Friday, February 24, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Regarding teaching English here in Colombia, I seem to recall that since I’m here on a Pensionado visa I’m not supposed to be working, or at least such work that could possibly take a job away from a Colombian so I’m not sure if teaching English here would qualify.

Teresa made some phone calls and arranged for us to see the apt at 10:30.  That gave me time to watch the beginning of the Today show.

As soon as we were inside the building we saw they have a portera (doorman).  In back was a garage with about 6 spaces.  I wonder if this apt includes a garage space?  I thought I saw 2 garage doors so maybe there is additional space somewhere.  They have a modern looking working elevator that doesn’t look like it will break down tomorrow.  We got off on the 4th floor and there are only 2 apartments on the floor.  So, 5 floors of apartments x 2 apartments equals 10 apartments, maybe there’s a garage space for each apartment.

The apt has a good sized balcony (Chuck will be envious) although I’m a little concerned about the security of the sliding glass doors.  The distant view from the balcony is pretty nice as we’re the tallest building facing that direction.  There is almost a 180 degree view of hills and mountains.  The closer view is not so nice – looking down on junk piled on rooftops.

The living room/dining room looks to be a little larger than our current apt.  The kitchen is a little smaller but Teresa said she could live with that.  There is a utility room with space for a washing machine and a utility tub for the manual washing of clothes. 

There is a guest bathroom and all the appliances look pretty modern and new.

The bedrooms look to be about the same size as our current apt but with much more closet space.  The master bedroom has its own bathroom.

There isn’t a lot of window space to open with the exception of the sliding glass doors.  The main thing is that this location should be quieter than where we are now.

Teresa talked to the agency guy but a few things are still unclear to me: if it includes a garage, something about “until April”, and I’m not sure if the price is 1,600,000 pesos.

After lunch it felt like I had some food attached to my tongue but I couldn’t shake it loose.  I went in to the bathroom and rinsed my mouth and the water was bloody.  Somehow I cut a flap of skin loose in the middle of my tongue.

I called Fossil and the reason my order wasn’t accepted is they detected my IPS address and knew I was out of the country.  The rep at the store guided my order through and I should be receiving an order invoice shortly.

I checked online and Fossil billed me twice so now I have to call them again for that.

Laura and I left the apt at 3:30 and caught a taxi at Avenida Poblado.  The driver spoke a little English.  He said he worked for a year in a restaurant in Boston but didn’t have much of an opportunity to speak English.  Later he said something about 9 years in Boston.  I understood that was 16 years ago.  He said the only way he knew how to get to El Tesoro was from Calle 10 so we had to deal with the traffic on Avenida Poblado and Calle 10.  He was very funny so he was forgiven and we still arrived 20 minutes early.

Dr. Rendon didn’t like Laura’s braces but said she’s doing well.  He agreed that she needs to have all 4 molars removed but he said we should go to an oral surgeon to avoid any inflammation.  He said that would cost 700-1000mil.  He did start cleaning her teeth however.  We’re coming back next week for him to finish her cleaning.

We waited in line for about 15 minutes for a return taxi ride.
Teresa said she would pay for Teresa’s moral extraction from the finca rental money.

At 6:30 it started raining pretty hard.  I left just before 7pm with my largest umbrella.  It was a 10 block walk to Tepito Tacos y Tequila in the La Mesa area of Envigado.  I met Jeff at the entrance and he said 60 gringos/gringas had confirmed attendance.  I found a seat at the bar where I met Doyle from Texas.  He’s 74 and lives about 3 blocks away.  He says he is working remotely here.  He lived in Costa Rica for about 10 years.

I had chicken quesadillas and a Te Hatsu for 30,000 pesos.  It started getting too congested and noisy for me so I left after being there for only an hour.  I hope next time they choose a larger place that will facilitate conversation.

One thing I learned from Doyle is that EasyTaxi is better than Uber because they can at least find you and there’s no charge if they can’t.  I also picked up a business card by the register for Tours in Colombia at 302 301 8470.

I got back to the apt by 8pm and it was still raining. 

I understand we’re supposed to enroll at Smartfit using their online website but it’s in Spanish.  With Laura’s help I may have figured it out but I haven’t even seen their equipment so Laura and I are going to check it out tomorrow morning and maybe I can find someone who speaks English to help me with the registration.

I went to bed at 10:45 and it was still raining.

