North America, South America · 34 Days · 71 Moments · October 2017

My Colombian Adventure November 2017

21 November 2017

Good bye Colombia. Thank you for having this green-eyed, English speaking, International Guest for the past two weeks. I enjoyed your country and your people. I can't wait to return. See you again soon!
Arepas! The arepas at dPeTO are amazing and even more exciting is that they are gluten free and taste amazing! These versatile "corn bread" pockets can be fillled with just about anything. I chose chicken, cheese, mushrooms and guacamole while Silvia and Lyda went the breakfast route with egg, cheese and bacon. Add a side of Colombian Coca Cola and you are good to go. Mmm mm mm Arepa!😀
It's no secret that Colombia loves it's coffee. I love it's coffee too. The tail lights on this bus were in the shape of coffee beans! ❤
We had so much fun feeding the pigeons in Plaza De Bolívar. There are hundreds of pigeons waiting for you to either toss them corn or hold it out in your hand. Vendors will sell you tubes of corn while others are there to photograph you while being swarmed by the birds. They will print you a 5x7 photo from this tiny printer hanging from their waist. Pretty neat set-up. It's safe to say we went through a few tubes of corn during out visit. 😀
Silvia couldn't help herself. There was music playing in the Plaza De Bolívar and she grabbed Lyda by the hand for a few quick steps. Those Colombians love to dance!
I had to get a photo of my BOWW hoodie while in Colombia. 😀🐳
La Puerta De La Tradición is a little hole in the wall restaurant near Plaza De Bolívar in Bogotá. Word has it that this restaurant has been functioning in some form for over 100 years. All I know is that they have the best beans ever! I don't know why the beans are different, but they are huge and round, so full of flavor. Portions are very large and easily sharable.
It's hard to believe that this is my last wake up in Colombia. I miss my family and routine, but I have really enjoyed my time in this beautiful country.

20 November 2017

Taxis! I have never seen or rode in so many taxis. Bogotá has what is called Even & Odds. If your vehicle license plate is an even number you can drive all day long on even number days. If your plate is an odd number you can drive all.dat on odd number days. There is a restriction from 3 p.m. - 7:30 p.m and you can and will be sited for driving your vehicle against Even & Odds. Motorcycles are exempt and Taxis only have to follow that one day a week. There are 1000s of taxis in Bogotá. This is just a couple infront of the apartment one morning in a more residential area. The main streets are full if taxis.

19 November 2017

Security is a big thing when you live in a city of 9 million people and when your country has endured very difficult times when it comes to safety. While much safer now, in comparison to the 80's and the days of Pablo Escobar, Colombians have not relaxed their practice of locking up. This is the door into the apartment and the door to get into the building is set up the same way. How they can reach their arm through the hole and blindly, one handed, unlock that padlock so quickly is a mystery to me. The hallway lights are on a short timer so I kept getting up to turn them back on and then realized the light was doing me no good, I still couldn't see the lock. There were a few moments that I thought I may still be sitting there when Lyda got home. It took me about 20 minutes to unlock just the padlock in the apartment door...but I got it! And a bruise or two. 😉
Alpina is the name of one of the major dairy brands in Colombia. Check out the size of that cheese wheel! A very popular dessert here is araquipe ( a caramel type dessert) with cheese. They also have a version with blackberry, which is what I had. So yummy but very sweet.
The Asadero Restaurant was a fun place to eat. I had fish, boiled potato, yucca and fried plantains . I am really going to miss the food here. I don't remember the name of the type of music that the men were playing, but it was fun to listen to. No fancy instruments needed, but they sure could put out some sound.
While at the Salt Mine in Zipaquirá there are many things one can choose to do. Silvia and a friend decided to try out the zip line. If only I could convey the sounds emmiting from their larynx via photo. Silly girls! 😲
The Zipaquirá Salt Mine, a.k.a. Cathedral of Salt, is a series of mine shafts carved into a halite mountain. These chambers reach a depth of 660 feet below ground. In 1932, while still a working salt mine, the miners carved a sanctuary for daily prayers to ask for protection before starting work. Since then the mine has been turned largely into a cathedral that will hold 8,000 people. There is an amazing reflection pool. Standing at the railing I thought I was looking down into another mine shaft and then the guide blew and the water rippled. It looked so deep and far away and yet in reality was right at my feet reflecting a mirror image of the ceiling.

