Monthly Archives: January 2010

Record Visits!!

Today set the record for single day visits to the Tomass Gringo Blog!!  It is good to see the numbers…. but to know who is visiting and why would be great!  Are the visitors actually reading the blog, are they enjoying it, will they return to read more, am I wasting my time and theirs?  I guess a writer has to have a lot of self-doubt to inspire him to keep writing, but to have some answers would be great!!  Whether this blog or the fictional Tomass Gringo blog… I hope any reader feels free to comment honestly!!

Thanks for reading!!!

Thomas

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Becoming Colombian!!

Let me begin by pointing out to Americans…. Colombia the country is spelled with an O not a U…. Colombia!  lol  Ok…. the Cedula is the Colombian ID and it is probably the most important document to have in Colombia.  I now have my Cedula number and the actual ID is in the mail!!  So technically, I have a Colombian ID and one step closer to becoming Colombian!! lol  Here is what the process for getting the Cedula was for me.  I needed a photo copy of my Pensionado Resident visa, photo copy of my passport, 2 small 3cmx4cm photos with a blue background, medical certification of blood type, and $139,800 Colombian pesos ($69.90 USD).  Getting the visa was not too difficult either… but reading the form sure made it sound more complicated than it was!  I just needed verification of my income in English and Spanish, have it notarized that it was a letter verifying my income, then have the Secretary of State APOSTILLE the  letter.  Then fill out the form for the visa with 2 passport sized photos.  The visa was actually sent via FedEx the next day!  So the process of becoming a legal resident of Colombia was not all that difficult.  I also feel many Americans should follow and look into making Colombia home!

Getting an apartment is a little more difficult without a Cedula, but I got lucky and found someone who knows the American difficulties renting and apartment in Colombia.  I was also lucky to have some great friends help me in my apartment search.

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How I Get Along!!

Great roommates is my biggest asset being in a new city!  This past week my health kept me pretty much a shut in.  My roommates Marlon and Luis Fernando cooked several times and really took care of me!  Through my roommate I made a new friend – Carlos!  WOW!!  Carlos has been a trooper!  He has been my translator, guide and even has acted as my assistant!! lol  He has helped me so much in getting my Cedula (Colombian ID) so I will be able to get my health insurance here.  Carlos is heading to Australia next week and he will be missed!  I hope in Australia he can find great people like I have here in Colombia!

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A Push for More Readers!

I am in the next weeks hoping that this will be a daily blog about my life and what is happening with my new adventure living in Colombia.  There is also a link to the Tomass Gringo blog page which is based on the FICTIONAL character Tomass Gringo.  Tomass Gringo will be the one day main character of the book “A Gringo Learns to Live Latino”…. or something like that.  Tomass Gringo’s life is more exciting than my actual life, but you will see similarities with their lives.

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Big Changes = Big Rewards

There have been a few times when I took great risks and got great payoff. Anyone that knows me knows my wealth is in friendships! The risks I am most apt to take is moving.  While making these moves I have been enriched by meeting great people who also became great friends!  This list is in no way complete!

Bob, Laura & Me

My first big move was Atlanta. Laura was a girl with more crap hanging on the rear view mirror of her car than I had in my apartment! When I have found myself displaced, Laura and her family have welcomed me as a red-head step child. She explained to her fiancée that she knew the groom usually chose all the groomsmen, but that he had to choose me! lol You can not help but love Laura, she will give you the wire from her support bra! Her husband Bob and I have seen our friendship grow as we both would try to keep loving her even when she may make it difficult!! I am Godfather for her kids and I know she would be the first to give me lift when I find myself down! People may say, ‘You have to love Laura“, but I GET to love Laura and I am blessed for it!