T-shirt of the day: I thought growing old would take longer.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

It turned out to be another interesting day!

Teresa left for the gym at 10am.  I watched the first 30 minutes of the Today show and then I headed out.

When I showed my cedula at the gym entrance the lady told me that today is my last day for the month.  (I had my debit card with me just in case she wouldn’t let me in.)

The usually busy chest exercise machine was available so I started on that first.  While sitting there the pretty Sondra came up to me and asked if I would like to teach English.  I answered her truthfully with “I don’t know”.  She told me her school is near the Consumo grocery store and while they have English teachers from NY and NJ they need another one.  I asked her to get me the information about the school and I would check on it.  She told me she wants to be my student.

I saw a young woman with obvious butt implants (not to mention her lips looked like someone had hit her).  There is a machine where you sit down and exercise the inside of your thighs.  Instead of sitting she stood and performed the exercise facing backwards.  I had doubts she could even sit down but a few minutes later she was sitting at the machine next to me exercising the tops of her thighs so I guess I was wrong.

Later when I talked to Teresa, her friend Gloria told me she wants me to teach her English also.

After our workout Teresa and I went downstairs to pay for next month’s gym membership.  While waiting for our turn Teresa showed me 2 50mil bills she said she found in the street this morning.  Talk about lucky!  I’d never seen that type before.  It was so complex I was pretty sure it was just a new design that they must have recently introduced.

When it was our turn the lady drew a pen over her bills and pronounced that they were legit.  I understood we won’t be able to return to this gym again, we’ll have to go to the new one on the other side of the park.  Teresa told me it’s more expensive.  I think its 49,000 pesos instead of the current 42,000 so that’s not a big deal.

On the way back to the apt I showed Teresa the apt I had found for rent.  She said it doesn’t have an elevator.  How could she know that from standing outside on the sidewalk?  The apt is on the 4th floor of a 6 floor building so maybe it does; or maybe they only have to have elevators over a certain height like 6 floors.

After lunch I laid down for a few minutes and Dario called and invited me to continue our chess competition next Wednesday at 2pm at his store.  I accepted.

I wanted to see the movie Hidden Figures (7.3) playing at Santafe but today it changed to The Great Wall (6.3).  Teresa was too tired to go with me so I left alone at 2:40 for the 3:30 show.  (There were a few dark clouds so I took my new mini umbrella with me.  It fit nicely in my tech bag with my Nook and I could even close the zipper.)  I quickly caught a bus from downtown Envigado.  At one point a guy got on with a tape player and sang rap.  God, how I hate rap!  I’m tempted to give him 5mil NOT to sing.  I was also tempted to put in my earplugs; next time I’ll do it as soon as I see them step on the bus.

I was in line at the theater by 3:05.  I asked the cashier if she spoke English and she surprised me by saying “yes, a little”.  She told me she was a baby sitter (au pair?) in Connecticut and Pennsylvania for a year.  Her English was very good.  My general admission but reserved ticket cost me 6,750 pesos (about $2.50).  I bought a small popcorn and large soda for another 14,800 (about $5).  Their were 25 minutes of advertizing and coming attractions.

I knew that the movie, The Great Wall (6.3), was about the Great Wall of China and starred Matt Damon but I didn’t know anything else.  I was impressed by its imagination and execution.  It was really cool.  Go see it!  The only probolem I had with it, and I should have known, that the Chinese spoken in the movie was translated using subtitles into Spanish instead of English.  (When I got back to the apt I found that it was a $150,000,000 movie; It looked like it cost a lot to make.)

Outside at the corner the young man selling hot almonds talked to me in English.  I told him I have 4 bags of salted-in-the-shell peanuts at home so I won’t be buying any from him today.  Because I stopped to talk to him I missed my crosswalk light and thus a Sabeneta bus.

While waiting for another one a man on a Harley stopped at the stoplight.  It was a low slung hog and he had on a skullcap type helmet and he had a beard and looked like he was out of Easy Rider.  I stared at him for a minute and it looked like he was looking directly at me so I gave him a thumbs up and he nodded.  That was cool!

At least 4 buses filled with passengers passed me, some not even stopping but I finally got on an Envigado bus even though I didn’t get a seat until about halfway back home.

In Envigado the bus took the wrong side of a y-intersection for me so I got off, cut through the Texaco station and was back at the apt by 6:30.

To one of my blog readers, I loved the comedy series Seinfeld!  I remember I once recorded all - what was it, 206? - episodes!