18 November 2017

The National Museum is the oldest in the country and one of the oldest in the continent, built in 1823. Its fortress architecture is built of stone and brick. The building includes arches, domes and columns in which 104 prison cells were distributed. It was known as the Panóptico prison until 1946. In 1948, the building was adapted for National Museum and underwent restoration in 1975. The tapestry is made of feathers! This 3-story museum has over 20,000 pieces on display as well as a large research library dedicated to the indigenous people of Colombia.
There are so many architectural wonders in Bogotá. Today as we walked between museums I snapped some photos with my phone. While many of these buildings are very old, this is the more modern looking area of Bogotá. Cleaner and less traffic too.
Painted rocks are all the rage in the USA. Leanna gave me a couple of rocks to leave in Colombia. When someone finds them, hopefully they will flip them over and find the directions to photograph, post, and either keep or rehide. What a fun way to share and hopefully see the rocks travel the world. One was left at the Planitarium and the other at UAN (university), both in Bogotá.
Plaza de Toros de Santamaría is a bullfighting arena in Bogotá. Bullfighting was discontinued here in 2012 but the current mayor reinstated the practice recently. The stadium was built in 1931 and seats 14,500 people.
The Planetarium in Bogotá was neat to see. We visited during the day so what we saw was all projected and not live. It was still very neat to see. We walked out to the terrace where we stood outside the dome and these birds were making all sorts of racket.

16 November 2017

One of the meals that stands out the most in my mind is the Arroz con Camarones from El Imperio del Pacifico in Bogotá. If course, the murals may have been somewhat influential. This is one if the few places we went that had parking available to its customers. I look forward to returning there on my next visit.

14 November 2017

Tonight we met up with Jose, another one of the kids from the "Colombian Happy House" adventure in Washington state. It was so nice to see him and catch up on his life. We had fun recalling the memories from their stay in Washington. The cold, the rats, first snow, the adopted cat, the used car, being so cold, so many things. They have the best, sourest, ice cream where called Maracuyá. It is made from passion fruit. I think it is actually a sorbet, doesn't seem like dairy to me, but I could be wrong. WOW, the first bite is so powerful, but then it's yummy ! 😀 Jose Mejía, Me, Silvia Ordoñez at 4 th floor Crepes & Waffles in Cacique Mall.
This little dove is called "abuelita" or little grandma. My guess is that they get their name from their gray heads, the male much grayer than the female. They are common to find cleaning up around any food vendor area.
This little Orange-Fronted Yellow Finch was bouncing around the trees near the open air classroom I was working in at St. Patrick's school in Bucaramanga. I kept trying to get a photo from the front, but he/she would not cooperate.
Today I am assisting Silvia in the remediation of the Oral English Exams of students. I spent six minutes with each student asking and answering questions. This is a small private school here in Bucaramanga. The class rooms are all open air and there are a few covered patio areas to work also. There are fruit trees all over that the students can eat from if they get hungry. They have three old macaws at the back of the campus near some of the classrooms that keep saying "hola." When you walk in there is a pond with fish and turtles. A hot lunch is prepared in a small kitchen, today we had grilled chicken, some sort of seasoned carrots with greenbeans, fried plantains, and steamed rice. Check out that "school bus!" What an amazing environment to learn in.

