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Friday, September 28, 2012

Will the real Colombian health care please stand up?

Now that I officially have "real" Colombian healthcare (EPS) I wanted to write this blog. Here in Colombia there is roughly 48 million people and there is not many social problems like unemployment insurance,social security etc. But, they do have socialized healthcare for everyone. A system very similar to Canada or England I would assume. I now have personal experience with this health care system. There is long waiting times and the government provided healthcare moves for slow. That is true and is a fact. Now for the upside.

The upside is that EVERYONE has healthcare. You do pay a very small monthly premium but when you go into the doctor,hospital,dentist, eye doctor or other medical facility pay basically $1.25 USD (Yes you read that right, it is a dollar twenty-five)except in very special cases. A few days ago I went to the doctor and paid my $1.25 then after waiting quite a while I had my physical exam and the doctor was very nice and actually spoke English. I really got the feeling he cared about me as a patient and he said I am totally healthy except that I am underweight due to my previous tonsillitis I have lost quite a bit of weight. Eating and eating will solve that he said. He did order a urine sample and a blood test just to make sure everything was totally fine. Then I went and paid $1.25 for my medicine.

I assumed I would do all that the same day but I was wrong. I had to pay another $1.25 and make yet another appointment to get those tests done on another day. I also had to buy my own urine sample cup and do it at home and bring my own urine in the cup that I bought (for a quarter) to the doctor! Can you believe that?! haha. When they drew my blood it was all sanitary and clean and they did use new needles. No worries there. But, it was like an assembly line! Everyone was lined up in a line, got your stick in the arm, then the next person, and next, and next. Government efficiency lol. I didn't even get a bandaid! Just a giant cotton ball haha. Also, all the workers were dressed in full "splatter gear" like they expected blood to be everywhere haha.

I also went to a brain doctor to make sure my shunt was working properly but I had scheduled this appointment before I had received my government covered insurance (EPS) so I had to pay the outrageous fee of $20 USD :P. Everything was good there also. Luckily I had my beautiful girlfriend Vivi there to help me out. My Spanish is pretty decent at this point but, I still get tripped up with complicated stuff and the doctor spoke only Spanish. Vivi by now knows my body just as well as I know it so she can rattle off everything faster than I ever could. I had four female medical students in there also. I guess it is pretty rare that they get a "gringo" brain to look at. 

The dentist was a totally different story. After I paid my $1.25 I went back to wait. This time I was alone as Vivi had an interview. They were 30 minutes late in calling my name and when I finally got in there I found out that the dentist had a REALLY hard accent to understand. Communication was really difficult for me. The "cleaning" was quite quick and really basic. I had to hold the mirror the whole time and there was not many powered instruments. Most of it was done manually by hand. I was not too impressed by it. She did say what I assume? was that I have my first "very small" (her words) cavity in my life! She wants to see me again and charge me yet another $1.25. Well if I really do have small cavity at least I can get it all taken care of on the cheap.

In Conclusion, Colombian National Healthcare is pretty good, I have not been overly disappointed but there is long waiting times and you have to keep coming back over and over and getting more and more appointments. But, on the brightside each time it is just a $1.25. I cannot complain too much about that. Yall take care and I hope this was informative. -Tyler

Just something I liked

I just wanted to blog this real quick and share a story with yall. I did not write this story so I cannot take credit for any of it. I did like it though so I wanted to share it. Hope you enjoy. Click Here  To all my dear readers all over the world, I hope you have a great Friday and an even better weekend! Stay happy and healthy and remember, Your life is what you make of it! -Tyler

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The life of a normal person

I felt compelled to tell you my dear readers, a little more about my life. Prior to moving here to Colombia I was in "traveling mode" even while I was living in Thailand and teaching there I was constantly traveling (when time allowed) and I was living in one fixed place there but mentally I was not "settled". Prior to Thailand I spent two years of my life living,working and traveling all over Australia and New Zealand with a short visit to Asia and after that a visit here to South America. During this period in my life I was working and doing "normal" things but mostly just living free as a period without attachments and just moving from place to place with friends. (Here is your shout out Ben) I really had a great time and loved life. I got to see and do things that most people don't get the chance to do in their entire lives, all before the age of 30. Sure I was happy but there was no real stability in my life.

As much as I loved traveling and still do I think eventually everyone has to settle down. The world is a big wonderful place to explore and there is so much to see and do, people to meet and places to go. It is addicting and amazing. But, the longer you travel without stopping to form natural long lasting human relationships aka dating and/or marriage the harder it gets to make that happen. There is a quote from one of my favourite movies, Inception " Take a leap of faith? Or become an old man , filled with regret, waiting to die alone". Going traveling all over the world for over 2 years (at first completely solo) was my leap of faith. It was scary and something totally new for me. At first I didn't know if I could do it but I am so glad that I did, it changed my life!

Having said that I realize now that I do not want to die an old man alone so I need to start settling down. I am so glad I traveled to Colombia previously and was able to fall in love with this beautiful interesting country. Because I had the opportunity and motivation to return here. I am very lucky for this because now I have an amazing beautiful girlfriend who I care very much for. My life is no longer unstable and free as a bird. It has gotten domestic and "normal" I do things now that most "normal" people do. But you know what? I am not unhappy at all. In fact I am very happy with my life. I consider myself semi retired now. I don't think that I will never travel again in my whole life. I love traveling and always will. But, my next travels will be different. They will be shorter and maybe with a family in tow. 

