Politics Colombian style

October 31, 2011

Well it stopped raining but things are still very quiet around here the election is over and before I tell you the results let me explain a little. They have the ability if there’s no one they like running for office they can, instead of not voting at all, cast what is called a white vote. A white vote means that the voter doesn’t consider any of the candidates worth voting for and rather  than no expressing this and letting someone they don’t like win the election they cast a white vote to show their displeasure. Well here in Bello the white vote won which now means they will have a special election, but here’s the kicker it has to be with all new candidates. Yes you heard me right a new slate of candidates. I happen t think this is a good idea because I know Jeff always complained when he went to vote that the choice was usually the lesser of two evils, sometime’s he didn’t even vote. If Americans had this ability maybe they would actually be able to make some serious changes in their government. Well that’s it for tonight I’m going to watch Sunday night football in Spanish with Jeff.

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Rain rain go away

October 30, 2011

Saturday and it rained all day now it’s Sunday and it’s still raining this is a first for us down here usually it will rain foe awhile then the sun will come out and it will rain again at night But these two days it’s been raining pretty steady. Yesterday Jeff and ruby went to Hader’s house to help him clean it so when his girlfriend comes home she won’t have anything to yell at him about. He only sees her a couple of days a month, I’ll explain that some other time, any how she must be pretty picky about how the house looks. When they were done they walked home in the rain fortunately it wasn’t raining that hard at that time. Saturday night John invited them to go to a vegetarian restaurant in Medellin But Jeff elected to stay home and eat steak (I don’t blame vegetarian chicken no thanks) and watch back episodes of person of interest .Sunday is election day in Colombia this one for mayors and council members .In the capital of Bogota Mayor is the second most powerful man in Colombia next to the President. There style of campaigning down here includes loud music , so you can’t here the lies there saying ,and fireworks Jeff has warned to expect a lot of fireworks from now until January .Well let me go get breakfast and take a nap and I’ll talk to you later and let you know if it stopped raining.

THAT'S MY FRIEND FLOUNDER

Well Jeff’s niece Kim read my blog and she’s right I don’t take showers at any temperature. Yesterday was the beginning of the Halloween weekend Ruby and Vanessa went the gym in costume and they won some prizes from a local spa. I would have paid good money (but being a cat I would have just snuck in) to see the two girls work out in costume. Halloween down here isn’t like Mexico’s day of the dead they celebrate it as children’s day in Colombia and the kids not only get to go trick or treating but they get gifts to, not a bad racket. I hope we don’t get to many kids coming to the door of the apartment the door bell and I don’t get along very well. Jeff, Ruby, John, and  Hari as well as some more relatives will be out trick or treating at least once this weekend. I’ll tell you how it went next time

happy halloween

Flounder here

October 28, 2011

Well let’s talk about the folks down here in Colombia everyone is very nice to Jeff and those that meet me are very nice to, a little to touchy for my taste but nice all the same. The only problem I see is the lack of courtesy by the men to the women .I guess it’s the machismo thing. Women will walk down the street and if you’re on the right and they’re  on the right they will never move to the other side ,if they want to get by they will simply push by and if you want to get by and say excuse me (in Spanish of course)they just turn around and look at you .The men dress in jeans for the most part the young one wear t-shirts except if they work in an office. The ones that work in gov’t offices wear slacks and shirts and ties. The women dress in uniforms when they work and when they don’t they wear jeans that Jeff swears are at least three sizes too small, eve the one who shouldn’t. Also it would appear that breast augmentation is done on every female over the age of twelve. Don’t they have any idea what they’re going to look like after 50?The men are thin and athletic at least until the beer starts to expand those flat abs. Speaking of beer it would appear that the drinking age is about 11 or until they can see above the bar same for smoking. Now back to the dress code Men wear sneakers unless there police or work in offices the women wear sandals, sneakers, or plat form high heels about 6 inches high. It’s so nice to be a cat and not have to worry about what to wear.

Miss me

October 27, 2011

Well yesterday was a wash nothing exciting happened? Today Jeff and ruby went to Medellin to take money out of the US and put in their account down here. Then they went to the center of Medellin to get health insurance It will take about a month to go into effect but it cost for both of them, depending on the exchange rate 45.00 a month for everything doctors, emergency care, hospital, surgery optical and dental, pretty cool huh. While they were there they noticed some of the famed lights are already up for Christmas. The Christmas season starts mid-night on the last day of November with fireworks everywhere. Then they get serious with parties every night (sounds like I’ll be spending a lot of time in the closet) getting back to the insurance It’s so cheap you would get half ass care but no the care is excellent not only that the doctors make house calls. How come they don’t do this in the US? By the way most of the doctors are trained up there and down here there aren’t a lot of restriction on the drugs you can get and they’re a lot cheaper with or out insurance. More about this next time.