13 November 2017

Hormigas Culonas is a type of leaf cutter ant considered to be a delicacy and a source of local pride in Santander. They are harvested in the spring, after the rain. I wanted the Colombian experience, however I did not realize that was going to include eating an ant! 😲 Silvia picked the ants up at the road side market. I was so not ready this! The ones she bought were roasted and salted. The taste was not bad, it reminded me of salted peanuts, the texture was like eating popcorn and having a bunch of kernel stuck on my tongue. It was definitely more the thought than the taste. Silvia bought be this cute little ant key holder so that I will never forget the experience. 😘😀😘
Chulo are a vulture found all throughout Colombia. With an average wingspan of just under five feet they can be seen gliding in the thermals in the city as well as in the countryside.
Guane is literally at the end of the road. This small town only has about 100 residents but many visitors. Guane is well know for its multitude of fossils and the paleontology museum. Fossils are found all over the town as decoration and also used in its architecture. Primary agricultural crops in the region include coconuts and pineapple.
Barichara is known for its stone work. From its architecture to its fine art, you will find that it is primarily done with stone. We stopped at one of the road side carving areas and picked up stone scrap to be used as hones (for sharpening knives.)
Curití is a small town in Santander. The name Curití comes from the indigenous word for "weavers." The inhabitants of Curití use a plant called Fique to make fibers that they then dye and weave into all sorts of beautiful creations. We had a lot of fun wandering around this little town. Natalie, Lilliana, Andres, Silvia, Me
Barichara Santander Colombia is a small colonial town founded in 1705, and currently has a population of about 7,000 residents. Known for its rock work, this quaint town with cobble stone streets sits high above the Río Suárez. Considered to be one of the most beautiful small colonial towns in Colombia, it's name comes from the Guane word barachalá meaning 'place of relaxation.' The giant hormiga sculpture lends to the significance of the ants in this area. We saw this little poodle outside one of the shops and while dressed to impress she really was not up to socializing.
Chicamocha Canyon is located in the north east part of Colombia in the state of Santander. This large canyon is 141 miles long and reaches a peak elevation of 8,780 feet. The canyon was formed by the Chicamocha River, which later joins the Fonce, Suárez and Sogamoso Rivers. There is an incredible change of temperature when traveling through the canyon. When we reached the bottom it was so hot and humid. There were so many beautiful places I would liked to have stopped, but it is a narrow highway of switchbacks with very few places to safely pull off the road. At one point, after dark, I could look up and see several lanes above us. There is an expansive mesa across the canyon called Mesa de los Santos. I think that this might be a trip I want to do on a motorcycle the next time I visit Colombia. 😀
Anyone who knows me knows that I love my cup of morning coffee. My sweet husband makes coffee when he goes to work in the morning and leaves mine in an insulated mug so that It is ready when I wake up. One of the things I really wanted to see was a coffee plant. Andres found a small crop along side the highway and stopped to pick me a few beans. I forgot to photograph the beans until a few days later so they are starting to whither. These plants are on fairly level ground, however most of I those I saw were on very steep terrain. I have yet to figure out how it is even possible to stand on the ground and pick them. Colombia produces about 11.5 million bags (60kg or 132 pounds each) of coffee beans each year. This is down from previous years due to climate change.
Sabajón is an eggnog type drink made with aguardiente (firewater), milk, egg yolks and sugar. Not my favorite, but then I am not an eggnog fan either. Many of the little shops that sell deserts will also have this available and you can buy it by the shot glass size cup. It is kept in many homes to offer guests when they visit and also a staple at celebrations.

