Couple Live In A Gutter... Happily Ever After
Miguel Restrepo, his wife and their dog Blackie are two happy underground squatters Stick your ...
Miguel Restrepo, his wife and their dog Blackie are two happy underground squatters
Stick your head in a sewer in the Colombian city of Medellin and you'll find the cozy home of Miguel Restrepo and his wife, two happy underground squatters, and their dog Blackie.
Their digs are too small to stand up in, and it measures just three by two meters (10 by 7 feet). But somehow they have fitted it with a kitchen, a TV and a tile floor.
It's been home sweet home for 20 years. Restrepo, 62, says he would not give it up for anything because living above ground would mean paying for public services, taxes and other kinds of hassle.
"I would not trade this for a house," he told AFP.
Restrepo used to work as a scavenger gathering stuff to be recycled but dropped it because of lung trouble.
Now he and his wife, Maria Garcia, live off the charity of neighbors. Now and then Restrepo gets odd jobs watching over people's cars.
"Some days we have more than enough food, and others we do not. But you get used to it," he said.
Posh, or comfortable, it is not. But they have managed to seal themselves off from the rest of the sewer system by building cement walls.
Their place has a closet, a radio and a fan. That's a big bonus because it gets real hot down there.
They have no shower, and wash with buckets of water. When it rains, they quickly deploy plastic sheeting at the sewer opening to protect their home from flooding.
"We live in an apartment. For me it is an apartment," Restrepo said as he petted Blackie, who also lives in the sewer.
But wait, there is more.
Above ground, nearby, they have set up a garden area to grow flowers. These days it has a Christmas tree.
Passers-by in this industrial patch of Medellin like it, and Restrepo gets a kick out of that.
"You must reap in order to sow," he said.
Restrepo is not from Medellin, Colombia's second largest city, with a population of 2.4 million, but rather from a nearby town called Amaga.
He came here as a young man in search of work but ended up living on the streets, with drug addiction problems.
Now, he has no gripes about his situation. He consistently rejects offers from social workers to move into a shelter.
"I live better than the president," Restrepo says. "He has lots of problems and I don't have any."