I regret nothing. I had great times traveling and will continue to have good times in life. But, now that I am almost 30 it is just the time in my life where I need to start getting serious about my future life. I am happy to say now that I have direction in my life and happiness and a partner. All of these things make me happy. Without traveling I never would have found any of this though. So I am very grateful to myself and to all the people who helped me along the way and opened the doors for me to have the awesome life I have now. I could never begin to thank each person who helped me along the way but thank you to all my friends and great family who have supported me.

Yall take care,Tyler

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Valentine's Day

Yesterday was Colombia's version of Valentine's Day. (Official name is Dia de Amor y Amistad) (Day of love and friendship) obviously this is not February so the month is different but really the concept is basically the same as the American Valentines Day. I took Vivi to a nice restaurant and got her some flowers. For those of you wanting to visit Colombia you need to click here  for a great dinner date! It was our night out with no kids and no family just us, and it was really nice.

After dinner we went dancing and met up with some of Vivi's friends for more good times. I really enjoyed myself even if I am still a terrible dancer haha. The rest of the update is going to be pretty domestic. Right now my life is not super exciting but I really am happy. Generally I go to work and then go to see Vivi and Juan. Yesterday I played a lot of Wii with Juan and now he created me my very own character in his Wii I was honored hehe.

I am really changing my lifestyle due to my relationship but we are very happy. She is great and so is Juan. I enjoy being around both of them. Juan is your average 7 year old. He seems to gain energy as I lose it haha. I need to get in better shape so I can keep up with him! I just enjoying hanging out with him and playing games and stuff. He is a good kid. My relationship with Vivi is still going great and I could not ask for much more.

Life is not perfect of course (but is it ever?) I have a pretty good job, a place to live,food in my belly, fairly good health and a great girlfriend. My life might be more settled down now but I wouldn't change anything! That's all I have for ya now. :) -Ty

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Living to be 100

 Do ever think about what it will be like if you live to be 100? I do. In reality based on my current life style I doubt I will live that long. But, I am in the process of making healthier changes in my life. I don't smoke, I only drink on occasion and I am not overweight but, I don't exercise near as much as I should and my diet is not so great. Those are big strikes against me as far as making it to 100.  I have always said that I only want to live until I can no longer take care myself. Once that day comes I want my life to be over. I do not want to be a burden to my family and have a terrible quality of life, just waiting to die and not enjoying life. I also have no desire to be kept alive artificially if something were to happen to me. Lastly, I want to be buried in a bio degradable coffin.

All of this morbid death talk is leading up to my next point so bear with me please. I wonder what it will be like if I live to be 100 because I wonder what people will say about my life? What will I have accomplished in a century on earth? What will I leave behind? Will I be happy and satisfied with my life? I certainly hope the answer to all these questions is a positive one. Someone who is 100 now was born in 1912 the year the Titanic sank. They have seen the rise of the automobile, the rise of global air travel, two world wars, the "technology age" and much much more. I wonder what I will have seen in 100 years? The only major thing to happen in my lifetime so far, is the rise of the Internet and technology "wiring and connecting" everyone and everything. I still remember like before the Internet contrary to kids these days who have had it their entire lives. Secondly, September 11th was a huge event in my life (and almost every other person as well).

I wonder what people will say about my life at 100? Will they be amazed that I lived so long and did so much? I am fairly certain there will be some major technological advancement so people will say "Wow! Tyler was alive before X! Somehow I doubt that any advances they make in technology will be as big or game changing as seeing the rise of cars and global air travel though. This really is a helluva time to be an old person having seen so many changes for the good and for the bad in 100 years.

Yall take care,Tyler

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Customer Service in non first world countries

I wanted to talk to yall about customer service in non first world countries. For those of you who don't know, generally speaking a "first world country" is America,Canada,England,(and most of developed Europe) Australia (and most of the British Commonwealth) so a "non first world country" would be most of Asia,Africa and South America. The concept of customer service is just different here. It is by no means limited to Colombia. The mind set is just different.

For example, today I went to a computer shop to have a document scanned and loaded onto my 14gb USB Drive. Well everything was going smoothly until the computer that the person at the shop was using just randomly restarted. It was no fault of the employee's she didn't do it on purpose. But, since my USB drive was plugged in at the time I lost all my documents and data for work and teaching. It is now corrupted and non functioning.

Their attitude was basically that it was an act of God and there was nothing they could do for me. I am going to go back there tomorrow and try and talk to them again but their attitude was very typical. Generally speaking when something bad happens to you in a non first world country you are on your own and left to fend for yourself. This is not always the case and there is some people who go out of their way to fix your problems but generally speaking they do not compensate you in anyway for problems you might have.

I didn't get my money back for the failed scan of my document nor did I get any kind of compensation for my now broken USB drive. It was no fault of my own yet I am left high and dry. In a first world country this would not be the case at all, I would be compensated in some way for sure. It is just different cultures and attitudes though.When my good friend and travel buddy, Ben and I were traveling to Lima Peru our bus broke down 1 hour outside of Lima and we were told to get off the bus and find our own way into Lima. We were not offered any kind of refund or assistance by the bus driver or the company and this is normal. You just learn to deal with it.

I know this blog might sound like I just complaining (and in a way I am) but I really just want to give you, my readers a realistic view of life here. Just like anywhere there is great things about Colombia (and 3rd world countries in general) but there is also crappy stuff and this is one of those times. Maybe we are pampered in the first world countries or maybe we just have a different view of acceptable levels of customer service.  Yall have a good weekend (hopefully better than mine haha) -Tyler