywood / triplex, it’s not my favourite material to work with, but at least it’s wood of a sort, and there are now plenty of pieces, and still more to cut.

The problem now I am sanding and routing, is keeping an eye on which part goes where, I wrote on each piece, but with the sanding, that’s disappeared, I tried post-it notes, but with the damp weather, they just fall off, now I just cross my fingers and hope!

Times like this, I wish I still had my Spanish workshop, it would have been so much easier to lay everything out, here, I have to keep moving everything around to get the job done, fine with small projects, but something like this, is a pain. Saying that, the worst is yet to come… the painting, I haven’t decided yet whether it will be paint with a brush, of spray painting, either way, I will have to hope for a few dry days, because I will have to do it on the parking area.

Thursday was the Mother-in-laws 60th Birthday, so we took her out to lunch, however because my Sister-in-law and family are now further away, we are hosting a lunch today, Marcela and the Birthday Girl, have been busy all morning preparing, and Marcela putting up decorations, so now we wait to see if the family turn up in good time, or arrive late, and we are all starving, which is the usual way things turn out around here!


Well after having given me a heart attack, I have now paid my Income Tax for this year. Firstly the Accountant gave me a bill for $6.2 million pesos, that’s two thirds of my monthly pension, then she explained that my previous Accountant, had wrongly classed me as a salaried worker, who is entitled to claim expenses for house renovations and a number of other expenses, this Accountant reclassed me as a Pensioner, who is not allowed to claim anything, hence the higher bill.

I explained that the previous Accountant had spoken with the Tax Authority DIAN, who told her that they do not recognise foreign pensions as Pensions but as foreign income, I have therefore had it so classified, and my bill came down to 940K… It does make you wonder why Pensioners are penalised in this country. Considering I have already paid Tax on my pension back in the UK, I have no wish to give it all away. I have been informed by another Brit on a Colombian Forum, that the Double Tax Agreement between Colombia and the UK, came into force last year, so at least I wont have to worry about DIAN changing it’s mind about deducting Tax already paid, before it arrives here.

The Plywood furniture for my Mother-in-law is still in it’s early stages, we have had medical appointments most days, so other than one sheet that has been cut to size, the rest is still waiting, hopefully I will get to it soon… hopefully!

The string led lights arrived for the balcony, so I have wired up a separate socket and switch into the ceiling of the balcony, now we just have to hope I don’t electrocute anyone ha! ha!

I decided that now was time to do another mini project, I had two wheelbarrows, but because the land is so steep, I wasn’t keen on using them, as, loaded with any weight, it would try and get away from you, and then tip over. One of my barrows had come to the end of it’s useful life, the bottom having rotted out, so I decided to upgrade the newer of the two.

I took the wheels off both, I bought a short length of steel plumbing pipe, cut it to size, then with some pipe brackets fixed it to the barrow, put threaded rod through it, and attached the two wheels, either side of the original wheel support.

Now I have a stable and useful garden cart, that anyone can use without worrying about where it will go next!

After buying the parts, the conversion only took me 30 minutes, something which is very unusual for me!

Three months since I changed the Water Filters on the house system, and the water was starting to show a yellowing colour, earth in the water, so it was time for a change again

You wouldn’t believe they were all white when they were installed, and President Petro has been going on about all households having drinkable/potable water as a matter of course, that would be nice, but I can’t see it happening any time soon.

Tomorrow, we are off again, this time, my Mother-in-law has a medical appointment in La Ceja, which is about 45 minutes away, so another day written off, and another lunch out… oh dear, what a shame ­čÖé

Today, a sad day for many, and a celebration of a Life, the Funeral of my Queen, Elizabeth II, someone I had the honour and privilege to serve for thirty years

I was up at 4.30am ready to watch on TV, there are times when the time difference is a pain in the backside, but it was a beautiful Event, perfectly executed, well done to all those involved. Now we see how King Charles III matches up to his Mother.

OK, that’s me done for today, me thinks it’s time for a short siesta!

Catch up!

Time marches on, and to be honest there is not a lot to report, I have been busy, but with mundane domestic tasks, cutting grass and hedges, lopping down, and pruning trees, alongside a bit of woodwork.

Both our boys are getting on, Pepe because of his breed, and infirmities, Tito just because he will have bursts of energy, then lie about for days, which is not him, to be honest we don’t know enough about his background to make any predictions. However I know that when the day comes, I will be in bits, and have to be prepared, so decided that now was the time.

