Podcasts

I have never been a user of these information filled recordings, but now living abroad I had to find a way to fill my morning and afternoon commutes to school with something other than silence and the busy city around me. So I have downloaded the Podcast app on my Iphone and started listening daily to 4 podcasts that keep in the loop of what is going on back in the US and in touch with the life I used to know. So I am first listening NPR: Hourly News Summery, once that finishes, I listen to the BBC Global News.  I also listen to the NFL: Around the League podcast and American’s Test Kitchen Radio Podcast. All of these give me some sense of home and also informative too.

Podcasts I have been listening to

Podcasts I have been listening to

Status update

So as you can probably tell, I have not been very good at keeping up with my blog. I have never been a writer or someone who likes to boast about my life and all that I am doing. I have thought about doing this for weeks and each time I walk Aviv, plan out what I am going to say but then I get home and I either do laundry or watch TV or do homework or go to school or cook dinner or something that prevents me from actually typing something out.

So a lot has happened since my last post, Back in School. I have now completed 5 weeks of Spanish classes at Nueva Lengua and it has been really awesome. Now your counting on your fingers five weeks and todays date and figuring there is a few weeks missing in there, well yes, I also went to Cali, Colombia (not California) to see the World Games 2013. Ill write more about that later.

So I have done 5 weeks of classes and met a lot of fantastic people. Oh and I have learned a lot too. More then the 2-3 years of Spanish in High School and tutoring. It makes sense here since I hear it reinforced around me once I leave school. I think being immersed in the language might be better for some, including me. We have focused on the basics verbs Ser, Estar, Hacer, and many regular and irregular verbs and over 20 pages of vocabulary words.  Now I am sure many want me to start writing in Spanish but I’m still trying to figure it all out. Hay muchas palabras.

En mi sala de estar de el apartamento, tengo un la hamaca es azul, mi calor favorito. La sala de estar tambien tiene hogar con muchas colores rectangular piedras. Tambien un al formbra verde.

Mi lugar favorito es Sydney, Australia. Es la principal ciudad end Australia. Es muy grande y es la bonita y es la limpia. Sydney tiene muchas cafes. Tiene un parque natural que se llama Bontanico jardin. Tiene muchas pajaros. El puerto es grande con intersante teatrode la opera.

Oh and I have met some fantastic people at the school. Not to mention the professors Lina, Alina, Maricela, Andres, Andrea. I have met students from all over the world, all different ages. Baltimore via Texas, Brazil, Switzerland, Germany, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Chicago, Salt Lake City, China, Japan, UK, Ireland, Atlanta via Dubai, Azerbaijan, Norway, and Canada. Did you know there are four official languages in Switzerland? French, German, Italian and Romansh. So anyway, I have three more weeks of classes and then will see what I do. Probably more schooling. It has been great except being a sardine ever morning on the Transmilenio Bus System here.

So after my four weeks of classes and before my fifth one, I went to Cali for the World Games, which is for non Olympic sports but in a Olympic style event. There were over 4000 athletes from all over the world who converged on Cali for two weeks to participate in a very interesting and wide array of sports. Some that were in the Olympics in the past and are no longer, some that are going to the olympics and some that may never be part of the big brother event.  I saw Ultimate Frisbee, Kakak Water Polo, Skydiving, Bocce, Gymnastics, Tug of War, Rugby 7s, Korfball, Orienteering. Other sports there that I did not get to see: Sumo Wrestling, Fin Swimming, Climbing, Karate, Softball, Roller Hockey, Speed Skating, Water Ski, Duathlon, Archery, Dancing, Fistball, Beach Handball, Racketball, Bowling, Squash, Billiards, and Power Lifting. I was there 11 days and saw a lot and people from all over. I also met some new great friends from Colombia and the UK. I also met the half sister of a family of boys I grew up with back in Bay Hills who lives in Cali. Was pretty cool. And probably one of the best things about Cali was that I was not as cold as Bogota is. Much warmer. It was clean, no potholes in the roads, traffic was not as bad, and the people were nice.

Swiss, UK, and Germany finals in Tug of War

Swiss, UK, and Germany finals in Tug of War

Ready for a match, AUS Women's team

Ready for a match, AUS Women’s team

Ultimate Frisbee Gold Medal Game, US wins.

Ultimate Frisbee Gold Medal Game, US wins.

Tough formation.

Tough formation.

Rowing towards the ball in the center of the pool.

Rowing towards the ball in the center of the pool.

