Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Could have gone Better!

Thank goodness, that's another Holiday week-end out of the way, if the last two week-ends are anything to go by, we have at least got our message over to the owners of the Finca de Recreo, the music was turned down well before midnight, and we were able to sleep, but that didn't stop them making up for it during the day, still it's an excuse to go out for lunch, and escape the ear bashing for a while. We just have one more this week-end, then a little respite, hurrah!.

I spent most of the week-end working on my generator, I needed it for today, but nothing I did would make it start, it's my fault, I usually start it every couple of months to ensure it is working, but it has been probably five months since we last needed it.

A neighbour tried to get an Engineer to come out for us on Sunday,, but they were having none of it. A Fiesta is a Fiesta, and nothing gets in the way of that, so Sunday and Monday were out!

This morning at 8.10am EPM turned up as expected, and the electric went off, I just had to pray that the freezers would hold, especially in this heat, until work had finished. I went off for a routine Doctors appointment, but did not get back until 11.30am, I stopped on the way back to ask an engineer who had serviced my brushcutter if he would look at the generator, he said he would, but gave me some suggestion to try out first, they didn't work, so I took the generator down to him, he pulled the cord twice, and it was humming away, I just wanted the ground to open up under me!

Anyway we loaded the generator back into the Montero, and I headed off to Bello where I had some other business to attend to, as a result I met up with Marcela for lunch in a Supermarket Cafe, which unfortunately was rubbish, and then I headed home.

EPM were still working on the lines, but were very affable moving their cables, so I could get the car in through the gate.

I hooked up the generator and connected two extention cables, one to the chest freezer and the other to the fridge-freezer, and left them to re-freeze.

I was under the impression, EPM were tidying up the cables on each post, but they must be preparing for the new constructions on the mountain, wanting electric, because new main cables have been added.

Instead of just the post, it has now grown an arm, it looks hiddeous! but I guess in a week or two, like before, we wont even notice it. However one neighbour is not happy, because they found his illegal cable tapped into the main supply, and they are not letting him away with it, how or when he got so far up the post to connect it I have no idea, he must have had help, and done it at night.

Oh well, that's it for a day or two, I have to get up tomorrow at 3am and head for the Airport and my flight to Bogota to have my visa put in my passport, so hopefully that will be totally uneventful...hahahaha!  some hope.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Holiday Season

This weekend is the second of three Bank Holiday weekends in a row,it is no wonder Colombians never have enough money, they are always out spending it, and not working...that said when they do work, many of them work really long days.

Last week-end even with our anti noise windows (fancy double glazing) we had trouble with the Finca de Recreo alongside us, it was the first time the new owner had rented it out, and there was no control at all, the music played all night, even though it was bucketing down with rain. We ended up phoning the Police twice, but even with their new powers, it didn't tempt them to do their job, and come to sort it out...nothing new there! we later found out that another neighbour phoned the Police four times, they obviously didn't want to leave their nice warm beds. We did see them ride passed on their motorbike later in the morning, different staff, having had their breakfast.

Marcela rang the number advertised outside for rentals, someone in Medellin, and explained the situation to him, as a result the following night was much quieter.

This weekend it appears to be in reverse, last night was rowdy and then at bedtime, they lowered the volume, causing no problems at all, so far tonight, if it is the same people, they appear to have a rowdy night planned, so whether we will get any sleep is anyones guess.

Tomorrow, I must get the generator out and tested, it hasn't been used in a while, but yesterday, I had a visit from our Electricity Supplier to warn us that there will be no electric on Tuesday between 8am and 4pm, whilst they are working on the electric poles. I will have to run cables to the fridge-freezer and freezer, they certainly wont last eight hours in this heat, even when it is raining it is warm, once I have it all up and running on Tuesday, I will bail out for at least part of the day, fortunately I have a Doctors appointment first thing so I'll go there, and then head off elsewhere for an hour or two.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Blood Pressure Rising!

One of the things that really sends my blood pressure into orbit here in Colombia, is the fact that everybody tells you what you want to hear, not what is reality... I'm being polite!

The neighbours who built the Agricultural and Building Supplies shop and apartment next door, in place of the one storey finca that was falling down, have now taken down the remaining old building at the rear, seen in the photo below. We could no longer see that building as the Azulina has grown to the top of the fence.

Photo from February
They are now in the process of building a replacement, but on shaky foundations, I have been watching them closely over the last few days, and they have been replacing the base, as they have taken the other down, wall by wall, leaving the roof until it had to come down, so the base is in three or four sections with no reinforcement, and only about 3" deep. For some reason they intend to still have the roof sloping towards the main building, apparently they are going to put a gutter between the two.

I went round to ask how high it was going, to be told they were completing one more course and that was it, which would have made it approximately the same as the old one, but... we are already two courses higher, and I have now been told there is another one to go, then the roof on top, that means more view blocked, and no support for the extra weight, I can see this being a real problem for us if the weight causes movement, as you can see from the photo, this new construction is spitting distance from  our house. There is no point in asking at the Planning Dept. they wont do anything, except go and talk to  them, leaving with extra cash in their pocket. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed, that if anything happens the house insurance will pay out. At the first sign of problems, I am putting the place up for sale.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Maintenance on the Backburner!

First it was the rain that was delaying me getting started on outside work, and now its the neighbours again, having built their shop with apartment above, which created dust, you wouldn't believe, now they have taken down the last part of the old finca, they were using for storage, and are building a new lean to, onto the back of the new building... more dust, so I can't even think of starting to paint the outside of the house until that is finished.