Wooden Cross

I have made 75% of what is required for both, and 100% for one, by that I mean I have one upright with their year of birth, the year of passing can be added, and two crossmembers with their names, these have been burnt, and varnished, then put away on the back of the top shelf in the workshop, hopefully not to be needed for years. We know where they will be buried, in the Orchard, with a view up and down the valley, I suggested to Marcela that there should be a space left between them, to put the casket with my ashes, I don’t see why they shouldn’t share the best view with Dad! but that didn’t go down very well.

I bought my materials for my next project the other day…

Two sheets of 1/2″ and two sheets of 3/4″ plywood/triplex, with this, I will hopefully make a wardrobe and dressing table with shelving for my Mother-in-law in the Caba├▒a. I had the Supplier cut the sheets in half to save me taking the trailer to collect it, now I have to cut to size, and will start that today or tomorrow.

I was going to start it yesterday, but whilst doing routine maintenance on our electric Entrance Gate, discovered that one of the top rollers was within a twist of falling off, it had unscrewed itself, that left me with a major problem, because I don’t have a half inch allen key, or a very thin 1″ spanner, both which are needed to complete the job, I tried grinding down a piece of metal bar, but that was an abject failure, in the end, I sacrificed a 1/2″ chisel to poke into the allen key hole, I was able to wind it up, but still need a fine 1″ spanner to tighten it enough that it wont unscrew again for a while, those in my collection are too thick to fit in the space available, the only other option is to lift the gate off altogether to get access, but that will be a last resort. What should, if I had had the right tools, have taken ten minutes, took over two hours, so I was not happy.

Joaquin, Marcela┬┤s business partner, informed us the other day, that there are seven posts down, that support the barbed wire, towards the bottom of the orchard, I found that rather surprising, as I had only replaced them two years ago, or maybe a bit less, but I do trust the man in this respect, so took the trailer yesterday and bought some new posts in eucalyptus, which are supposed to be long lasting. Joachin has said he will replace them, at what cost we don’t yet know, but I certainly cant do the job any more. However I have the tar preservative, reclaimed staples, and so it’s now over to him.

At the moment I am waiting on a phone call, my new Accountant is preparing my Tax Bill, she rang yesterday, to say it will be ready today, she had no idea how my former Accountant managed to keep my bill so low, albeit, there is nothing to suggest that she did anything untoward, as she was an highly respected Professional, just sad that she had to die on me.

I have been warned that this year my bill will be considerably higher, so I’m not looking forward to it, and can only hope that as this Accountant learns more about Foreign income, that she to, will be able to lower the bill, but from what she said, this year, I am going to have to bite the bullet.

We are preparing to be hit by a variety of changes by Mr. Petro’s Government, I am still reserving my opinion on those changes, until I know how we will be effected, but moving Country hasn’t been ruled out, in the long term.

Apparently a range of things we have been able to claim against our Income Tax are being removed to increase Government Revenue.

We are told that as from next month, Fuel subsidies are being removed, and that over a period of time, as yet, we don’t know how long, the price of fuel will double, frightening, when I compare that with prices back in the UK, it would still be 50% cheaper, but for the people here, that is unaffordable, so we may well see a reaction to that, with transport costs going up, so will every item that is purchased, so much for Petro saying he wanted to help the poor, I think he must have choked half way through his sentence, he really meant that he wanted to help the poor…Politicians fleece the public even more.

On the subject of Energy, the President has said that the Energy Pricing Watchdog is being sacked, and will be handled by the Government, that doesn’t bode well, but since he says he is concerned at the steep rise in Electric and Gas prices, we will see if there is any benefit, or whether it’s yet another excuse to top up his holiday fund.

With regard to the Health Service, they are now saying that they will, subject to Congressional approval, disband the EPS, who are an intermediary, and cost a lot of cash that is not being used for Health, the IPS who provide the actual service, wont get the money either, the President’s idea is to give the funds to the Mayors, and each Municipio will decide how it is spent, that seems contradictory, as he is disbanding one Intermediary for another, and Marcela informs me that this was the very system 20 years ago, and the reason for the formation of EPS in the first place, because of Municipal corruption. It looks as if the Health Service is about to disappear.

The other contraversial change, which wont effect me but will effect Marcela, is the suggestion that the President wants to help those that have the minimum pension, such as my Father-in-law, they never contributed to any pension, private or State, with the possible exception of the few years when they undertook conscription, so they might receive only $80,000 pesos a month, he wants to make that $500,000 pm, by robbing Company pension funds, and using that money. Theft is exactly what it is, because Employees worked for that pension, and now he wants to give it to those, most of whom never paid a peso into the Health system, never paid taxes, whatever they earnt on the black, they kept, which seems grossly unfair.

