What the overturning of DOMA by the Supreme Court of the USA means to me.

So not living in Washington DC anymore and down the street from Nellie’s, I am 2300 miles removed from what I had experienced when the State of the Union happened or some other major event happened. I watched the ruling of the Supreme Court yesterday on CNN International with cut ins to Washington when the rulings came out.

Being that I have already moved out of the United States for one reason because my partner and I could not receive the same benefits of heterosexual couples if we were to get married, I can’t say I was jumping up and down but certainly happy. We now have the option to return to the US and get married in a state that recognizes marriage between two men and I can be eligible to apply for a green card on behalf of Andres. This is huge for being in love with someone who is not from the United States.

For now, I am just over a month into my new adventure here in Bogota and plan on continuing on the current path until the right time comes to light.

This site was a help in understanding what this all means.

BTW, I already have my “Green Card” and Domestic Partner Visa for Colombia.

Dog Bites

So its just been over two weeks since a wonderful day (6/11/13) with Aviv in a park near the house turned to me being in the Reina Sofia Hospital to be treated for dog bites on both of my arms.

It was a nice Tuesday afternoon and Aviv and I had enjoyed about 40 minutes in the park, playing with sticks and lounging in the shade. As I wanted to leave and Aviv wanted to stay (he can have his way) we found another shady spot on the other side of the park when entered two dogs, one a small beagle and the other a larger long haired Golden Retriever.

Knowing Aviv, he wanted to say hello. He did not see the Golden but we did make our way over to the smaller dog, on leash, and he did his sniffing. He then spotted the Golden and certainly wanted to make his way to say hello. Thinking I better not but his cute face got the best of me, I let him off leash and he ran around a tennis court situated in the middle of the park to the Golden. The lady who had the golden had the dog already off leash and through my limited Spanish gained that this was a good dog.

The two dogs sniffed each other for a about two minutes then the Golden turned agressived and started to growl and bite at Aviv and the two got into a loud dog brawl. Being the concerned father that I am and love for Aviv that I do, I stepped in to pull Aviv away. (Aviv wears a green Kong dog harness which has a handle atop his back). I was able to pull Aviv off the Golden but the Golden kept coming back at Aviv. The dogs owner had no control over her dog and was overpowered by it. I pulled Aviv away again and again the Golden kept coming at him. After I got Aviv out of the park, I was in shock, adrenaline running and dizzy. I looked at my arms and noticed puncture wounds in both of my arms, dog bites. I was so concerned for Aviv, I put my own safety in harms way.

A security guard from the parallel community ran over to my aid. Of course back to my three weeks in the country and limited Spanish, I pointed to my wounds and he ran off to get some first aid ointment. The Goldens dog owner came to the fence apologizing profusely. A small crowd gathered, I asked for water from the security guard who had gotten me two cups over the time. After calling Andres several times, he called back and he spoke to the security guard. It was determined that the Goldens owner was going to take me and Aviv to the hospital after she put her dog in her house. We loaded Aviv in the back  of the SUV and me in the front seat. She rushed off to the hospital across town (its where my insurance is accepted). The ride was fairly quick but I was dizzy and kind of out of it. We hit bumper to bumper traffic close to the hospital as a school was being let out of classes.

Andres’s mother met me there and got Aviv to grandpa who took him to the vet and she stayed with me until Andres arrived by cab. Andres and the Goldens owner shared info and she left. I was seen about 30 minutes after arrival and had my 5 puncture wounds on my two arms washed 3 times each with powder soap. No pain meds issued. I cant say it was a painless process. An older man was in the same room being washed of his wound on his foot, he had fallen in one of many coverless manholes. After being washed I was sent back out into the waiting room where I waited for a doctor to stitch me up. Now I know all the medical professionals out there are say “they stitched up dog bites, thats a no no”. The doctor had determined that since the Goldens owner said her dog had his shots and the dog was from a upper class neighborhood that it was safe to stitch my wounds up. We went off to the pharmacy and got some antibiotics, 750mg every 8 hours for 7 days.

After getting home, I learned that Aviv had been bit as well, one tooth to the right lip and the other to the top of the head. He got meds too.

Two weeks later, we are both healing fairly well but I am sure Ill have some scars as of a result.