Saying that, I won't be sitting around doing nothing. Yesterday, I received confirmation that my new Resident Visa has been issued, along with a copy, so that confirms my visit to Bogota a week tomorrow.

I will now be kept busy for a day or two, tracking down all the paperwork I am going to need for this years Colombian Tax return, which has to be submitted in August, once I have it all sorted and categorised, scanned and printed, I will have to make an appointment with my Accountant, and take it all to her, hoping that she can continue to work her magic and keep the bill as low as possible, she has certainly been worth her weight in gold up until now, I dread the day she decides to retire. You have to employ an accountant to submit your return, it is the only way they will accept them, it keeps all the accountants in business, the only problem is finding one that is honest and reliable, and when you do, you guard them with your life.

Today, I went off to the City in the hunt for shoes, I thought it was going to be easy, there was a Branch of Hush Puppy in one of the Malls, but it has closed, and I was informed that they have shut down their operations in Colombia! 😪 I have yet to find a really comfortable pair of shoes in Colombia, most of mine I am glad to get off my feet by the time I get home, and my favourite pair, I bought about eight years ago in the UK, and are only just hanging together. I searched the other shoe shops in the Mall, then gave up and returned to our Mall in Bello,  again with no luck.

I have a real problem with shoes, because of my back problem, I have to ensure they are really comfortable, which is a problem in itself, especially finding the width, but the more pressing problem is finding my size,  I need a size 44 here, and usually they only go up to 42 / 43, occasionally I find a pair that fits, but that's as far as it goes... Colombians must have small feet, or maybe that expains why so many walk around in Wellington Boots, even in summer!

Tomorrow, I'm going to go and look in Copacabana, sometimes you find what you are looking for in the most unlikely places, if not it will be back into the city sometime.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Keeping Occupied

Whilst we had no internet, I was forced to occupy my time by returning to the old ways, in my case woodwork!! 😊  It forced me to get the Postbox finished and fitted on the gate.

This plaque on the outside of the gate, is only so they will know which crack in the gate to put the  I stencilled the 'Correos' rather than burn it, because I was coating the 6mm ply in varnish, so it wont rub off for a while.

I built the box in situ, it was probably just as well I did, because it was an absolute bugger to fit the uprights to the gate, the side furtherest from the wall, was just too far for me to put adequate pressure on, whilst having an arm on this side as well, in the end, a neighbour saw me struggling, and came to my aid. I glued the parts together with contact glue (god...I love that smell!) and then pinned it with brad nails, using my air-nailer.

The hatch gives enough room to remove post, the piece of white on the inside right of the box, is the section of UPVC pipe, used to direct post from the slot into the box, and it works.

Hopefully no more banged heads, that should please the Father-in-law when he next visits, we have both drawn blood, mainly due to the weight of the gate, we pull, and get too close, the old box then attacked you!

I was somewhat limited as to what else I could do to pass the time, as despite it being summer here, it has been bucketing down with rain for the best part of a week, I hope that changes, because I need to get out in the garden, I therefore spent the rest of my time reading, no TV when the internet is down.

We no longer pay for a TV service, as neither of us watch it much, although that also came down the same cable, so we would have lost that, but when we do want to watch something, we make use of an Android box, attached to the TV, so it's free, but again, when the internet goes down we lose that.

It's a good job I have and electronic e-Reader for books, people say there is nothing like a paper book, but I have been using this method now for about seven or eight years, as long as I remember to keep it charged, I now prefer it, and have no trouble downloading plenty of reading matter.


UPDATE: This post was written on 17/06/2017, unfortunately the internet went down before I could Publish, and has only just been re-instated.

I said I was going to look around for cheap plane tickets, unless I want to fly down one day and come back the next, that wasn't going to happen, and the cost of staying in Bogota overnight, outweighed any financial saving from a cheap flight.

I keep reading about the UK Expats living in the EU, complaining that Brexit may well cost them more, but to be fair, I haven't heard one of my friends living there complain...yet! I have little sympathy with the whiners, the rest of us pay our way.

To stay here in Colombia, this renewal will cost me:

1. Check paperwork                                                            COP $151.000
2. Cost of Visa     (Varies according to Visa)                      COP $1.137.810
3. Cost of flight to collect the Visa                                     COP $305.000

To renew Colombian ID Card after collecting Visa                COP $183.000

Total:                                                                                      COP $1.776.810
                                                                                               (£470 / US$600)
Plus ancillaries (Airport parking, Taxis etc.)
I'm not complaining, it is certainly a big chunk when your only source of income is your pension, but I knew I had to budget for it, and have been putting money aside to cover it.
I go on June 28th to Bogota to have the Visa entered in my passport, I've just got to hope that my car gets me to the airport, without breaking down, the flight is only 55 minutes, as opposed to 8 - 10 hours driving.

Friday, 16 June 2017


Having sorted out all the paperwork, I applied for my new Colombian Visa online, at the beginning of the week. This morning I received an email to say that I have been granted a Resident Visa, which lasts for five years, no more applying for temporary visas. If during that time, I apply for, and receive Nationality, then this will be the last Visa I shall ever need, but I have to had this visa for two years before I can apply.

Now I have thirty days to pay for the Visa, at which time it becomes valid, and then fifteen days to get myself to Bogota from the date of payment, to have it inserted in my passport. I won't make the mistake I made in 2014 of making payment before I have bought a plane ticket, that way I give myself time to look around for the cheapest day return.

I have also made progress with the Postbox, it is all ready, it has had one coat of stain, and three coats of exterior varnish.

I am just waiting for the last coat of varnish to dry, and then it will be assembly time, but I will do that on site, piece by piece to ensure it fits in it's allocated spot!