There are many other changes in the pipeline, we will see if they are implemented, and what effect they have on our lives.However for now…back to work!

Finished Finally!

Yes, it’s taken more than four months but our balcony is finally finished, I can hardly believe it.

We had a call from the Carpenter, to say he had finished the doors, so we contacted Pacho, who repaired our roof, and he said he would do the installation, so we put the two in touch, to arrange a suitable date for the work.

Two weeks ago Pacho turned up, we had moved furniture, erected plastic screening to reduce dust, and I readied a number of tools and materials ready for the work to begin.

True to his word, Pacho arrived, and got stuck in, removing the old window, and cutting the walls to open up for the double doors.

Then the Carpenter arrived with his helper, and installed the doors, which we had made in Oak to match the other interior doors by the same Carpenter

Inward opening doors, so they don’t get smashed in the strong gales up here

Security bars on the windows, bolted on from the inside, to slow down any forced access

Pacho came back the following day to finish the cosmetic stuff, and then we tidied up, and I removed the MDF panels I had used to protect my decking.

After which, it was my turn to get to work again, using a two part mix varnish with extra protection.

Finally it was time to raid the Patio, and furnish the deck!

Now we can sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labour!

Thanks for bearing with me throughout the months of stress, now we will deal with the cause of it. I believe that person thinks we have let the theft go, and we wont do anything about it, he’s about to find out that he picked the wrong stooges! Unfortunately it seems that everyone knew about his problems except us, when I was talking to the Carpenter, he said it wasn’t a surprise as that person was on the booze and spending money on horses (buying not betting).

We are on our second Washing machine this year, I may have mentioned this previously, one of the failings of advancing age, memory loss! We were having problems with the old washining machine we bought in January, the make is Mabe, it wasn’t cleaning the clothes, leaving dirty streaks, the Engineer came out under the warranty, and said the machines were not made for use in the countryside, or at least if you want to wash clothes you have worked the land in, or want to wash the dogs covers, do not use these machines, I really do wonder where they get these ideas from.

Unfortunately its not the first time we had been told something similar, in fact a previous Engineer, who came out to the previous machine which was a Haceb, said that if we wanted a good machine, we needed to buy one from the U.S.

The Mabe Engineer, gave me a lesson on how to dismantle the top loader and remove the barrel, to clean the dust and mucky water from underneath, which meant buying a special spanner, which I did, online. However I wasn’t expecting the same problem within a month. I have therefore made an investment, and bought a front loader, LG from the U.S. which has a drainage vent to remove the offending muck, and hopefully will last years… If it doesn’t we’ll be washing our clothes in the stream down below, because I can’t afford another!

The Living arrangements, with the Mother-in-law living with us, are working out fine, at the moment we have my Father-in-law staying as well. He had to come down from Caucasia for a cataract operation, in Medellin, he had the tests Thursday, he’s having the surgery Monday, and a check up Wednesday, then a few days and he will be off on his merry way, things are a bit strained with him here, but that’s between him and me, we used to be close, but his habits annoyed me, and now I put up with him for Marcela’s sake.

Weather wise, I’m not going to tempt fate by saying summer has arrived, but we have had a few pleasant days, and long may they continue. Today, I’ve been able to cut the grass, for the second time in a week, everything is growing so fast, with all the rain we have had, and now the heat, but I’m not complaining, I’m really not!

I think that about brings me back up to date, and ready to face the next phase of our beloved President’s dreams.

Health Service Collapsing?

I will address my title to this post first, I have always found the Colombian Health Service to be brilliant, I would go as far as to say better than the UK Health Service, but that is my personal experience, and I know it doesnt apply across the country.

I know I have explained this before, but the Health Service here is on a different planet to the UK, you pay a Health Service Provider, in my case, SURA, and they subcontract out the Services, so although you attend one medical center to see your Doctor, if you need Specialist treatment, you can be sent all over the place to various Clinics, I was seeing a Dermatologist in Medellin, then he withdrew his services, then I was seeing a Dermatologist in Rionegro, my last appointment should have been last week for the results of my biopsies in May, we arrived, to find it had been cancelled, because the Clinic, was no longer providing the service for SURA, but no one thought to inform me.

I see Orthopaedic Specialists in Rionegro, but I saw an Orthopaedic Surgeon in Medellin for my Hip replacement, and so it goes on.