Couch Delivery Update

So…After the debacle of the delivery of Tuesday afternoon, Andres and I went to bat. Once Andres got home frustrated that his home country of Colombia, there is always something that goes wrong or some detail goes haywire, he got on the phone with Falabella and finally talked with someone after being on hold for a while. They told him the company could fix the mistake in 5-10 days. Pissed, we went off in a cab to Unicentro and the Falabella store there where we bought the couch. While in the cab, I call the Chase Credit Card number and speak to someone and then someone else in disputes. I get the details on how to dispute an international charge for something I did not fully receive. The man told me I had to make an attempt to return the product and if the company refused then I could dispute otherwise I am SOL.

We got inside and went up to the third floor where we looked for the sales clerk who sold us the couch the day before. That clerk was not there and the clerk that was there was unable to help us but sent us to the customer service desk on the first floor.

So we come to the CS area. We go to the kiosk and get a number. Andres tells me to tell me to stick to my guns and you have to be tough with Colombians because they want to make a buck or get their company a buck. So he leaves and tells me to demand someone who speaks English. I get called up to window 9 and ask to speak to someone who speaks English. The girl tells me no one does. A women who is at the window next to me asks if she can help as she speaks a bit of English.  I tell her no, its way too much to occupy her time (Come to find out, she ordered a TV, refrigerator, and a stove and got the TV but the wrong refrigerator and stove. Her son who worked for Falabella at one time told his parents not got get anything from Falabella). So after a minute or so of the teller telling me no one speaks English, comes back and more or less tells the women that Falabella’s customer service is terrible and that they have one more option they have not considered. (The other two options they suggested was that they could put a note in the system and they will tell us in 5 days when they could redelivery the piece or that we could wait three days to see if they would even accept a return). So with that information, Andres pulled out another card. He told the clerk that we could dispute the charge on the CC, I get my money back and we put the couch on the curb. She left to go get her manager.

in the meantime, they found Santiago who spoke English and came out to negotiate with us. Andres went through the whole thing again and said he was just representing me. I also told them, Falabella, I was going away on a trip on Thursday and that I needed the redelivery of the couch on Wednesday. I think they gave in with the dispute of the charge and them loosing out they came to a agreement that they would redeliver on Wednesday.  They had talked to the delivery company and they had apologized. At the end of our time at Falabella, we got what we wanted.

Now onto Wednesday, oh Wednesday. After a call from Arturo from the delivery company and the same guys arriving around 2:45 pm, we went up to the loft of the condo to see the wrong piece in the box, as I had put it in earlier. Between my no Spanish and Andres’s mothers explanation the delivery guys could not understand we got the wrong section. The box said left configuration and the actual piece was a right configuration. The guys said they brought the same piece. Andres’s mother got on phone with Falabella, the delivery guy got on the phone with who knows who, and I got on the phone with Andres. Between all three of us talking, nothing got accomplished. Finally I opened up the box and showed the two guys that clearly the section in the box was not correct and then their light bulbs went off. So we went down to their truck to see if they had the section on their truck. The box was listed as a right side configuration and just for giggles they opened up the box. It was a left side configuration, the piece I needed. So they brought that section up and and we exchanged pieces. Finally, I had the couch I had ordered after a pain staking experience.

right side was the issue

right side was the issue

Aviv desperately wants to be on the couch.

Aviv desperately wants to be on the couch.

Once Andres got home, I learned that when he talked to Arturo at the delivery company, the couch we ordered was out of stock and they sent the wrong piece anyways knowing they would not go together. So backroom info, they allowed us to order a product that was not completely in stock and set the wrong pieces just to fulfill the order. Great.

Couch Delivery

So we ordered a couch from Falabella, a department store, at Unicentro on Sunday. Up until now we had either been sitting on the floor, in bed, or on plastic porch chairs. Well now I am sitting on my brand new couch, except the sectional pieces do not match. Sections of a right (derecha) and left (izquierda) side configuration. The delivery was two guys who had to take the pieces out of the boxes to get them upstairs. I was excited to finally have something else to sit on I did not carefully check to see they were the right sections, I assumed. I did check to make sure there where no marks on the fabric. I got the legs on the sectionals and then discovered they did not go together. So I called Andres who “told me so”. So now I am on hold with Falabella going on 20 minutes. Of course the menu is in Spanish when you call so I have no idea if I am even going to talk to someone and if I ever do get connected, there may be no one who speaks English. Very frustrated.

