A PENSIONER and his wife made their home in a tiny abandoned sewer – but insisted they don’t miss life above ground
Miguel Restrepo went underground after losing his job in 1990, and still lives in the 10ft by 6ft space with wife Maria Garcia and their pet dog in Medellin, Colombia.
The couple moved in shortly after Restrepo lost his job recycling bottles and cans. But Restrepo says he couldn’t imagine living any better.
“I live better than the president here, no one bothers me and I don’t bother anyone. I go to sleep at whatever time I want. The president lives saddled with all those problems.”
Although the sewer is only 10ft wide and 6ft deep, Restrepo and Garcia have made some impressive renovations to their space.
The couple have installed shelving space for clothes and cooking items; they also have a stove, a fan, a bed, a television, and some decorations such as a miniature Santa Claus.
And although Restrepo is largely content with his living situation, he thinks it could do with some interior decorating beyond the Christmas decorations he currently has.
“The only thing that I am missing is some painting. This year, I’ll paint it. We’ll have to wait and see. I live really, really well here,” Restrepo said in a 2012 interview.
But Restrepo and Garcia are hardly the only Colombians to be living in the sewer systems, and the situation for many others has proved dire.
In Colombia’s capital, Bogota, thousands of street kids have been forced into sewers since the wealthy elite formed ‘death squads’ to dispose of them in the 80s.
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Alberto Granada, a former sewer child, told Vice News that he was homeless at the age of seven, and by the age of nine he had no choice but to seek refuge in the sewers.
“They wore masks, drove around in cars, and would come during the night. They would come to kill the street children. That’s why we had to seek refuge in the sewers.”
Restrepo proudly accredited his dog, Negrita, for the fact that he had never been robbed during his sewer dwelling decades. But, Granada wasn’t as lucky.
“When you’re living in the sewers you’ve hit the lowest point a human being can reach, because there you lose everything,” says Granada.
For sewer children, survival has been dependent on how high the water gets within the sewers, and whether or not their head can remain above the human waste.
But, they had no choice but to remain in the sewers, living in fear of the death squads, who have opened the lids to the sewers, poured in gasoline, and set them alight.