Positioning the play, AUS Kayak Men’s Polo

Rosanna, Andres, and Alvero. New Friends

Rosanna, Andres, and Alvero. New Friends

Reflection

Reflection after Kayak Polo

Medals to be presented

Medals to be presented

UK pulling against Germany, Switzerland pulling against Ireland.

UK pulling against Germany, Switzerland pulling against Ireland.

Happy Swiss Gold Medal

Happy Swiss Gold Medal

The weather here in August has been typical of mid September in the Mid Atlantic Mid 60s during the day and 50s at night. We have had a few days of heavy rain or a random afternoon downpour. Otherwise it has been dry and windy. Andres and Aviv are well. I really have enjoyed living here. Being close to them has been important and its been a change from the norm back in the states.  Oh and today is another National Holiday, The Assumption of Mary, a catholic holiday so everyone is off from work or school. 20 holidays in total here. 14 Catholic and 6 civil holiday. Well thats all that I can muster out of mi cabaza, entonces hasta luego

Back in School

I am back in school, learning Spanish in a classroom. I had tried Rosetta Stone and Pimsler’s Audio but both I lost my attention span and gave up on both of them. I had hoped to get back on both of them once I got here but now I am surrounded my the language.

So Andres and I had looked at two schools prior to me landing on the one I am attending. The first held classes M-F or M, W, and F and was closer to home then the others but when we went to research the school, Andres had to do the translating. If I did not have him, I would have had no luck communicating with the staff of the school, so we nixed this school as a candidate as the staff could not communicate with the potential student. Then I looked at the International House in which Andres’s coworker from Australia had attended and done quite well. The only problem with this school was it was at the city center, at least an hour plus drive or hour bus ride too.

So on Tuesday this past week I picked up Andres from work for a long lunch break and I thought we were going to the International House to check it out. As I was driving, he said to turn down a different road then what I was expecting and I asked where we were going. He said he had talked to another coworker and they had suggested Nueva Lengua. So it was in the Zona G neighborhood and close to the Transmilenio Bus station Flores. We pulled up in front of the school and got buzzed in. We met with Anderson who spoke English and Spanish very well and gave us a tour of the school and talked to Andres and I about the programs. After being impressed with the school, Andres and I agreed that I would try it out for a week so I had to take a entrance test. After the test, I was told to come back tomorrow for my first day at nine am. The week would be a bit different then other weeks as Monday was a Colombian holiday and so some afternoon classes would be held past the 9-12p timeframe I would attend. Anderson also told me that I would loose a day of class since they started a new class on Tuesday, the day I was looking at the school.

So after leaving, we heading to Pan America after taking Aviv for a walk and got some school supplies. Then we went and scouted out the buses that can take me to the Transmilenio. Andres has not even taken the busses before. We walked, had dinner at McDonalds, and found out which bus to take. We also learned that the taxis who have numbers in the front windows in the morning can also take me to the Transmilenio station.

Wednesday morning was the big day. Since we had Pico y Placa on Wednesday, Andres took the trip with me from Alcala to Flores on the F1 line. We walked to Centro Comercial Portoalegre and found one of those taxis with the number in the front window. A 1 Mil peso fare (USD $0.50 Approximate) to the bus station. We got me a multi use fare card for me and Andres got a one way. We took the packed F1 bus to the Flores station about a 20 minute ride and passed countless cars in a standstill on the Auto Norte. Once at Flores Andres bid me a farewell and he continued back north to a station closest to his work.

I walked the block to the school and got buzzed in. A women came out and introduced herself as Lina, said I would be in the back classroom and she would be ready at 9am. I got to the school around 830, so I just waited till then. Once 9am came around I met with Lina and Richard, a man from Hollywood FL who was in Colombia to learn Spanish for two weeks. I learned that Richard was in the intensive program and had started at 8am. Since I had started the first week in the regular program, I started at 9. The first day we went to Plaza de Mercado De Paloquemao to see foods in its raw forms and learn words and tastes in Spanish. The first day went by pretty quickly. I met a lot of new people, from London, Arizona, Netherlands, Brazil, Texas via Baltimore. I did two more days of classes and worked on the basics of Spanish, more vocabulary and proper pronunciation. Not a lot of advancement but have to start somewhere. This upcoming week I am signed up for the advanced and will be starting at 8 am. Will see how I do.

BTW click on the links to see what they link up to.

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.

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

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Finished Loft floor

20130617-124940.jpg

Finished and cleaned Chimney face

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Progress on stairwell cracks and painting