Danny, Jay & Me

Moving to Las Vegas was an even bigger risk because my job relocated me, I would have never really thought of moving to Las Vegas. I had visited, but Vegas is a tourist town and I did not work in the hospitality industry, I worked for Sony. But the jackpot in Vegas was Jay & Danny. Thanks to Jay & Danny I made many very good friends in Vegas. My birthday is December 30 and few people notice for more than a Happy Birthday on MySpace or Facebook, but Jay & Danny made all of my birthdays in Las Vegas special. They invited me to be a part of any celebration they participated in.  Jay & Danny are just that way and may not even realize how much all they did (and do) meant (and means) to me. Jay more than several times used his nursing skills and knowledge to help me when my Multiple Sclerosis was kicking my ass.  Even as I adventure to live in Colombia, they are the pressure to learn Spanish more so than even my Colombian friends! Danny is the first to give honest and constructive criticism of my writing. He knows writing is only a pipe dream for me, but his support encourages me to try like it is possible.

Jo Anna & Me

In Mississippi I have a few friends still there, but my Jo Anna is the rarest of breeds!  She is the friend that not only listens… but she understands.  She knows what I mean.  From introducing me to La Mariposa Mercedes Cafe and 2 for 1 Margaritas on Thursday with the a Colombian owner Mercedes who can only be described as a character to letting me steal some high-speed internet to keep my sanity in dial-up hell!!  There a few (if any) things I have to keep from her!  When something happens and I am excited to tell someone… Jo Anna gets the first call! She almost had a move to Las Vegas and now I have to work on her to consider Bogotá!!  She would be the best girl to enjoy and experience Colombia with because we would be so bad together while having so much fun!!  Knowing my birthday falls at a crappy time of year Jo did her part to make my birthday special.  Plus, Jo Anna is the sweetest person I know… she even beats out Jay!! haha  She even “gets” why Colombia!

Marlon, Carlos & Me

Speaking of Colombia, my ex turned out to be a big flake and my friend Andres introduced me to my now roommate Marlon.  What a Godsend Marlon was and is!  In turn he introduced me to his friend Carlos.  These two guys have done so much to make my adjustment to Bogotá a success!  Marlon ran all over town with me when I was apartment hunting and even entertained me a time or two with beers at the local watering holes all while acting as my translator!  Once the apartment was found… I was out of the country with my return delayed as I stayed to spend more time with family during the holidays, and Marlon picked up the keys for the apartment and got it all in working order so when I did return…. everything was working.  Marlon even cooks large quantities and when my MS is active… his meals can soothe the soul even better than homemade chicken soup!  With his busy work schedule, his friend Carlos stepped in as tour guide and translator.  Any new city has challenges.. new doctors, new dentist, where to get my hair cut, how to use public transportation and best of all where the outlet Malls are and thanks to Carlos not only do I know where and how to find them…. I also made a great friend in the process!  But the two of them do not know that as they were with me all over Bogotá, they were also protecting me.  These 2 guys also welcomed me with a birthday surprise that not since Jay & Danny have friends done so much for my birthday (read about that in the post “Welcome to Bogotá” below)!  My MS would have limited me from learning and knowing all I do about Bogotá, just by being with me, I knew if my legs, vision or anything related to my MS effected me… they were there to help!  Alone… I would not have been able to make moving to Bogotá a success; but the amazing thing is…. neither of these guys thinks they really did much to help, but they did and humble or not…. I thank them!

So many others have helped in all the places I have lived, but these I feel need a special mention!  These places have become home because of their help, love and support.  I can never do for them as much as they have done for me and I only hope they can begin to know how much I appreciate all they have done for me!  Love all of you!! Laura, Jay, Danny, Jo Anna, Marlon and Carlos being a part of my life is my great REWARD!