For dinner I just had Teresa heat up a can of chili for me.

I ordered a red umbrella for Laura and tried to order a Fossil webbed belt for myself but was told there was a problem with my order.  When I called using my magicJack I was told their office was closed.  I’ll try again tomorrow.

It started raining hard about 8pm.  I think it’s been weeks since it rained last.

T-shirt of the day: I’m a secondhand vegetarian.  Cows eat grass.  I eat cows.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

I watched 90 minutes of the Today show on Direct TV.

After seeing the Spanish “sopa de letras” books that her mother and grandmother have, Laura told me she would like to have a word-search puzzle book for herself in English.

We made an appointment with Dr. Rendon to have Laura’s molars removed this Thursday at 4:30pm.  I’d rather have him treat her than some cheap quack dentist.

Teatro Pablo Tobon has chess every Tuesday from 2pm-8pm.  I told Teresa I planned to leave the apt at 1 or 1:30 but she was a little late with lunch and I didn’t leave until 2pm.  Downtown Envigado I was waiting at the bus stop when I saw an Envigado bus arrive.  I was checking the stops listed on the windshield when a man from the ice cream store behind me asked if I was lost.  I told him I wasn’t sure.  I told him where I wanted to go and my plan was to take a bus to get close and then take a taxi.  He said that was a good plan.  He talked to the driver and then informed me that this bus would take me downtown and then I could take a taxi from there.
I got off the bus a little early – at the crossroads of Calle 44 and Carrera 50.  Traffic was heavy and when our street was closed off he told me we’re only 3 blocks away.  It wasn’t the best neighborhood so I told him I feel more secure staying in the taxi.  Traffic was bumper to bumper and we finally arrived at 3:45, an extra 20 minutes and 5mil later.

I stepped inside and saw a small food store but no one playing chess.  I went back outside and asked at the window where the room is where they play chess.  A man came out and in English explained that usually players come together to play chess; meaning that I should have come with someone instead of expecting to find someone there.

I took a quick look at some paintings they had on the walls and then went outside where I found a man giving chess lessons to 2 ladies.  His name was Jaime Colorado 312 871 9901 and 586 7548, and he was with his wife Rocio Baena 312 259 7042 and a lady friend.  We played a game and he slowly suffocated me using the French defense.  At one point it was raining lightly and we moved inside.  I reset the position and he complimented me on my beautiful chess set.  I wanted to be sure I was out of there before dark so I didn’t start another game.  I gave him my business card and we agreed to meet here next Tuesday at 2pm.

I quickly caught a taxi and gave the driver my address in Envigado.  The few times he tried to talk to me I didn’t understand a word he was saying.  Traffic was very slow but the driver found a back way behind San Diego mall that allowed him to speed up.  At one point he looked down the hill and saw traffic backed up at Avenida Las Vegas so he headed for the highway.  It was much better until we got to the Envigado exit where part of the pavement was flooded.  I was back at the apt a little over an hour after I left the theater.

Through Expat Exchange I received a private message from Alex from SF asking for my help.  He plans to move to Medellin in coming months and has some questions for me.

T-shirt of the day: 1/20/17 - The end of an error.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Monday, February 20, 2017

Happy Presidents Day! 
Donald Trump has been president for a month.  How’s that workin' out for ya?

I forgot to mention when Jim arrived he brought me some things I requested.  Things I can’t find, or haven’t found, here in Medellin.  This trip it was small individual tubes of superglue, Scotch packing tape, Denman hairbrush, lint roller, Excedrin Migraine tablets, Tylenol, English toffee, salted-in-the-shell peanuts and Fritos.

I watched the Today show until 11am and then left for the gym.  On my way I saw the apartment for rent that I first noticed when my brother and I were walking to Otraparte.  It appears to be on the 4th floor.  I wouldn’t want to go any higher than that without a working elevator.  (Notice I said “working”.  We’ve looked at apartments here before with broken elevators and were told it will be fixed mañana.  Yeah, right!)

The gym wasn’t very busy, 3 of the machines weren’t working, and I was done after an hour.  I weighed in at 79 ½ kilos.

After lunch I walked to $efecty where I paid the Une bill of 72mil, took an Envigado bus to MBE where I picked up my package (a small Shedrain manual umbrella), paid 16mil for it, and paid about 50,000 pesos for March’s rent.  I only had to wait about 5 minutes for a Sabaneta bus but traffic was getting heavy (3:30pm) and it took a while to get back to the apt.