Since Mr Petro became President, the service has plummeted in quality, I can’t get appointments, and appointments are cancelled, it is becoming a farce, I believe I know why, although I might be wrong. Petro stated that it was his intention to totally disband the current Healthcare System, and replace it with a Government run service, which would provide a bandaid service to all, if people were terminally ill, they don’t need in-patient care, because they are going to die anyway, and those who can pay, will pay for those who can’t. Sorry, Mr Petro, but that doesn’t wash, if you are not going to provide me with a service, I am not going to pay, full stop, I will pay for treatment as required.

I believe that the current Health Care Providers are cutting back, and waiting to see what Petro’s final decision is on the matter, and who can blame them, but it doesn’t help us, when we need appointments.

The President, believes he can be Robin Hood, and rob the Rich to pay for the Poor, and the Poor believe him, which is why he got into power, there are now rumours that he intends to change the Colombian Constitution so that he can stay in power for more than the current four year maximum, he is following in the wake of Venezuela, and look where that got that Country, and why more than 2 million of it’s Citizens moved to Colombia, and others further afield. We can only hope that other Politicians can put a stop to this.

The Country is already starting to fall apart, albeit, I am sure Mr. Petro would disagree, the top ranking Officers in the Army and Police are resigning in droves, some need to, due to corruption in the Ranks, but there must be good ones amongst them, who can see where this is leading. The President has already started releasing his old chums from Prison, and placing others who were Terrorists like himself, in positions of power.

People are already talking about the increase in violence since he took Office, not a day goes by, when there aren’t multiple murders reported, as in many media cases, they refer to them as massacres, but I think that’s stretching it a bit. Driveby shootings are more common, three days ago someone took potshots at the Presidential cavalcade,two days ago we had one at the end of our road, a man was driving along with a large quantity of cash in his car, when two delinquents on a motorcycle tried to stop and rob him, so he shot them, killing one, injuring the other, who apparently ran up our road, I have checked our camera footage, and he didnt get as far as here, so must have taken to the fields.

Yes, it is frightening, but what can you do, I’m not rich, I can’t just up sticks, my only income is my pension, and the Colombian Government don’t recognise it as a pension, being from abroad, it is an earned income, and taxed here accordingly, I already feel the pinch, where income here may rise by 3 or 4%, my pension rises by 1% at the most, and prices here rise by 10% annually, I know by Colombian standards, I am still pretty comfortable, and I accept that, but as the years pass, that will change, as they catch up and overtake me. That could happen even sooner if Mr Petro has his way.

OK, enough of the moaning, I realise that I have trundled on, and not even started to cover home life, so, I am going to end now, and start a new Post, which you can catch up on now or later.

I’m a Guinea Pig!

You might think I have gone nuts… You might be right, more later!

The problem with our internet has been resolved, the problem wasn’t with the Provider it was with my cellphone, for years now I have been a Xiaomi supporter, and between Marcela and myself, I think we have had every model of Xiaomi Redmi Note Pro until version 10, that was what was causing all the problems, I had problems with version 9, therefore bought 10, neither lasted a year, it was becoming costly, so no more. I still rightly or wrongly believe in Xiaomi, but I’m not buying anymore Redmi Notes, Marcela’s last phone was a POCO X3 Pro, so I bought the X4 Pro, so far so good!

I have also had to upgrade our Mesh Internet system, the old one, which we had only had about four months was 2.4G this system runs on 5G, so now I have installed a TP-Link Deco system, and the coverage is great.

Telephones is another upgrade, the internet package includes landline telephone, something we haven’t had since coming here, I bought the phones from Amazon, and they arrived Friday, and now they are up and running, we are beginning to feel human again…almost!

I had a dental appointment late July, to repair two broken teeth, one broke in November 2021, and they repaired it, only for the repair to drop off in January 2022, but as there was no pain, I decided to run with it, then at some point whilst we were on holiday another fractured on the other side of my mouth, again no pain, however decided to have it checked out.

The Dentist was formal, but efficient, and repaired both, however four hours later, despite having had soup for lunch, one of the repairs was in my hand!

I can’t be bothered going back, but I might go to another dentist and get a private quote, I cant afford to lose many more, otherwise I’ll be living on soup and scrambled eggs

I returned to the Internista to see if he had any more ideas, regarding the pain between my shoulder blades, the x-rays came up a blank. He has now referred me to an Orthopaedic Trauma Specialist , a Physiatrist, and for blood tests, I am now waiting to see if the Health Care Provider will pay for all the appointments, and issue the orders, it seems a bit overkill to me, but I cant fault him for covering all bases.