Nevermind. Phone disconnected after 21 minutes on hold.

20130618-171228.jpg

Casa construction

So once Andres’s parents moved out, we started some work in the house in which we had new floor being put in in the loft area to replace the carpet, stones overlaying the chimney face, and entire condo painting which included patching many cracks in the concrete walls. Its been a time consuming project and has limited us in using the space till its all done. Here are some shots of the process.

Selecting Stones in La Calera

Selecting Stones in La Calera

Base Start of Chimney Project

Base Start of Chimney Project

The start of the Chimney project

The start of the Chimney project

Half finished chimney cover

Half finished chimney cover

Top down Chimney project

Top down Chimney project

IMG_3937

Base concrete pour for loft floor

Stairwell crack patching

Stairwell crack patching

20130617-124920.jpg

Finished Loft floor

20130617-124940.jpg

Finished and cleaned Chimney face

20130617-124953.jpg

Progress on stairwell cracks and painting

First Weeks in Bogota

So my close friend Derek suggested I put something out there about my first few weeks in Colombia living and not just vacationing. A few others have as well.

So where to start. I knew I should have started writing all this down way before now as my memory and those details are not readily available, but Ill do my best. Ill have to look back at my Facebook Timeline for those details.

So I arrived very late on Thursday May 23rd, already the 24th in Maryland. I flew in on United Airlines 1068 from Newark and used my friend Jerry’s first class upgrade. The flight was delayed 1.5 hours because of storms in the NYC area. I camped out in the United Club for several hours. The place gets really busy but the free beer and alcohol helped.

20130614-080708.jpg

Very stormy Newark Airport

20130614-080741.jpg

Business Class upgrade on the 6 hour flight

Andres picked me up at the airport and the 2 large bags I brought and my carryon suitcase. Customs and immigration were very easy to navigate and to get through. Helps that there was only one flight arriving at the time and I was at the front of the plane. I got a luggage cart for 4mil pesos and and gave the guy a 5mil peso bill and got no change, I was just tired from the trip and wanted to get done with it. I got my bags and saw Andres through the glass barrier separating Customs from the pickup area. Though I saw no Aviv, who I expected to see with Andres. I got through customs and got a big hug and nibble from Andres to see if this was actually real or a dream. He was amazed and happy I was finally with him in Colombia. We trekked out to the new but very dirty Chevy Captiva in the pouring rain and loaded the car up and headed home to NW Bogota. We arrived to Almeria de San Luis on Calle 138, parked the car in the underground garage, got the bags out of the car and into the elevator up to the 7th floor. I got on my knees and waited for the attack. Andres opened up the door, Aviv took one look at him and darted to me with crazy licks and happiness. I had been waiting for that for 4 months and was so so happy.

20130614-094838.jpg

Chevy Captiva

20130614-094924.jpg

First night love. He is not letting me go

The next morning I saw Andres’s father and mother and his aunt Liz. They had been busy packing the house as they are moving to  Fusagasuga, a town southwest of Bogota and down the hill and into a warmer climate. They had been wanting to move for some time out of Bogota and this was the perfect opportunity to actually do this with Andres back in Colombian and me moving to the area. Aviv and I went for a walk while Andres headed off to work. I had walked the area before so I knew my way around. When we got back, Mom served up some Arepas and scrambled eggs and good Colombian coffee. The whole day was really spent sleeping, cuddling with Aviv, watching TV, and taking walks.

Day 2, Saturday May 25, in Bogota I woke up with Aviv ready to go for his morning walk consisted of one walk with Aviv and 10 hours of shopping with Andres looking for TV, Bed, Refrigerator, washer/dryer and household items. I think we ended up buying the king bed and some Greenware Pots and pans. We went to Falabella, Kostco, Jumbo, Exito, Homecenter, and I am sure a few other stores. We also went to Zona Rosa for a beer at The Pub.

On Sunday, we went for a morning walk along the main drag next to the house, Avenue Boyaca which is partially closed for public recreation and went to do more shopping. The weekend flew by with lots of Aviv time and shopping.