12 November 2017

The fun continues on Tio Antonio's farm. This pool is fed by a spring from the mountain. Water flows out the other side and is used for irrigation. So much fun to be had on the farm. Natalia, Lilliana, Angelica, Leo
I was not sure what Silvia's dad was trying to say when he said "Deana boom" while swinging his arm. I soon learned he was inviting me to play a popular Colombian pastime game called Tejo. The game consist of 2 "pits" containing clay and these little triangle packets called "mechas" that explode when hit with the "tejo" puck. The lead puck weighs 1.5 pounds and is tossed underhand about 72 feet. The goal is to explode the mechas. Silvia's dad and her brother-in-law and I played for quite a while. I was able to explode two mechas!
Silvia had a lot of fun giving candy out to family, friends and students. Of course her favorite was to give them sour candy. Often they asked if it was hot, but no one ever asked if it was sour. Oh Silvia... LOL. Her poor mom had the most reaction of all, while her dad liked them and had to be warned that they would make his mouth sore if he ate too many at once.
"Thought I don't know what magic the raindrops contain, I know that everything's wonderful after the rain." - Barbara Streisand The view from Tio Antonio's farm after the brief rain was just amazing. The lush green mountainside and rainbow made my heart skip a beat.
Tio Antonio's farm is located across the Río Negro and across another side of his property runs the Río de Oro. We crossed the swinging foot bridge over the Río Negro and walked a short distance up the hillside to the farm. We made our way through the farm to the Río de Oro and sat in the cool and refreshing water until it began to sprinkle and we noticed the water level raising. Better safe than sorry! The first three photos are of the Río Negro and the view from the swinging bridge. The last two photo are of the Río de Oro where we sat in the water.
Yuca, better know in the USA as Cassava Root. Tio Antonio grows this in his farm and harvested a large root bundle for our dinner. It is very common to have this as the starch/carbohydrate with your meal. Often boiled like a potato and then topped with some sort of sauce or just a little salt.
One of the many Brush Finches I saw in Rionegro while on Tio Antonio's farm. By the time I got back with my camera this was the only individual I could find. Such pretty birds. ❤
We all have a bad hair day now and then, but for these chickens, it's a way of life. Tio Antonio has quite a few of these crazy feathered chickens on his farm.
Tio Antonio's donkey parked near the river. Check out that little bird sitting in the saddle. ❤
One of the many roadside stands along side the highway on our way to Rionegro. Pull off the road and tell them what you want, they will bring it right up to your window. Humm...the original drive through and much healthier! ❤
Today I met the rest of Silvia's family. Her mom prepared a wonderful meal in preparation for our arrival. These yellow round fruit are called uchuvas (a type of gooseberry) and I really like them!
We arrived at El Dorado airport at 5: a.m. for our flight to Bucaramanga. The elevation there is much lower and much warmer. I can't wait to see this area as it is where "our Colombian kids" were from. I look forward to seeing a few more of them too. Bucaramanga here we come!

11 November 2017

Tranvía de Bogotá is a trolly that takes you on a two hour tour around the Candelaria and other historical sights in Bogotá.
Carrera 7 is one of the main streets in La Candelaria. On Saturday it is reduced to foot traffic and atrisens. There were several fun street performers. This "baby" draws quite a crowd as well as creates a lot of noise. The detail in the hand beading was amazing. There was so much variety between the color and design of the various artist.
I have always been amazed watching these painters in various YouTube videos. I was thrilled to finally see one in person. This young man was not too far from the Museum of Gold, in Bogotá. Of course I had to purchase the painting. Figuring out how to get it home without crushing it was another issue. I ended up purchasing a piece of PVC pipe, rolling it up and putting the print inside the pipe. The piece survived my suitcase with no problem!
The Botero Museum, established in 2000, was a delight. Located in La Candelaria the museum houses 208 pieces, 123 of Botero's own work and 85 pieces by other well known international artists such as Picasso, Renoir, Monet and the like. Botero was born in 1932 in Medellin Colombia, and currently lives in Paris. He is most known for his depiction of people and figures in a voluptuous state which represent, depending on the piece, political criticisms or humor. His work can be seen around the world and is commonly replicated in prints and art for sale in the tourist areas of Bogotá. So worth a visit and the price is right! There was no fee to visit this beautiful museum.

10 November 2017

While visiting Antonio Nariño University (UAN) I was treated to a performance by some students who were performing tradional music of the indigenous people of Colombia. They did a wonderful job and drew quite a crowd.
Plaza de Mercado del Restrepo - This is a very popular market amongst the locals and tourist alike. Here you can feel what its like to shop and live like a Colombian. This is the largest market of this type in district and containes about 750 merchants. Mind you, most spaces are only about 8x10 feet or so. Each one is very small and cramped, but boy can they fill the space. A few of the things you will find include fruits, vegetables, terra cotta, meat, fish, cheese, several types of animals and tropical fish, artificial and real flowers, health foods including plants used as medicine and woven goods. It is quite amazing. The market is 2 stories plus vendors around the outside of the building. It reminds me of the Santa Cruz Flea Market multiplied by 10. I hope to revisit the market one more time before I leave.