Then finally on the Medical field, I went for the Nerve Block in my gluteal hip muscles last week, having asked for another Surgeon, as I wasn’t letting the other anywhere near me, and this one was lovely, I was given the option to be put out, but declined, and then wished I had, but the pain was only for microseconds at a time, as she injected in four locations, without removing the needle, it was worth the pain, because three days later, and I am virtually Pain free for the first time in years, long may it last, and I know its only a temporary fix, so I will just keep my fingers crossed.

This morning, I started by trimming the hedge, and then had my first garden fire in more than a year, the previous neighbours were Townies, and moaned like hell every time I had a fire, not my fault, the owner built the house about thirty feet from my fire pit, I certainly wasn’t moving it, but said I would have fires when they were out, the trouble with that idea was, that when it was sunny and dry, they sat out, and when it rained, they went out! I was gaining a number of garden rubbish piles waiting for the flames, and today was that day, the new Renter, lives in Medellin, she only comes when she wants to roll in the hay with whoever, then disappears again, she’s no spring chicken, and no looker, so good luck to her!

Whilst the fire was smouldering away, I worked on cleaning out the drainage ditch from our grey water tank, to the trees down the slope, I’ve probably cleaned about half, and weather allowing, will get the rest done this week.

At least now, everyone can see the ditch again, so not fall and break an ankle!

This week, sees the return of my Mother in law, Maria Elena, she has been back at the house in Bello, selling off all the furniture, ready for her permanent move here on Thursday, and the Renters will then move in to our house there, we’ve put the business in Marcela’s name, she then has her independence, without having to worry, as an Agency have all the headaches, which hopefully wont be many, as the family were already known to Marcela and her Mother. Last week, I did some painting and titivating in the apartment / caba├▒a, ready for her return, now I just have one more project in the caba├▒a, and that is to build a custom wardrobe / dressing table unit, I will be starting on that soon.

We heard from the Carpenter last week, and the balcony doors are nearing completion, or so he says, therefore Marcela had a word with Pacho, who repaired our roof, and he will organise a date as soon as the doors are ready, I might finally be able to use the balcony soon, without having to climb ladders from the outside! albeit, the wood floor still has to be varnished, but I don’t want to do that, whilst there is a chance of it being damaged, during the door installation.

Our new President Elect Gustavo Petro, takes Office tomorrow, we wait to see what he has in store, he announced some of his Ministers, the first ones were non contraversial, but his latest offering has people worried, Communists and Marxists, like himself, it has come as no surprise, but they are an unknown quantity, so we wait to see what they are going to lumber us with.

Petro himself didn’t get off to a good start, he organised a meeting with 800 of the Countries Mayors last week, for early morning in Bogota, he failed to turn up, after the outpouring of anger, he re-arranged it for the afternoon, again failing to turn up it was reported he was ill. The following day, he was filmed and photographed in a beautiful location of Colombia looking the picture of health, having been flown there in Police helicopter, wearing the Presidential Sash, which is isn’t entitled to wear until tomorrow…arrogance and disrespect, springs to mind!

That brings me back up to date, and unless I suddenly have another string of medical appointments.

Back to Work!

Yes, I know, you haven’t noticed any difference, but this time I have an excuse, on July 8th we went on Holiday to Cartagena de Indias, for ten days, I didn’t mention it before we went, for security reasons, we left my Mother-in-law on her own, caring for the house and dogs, and there are a few people that might have taken advantage of that.

Did we enjoy our holiday? I have to say, I was disappointed with Cartagena, we flew from Medellin, it was just under an hour, and then took a taxi to a Studio Apartment we rented in a Tower called “El Nuevo Conquistador”, in El Laguito, which was a taxi ride out from the center, and that was our first mistake, we should have done as in the past, and booked into a Hotel.

The apartment itself was nicely decorated

Unfortunately, despite the Owner’s assurance the glass windows and doors were only tempered glass, not anti-noise, and for four nights of our stay, I hardly slept a wink. To add to that she had the mattress covered with a plastic protector, nights were like a sauna, I ended up having to put towels on the bed to give some protection from the plastic. The building was that old, it needs a lot of money spending on the structure, there were 24 floors and over 400 apartments, with four decrepit lifts to service everyone, not good, cockroaches were regular visitors! Saying that the Staff who worked in the building were very friendly, and helpful when needed.

The closest beach was only over the road

It wasn’t crowded unlike the main beaches, and for $20000 a day, you had shade and two chairs. Just lying on the beach on your towel wasn’t an option, as it was crawling in ants. But for them parking two Commercial ships offshore on one day, and two warships on another, which wasn’t the best tourist view, I actually enjoyed the beach more than I thought I would.