Another day in Colombia

October 24, 2011

Well they didn’t go anywhere today so they thought they would pay a little attention to me .Don’t they know day time is when I catnap? Sense I’m awake I should tell you a little more about Colombia, let’s see we talked about how small the cars are down here that’s because the roads are small and gasoline is very expensive (about four dollars a gallon) but they do have about 800,000 cars to run on what I presume is natural gas or it could be propane. They originally wanted 8 million but as you can see they came up a little short. As I understand from listening to Jeff the cars run fine there is a slight gas smell at idle and they don’t climb the mountain roads very well, but the gas is like $2.00 to fill up and they get great millage. Most of the gas equipped cars are Kias and are used as taxis, which makes sense because they represent the majority of cars in the city. Did I mention some buses are equipped to run on gas too? I know they have gas equipped cars in the US But down here you find the gas at just about every gas station so you don’t have to drive over to the gas company every time you want to fill up. The gas powered vehicles are also better for the environment and you know how us animals feel about that.

OUR GRANSON HARI

Well as you can see the gang all made it over for some Chile and football both American and Colombian felt sorry for Hader is team lost again John’s lost last night. I might not be the biggest soccer fan in the world but there two teams as are the worst I ever seen. Jeff had to improvise with his Chile because he couldn’t find just plain tomato sauce but in the end everybody said it was great. He plans to make his famous corn chowder next, we know he won’t be making gumbo down here there’s no ochre or cayenne pepper and sausage is a little different to. Tomorrow they are supposed to be doing something with Olga and Nacho; thank god I need to catch up on my beauty sleep cat’s need a lot.

gangs all hereEven Hari and John are here

Well this Sunday Jeff’s going to make his infamous chili for the family, which means I have to hide in the bedroom so people won’t be coming over to me and going FLOUNDER YOUR SO CUTE and try to see if my fur comes off. He went to the store with Ruby to get the meat and some spices, do you know you can’t find cayenne pepper down here and it took forever to find Basil and don’t even think about getting jalapeño peppers. It would seem they don’t like spicy food in this part of Colombia I do know they use them In Bogotá and on the coast. Well what else is going on Oh here’s a good one the other day Jeff sat on his Kindle and broke the screen, I laughed so hard I fell of me seat, he’s going to send it back to the US with somebody in Nov he has insurance on and we’ll see what happens. You know they have American football on TV down here but the commentators speak Spanish. I really don’t care after all I’m just a cat.

It's me

Did I tell you exactly where we live now? Well it’s like this we live in what I would refer to as the state of Antioquia, in the county of Medellin, in the city of Bello. Medellin as you might remember was the cocaine capital of the world when the Medellin Cartel was running things under the infamous Pablo Escobar now very dead. You can still bullet holes in a lot of buildings and schools and medical buildings with his name on them. He was definitely a paradox and no I can’t get you any drugs so don’t ask. They have national police check points on most highways in and out of the city they stop mostly motorcycles and small private trucks any one of these check points can issue a few hundred tickets per day to motorcycles. Any one of these check points can issue a few hundred tickets per day to motorcycles. You don’t here to much about crime around here if you get mugged people sort of shrug their shoulders and go on with their life, probably a carryover from the drugs day when people had a tendency not to be alive to testify. Murder is very uncommon in Antioquia, not so for Bogotá as I understand it. Rape goes mostly unreported if and when it does occur. There’s a deferent morality in this country kids drink beer as soon as they can climb up on the bar stool and sex is as soon as they reach puberty which I take is rather early. But who am I to judge I’m a cat and I lick myself.