While my brother was here we used Uber possibly more often than we used taxis.  Here are some thoughts on my new experience.
ü   Uber cars all seem to be new or newer.
ü   The price seems to be about 2,000 pesos less than taxi meter rates.
ü   For an extra charge you can request an English speaking driver.

ü   Drivers often seem to have difficulty finding your exact location.
ü   It’s a little discouraging to see empty taxis go by while you’re waiting for your Uber car to arrive.
ü   You have to pay a fee if you cancel your Uber request even though the driver seems unable to find you or it appears to be driving in circles.

T-shirt of the day: Youth and talent are no match for age and treachery.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

I got up at 7am and Teresa and I left the apt at 8:15, quickly caught a taxi that took us to Hotel Dann Carlton Bilfort.  (Ciclovia was going on in the southbound lanes of Avenida Poblado.)  At the garage level we saw 2 attractive very fit ladies as we got on the elevator.  At the main desk I asked the clerk to call my brother.  He soon came down and while waiting I found a 3-bedroom apt listing in the Sunday newspaper they had.  A couple of very fit guys walked by, one without a shirt displaying all his muscles.  We had a nice breakfast for 27,000 pesos each (about $9).  They had juices, fresh fruits, cereals, waffles, rice with beans, scrambled eggs, etc.)  There was also a woman making eggs to order.  The waitresses (sisters) were very attentive and refilled our coffee cups often.

Teresa and I took a look downstairs where they have a small gym and steam bath.

We met a sales rep from Panama that was in town marketing a workout recovery drink called Kill Cliff.  He didn’t know why it had such a strange name.

Jim’s airport ride was supposed to arrive at 11:30 but Jim texted and asked him to come at noon instead.  Better to wait in the hotel than the airport.  But the driver arrived at 11am so I got Teresa a taxi back to the apt and Jim and I left with the driver.  It’s called Medellin Airport Transfer for a set price of $32 and it includes a 1-hour stop if you wish.  Jim had him stop for a few minutes at an overlook where we had a beautiful view of Medellin. 

We arrived at the airport by 12:20, Jim checked his bags and we went upstairs where we shared a pizza at Piccolo’s.  Jim told them the oven they were using Middleby “something” was made in the town we were born in and that he was a cheese representative. 

We said our goodbyes and Jim started through the ATS check at 2:15, an hour before his flight.

I went downstairs and outside and a bus was just leaving.  I waited about 5 minutes for another one to arrive and another 15 minutes for it to leave.  I got off at the San Diego mall, walked through to the other side and across the street.  A Sabaneta bus was just leaving.  I skipped 2 Envigado buses but the next Sabaneta bus turned down the street just before me.  What?  I waited a few more minutes and this time it stopped at my bus stop.  I paid my 2,000 pesos in cash and had pretty much my choice of seats.
I was back at the apt by 4pm.

I googled “Teatro Pablo Tobon Uribe” and found and learned they have chess Tuesday afternoons from 2-8pm.  I’ll probably go this Tuesday by taxi and then when I learn exactly where it is, in the future I can take a bus and walk.

T-shirt of the day: Science doesn’t care what you believe in.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Besides getting up twice during the night, I was awakened by the leaf blower at 7am and a cramp in my right calf at 8am.  I decided this wasn’t my morning and it was time to get up.

Jim came over and we walked to Avenida Poblado where we barely caught a Sabaneta bus.  I probably should have checked the stops on the front windshield but we barely caught up with it at a red light.  It left Avenida Pablado and headed west.  It stopped briefly at Mayorca mall, circled the mall and headed south again.  It then headed west again and I went up to the bus driver and asked directly if it stops at Parque Sabaneta and he said yes.  A few blocks from the park he turned again and that’s when several people told us we should get off here to go to the park.  (People are so helpful and nice here!)

We walked a coupe blocks to the park and found a table in the shade where Jim had a beer and I had an iced tea.  Jim mentioned that there’s some type of fitness convention going on because he saw several very fit men and women in his hotel.

A little while later we walked a few blocks back down Avenida Poblado to a butcher shop/restaurant called Porci Carnes.  Jim ordered ribs and I a hamburger and I was a little surprised while eating it to find that it was pork instead of beef.