Marcela visited the Building swimming pool one day, and ten minutes later she was back, saying that most of the kids were in the adult pool, which in one corner had a pile of foam, which looked suspiciously like something you didn’t want to swim in.

Day two we decided to take the City Sightseeing hop on, hop off, open top bus Tour, and use it as a tool. I made my way up to the top deck, and using my Ricoh Theta V 360┬░ camera videoed the trip, only ‘hopping off’ to have lunch. We then decided where we wanted to return during the week, and surprisingly it worked.
I had wanted to visit the Castle, but on seeing it, and local advice, it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to negotiate the inclines. Likewise also decided where we did want to visit.

Here is a link to my 360┬░ video, you can play around within it, and see everything we saw!

Following this Bus tour, the following day, we used it again, as it was a two day ticket, but this time as transport, we jumped, or in my case, hobbled off, at the Torre de Reloj,

Torre de Reloj

walked around the area, and bought the local sweets to give as presents when we got home, nearly all contained coconut, and a multitude of flavours,

they were lovely. Having walked around and had lunch we headed back for a siesta, before going out for dinner.

Finding Restaurants wasn’t a problem, there were some for Specials, of which we had a few, and others for a daily visit. We didn’t actually prepare any meals in the apartment, we had a basic breakfast in a cafe nearby, and depending on our plans, either had lunch a short walk away, followed by a special dinner, or vice versa.

Marcela in Restaurante Do├▒a Lola, Getsemani
Restaurante El Muelle

Restaurante Intriga Tropical

We did most of our trips in the morning, when it was cooler, and rested in the afternoon before venturing out again, it worked well.

The Trip to Getsemani was very colourful

The day at the Historic Center was entirely different, you couldn’t help but be impressed with the architecture, ableit most of it is related to Churches, and that is not my thing, so admired from outside! Although we did find a sculpture by Fernando Botero

Supposedly if you stroke her breast, you are blessed with good luck, Marcela was touching nothing, the masks only come off for photos, we are still on covid mode, as for me… do you think I am that stupid!? ha!ha!ha!

That brought us to the end of the holiday, and then it was back to reality! I have been gardening to get the place looking something like tidy again, I had a Medical appointment with the pain specialist, I think she felt a bit guilty, as it was on her order the other Doc did the knee nerve block and damaged my hip muscles, so she has given me another order for a nerve block in my hip, but by a different Doc!

Yesterday, we finally had landline phone and internet installed, going from 6Mb to 200Mb, but it didn’t go without incident. The Office computer was fine, because it is ethernet connected, but the wifi, on the phone and Smart TV’s was going haywire, one minute Marcela had full speed, I had none, then vise versa, I was ready to rip it out, then I worked out the problem, they had set it up for 5Ghz, previously we had 2.4, we asked them if they could change it, which they did, and for now, all is well, the speed has dropped a bit, but we have full coverage, and that is important.

I think that about brings me back up to date, so time for a siesta after the marathon!


If ever anything is normal, possibly the last week has been the closest for a long time.

On Thursday, I had an Orthopaedic appointment, I had forgotten about, with my ‘new’ Surgeon, he replaced the one who had jumped ship, and to be honest, I was dreading it, but it turned out to be totally unfounded, he was a great guy. It was a good job Marcela was with me, because he did talk too fast for me,but otherwise it was great. He confirmed that his Predecessor had logged that the Doc who gave me the previous nerve Block had caused muscular damage to my Hip, so if there is a problem in the future, it is there for all to see.

He went on to say that he didn’t think a protesis of the knee was the right way to go now, not because I didn’t need it, but because it was on the same leg as my new hip, and the knee would wear out first, so the longer we could delay that procedure the better. However, he wasn’t happy with the last Block, and said he wanted to give me another, with a different chemical, Marcela asked how long we would have to wait for that, his immediate reply “Ten minutes, wait outside”, true to his word ten minutes later he came out and took me to the treatment room and gave me the block himself. He told us, that the following two days after the local anaesthetic had worn off, I would be in great pain, but then I would feel the benefit…I am still waiting for that pain!

Friday, and it was shopping day, in the Supermarket, I had to check my Calendar

I have blurred out her face to save any embarrassment, but Christmas on July 1st !!!!! that really is pushing the boundary.

After doing the shopping, we nipped over to Jaime’s house for the last time, and picked up my new toy, which I spent Saturday morning trying out.