Sunday Walk

Sunday Walk

Monday Day 4 brought movers early AM to move Andres’s parents off to Fusza and soon enough the condo was empty with only a single bed, Aviv’s things, a few dishes and our belongings. We must start from scratch. Andres went off to work and I said goodbye to Andres’s parents and aunt Liz. I tried to go shopping with not much of success in fear of making a fool of myself. I ate rice and crackers for lunch. I realized I was making more of a fool by not interacting and trying the interaction out. Once Andres got home, we went back to the store and got what we could without a refrigerator. Monday also brought VP Biden to Colombia for talks with President Santos.

El Tiempo Cover Page of Biden's visit

El Tiempo Cover Page of Biden’s visit

Tuesday Day 5 was the day we went to get my passport and visa registered at Migracion Colombia on Calle 100 in NE Bogota. I had been before and never an easy process. My suggestion for anyone coming to Colombia and having to go through the process is get someone who has been through the process before and knows the system. Also helps to have your passport photos taken, multiple copies of your visa and passport, a pen, a hard surface to write on, bottle of water, and lots of patience. Oh some cash too for the fees they want to charge you. On this trip I was just registering my Visa that was issued in Washington DC at the Colombian Consulate on 17th St NW and my new USA Passport that I got in February. The tricky part was when I went to also get my Colombian Foreign Alien Card. I have had a temporary one but was to get a permanent one once I returned. They wanted to charge me more money even though I had paid for it back in January. Good thing I had Andres with me to wrangle through the process and get me past having to pay. The whole process and bureaucracy took about 2 hours for something that should have taken much less time.

Temporary Colombian ID

Temporary Colombian ID

Sidewalk photo for Migracion Colombia.

Sidewalk photo for Migracion Colombia.

Andres had to get to work so after I finished at Migracion I walked to Andres office and then we went to go get a cell phone at Tigo about 1/2 mile away from his office in Usaquen. So after a lunchtime trip to get a number and 3 hours later I had no number and no plan. They tried to sell me a plan that did not exist and once the contract was filled out and they tried put it though, it was rejected and I was asked to pay more. So we tore up the contract and told them no deal. So Andres went back to work. I drove home, my first driving the new car in Bogota traffic. Another post about driving rules. The evening of day 5 we went to Alkosto and bought a LG Washer/Dryer combo and we went to another Tigo outlet and got me a prepaid cell number. Day 5 was a really long and frustrating day.

Day 6, a Wednesday brought the delivery of the Washer/Dryer combo. Aviv and I tested it out and watched the cycle for an hour. Pretty exciting. Besides the delivery of the Washer, Aviv and I watched TV all day, took a nap or two and once Andres got home, we went across the street for a beer.

LG Washer/Dryer Combo

LG Washer/Dryer ComboWatching the cloths go round and round, round and round

Watching the cloths go round and round, round and round

Day 7, Thursday May 30th came the arrive of the bed and the end of three of us sleeping on a single bed and a old uncomfortable mattress. We finally had a King Bed. The delivery man and women were not too thrilled that after getting the bed up to the seventh floor in an elevator that was too small for the mattress, they rolled it up, and into the condo, they had to climb a flight of tricky stairs to the loft bedroom. I gave them $10000 Colombian pesos. Its about $5 American. I got it made with the sheets we bought at Falabella and washed in the new washer. Aviv was the first to try it out.

The king of the king bed

The king of the king bed

The single bed

The single bed

Over the course of week 2 we did a lot of shopping and looking and seeing furniture everywhere around Bogota. We purchased a Samsung Refrigerator from Jumbo and got that on Saturday the 1st of June. I also finally got the Magic Jack phone set up and a number, 202-241-9424. Its a Washington DC number. Saturday also brought Andres and I finally seeing Star Trek with Spanish subtitles.

The first 10 days were busy and now I am in week 3.  I have fully caught up on Downton Abby via Apple TV. We got a LG 47″ LED/3D TV, painters have come and gotten the upstairs painted. Andres and I made a trip to La Calera and picked out tile for the fireplace. Lots of work has been done on the condo and hopefully will be finished soon. I guess what’s missing from this post is the Spanish. I am living in a Spanish speaking country and my learning has been very slow. A few words here and there and lots of frustration trying to communicate. I hope now that I am done with Downton Abby I hope I can get back on the swing in learning Spanish.

Usaquen sunset

Usaquen sunset

Aviv at Pan Pa Yo waiting for Daddy to come out with breakfast

Aviv at Pan Pa Yo waiting for Daddy to come out with breakfast

More posts to come…