A rough ride

It has been a while since we last posted anything here – some people even emailed us and asked how we’re doing. And well, we’re still alive and kicking but I have to admit that it has been a rough ride the last three weeks.

The mess started almost a month ago when someone broke into our storage container and walked away with virtually all our tools. And trust me, we had quite a bit! Luckily they didn’t break anything except the padlock – and I have no idea how they managed to do that. It was constructed in a way that you can’t access it with bolt cutters and there was no sign of an angle grinder or any marks on the container itself. The padlock too was gone thus leaving no traces.

OK, the tools were gone and we realised there’s no way a padlock will keep the same guys from coming back for more stuff. We have almost everything we own packed in boxes in that container, so the only sensible thing to do was to move into the container house straight away and park the car in front of the storage container and activate the car alarm.

Moving in without water, sewage, and electricity was almost like camping! And those of you who know me, know that I actually hate camping. I’ve done a lot of it in various places and climates but always out of pure necessity. And I always find it very uncomfortable. So it wasn’t with great joy and happiness I joined Vir and the kids and moved into the house. But I have to admit it was great to sleep in my own bed!

A day later, after hearing unusually loud bee noises the whole afternoon while working behind the house to finish the septic system so we at least the could bucket flush the toilet, I realised were the noise came from: our bed room. It’s spring and the bees are swarming, and we had a shitload of bees checking out the suitability of our bed room. And it seemed to be approved. And for those of you who doesn’t know, these bees are really aggressive bees. Piss one of them off and you will have every bee in the neighbourhood after you! That was a pretty bad situation because it was close to sunset and we don’t have any lights and we simply had to stay at the house. I couldn’t stand the thought of staying at the house we still rented, leaving the container unguarded for the night. We rushed into town and bought some nasty stuff called Mata Todo (“Everything-killer”…). With very very few exception (for example, clouds of mosquitoes invading my tent when hiking in the Scandinavian mountains. I don’t like camping, did I mention that?), I haven’t intentionally killed an animal since the mid-90s. And there I was, feeling like shit and spraying away with Mata Todo to kill all the bees in the bed room. I hope I never have to do that again. We have ordered mosquito nets for all windows and the door, and hopefully we’ll have them installed later this week.

A forest walk, taking care not to disturb the spiders

A forest walk, taking care not to disturb the spiders

A couple of days later, joined by sleepless nights worrying about someone coming back for more, Vir woke up with high a fever and chest pain that turned out to be pneumonia. We had to drive to Carmelo everyday to get her intravenous antibiotics for a few days. The injections were delivered at the home of a fantastic nurse who found it revolting that Vir should have to pay at the hospital to get the treatment, so she just grabbed the medicine and told Vir to pop by once day. To be fair, medical assistance is actually free in Uruguay but we went to a private hospital because we (well, I) was afraid that it would take forever to get treatment at the public hospital.

A couple of days later Tristan managed – with great assistance from Timea – to fall and hit his chin bad enough to needing some stitches. I had to wake Vir from her semi-coma and ask her to help me get him to the hospital as my Spanish still only cover topics like beer and motorcycles, and more recently also some hardware store small talk. This time we went to the public hospital and it took them no time to stitch him up – so it turned out I was wrong about the waiting. But we didn’t know that we had to register at the hospital in order to get free treatment. So we ended up paying again…

A couple of days later, when driving back from town around dusk on our tiny dirt road I noticed some headlights in the mirror. And a moment later the were gone. I waited at our entrance for the car to show but it didn’t, and being extremely suspicious I turned around and went back to were I first saw the lights. A few hundred meters down the road we found a car with the lights off with the lights off hidden among the trees. I stopped on the dirt road, blocking its exit. The guys in the car looked extremely uncomfortable and Vir asked them if everything was fine. They unwillingly replied that everything was fine and started to drive. I made a point of carefully looking at them and noticing the license plate number before I let them pass. Later, I saw them passing our entrance and stopping a bit further down the road (still “our” part of the road), meeting another car and then leaving. The police came soon after that (let’s just say that the police have been frequent guests here a for a while – we even have the private cell phone number to one of them!) and managed to find out that the car most likely is used for bad shit (almost 10.000 US $ in unpaid tax) and then they spent the next nights driving by us every few hours. That incidence, I have to admit, didn’t make me feel better.