9 November 2017

I was warned extensively about Altitude Sickness. So I did a lot of research to combat the way it make a me feel by staying hydrated, having small light meals, not over exerting yourself the first few days. Thankfully I have not had too much difficulty. Breathing is my worth problem, but since I am asthmatic it kinda feels the same. I just have to watch my activity without pausing other wise I get dizzy and feel like I am going to pass out. Many people get much sicker. Today Lyda brewed me some tea from coca leaves that is supposed to help my body adjust to this high altitude. Supposedly it will also make me very sleepy. So, good night from Bogotá ❤ Update: I slept like a rock! And it is definitely much easier to breath today. I will drink another cup tonight. The flavor is not bad, but not the first tea I would reach for just to have tea.
I was surprised to see pizza delivery being done by motorcycle. However, after a few days of seeing the traffic in Bogotá I soon realized that the only way to have hot pizza delivered was to have it done by motorcycle.
Parking garages in the USA have never really been my favorite thing. They are huge and often feel insecure. Bogotá is a whole nother story. They have parking garages and lots that were designed to hold just a few cars, but they pack them full. First you must find a lot that has a person standing at the entrance waving a yellow and black checkered flag, that is your signal that the lot has available space. You must leave your keys with the lot attendant just uncase he needs to move your car to get someone else's car out. They will fill the few parking stalls with just enough room for the driver to get out. Passengers exit before attempting to back into the stall. The center is filled bumper to bumper. What should be a 3 point turn is more like a 10 point turn as you wiggle yourself into a spot. Some of the entry ways are so small that these little cars are a bit of a challenge get into the garage even with the mirrors folded in. Most US cars would not fit.
I absolute love the street vendors that are so prevalent in Bogotá. You can buy just about anything from someone who is making their living with a little cart on a street cornor. I also had to snap a quick photo of the pizza delivery motorcycle. Almost all pizza is delivered by motorcycle as they move faster through the congested traffic.
This Colombian man was playing a type of music called "joropo". He was more than happy to play us some music. It was amazing! Apparently there is a type of dance related to the style of music.
For lunch we went to Leños & Palos. I would say it is a Colombian BBQ. There is a parilla grill right as you walk in the door with various meats cooking over a log fire. We had mamona which is the seasoning or flavor they used on veal, chorizo sausage, boiled potatoes, fried plantains and fresh guacamole. To drink I had a coconut lemonade which was surprisingly good. The sign that Silvia is under says "meat and fish prepared with the techniques of our ancestor llanero (a llanero is an inhabitant of llano who works as a cowby or herdsman) I would totally eat there again.
Silvia, Lyda and Mireya all teach at Antonio Nariño University in Bogotá. This university site encompasses 8 city blocks and averages 6 stories tall, all accessed by stairs. Talk about a work out! There are two additional campuses for UAN in Bogotá. The brickwork at this campus, and in Bogotá in general, is outstanding.

8 November 2017

Donkeys in Bogotá! - In a city with 9 million people and an incredible number of cars and motorcycles, you can only imagine my surprise to see a donkey in the middle of it all. This fellow was happily chowing down on the scraps from the street vendors.
Arhuaco are indigenous people of Colombia. There are approximately 15,000 Arhuaco here. Their main economic activity comes from livestock, especially cattle and sheep. Depending on the temperature of the area they live they also grow coffee, potatoes, sweet potatoes, garlic, avocado, corn, sugar cane, banana, tobacco and cassava. I love the smile on their faces. Their traditional garments make them easy to identify.
San Alberto is a coffee plantation here in Colombia. This little cafe is located at the Museo de Oro in Bogotá. I was fascinated by the design and use of the brewing tool on the counter. Each mug of coffee is embellished with some hand pored design. Almost too pretty to drink...almost! 😀❤☕
I loved this shell on display at the Mueso de Oro. There are seven very thin, hand hammered sheets of gold enveloping this shell. It is so old that the shell has now disintegrated and is just a shell of gold. The crown has little hanging discs that make a tinkling sound when it moves about while worn. I can't help but be amazed at their creativity given the "primitive" techniques and tools they had to used.
The Museo de Oro - The Gold museum has many displays of pre-Columbian gold and contains the largest collection of gold artifacts in the world. Displayed with pottery, stone, shell, wood and textile objects, these items, made by the indigenous people give us a glimpse into the lives and thoughts of the different cultures which lived in present-day Colombia before the Spanish conquest of the Americas. There is a fascinating display of gold artifacts were recovered from Lake Guatavita from which the legend of El Dorado is founded.
Good Morning Bogotá! So in typical Silvia style I arrived to find that things had changed. We are longer staying at the hotel La Gran Fortaleza. When she went to check into the hotel there were "💋people working👠" nearby. We had previously discussed staying with her friend Lyda. So, with Lyda we are. Housing is different here. A mixture of residential and commercial buildings all together. Next door is a laundry/dry cleaner, across the street is little bakery and market. Cars are not parked on the street, they are parked in neighborhiod lots for security. This morning they fixed a breakfast of scrambled eggs and fried plantains. Oh, and Colombian coffee!