It is certainly a bit heavier that I anticipated, but it does the job, rather than four days with ladders and shears, I had it all done in less than two hours, not quite as pristine as the shears, but good enough.

I bought electric, as opposed to petrol, because of the cost, it’s three times cheaper than it’s petrol cousin, and again, petrol as opposed to battery, because the electric has a stronger cut, I also also had an extra long cable, so far so good.

We are still getting a good mixture of sun and rain, unfortunately we have been told the rain will continue until December, so no defined summer this year at all, so much for changing seasons. The problem is that with Tropical storms on a daily basis, roads are collapsing, and landslides are a daily occurrence, which is causing problems for those who can least afford it.

Our President Elect, Gustavo Petro, it making some positive and negative announcements, the positive ones are unexpected, and make us wonder what is coming next. He is making Alliances with Parties across the board, which was unexpected, he has alo declared that the National Police are to be removed from under the Ministry of Defence, although he hasn’t said who they will be answerable to yet, it is definitely a step in the right direction, and something I have been advocating since my arrival in Colombia.

He has also said that he intends to raise the price of Petrol to price cars off the road, but has not said what he wants people to use instead, we already know that electric cars are just as, if not more polluting, through, lithium mining for the batteries, which contaminates not only the soil but all the water sources as well, in addition getting rid of end of life batteries will cause further pollution, so we wait to hear from him, but I won’t be changing my car any time soon!

Fortunately his new Minister of Finance, has announced that Petro’s plan to stop all future Oil exploration has gone out of the window, because as Colombia’s main source of income, that is not possible, until there is a viable alternative, which at the moment there isn’t.

In the mean time, I carry on with all the little jobs around the house, the one I have not been able to resolve is a slight leak under the handbasin in the Caba├▒a, or the Mother-in-law’s abode. I have spent three mornings trying to resolve it, then found that it wasn’t the sink drain at all, but the tap, unfortunately because the unit is so small, that means taking the whole thing off the wall, so rather than inconvenience The Boss, I think I am going to wait, until she returns to the other house for a week of medical appointments, at the end of the month, then I can cause a mess, without that Mother-in-law’s eye, ha ha ha!

After a fairly relaxed week-end, I will have to get back into the swing of it tomorrow, so I think it’s time for making the most of the last couple of hours of feet up.

Where do we go from here?

One piece of good news, the car went for it’s Revision Tecnico (MOT) and passed without a problem, I’m sure having had the service a few days before, and a set of new tyres a couple of months ago helped, if you see the state of some of the cars leaving with a pass, it does make you wonder!

The Presidential Elections are over

Unfortunately our preferred Candidate didn’t win, but not for the want of trying, now we have to see what a Marxist, former Terrorist brings to the Country, the fact that he won by such a small margin, may hopefully cause him to think twice before bringing in some of his more radical ideas, I know that Marcela is more worried than I am, but it pays to be sensible, and as a precaution, I am looking at options to set up an off-shore Bank Account, not to avoid any obligations, I will still declare any money there, but it would give us a buffer if the worst came to the worst, and we had to move.

Marcela’s Mum moved here just over a week ago, and other than the expected differences, that will be sorted in a month or two, things are going well, no one can expect people to just slot in immediately, we will all have to make some adjustments, I don’t see that being a problem, whether it will for the others, is something they will have to decide.

We still haven’t resolved anything with Jaime, he keeps promising to pay, but nothing transpires, I think we have reconciled ourselves to not receiving a peso, as a result he leaves us with no option but to start legal proceedings, we have been told, that once started they can’t be stopped, and if found in our favour, he risks the possibility of between two and three years in prison, which is sad, when we have given him so many opportunities to sort this out. Likewise, we have told his wife, that I can no longer send packages to their house, because once proceedings are started, there is no guaratee my packages wont go missing, it is a shame, because it did give her some pocket money, as I paid per package.

Our neighbour has family living in town, which is nearer, and they were prepared to accept any packets without payment, not that I am sure they had a clue how many I have. However since then, we have found that the worst Postal Service I have ever come across, has an Office in town, and having spoken with the Girl running it, for a small fee, they will provide a PO Box, and accept parcels of any size, from any Courier, so we are going to give them a whirl, and see what happens.

