In a computer near you:
You are welcome to the third report out of Colombia. However I am waiting for a response from you about and the stories from over there.....
I am old! I have more than a month in Colombia. That is more
than anyone here from Sweden, except the two oldies.... Well,
we presented ourselves at the embassy. I organized the visit (I
am the project leader) and we were five at the embassy. Another
two people did not come and the embassy was shocked.
Unfortunately the two Swedish workers were taken, by mistake, by agroup of bandits loosely connected to the political guerrilla. They are easier to handle. They have political motives. The bandits stopped a caravan of 6 buses or something and some cars. They kept two Swedes. Now they are surrounded by the army, more or less, while robbing banks or things using the Swedes as shield. They know that if they give them up, they will be attacked by the army. That is the situation at the moment. I have no idea of what the four diplomats are doing at the embassy besides that. My contact, the first secretary, is Jan Janonius.
The most important information we got was that, about the Hash
harriers. It is an athletic organization, supervised from the
English embassy in this country. Apparently it is one of the
worlds biggest athletic organization. You sign up for a hash
which is possible every other week. Someone, who is organizing
the run, goes before and lays out a track of flour (mjol) or
anything else that is somewhat visible.
Good news for June. Both McDonalds and Charlotte, my now former girlfriend, are coming to Bogota. How swell. McDonalds with there small burgers, will have some problems with the local variants which are really good. We go to the El Corral for lunch sometimes. Excellent burgers of meat or chicken or anything with guacamole and papas fritas (French fries for those who speak English).
About the plate on the car that was stolen. The new theory is that is fell off. It is because it hangs down a bit and there are really ruff roads at places. The theory is that is sprung off when I was going to the extra cheap market place in the middle of down town Bogota. Also a robber would not steal just one plate.
I had a nice Easter. We were 17 Swedes going to the finca. A translation of finca is farm or gard in Swedish. Everybody loves to go to a finca outside the city for the weekend. Que rico, how rich, is the expression when I say I am going. First though I have some different news. I is dangerous to say that I spent the weekend with the Swedes, con los seuces. There is an expression here: Hacerse el sueco, which is equivalent to Pretend not to understand or worse To pretend to be stupid. You see the danger in saying you are Swedish. I have switched to: I am from Sweden.
Back to the finca. In Colombia the fincas have or have not cows and pigs and other animals. Those who have not, would be called a summer house in Sweden. the others are farms. Here they do not have summer so...
The plan was for the three families to plan for the food and for us youngsters to shop what was needed to drink and in between meals. One important part is fresh water because outside Bogota the water can be bad. There has been some cases of amoebas and things there. All food are done on fresh water. Olle B, who has been here before, organized the shopping and thursday morning we met with four new small white Mazdas Coupe to drive off.
It is a trip of about 75 km so it takes about 1.5 hours or more on the
highway to Medellin. It is almost like going down the hills in
Austria with the endless curves. The finca, which is called Las
Brisas - the breezes, is on an altitude of about 1500. It is
much warmer, difficult to sleep and with cockroaches. We ate,
played pool or billiard, table tennis, the stereo and took some
sun at the swimming pool. Unfortunately it rained a lot. Under
the roof over big outsides porch is huge!, We altered between
Cuba libre and beer.
We took a trip down town to Sasaima, a pueblito of 8000. The Easter celebration were going on and a procession passed us. All photos turned out rather bad, due to the development process here, nothing else. They can be found at Charlottes if asked nicely.
Another, totally beside the point, thing is the number of new credit cards I have received sofar. Before going I got two cards regarding world wide health insurance and Ericsson safety. I can call 24hours a day and get medical and hospital help through a company in England. In Colombia I have received another card with identity and phone number for calling in case of emergency or illness, because the English connection does not work.??
For the car I have received two cards. They are however a little
bit bigger than normal cards. It shows I am the owner (of a leased
car) and that I have registered and paid taxes on it. The third
card is for calling when your car has broken down or a flat tire
I have some sport news. I was watching the local sports channel, it is just as fascinating as the Swedish one, when an interesting peace from under-water-rugby in a town called Cali turned up. It turned out to be a final between Sweden and Denmark and it was the world cup. Sweden won, but I can tell you, it is not a public sport.
When I got home last friday the phone did not work. I manage to report it but I am still waiting. It rings but I can not talk to anybody. There is no tone when I lift the receiver. Sofar I heard that it can take anything from now to months before it is fixed. We will see in the next report.
About the lunch place El Corral where I bought a burger last
Friday. I ordered guacamole to the chicken burger and the others
did not. I did not eat more than tea in the evening and before
eleven I was stomach sick. Food poisoning I reckoned. I was
trembling and took a hot shower to get warmer. I could not
sleep, well almost not, the whole night. I did not through up
but the diarrhea went on all day. I did however take the car
shopping and things. It was not that bad.
By the way. I did not eat anything on sunday either. But I had a
quantity of Cuba libres during the whole evening and night,
purely for medical purpose. When I got home the phone rung just
as I was about to go to bed. Who can that be at 4 o,clock in the
morning I thought. I could not answer of course, it was still out
of order. I pulled the plug and went to sleep.
How to change money at the bank.
In the afternoon he came back and told me that he needed my passport for such a quantity of money. I had no more money for the long weekend, May first. On Tuesday after lunch I went with Gustavo instead and asked about the dollars. They answeered that I could not change in the afternoon. Had to be morning. I took out the money anyway. 3 000 000 pesos in 10 000 and 5 000 bills. 400 bills. It looked like I was carrying a gun or something. Wednesday I asked about changing the money at Ericsson and the secretary told me there were possibilities with Ericsson. She tried to asked but there was no answer. The cash place for bills etc. at Ericsson did not do it. The day passed. Thursday I went with Julian to City bank. They had cheaper rates for foreigners, without tax. The rate was 857 and they wanted a photo copy of the passport. It was very expensive. We went to an underground toilet, which turned out to be a exchange place. They wanted 840. At my bank, Anglo Colombiano I got a first rate of 836, and I did not need the passport to copy. But they could not change more than 1 850 000 pesos. I said yes. After a while it turned out that they first thought that I wanted to sell USD, but now changed to 880 for me to buy. I said no and went to take a copy of the passport in a shop nearby. With the copies I returned to City bank they wondered what I was going to do with the money. I said I was going to Sweden and could not use pesos. After a long while they had filled the form in the computer and I signed three equal originals. By the way the rate had changed to 855 during this half hour? At the cashier the money was counted and I was given the dollars. It was just one week after I started. And they say we are complaining.....
Next week I will have moved to new offices in another building nearby. More about the move, and how long it took before the connections to Sweden were functioning again, in the next report.
Now I will end with a small part in Spanish. Disfrutela:
The very best from a life form far away
PS I got my new business card today.
Translation: Project assistent