A coral snake we found when digging up some tree roots. An extremely poisonous but usually not very aggressive snake

A coral snake we found when digging up some tree roots. An extremely poisonous but usually not very aggressive snake

A couple of days later, I woke up up with a high fever. Who would have guessed? Luckily, Vir had started the process of registering us at the hospital (despite still being dead tired from her pneumonia! She’s my hero 🙂 so they agree to take me in and did a couple of blood tests and saw a massive bacterial infection and did an X-ray of my lungs and pulled the highly expected white rabbit out of the magicians hat: pneumonia. But I was fortunate enough to be given intravenous antibiotics four times a day, meaning we had to go to the hospital four times a day: at six o’clock in the morning, at noon, six in the afternoon, and midnight. The injections costed 80 km driving a day… The first day I was too far out to drive so we had to wake the kids at midnight and bring them too to the hospital. Luckily I got a lot better really quick so the next day I could go on my own at midnight. It might be worth mentioning that during one of my noon-visits, Tristan went all pale and complained about stomach ache so they took him too while I got my shot, but without finding anything wrong with him. The whole family joined also the late afternoon session, and this time Tristan mentioned that something was itching on his belly and it turned out that he had a massive allergic reaction to something. He was completely full of rashes! I got my injection with antibiotics and he got some antihistamines. After a few hours he looked OK and we were admitted home. Bless that boy for using the opportunities so well. Two hours later I returned for my midnight injection.

Car tires will do the job as foundation for the utility shed too

Car tires will do the job as foundation for the utility shed too

The deck for the utility shed is taking form

The deck for the utility shed is taking form

A couple of days later, it is night and it is now. The foxes have just raided the compost and managed almost to scare the shit out of me when they overturned the metal lid Vir put on top of the compost bin to keep them out. But we like them, it’s cool to have foxes running around in your garden! Everyone is feeling fine (and asleep) now and no one has been at the hospital for two days. I’m on regular antibiotics for another seven days or so, but no more injections. I’ve started working on the utility shed that will house some of the equipment for generating electricity and hopefully we’ll soon have electricity in the house instead of the very temporary rig I put up in the container so we can charge phones, laptops, and the small 20 W LED floodlight I put on the storage container to show the rest of the world that the door is blocked by the car at night and that we are now staying here, thus keeping an eye on who might be keeping an eye on us.

It has been a few very intense weeks and I was actually quite down for a while, but now things look a bit brighter. All the people that we’ve met during the difficulties, even the police (!), have been extremely kind and helpful. Nothing has changed there, the Uruguayans are still great. As soon as we have electricity and I’m off the antibiotics I will have my own small house warming party with Pink Floyd, bad Uruguayan red wine, and spend some time watching the impressive night sky we have. I’m looking forward to that.
PS. The septic system is basically finished. I just need another 8-10 tons of sand to fill the drain field and put down the pipes on top. Oh, and cover it all with soil again. Another five tons worth of shoveling. I’ll post some pics below 😉

Tristan is making sure the excavator guy is doing a proper job

Tristan is making sure the excavator guy is doing a proper job

An overview of the excavation

An overview of the excavation

Fernando is adding the first stone to the septic tank

Fernando is adding the first stone to the septic tank

Time to add some water repellent plaster to the tank

Time to add some water repellent plaster to the tank

Massively reinforced septic tank tank lid on its way

Massively reinforced septic tank tank lid on its way

Septic tank finished! Now I just have to finish the lst part to the leach field and, well, the leach field itself...

Septic tank finished! Now I just have to finish the lst part to the leach field and, well, the leach field itself…

9 Comments

  1. But is the Enfield ok?

  2. What a number of exciting and exhausting events! You are all wonderful and we are rooting for you. It’s like being pioneers! Now for some ducks, geese, turkeys or dogs to sound the alarm when / if the bad guys show up…

  3. Por dios! Take care, it sounds really exhausting! You are so brave. Besos para Vir!

  4. They probably picked the lock..maybe a Heavy Combination padlock ? or two !!
    Shit..sorry to hear..I know how that sucks, it happened to me once…been paranoid ever since.
    Hope you can replace them soon..

  5. Hope you will get rid of all bad microbes and bad guys soon 🙂

  6. Oh, it sounds like you have had to put up with a lot of tough shit lately. Good that things start going the right way again! Take care all of you!

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