chip wiegand


Welcome to my blog and website, I hope you find your visit interesting.

Don't Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Don Miguel Ruiz

Things are looking good

Sunday, 30 June 2013

I have been working on my web site, changing it on the back-end. You probably won't notice any difference from the web side of it, but for me it will be much easier to manage. So far the web site has been all static .html pages. Just individual web pages that are stored as seperate files. I am changing the site to store the text of the blogs in a database, just the main body text of the blogs. The rest of the page - the menu, image, top section and footer - are all in what is called 'include' files. One file that contains the menu, for example, which is then loaded in each of the pages built from the database. So there are 'building blocks' now, and the web pages are put together by calling various blocks. This means I update the database with the text for todays blog and the rest is added in when the page is loaded in your browser. I had been updating 3 pages for every blog update. Now it will be much simpler, just add the text to the database and I'm done with it.

The issues with the apartment are getting cleared up. The police wrote and order to the lady I rent from, Elsa, that says she cannot evict me for any reason. And it appears I don't have to pay rent for up to 3 months. How she will respond to that is yet to be seen. She hasn't been honest with me about the apartment, she has lied and changed her stories at least 3 times, and now she is answering for that. She came over here two days ago and took away the bed she had let me use. Oh, and the stove. Again, she had said I could use these but now she changed her mind and locked them up so nobody can use them. So now I am sleeping on a thin foam mattress pad on the floor. And I have no stove to cook on. Well, that just means that as I earn enough money from the school I will have to save up to buy a stove and a bed. That woman is a real piece of work. My plan is to move out of this place in 3 or 4 months. There are 5 new apartments being built real close, just a few doors up the road. I will try to get one of those as they are all supposed to be finished in 3 or 4 months.

Saturday nights here is party night, neighborhood block party night. George, his wife Eliana, and I went for a walk last evening, and just around the corner there was a huge crowd of people out on the street hanging out, dancing, visiting. There was a party and someone brought 3 big PA speakers, like a band would use on-stage, and they were providing music for the whole neighborhood. We walk another block down the road, and the same thing there, except these guys had 4 big PA speakers out blasting their music. Everywhere there are people outside in the evenings. and this goes on nearly all night. In my apartment I could here the music from one of the parties, and it didn't quiet down until around 5am.

There is a guy here in neighborhood who speaks english quite well. He likes talking to me so he can improve even more, and he is helping me with spanish. I asked him about the music, why is it so loud? He described it this way - Barranquilla, Cartagena and Santa Marta are all like this - lots of loud music, people outside visiting, hanging out, walking, sharing the evening. He says these three cities are 'happy' cities, they are on the coast, the climate is nice, the people are happy here. He said the cities in the interior of Colombia - Cali, Medellin, etc - have very little of this atmosphere, he says they are not 'happy' like the people in the coastal cities. I haven't been to any of the interior cities so I don't know other than what he says about them.

Walking in Colombia, on the sidewalk, in the crosswalks, can be just as dangerous as walking down the middle of the street. Here you will find guys on motorcycles, the moto-taxi guys, using the sidewalks as shortcuts. Supposedly the city has some kind of program that is supposed to bring that to an end. But they do it anyway, day and night. And crossing the street, the busy ones with actual crosswalks and lights, is also dicey. The cars/trucks/buses/motos don't wait for pedestrians. It's up to the pedestrians to get out of their way even if the pedestrian has the green. Sometimes can be exasperating, sometimes it's a hoot to watch the traffic. It's crazy. Two lanes are treated as 3. Horns are blasting. For example, you're in a car sitting at a red light, the light goes yellow, then green, everyone is ready to go when it hits green, but the guys way back in the line immideately blast their horns when the light goes green. And some of the buses has monster air horns, sound like a Ferry. Most of the taxi's/buses/motos a whistle that is used to get the attention of petential fares. It sounds just like a person whistling, and they can control the inflection or pitch of the whistle, to a certain extent. I don't know if it is the majority or not, but many people here do not own a car, so the bus and taxi system is heavily used for all purposes, and is very well developed. The mototaxis, the motorcycles, are limited to 125cc engines max. In fact, I have only seen a couple 'big' bikes, as in over 1000cc. Even the police bikes are small, generally around 225cc. Supposedly they have a few bigger bikes but I haven't seen them yet. And most of the police bikes carry two officers on them.

Weather here is in the low 90's every day, and mid 70's every night. The highest temp this year so far has been 95 and the lowest has been 70. We get rain storms occasionally, had a big one two nights ago, and there is one predicted for tonight. The weather here doesn't change much, on a yearly average the daytime highs are between 88 (winter) and 92 (summer) and lows between 74 (winter) and 76 (summer). September and October are the wettest months getting 5.8 and 7.2 inches of rain, respectively. February and March are the driest with no rain averages recorded. All the other months vary from .2 to 4 1/2 inches of rain. So the typical clothing of choice here is shorts, t-shirts or short dresses/skirts. Even government workers dress casual - 'docker' style pants, polo shirt, sandals. And often conduct office business outside the building rather than inside. When George and I have been at the Police Mediators office, we never went in to his office as he was always outside on the patio, sitting on a couch, in the shade of a mango tree.

Just got home from a walk to the shopping center with George and his wife Eliana. As we were leaving she suggested we take a taxi, George said no, we can walk. On the walk back as we pass by many roadside cafe's and bars and billiards places we here a shout from one of them. It was the police mediator we've been talking to. He invited us to his table, today is his birthday. While we were visiting with him he said he has over 200 contacts that he will tell about the school, and also that in his work he can tell people that they have to take classes to learn english. He will send them over to us. On tuesday coming we will meet with him again to talk about this some more. If we had taken the taxi we wouldn't have met up with him today, and who knows what might be different...

Things are looking positive, now we just need to get the people who said they want to take classes to actually sign up and pay.

Another update in a few days, till next time - Chao! (turns out that is the correct spelling.)

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