I am so up to date now, I am even writing about days before they happen! I asked Alejandra yesterday about swimming pools in Pereira and she suggested Piscina Olimpica. I think that also means that it is Olympic size.
And I see her again tomorrow, Thursday, when we go to Salento, where I went previously with the family. Do you remember, there are lots of arts and crafts shops? She suggested it would be ideal for presets to take back for my friends in Spain. Hey! Don't get too excited!
It's now 5.30pm and the sun is dropping vertically down towards the horizon for its date with destiny at 6pm. I spent the morning shopping at Arborleda. On the way I went to pay for my air ticket to Medellin. Oh did I say.....?
For a long time before I came here, I told my friends that I wanted to visit Medellin because, from what I had read, it had cast off its bad image and had become an interesting city to visit. But I still get lots of warnings to take care. More so than here in Pereira.
Now I am a free agent without any obligation to spend time with Nini. And Alejandra has her job of course. She suggested a taxi to Medellín at 40 mils but I still preferred to fly, I just like flying and it is very quick, at least the flight is. So last night I booked a flight on Easyfly which uses small turbo-prop planes to make the journey. But when I came to pay, I was taken to a page which required my bank details with a drop-down menu showing all the banks here. Not surprisingly, it didn't include "la Caixa". But somehow my reservation was still there. It was just on 9pm and the call-centre closed at 9 so I had to be patient and wait till the morning. Cynical me thought that, by next day, the seat prices will have gone up!
All the phone numbers were displayed on the website, for example 123 4444 for Bogotá but it took one or two failed calls this morning to understand the system. Bogotá code is 1, Pereira is 6. So to dial a number in Bogotá it is 031, then the number. I spoke to a guy there but after a few moments then he said "esperar..". I hardly had a chance to speak. And then one minute later a person came back speaking English. That really annoys me, it happened to me once in Spain; I was not given a choice. I am unlikely to lose my English accent but I am often told here that my spoken Spanish is very good.... usually by taxi drivers because I often chat with them. But somehow I lost the connection anyway.
I rang back and this time the person explained to me the system. With no difficulty. I have to pay cash at an agency called Efecty which has shops around the city. But because I had clicked on "pay by card", he said it would now cost more now to pay at Efecty. (the Spanish for "cash" is efectivo). But if I re-booked and this time clicked on payment at Efecty, it would be the same. That is what I did and the website gave me a reference number with which to pay. Efecty is actually written all lower-case but I have used E for clarity.
I did find one snag. I was puzzled at the itinerary of my reservation on the website, I thought I had made a mistake. My destination and the origin of the return seemed to be different. As indeed they were! There are two airports serving Medellin and the one that I am coming back from is a little way out of town. The taxi driver today said that it was about 35 minutes. Haha, shades of Barcelona Girona with Ryanair! At least the outward journey will be quick. I will be there in time for a coffee. I just hope they are better at making it than here. To be honest, I am simply not looking hard enough for bars which have the right equipment.
I walked towards the centre of town, paid for my air ticket in an Efecty shop and had a coffee. It was terrible. Many of the bars don't have a proper cafetiere so the drink is not too brilliant. And this is the country of coffee!!
I went to Arborleda, bought some swimming trunks in the Speedo shop - two pairs, in fact. One very brief for high-speed swimming (!) and the other with very short legs which will be great for the pool in Celrà during the summer. Both summer and Celrà seem a very long way away. I am in the country of permanent summer! I bought a bluetooth speaker for listening to music on Spotify and I bought some clothes. It is nice to be indulging myself for a change. That is not a dig at Nini because I spent money on her willingly.
I had some lunch in the food court. All the outlets in food courts use the same type of device. It is a wifi connected plastic thing which bleeps and flashes when the order is ready to be collected! So instead of hanging around at the counter, we can go and choose a table somewhere!
I had what we would call in Spain, a bikini. Ham and cheese sandwich. By the time I went outside to catch a taxi to the Olimpic pool, it was about 2pm. And disaster, it was closed in the afternoons because it is the holiday period. Very frustrating because I could see this enormous outdoor pool from outside. And it was very warm and sunny. It was obvious that it was closed from the road, so the same taxi driver took me back, this time to my apartment. On the return he was telling me about his family and showing me (in the back seat!) photos on his phone while he was driving! I am sure I am getting better at catching the Colombian accent now. Many words trail off into nothing, a little like in Andalucia. Supermercado becomes "supermercau..". Money is plata (silver).
My "office"!! I am writing this at just after 6pm and darkness descends. Tonight I may go across the road to the hotel to eat in the restaurant, it will make a change but it is rather expensive. Tomorrow I go back to Salento. With Alejandra.