Thursday, 1 February 2018

Thinking Aloud!

I have been here so long now that it certainly feels like home! And I am due to return to Spain on 1st March.
What extraordinary news from Catalunya yesterday! A very frank text message from Carles Puigedemont which exposed his inner feelings and which was seen by a journalist. I tend to check that a person is alone if I send anything very personal (what, for example? you are wondering!) because it is easy for a third person to see messages on a phone. This rather undermines one of my motives for coming here; the "process" for independence which has now taken a big knock. But there will be lots of angry and frustrated people. The other motive which brought me here was my rocky friendship with Nini. But her moods swing violently, and currently I am not seeing her, preferring more stable relationships! So maybe you are thinking that I will ditch my plans to buy a house here and simply return to my life in Girona. Oh, how boring! Life is too short especially if one is 74 but still fit. Live life to the full, is my motto! Haha, but I think that is what I will do. I can live life to the full from my base in Spain.

The show-house with agent hoping to sell it to me!

In fact, buying a house here does not make much sense. I am income-wealthy but capital-poor. So it would be better to rent and not touch my capital, and I found the perfect place. I visited a new housing development with a view to buying a house "from plans" (which is what I did when first I moved to Spain) but on walking around, I saw a house for rent, end of terrace, next to a ravine filled with trees and greenery. Absolutely beautiful... and very close to where my nemesis lives! The rental is about €180 per month but I can earn at least €600 per month by renting out my flat in Spain. But then that would have to be a 3 year contract with all my personal items removed, which fills me with trepidation. But then, why don't I simply rent it out when I am in Colombia using or Airbnb? (although I dislike Airbnb and it doesn't have a very good reputation in some places). For certain, I have no plans to sell my flat in Spain.
The house here is completely new, the owners obviously bought it as an investment as they live elsewhere. It even needs finishing inside, such as painting and adding fitted wardrobes, but that would only take a week.

Then I started looking around at fridges, cookers and washing machines. I will need a TV. No "white goods" here! All the fridges here without exception are "titanium" finish. Washing machines are all top-loading. Then the bill started mounting up and I got a dose of cold feet. That wasn't helped by the agent requiring a guarantor in the rental application form. They would require details of their income which I think is a bit of a cheek. So I could not provide that. Instead, I have offered to pay for the whole one year contract in advance (it can be renewed of course). I am not happy doing that because it amounts to about €2000. Ouch!

But what I am looking for in my life is very difficult to describe, I will know it when it arrives. It is a peace of mind, where I can think with a clear head, get inspiration for painting and writing. At the moment I am beset by a constant fog which I have had for a very long time. I am staggered at some of the electronic products I designed and built back in the 80s and 90s because I had it then too. But then, not all of them were a total success!

A few days ago, I visited the Museo de Arte in Pereira and got chatting to the director, Alejandro - he joined my Meetup group as we spoke! I asked about the possibility of art workshops, art fairs that kind of thing. Obviously there are events here already but he was very interested in my ideas and we got on well. He is a young guy, typical of the age of people who come to the Facebook group... and hopefully, later to my Meetup group!
There is one other snag about the rented house. I am due to go back to Spain on 1st March which is when the rental period would start. So I am thinking of delaying my return till the end of March, stocking the house with fridge... etc. Oh, I nearly forgot! And a bed. Then at least I can enjoy one month there. But then it would be empty for 5 months until September. Vanesa, my lawyer suggested that I could sub-let it with Airbnb but I'm not sure if I am allowed to do that. Obviously there is no problem doing that with my flat in Spain because it it mine. Changing my return flight would cost €100 plus any change in the tariff but I could use my Avianca air miles.

My plan was to spend a minimum of 183 days in Colombia in 2018 which would make me tax-resident here. That would mean returning here some time late September. As far as I can make out from one website I saw, for pensioners, the tax rate is zero for the first 5 years. It seems too good to be true. And I have quite a large sum "locked away" in a fund in the UK which dates back to the 90s. It has made a big gain over the years as you can imagine but I can't take it in Spain because I would be taxed on it the moment I withdrew it. In the UK, it is not taxable. So, I may find that I can unlock the money if I am tax resident in Colombia. Haha, I will be a tax exile like Lewis Hamilton!

What scares me is something very simple! What if I change my mind? I am in Spain, middle of September and I have a rented house in Colombia to which I am committed to return. What if I am content in Girona, what if I meet someone really nice? So, please ignore all those figures about tax etc. I added this later, on Friday 2nd Feb. I think I will stay in Girona especially since it appears that the independence movement is running out of steam.

There was a spell of very wet weather about 2 weeks ago but today has dawned bright and sunny. I think I will go swimming today, the pool is enormous - Olympic size - and the entrance is something like €2! I guess I had a visitor in my bedroom in the form of a mozzie a week ago because I got bitten a few times. But the spots have subsided and I haven't been bitten since. In fact I have never seen a mosquito.

I miss seeing my friend Nomel in the Philippines, he calls me up frequently on Skype at about 10am my time which is 11pm his time when he goes to bed. Don't ask me why I should be so fond of a young guy who looks like a girl but it is a very warm friendship, no more. Maybe is is because we like to talk about being trans. I think I said, I have a warm relatonship with his mum too, she is lots of fun, she loves to dance! It is a shame that they are so far away but anyway Manila is a nighmare for getting around as I have said before. I don't know when I will get to see them next which makes me sad. No flights from here across the Pacific. 15 hours Los Angeles to Manila! Here, I am in a country which I really like, with a friend, no so much! In the Pinas, I have friends who I love... but in a city which I hate! Swap the two maybe??

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