Afterwards, after getting directions from a local, we walked down to the Sabaneta metro station.  Jim continued on the metro to the Poblado Station and I got off at Envigado.  I didn’t see Herman at the orange juice stand so I just got on the first bus to the park.  Passing by the corner store I didn’t see anyone there but a woman where we had played chess the other day. 

The Colombian Peso closed at 2,886 to the US Dollar.

Somewhere I saw that the Teatro Pablo Tobon Uribe has chess on Tuesday afternoons.  On the map I see it’s a little east of Avenida Poblado near downtown.

One of my readers mentioned that my cramps are due to a lack of potassium.  I knew that I just haven’t done anything about it.  Lol.  Teresa told me she’s going to Mayorista with her mother early Monday morning and she’ll buy some bananas for me then.

About 7:30 Teresa and I walked to Otraparte to meet Jim for dinner.  We found the main gate locked so we walked to the street and followed it to the entrance to their parking lot.  We quickly got a table; good thing too because later there was a waiting line.  Jim arrived a few minutes later.

We ordered drinks and I ordered a plate of mozzarella sticks to share.  Teresa and I shared a plate of pasta and afterwards an ice cream sundae.

Jim caught an Uber taxi (first time with a female driver) and we started back to the apt.  At one spot we saw an “alley” with other restaurants so we took a walk down and I discovered Classic Diner which looked like an American diner complete with a table inside a convertible.  I checked their menu and it was mainly burgers, hotdogs, and ribs.  It was quite noisy so we soon left; we’ll return at a quieter time.

T-shirt of the day: Pretty sure I’m going to be one of those senior citizens that bites everyone.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

New US movie releases I’d like to see are The Great Wall (6.3), A Cure for Wellness (6.8), and Land of Mine (7.8).  Locally, I’d like to see A Cure for Wellness (6.8) playing in Oviedo & Santafe and Hidden Figures (7.3) playing in Oviedo.

I called Herman in the morning and arranged to meet him to go to Pueblito Paisa.  A few minutes later he called back to tell me he forgot he had an important appointment at 1pm today.  I informed Jim and he asked me to meet him at the hotel and we would leave from there.

I made a stop at the bank and picked up some cash, added 50mil to our cell phone, bought the Friday Q’hubo newspaper for Chuck, bought a bottle of Coke at the corner store and returned to the apt.
I dropped off the newspaper and Coke and headed back downtown where I immediately caught a bus to El Poblado.  I wasn’t exactly sure where to get off the bus to get to Jim’s hotel but I guessed right and the driver dropped me off right in front of the road leading to the hotel.

After looking at some tourist information we went outside to catch an Uber car.  We had trouble getting one, the driver eventually cancelled, and we ended up catching a taxi instead.

At Pueblito Paisa we each had a large glass of orange juice (for twice the price that Herman charges).  It took about 5 minutes to look at the village.  Up on the rooftop Jim was impressed with the view of Medellin.  Then we went into the city museum where we saw a bas-relief sculpture of Medellin.  They also had photos of how the city has changed over time.

It was getting a little windy and Jim’s smart phone was predicting rain so we left and immediately caught a taxi to Botero Plaza.  Outside the Museo de Antioquia we found an empty table.  Taking our time, Jim had a beer, I had an iced tea and we each had an onion soup.  Then he had the house salad and I had their meatball plate.

Then we went over to the other side of the museum entrance to their coffee laboratory.  We had the same cute waitress as last time we were there.  Jim had a coffee, I had a café con leche, and we shared a slice of tiramisu.

Then we took the metro, Jim got off at the Poblado station, and I continued on to Envigado.  Coming out of the station it was raining lightly.  I immediately was on a bus to Parque Envigado.  When I got off the bus the light rain had diminished to a light mist.

At 7pm I called Jim using my magicJack and we agreed to meet at Wilson’s Bocados Bar at 8:15.

Jim arrived about 5 minutes after we did.  I was expecting Wilson’s TV to be tuned, as usual, to some soccer game.  Instead there were a couple young men in the “kitchen” area searching through Youtube for 80’s American songs they liked.  After a couple drinks we decided to move.

We walked a few blocks away to La Ultima Estacion (The last station).  Besides drinks all they serve are small empanadas and chicken shish kebabs wrapped in bacon.  After we finished eating Laura showed up.  She had a little something to eat and then we all left.

T-shirt of the day: If I’m ever on Life Support, Unplug Me.  Then plug me back in.  See if that works.