Friday, July 23, 2004

Location, location, location:

Somehow, I have ended up on some very strange mailing lists. Real estate, liquor dealerships, and travel packages in South America. Not to mention all the junk from shady African bankers looking to transfer millions into my checking account.

The e-mail advertisements I recently read avidly were as follows:

- "Bougainvillea" Farm, 57,600 m2 (14.2 acres), with 1,800 fruit trees (oranges, tangelos, navels, tangerines, lemons, mangos, avocados and 80 banana palms). Main house and caretaker's home. Filtered swimming pool, squash court. Three tanks for the farming of perch and tilapia fish.
$120,000 negotiable.

- House, 450 m2 (4,800 sq. ft), 2 floors
1st floor - garage for 8 cars, swimming pool
2nd floor - 7 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, kitchen; servant's room, bathroom and kitchen
3 cisterns for potable water.
$133,000 negotiable.

At those prices, who wouldn't be interested? Of course, what was drawing me in were memories from my childhood, during which I had visited places like these during my summer vacations. And that was the problem - these idyllic spots are located in one of the most dangerous countries in the world, Colombia. Not only dangerous because of recent political and narco-terrorist troubles, but natural hazards as well - one of the summer spots I remember best was a farm in the town of Armero, which was later buried by a devastating lahar off the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in November of 1985.

This farm had a beautiful pool with a large colony of fruit bats in the pump room. Justin Abel, his sister Louise Abel and I spent almost as much time in the pump room waving paper bags around in a vain attempt to catch the panicking bats as we did in the pool. Sadly of course all that is buried under several meters of mud now.

Today I met with a person who is doing a lot of work on hazards with the National Academy, and they had published a book that dealt with the lahar hazard on Mt. Rainier. The connection here was that the Armero disaster lead directly to the development of the lahar warning system that now protects the cities of Orting, Sumner, Puyallup and East Tacoma that are in 100 to 500 year lahar hazard zones around Mt. Rainier.

Now if I can only get organized, get the African bankers to pay for the property in Colombia, fly in all my friends from Argentina, and pay for the Pisco sours, I'll be all set.

The real listings:

- Finca Buganvillia 9 fanegadas, está ubicada en la vereda La Macarena a
5 minutos de Sasaima 1,800 árboles frutales (naranja, tangelo, ombligona
común, mandarina, limón, mango, aguacate, 80 matas de plátano).
Piscina con planta de tratamiento, cancha de squash. Casa principal y para
el Administrador, 3 piscinas para el cultivo de mojarra y tilapia.
Precio $ 320,000,000 negociables

- Casa Melgar 450 mt2 , 2 Pisos
1er piso: local , garaje para 8 carros, piscina
2do Piso: 7 habitaciones, 7 baños, cocina, cuarto y baño de servicio
y cocina para servicio. Tiene una alberca y 3 tanques para agua potable.
Estrato 5
Precio $ 350,000,000 negociables

I used the Sizes website to convert the quaint units still used in Colombian real estate. While I was there I learned that the U.S. has two feet. Two measures of length called the foot, that is.



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