Thursday, 28 April 2016

Bogotá's house of pain

We've all had our 'horror' stories when renting rooms, especially in shared accommodation — those of us who have to endure such things that is. In a (slowly) developing city such as Bogotá, less-than-positive experiences in this regard are perhaps more commonplace than in other places. Finding a decent abode at a reasonable price for what's on offer can be quite a chore.
Bogotá's house of pain, Calle 22b #43a-50, Bogotá DC, Colombia.
'Can I have a wash & microwave dry, please?'
Indeed, in this day and age, some lodgings should never be made available for rent to the general public. What's more, some people just shouldn't be landlords/landladies. It's that second point which chiefly concerns us here.

Basically, in the early months of this year this writer had the displeasure of renting a room from a woman who wants all the benefits of being a landlady but accepts pretty much none of the responsibilities.

Fair enough, it was always going to be a temporary solution, yet the initial trappings that came with the lofty monthly rent of $600,000 COP gradually disappeared during the rather painful two-month stay.

You had a table and chairs taken from the communal area, the place where we'd eat and work as there were no desks in the rooms (and who wants to eat food in a window-less room in any case?). This was done without prior warning, the house owner's standard practice as we came to learn.
She also left us without a washing machine for a number of days. A replacement was eventually installed, but one that was quite temperamental.

Despite numerous reminders, bathroom leaks went unfixed — all this at a time when the government was pleading, and continues to plead, conservation.

I managed to find alternative accommodation shortly after the communal table went AWOL. For my friend who also stayed there the agony continued for another month; and things got worse.

The landlady regularly promised to get another table and chairs, but such utterances were about as empty as her stomach is large — let's just say her girth is of some size.

The point of no return for my mate was the arrival of a couple from the Dominican Republic — who were put up in the garage — and the changes made around the house to accommodate them.

Apparently the woman in that relationship is a hairdresser and obviously plans to start her profession from the garage-cum-studio apartment. 'Obviously' is used here because a sink for washing hair was installed in the kitchen (see photo above) — yes, in the communal kitchen where people prepare their meals, 'conveniently' placed beside the microwave. 'Would you like a wash and microwave dry today?' Wonderfully hygienic that.

It's probably fair to say this isn't legal, but if it means the landlady earns some more money, that's the most important thing for her. To heck with standards and regulations.

It must be pointed out that the owner and her family also live in the house, on the second floor. The thing is, they rarely use the facilities as, get this, they own a hotel nearby and spend most of their time there. One can only hope that Casa Fratelly — the name of the hotel, one to avoid perhaps — is a little bit more organised and well-kept. Or maybe our esteemed landlady took lessons from the 'Basil Fawlty School of Hotel Management', and, um, 'improved' upon them.

Whatever the case, pity the poor soul who next takes up residence in Bogotá's house of pain.
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