October 20, 2011

We went to our brother in-laws restaurant, at least that’s what he calls it I think it’s more of a store front take out joint; it’s called PANCHOS ARAEPAS AND NACHOS. Now araepas are the basic breakfast food served with just about anything on them. You must understand that although Nacho has a great heart, everybody thinks he’s absolutely nuts and I ‘am inclined to go along with that train of thought. It was an interesting experience Jeff had a hot dog (stay with the safe stuff) Ruby had an araepa, her sister Nelida and her son Hader both had Nachos (although Jeff who is a chef had never seen a nacho that looked like these). Of course Nacho charged us full price for everything .After dinner we picked up a small TV from Olga and nacho so Jeff and Ruby wouldn’t go crazy.  Now they have TV and the cable is making them nuts first a program will be in English with Spanish subtitles then the next time you got to it will be all in Spanish with no subtitles and the volume goes up and down from commercial to program, from station to station, or sometimes just for the fun of it. I personally don’t care, because when they get upset I just leave the room and find a new place to curl up and take a nap. I do that a lot must b the air down here; we are about 1 mile above sea level. The only animals I get to see now are my friends the lizards and the buzzards that are always flying around waiting for garbage day so that they can eat. You see when people but there garbage out to be picked up the buzzards come down and pick any food that might be left out of the bags (they have some really good fights with each other when they do this) then they fly away and wait for the garbage truck to come and go then they come back down and clean up the rest. Then garbage trucks have about six people on them mostly kids they actually recycle everything on the way to the dump the kids get paid for the recycled stuff. Apparently if you can stand the smell you can make enough to live on they let the people do this it’s better than paying them unemployment or welfare I guess. Ruby isn’t babysitting full time yet John wife got laid off for a couple of months, I should explain unemployment down here .When you get a job you usually sign a one year contract at the end of which you are laid off for a week or two or as in Vanni’s case a couple of months and she works as a civil engineer for the metro she has been told to wait because she’ll definitely get rehired on a three year contract for much more money than they were paying her but she will still have to reapply for the job. Ruby’s other son Hader works for a company that runs the jails and every year they lay him off while they reapply for the contract. It sounds pretty messed up but it seems to help both employer and employee something the US should think about. Well I need to take my nap for this morning maybe I’ll be back this afternoon with some more stories for you. Hey I’m back, not sure where I was. You know Jeff was telling about how some people just find a spot on the street and sit down with their kids and beg while others will sell water, juggle at intersections, sell chewing gum, or cell phone minutes. I know there is no unemployment benefits down here so  I can understand  but some people just seem to give up and That I don’t understand especially when there are kids involved .I still think that the no unemployment benefits is a good idea I know I just sent a lot of people into shock by saying that  but you know down here it doesn’t cost a lot to live so and where we are the climate is great and if you’re willing to do something  people will respond to you faster than if you just sit around and wait for charity. Well enough of that soap box preaching for awhile. All our furniture and stuff is here now so were all set for the coming holidays. It’s just like back in the US down here in the stores they put out the artificial Christmas trees and ornaments out at the end of August then in the middle of September the Halloween stuff comes out. Halloween is bigger down here because kids and family are very important down here .Jeff’s grandson Hari is going to be a Smurff this year and Jeff has to get a costume or mask to go out trick or treating( I told him he doesn’t need a mask and he wasn’t too happy with me ). I remember our friends from Colombia back in the US always made a big party at Halloween. They even celebrate Thanksgiving down here and they want Jeff to cook a turkey. Only one problem with that, no oven, it seems that not every home has an oven sense most of the cooking down here is stew based. Speaking of cooking down here Jeff has a lot of trouble getting all his favorite spices down here and only Exito has boneless chicken breasts. But the overall quality of meat down here is great. There aren’t as many fresh veggies and fruits available in places like Exito, but if you don’t mind walking around the city you can get a really large selection. If you want fruit you go to the fruit stand if you want veggies you go to the veggie mart. Right now the quality is not the best because it’s the rainy season and I do mean rain. You have to go to the Gulf coast of the US to see storms like these. You can get 2 inches of rain in 5 minutes down here I have never seen the weather change as fast as it does down here. You can leave the house and it’s beautiful out then five minutes later it’s thundering and lighting and raining so hard you can’t see across the street. So anyhow we expect the quality of produce to greatly improve in a couple of weeks that is we don’t float away first. Good news the main produce market had some good stuff in it today and we were able to get some nice oranges for juice and bananas for snacks plus Ruby was able to get some sort of fruit that is supposed to be good for menopause. I don’t think she really has it but what do I know I’m only a cat. Speaking of being a cat I needed my claws trimmed do you know vet’s make house calls down here, pretty cool huh. When you walk around town you’ll see some strange sites like dogs or cats walking around the roofs I have no idea how they get up there but they do and no one is particularly disturbed by this so I guess it safe. Also you’ll see dogs just about everywhere and they’re perfectly trained and only once in a great while will you see a dog that looks starved or sick .The laws concerning animals down here are pretty strict and rigidly enforced. The animals in most cases aren’t homeless there owners usually work nearby and the animals just hang out. They will sleep in the street and no one will bother them or they sleep next to the mall like at Exito or one of the other large stores. You’ll also see cows grazing just about anywhere there’s a patch of grass and horse’s  feeding on the island in the middle of the highway .People just ignore them and sooner or later they go home. Did I mention that 99% of all animals dog and cats included are not restrained at all the only dogs that are, are police dogs and of course cats just don’t do leashes. There are two kinds of police dogs those that sniff for bombs and drugs and those that are used for crowd control. The bomb and drug dogs are yellow labs and the crowd control one are German Sheppard’s or Mastiffs they are kept muzzled most of the time.

What a view