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New Friends, Taxi Rip Off and Learning Public Transportation

The plans for today were to go meet a friend that I had chatted with online since even before my first trip to Colombia. Miguel was living in Cali when we first started chatting and he is now in Bogotá as well, so we scheduled to meet.  Not only was this to be a highlight for my day, but also the fact I was going to take the public transportation to meet him.  I kept watching the clock on my computer to allow all the time to take my first unaccompanied trip on Bogotá’s Transmilenio public transportation system. I left to go to the Transmilenio station 2 blocks from my apartment, I looked at my watch and instead of 1:30 I saw 2:30!!  Oh crap….I had not changed the time on the computer to Bogotá’s time zone and did not have the time to make the adventure of Transmileno alone!  I grabbed a taxi and off we went to my new unknown destination.  I knew about where I was headed but not exactly, so I was surprised when we were close to the destination the taxi driver asked where the exact place was.  My limited Spanish all I could do was call Miguel and have him explain for me.  2 minutes later, we arrive.  The taxi driver says the fare is 9,200 pesos (about $4.00 US) all I have in my wallet is a 20,000 peso bill.  He played up he had no change.  I called Miguel to see if he could meet me at the curb with some change and of course my phone died!  I took the 4,000 pesos he did have as change and threw him the 20,000 peso bill. Lesson learned… always have small bills when traveling by taxi.  Even though 20,000 is only the equivalent of about $10 US it is too big to make change in a Bogota taxi.  It still was not that big of a deal, my trip only cost $8 US and where in the U.S. can you take a 20 minute taxi ride for $8.  But still the lesson was learned.

Miguel and I visited for a couple of hours over a couple of cocktails.  He was insecure about his English, but he spoke very good English.  He was amazed an American loved his country so much.  We discussed how most Americans lacked an understanding of what Colombia was REALLY like.  He owns a car.  Owning a car in Bogotá is like owning a car in Manhattan.  He wants us to travel to the Salt Catheral of Zipaquirá in February. It is a cathedral built in a salt mine about 650 feet underground. I am looking forward to that, it will be my first day trip out of Bogotá!

Transmilenio

After the visit I was in no hurry to get home and did take the Transmilenio home.  There were no issues.  This was the moment I began to feel like a local as I stood on a crowded bus and tried to avoid eye contact with anyone or to draw any attention to myself!!  Sitting on my bed now, I feel a sense of accomplishment – I traveled alone via taxi and public transportation on my 3rd day in my new city.

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Time To Explore

Today was spend exploring my new city.  It is so much fun knowing what all lies ahead of me.  I have to find a new places to shop for food, housewares, clothes, a new doctor, a new dentist, someone to cut my hair.  Others may dread doing all of this, but for me living a life with Multiple Sclerosis, these small tasks become adventures.  The way my MS limits grand adventures, I have learned to find adventure in more simple things.  Today I found, only 2 blocks from my apartment a farmer’s market and a bakery.

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Disapointment

The year begins with a big dose of disappointment!!

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¡Feliz Año Nuevo! = Happy New Year!

I am in Bogotá, Colombia and I am excited that I (once again) get to start over with a fresh start in a new place.

The Nemo Gang!

I had a great time last night bring in the New Year in Colombia!! I went to a party with Tim and was the STAR!! lol I do not think many there had met an actual Gringo!! haha The kids were so captivated with me and loved attention from the Gringo that knew little Spanish. By the end of the night they all had nicknames from characters in the movie “Finding Nemo”. One girl (1/2 of a set of twins) was so fascinated with bubbles and I called her bubbles from “Finding Nemo” and then the other kids wanted nicknames.

Alex is a friend of Tim and his mother insisted I dance with her.  I guess the alcohol had helped me find my inner Latino because I was able to keep up with her. haha Overall, it was a good night.

Tim was my first kiss, but I also feel it was a last kiss. We just are not wanting the same thing. If I learned nothing from Bruno, I did learn I cannot be the only one wanting a relationship. So, I feel I have matured (a little) and will not WAIT for the object of my affection to see me as boyfriend worthy…. I will just look for a new object!! lol Sorry guys to call you objects, but when a guy treats me as a valued person I will search for a better term!! lol

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