As a result of the problems with Jaime, I made the decision that we couldn’t keep putting of finishing the balcony, therefore we have been in touch with Pacho who did the roof repair, and he says he will install the doors for us, which will mean removing a window, and cutting the window opening down to the floor. Likewise we have been in touch with Juan the Carpinter who made the house doors and the kitchen units, he has been out, we changed the design, to cut costs, and we are awaiting a quotation

Medical appointments have ground to a halt, not because everything is fine, but because despite Marcela phoning daily, we are told there are no appointments, for my hip, or for my skin cancer, we were lucky to be able to get an orthopaedic appointment for my knees next week, just for the new Specialist to review the x-rays, other than that, everything is on hold. We don’t know why, it could be holidays, or maybe with the threat of disbanding the Health Service when the new President takes Office in August, many are leaving, going into Private Practise, or moving to another country for a better life, who can blame them, but it doesn’t help me.

We keep an eye on the weather back in the UK, and recently, it has been far better than here, where it feels more like winter, has the climate changed permanently? who knows, but except for two or three hours sun a day, we are shrivelling up in the rain! On that note, I’ve been called for lunch, so bye for now.

No Gain without Pain

I think I am probably radioactive, I’ve had so many X-rays recently, the Radiologist started putting protective coverings on me, she said she was concerned for my health, having recently also had X-rays on my hip! I’ve now had the X-rays on my spine for the Internista, which I don’t think found anything untoward, and also on my knees for the Orthopaedic Specialist, from the report on the latter, I think they were looking at my knees for the problem with my spine, however we’ll wait and see what the respective Specialists have to say.

After the X-rays we went on shopping, and it was time to treat Pepe to a new bed, as Tito has pinched Pepe’s last bed, having pulled his own to bits, because of his hip problem I decided that soft and fluffy was the way to go.

Pepe loves it, so does Tito, but this time, I have made sure Pepe’s bed does not go under ours, and when Tito moves in, I move him out, we are now at the stage, that I don’t have to say a word, I just give Tito the evil eye, and he slinks off to his own bed!

Today, I am taking things easy, because I have spent two days chopping down and thinning out the Platano (cooking bananas) and banana plants, and to put it bluntly, I’m knackered!

They are not classed as trees, because the trunks are not wood, they are fibrous, and full of water, however that water is very sticky, and not my favourite plant to work with.

Because of the liquid the trunks are very heavy, and although they are easy enough to chop down, you have to watch they don’t fall on you. I was lucky this time, I didn’t slice myself open with the machete, which happened last time, when it slipped out of my hand.

I have been doing some research into looking after these plants, because honestly I knew nothing. Once cut down I then had to chop the trunks up into slices and cut the leaves so they were shredded, then pile them around the remaining Plants, and other fruit trees, because there is so much goodness in them, it should not be wasted.

As you can see in the left small photo above, I still have a number of trunks to slice up, but they can wait until next week, and I will continue down towards the Abyss, I have probably finished caring for 50% of the total crop. Now maybe the fruit will all grow fully without the rest of the plants taking the goodness.

This morning I washed the car, because tomorrow, it has to go for it’s Revision Tecnico (MOT), it’s actually due next month, but as we are on holiday then, I want to get it done, we had the car serviced last week, so hopefully it will pass without any problem. We have now worked out that if Marcela takes the car, they are less likely to find anything wrong compared to a Foreigner walking into the Testing Station!

We have been warned by Neighbours, that there are Criminals working this area, apparently they were disturbed in a Finca about 500m from us, last week-end. Fortunately the Occupants were home, saying that, they were lucky the thieves ran, and were not armed.
We are as safe as we can be with the razor wire all around the property, security cameras, and the alarm system. Whilst we are away next month, we have family staying with the Mother-in-law, so we have taken every precaution.

I have talked in the past about, being an Expat, and being prepared for fluctuations in the exchange rate, well it has hit, and hopefully my preparations for such an eventuality will protect us. Last month my income dropped 10%, and as of today, with the inflation problems in the UK, combined with the dollar to peso conversion problem with the Colombian Presidential Election this Sunday, my income if I were to transfer today, would have dropped another 10%, a total of 20% in two to three months is a big difference in income, fortunately I budgeted for this during the good times, it just depends how long this will go on. Being an Expat isn’t all roses!

Work on the balcony should restart after we return from holiday, Marcela has spoken with Pacho, who repaired our roof, and he will do the installation of the door, she has also spoken with the Carpenter, and he is coming Saturday, to measure up, as we have changed the design and size of the door. No we still haven’t had any cash from Jaime, he is working away this week, but has promised a payment on Friday, we are not holding our breath, it’s his last chance, before we go to start prceedings. However I decided we can’t leave this half finished indefinitely, there is no point in having a balcony we cant access without ladders! So money or not, we are going to have to bite the bullet and get the job done.

That I think brings me up to date, so take care, and catch up with you soon.