Today, Nini was working so I made contact with my solicitor here, Alejandra who I had consulted back in May. I wanted advice on the law here but I looked up her profile on her company website and she looked very attractive, I guess 40-something. She sent me one or two very warm emails so it felt more like a friendship rather than a professional realtionship. I know it is common in Spain but she ended emails with "un abrazo" which is a hug.
After yesterday, relations with Nini were a bit strained and it didn't help to mis-read one of her messages which appeared to say that she didn't want to see me again. So I left home just before 11 and met her outside la 14, the shopping mall close to where I live. I had a shock, she is beautiful!
We had a coffee, laughed a lot, bought some items for her father who had a stroke two years ago and then dropped them off at the "home" where he now lives. (Años Dorados - golden years. Not so golden in reality). This young woman who I had just met drove us out of town and she asked me if I was nervous. As if maybe I was being kidnapped and robbed of my credit cards. I replied, "Why?" I trusted her totally. I think the reason is that, just before I came here, she sent me a long email full of horrendous warnings about being kidnapped, robbed, who knows what. And all the time here, it has felt just like any other city in the world. It is just great!
We dropped off the packet at the entrance but didn't go in; visiting times were later in the afternoon. We then drove to her mother's home where the family was seated around the table having lunch, almuerzo. (a word with an Arabic origin which has travelled all the way from Spain to Colombia). She introduced each one in turn including her young son and daughter. I was dreading hearing her say, "and this is my husband" but there was no husband! Hey, what exactly do I have in mind? I am 73! So we chatted together, that was great. They were interested to hear about my life in Spain. I guided the daughter around this blog on her laptop because she is studying English. I felt at home instantly and there were zero problems with language. Maybe I am getting used to the accent, but very different from Spain. It was odd, by his own admission, her brother spoke with more of a Spanish accent. Instantly easier for me to follow!
It started to rain quite heavily, typical for this region and at around 2pm, Alejandra, her two children, her mum and I bundled into the car and returned to Años Dorados. A band of musicians was playing and there was a large open area with about 30 elderly people in chairs. Some were brighter than others as you would expect. Dad was in the wheelchair and dysphasic, unable to speak but as far as I could make out, reasonably aware of things around him. I took great care not to talk about him as though he wasn't there because I was sure he could follow what I was saying to mum. There is a saying in England, "does he take sugar?", referring to a man in a wheelchair perfectly able to answer the question himself!
While we chatted in the "home", she asked me about my romantic life, had I been married. I said yes but told her that I had no children. She asked why. I said, "Luck. Maybe the apparatus wasn't working correctly". I love the Spanish word, aparatus! There is something slightly comical about it, especially if one uses it to refer to the penis. Or in my case, I love the phrase, "shooting blanks". Maybe that is why I never had children because we left an awful lot to chance and good timing. Timing... I mean during the month in case you are thinking of something else!
And then of course it was easy to ask about her husband. maybe he had died. No, nothing like that, they split up two years ago. I joked about the 7-year itch but in this case, it was a 20-year itch!
After seeing her father, we drove back into town and dropped off her two children and mum and went to Plaza Bolivar and parked her car. I told her a little about Nini. It was beginning to get dark, we stopped for a fruit juice and briefly visited her office to pick up some documents. By now it really was dark so we went back and she took loads of photos of me surrounded by millions of white LEDs. It is funny when I think back to when I started using LEDs in the 70s in my work. They were very small, red and you had to put the lights out to see them!
Then we went to visit a Pesebre in a shopping mall, lots of small animated models showing the Christmas story on a large table.
This is the cathedral. The roof was destroyed in the earthquake of 1999. It is make of wood beams and there is an aluminium covering.
Then we went for a beer and she showed me lots of photos on her mobile. Some were of Cartagena because she lived there for three years before returning to Pereira. We sat together quite closely on a sofa in the bar.
Then we went for a quick meal in a self-service restaurant and we went back to where the car was parked. A small off-road car park which cost her 6 mils. We picked up her children and her route took me past my apartment so she dropped me off there. And we arranged to meet after the weekend. My social commitments were to go go to the party on Saturday evening and deliver the presents for the family. In Colombia, Christmas Eve is rather like New Year's Eve, dancing and drinking all night and then sleeping during the 25th. Very different from Europe. Colombians like to party!