7 November 2017

Just boarded the plane for the final leg of my journey. The trip from Dallas Fort Worth to El Dorado Airport is 5.5 hours. These new planes have interactive maps that you can watch as the plane travels. I was very surprised to see that it was -60°f at 37,000 feet. Maybe that's why each seat had a small pillow and blanket. Unfortunately it was just about dark when we left and I was unable to see the view.
Well, I am at the airport in San Francisco. Just a few more hours and I will be on my way to Bogotá. I didnt sleep much, if at all last night. Just way to excited and wondering what I was forgetting. I curled up in one of the red chairs thinking I would sleep some. Just as i was falling asleep a gentleman woke me as the flight was boarding, but it was not my flight. Still, it was very nice of him to try to help. The first leg of the flight is to Dallas Fort Worth in Texas. With the exception of the San Frqncisco Bay, most of the view was very brown, not much rain and the end of a hot summer.

6 November 2017

Well, my bags are packed. Finally. I think I have literally everything but the kitchen sink. Mickey and Minnie Mouse antenna toppers, Smucker's Orange Marmalade, calendars, pens, 2 camera bodies, 4 camera lenses, various other photography essentials and probably a few non-essentials, a wide assortment of American candy, my laptop, 21 sets of rubber stamps for teachers, CPAP, a surge protector power strip, spf 110 sun screen, protein bars, jerky for the flight and even a few rocks...yep, you read that right, rocks. (More about the rocks another day.) I have weighed and shifted items around to try to ensure that each bag comes in just under 50 pounds. Now to sleep 4 hours and hit the road by 5 a.m. Colombia or Bust! I can hardly believe that I will be in Bogotá in 24 hours. 😀

1 November 2017

A conversation somewhat like the following between Silvia and I earlier this week... Mom, can you bring some Whoppers when you come? Please" "Sure" "I want my students to try them." "Oh, you can't buy Whoppers there. (Me now thinking 'ooh I can take other kinds of candy for them to them too') What can you buy there? (So I know what not to buy) Thank goodness for 50% off day-after-Halloween candy! I have picked up several different types of candy to take to Colombia. I am thinking I may need to take an extra suitcase for all of the things I am taking to share. Later, talking to Scott. "Humm...what should I bring back from Colombia?"... we both said "coffee" at the same time. Great minds think alike.
Well, today was the day I had planned to order my Colombian Pesos. I have read and researched the best way to handle the foreign currency exchange and decided pre-travel exchange was my best option. The online banking site says next day or 2 day delivery. Today is the first and I leave in the seventh. No problem! Wrong... COP is not a foreign currency stocked at the exchange house and has to be special ordered. The estimated delivery date is the seventh. So now back to option two, exchange in Colombia.

30 October 2017

Silvia has arranged lodging for our first four days in Bogotá. We will be staying at La Gran Fortaleza Bogotá, near the university that she teaches at. Incredibly the cost for this hotel is $66 usd for all four nights. We shall see what the total is after taxes and what not are added. But still, wow! I will update this with the final cost later. Update: we did not end up saying here as it was more of a "pay by the hour" establishment. Prostitution is legal here in Bogotá as it is considered a work opportunity.

18 October 2017

Tickets are purchased! I can't believe I am actually going to Colombia South America! I have wanted to go for so long. I look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. My flight leaves out of San Francisco Tuesday the 7th at 10:04 a.m. and heads to Huston Texas, where I will spend a little less than three hours and then I am off to Bogotá. I will arrive in Bogotá at 12:15 a.m. on Wednesday the 8th. So many things to figure out and do: International Health Insurance, exchange currency, traditions and customs so I don't accidentally offend anyone, cell phone service. Let the packing begin! I leave in nineteen days! 😀