Tuesday, 29 December 2009

In Bogotá

So Christmas pictures are on hold until I can upload the pictures to MY OWN computer, and since we should be moving into our house on Wednesday, it shouldn't be too long. Till then, more Colombia pictures. Anyway, above is a picture of a church that's up on the mountain in Bogota. I wanted to hike up there, but I didn't want to try to drag my two kids up the mountainside as well.

These were some random pictures around Bogota. The horse carts are illegal, but you see them everywhere anyway. And there's little fruit stores like that on every corner. You also see guards with AK47's pretty frequently too.
Here's some more pictures around Bogota, the red bus is pretty typical of all the buses there. Some of them are so short that I had to hunch over when there were no seats and I had to stand. Most of these pictures are around the Candelaria section of Bogota. It's the old part of the city that is a couple hundred years old. Very pretty. Really the only pretty part of Bogota.

These are all from that are too. But I lied, the part of the city up by the Universidad de los Andes is also really pretty.

I really like obleas. We've found them here in the states in Florida, but in the little street vendor carts they have all these toppings...yum! My kids really enjoyed them.

This was at the military museum. We went to this museum because it was close and it was free. It was interesting. I liked looking at all the old uniforms.

The kids (and Leo) liked climbing all over the military
equipment they had. They didn't want to leave that part actually.
This was in the Plaza de Bolivar. It's the central plaza in Bogota. It's a big tourist area, where you can buy llama rides, as you can see. Also, there are tons of pigeons, or rats with wings as Leo and I refer to them.
Here's more pictures of the Plaza, here you can see all the buildings around it. There's the Palacio de Justicia, and one's the Casa de Narino or President's house (like the White House), and the Casa de 20 de Julio where their Declaration of Independence was signed, and a really old Cathedral.
And just for a bit of a history lesson, here's another tidbit:
The Palace of Justice siege (Toma del Palacio de Justicia in Spanish) was a 1985 attack against the Supreme Court of Colombia, in which members of the M-19 guerrilla group took over the Palace of Justice in Bogotá, Colombia, and held the Supreme Court hostage, intending to hold a trial against President Belisario Betancur. Hours later, after a military raid, the incident left all the rebels and 11 of the 25 Supreme Court Justices dead.
Crazy, eh?

Monday, 21 December 2009

Boyacá y Otra

One day we spent visiting purely tourist destinations. One of which was the Salt Cathedral. I thought the dome in the above picture was really pretty, but Leo and I were both more impressed with being underground than with the cathedral. Here's the factoid about it:

The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá (Spanish: Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá) is an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine 200 metres underground in a Halite mountain near the town of Zipaquirá, in Cundinamarca, Colombia. It is a very popular tourist destination and place of pilgrimage in the country.[2] The name "Salt Cathedral" is mostly to attract tourists - while a functioning church that receives as many as 3,000 visitors on Sundays, it has no bishop and therefore no official status as a cathedral in Catholicism.

The temple at the bottom has three sections, representing the birth, life, and death of Jesus. The icons, ornaments and architectural details are hand carved in the halite rock. Some marble sculptures are included.

Here's a nativity scene from it, I just stole these pictures from the web, but I thought this one appropriate for the Christmas season.

Ahh!!! I just deleted the really cool picture I had of the guy roasting meat over an open fire. But you can see the results above. That was one of the best meals I ate in Colombia. SOOO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I really like meat.) I'll have to post that other photo someday when I have the chance--it's on a different computer.
After the fabulous lunch we drove through this area of Colombia. I don't really know where we were, but it was pretty. It was also interesting because it was a section of Colombia that makes a lot of leather. Along the hillsides you'd see big hides staked out on the ground drying. It was like stepping back in time.

Then an hour or so down the road, we hit a totally different type of countryside, it was more rugged and there were natives in ponchos and leading burros everywhere. (Think Juan Valdez). All the hillsides were planted in potatoes.

Then we arrived at our destination. Boyaca. It was where the decisive battle was fought that won the revolutionary war for Colombia from Spain. It had a flame that's always going. Like the one here in the US by the grave of the unknown soldier.

The kids had fun climbing on the rocks. That was some kind of monument too, but I forgot what for.
Then we hiked up the hillside to the monument to Simon Bolivar. Then we ran down the hillside. That was fun. It was a steep hill. Anyway, lots of driving, I was pretty grouchy that afternoon, but it was all worth it. Sorry, I would post more historical notes about Boyaca, but I'm feeling lazy.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

El Museo del Oro

Leo and I had a break from the kids one afternoon, so we were able to go to the Museo del Oro in Bogota. It was amazing. I've never seen so much gold in my life. But then it is the largest collection of gold in the world, so I guess it's the most I could possibly ever see. I liked these monkey earrings.

The breast plates and other ornaments kept making us want to hum Book of Mormon Stories...Hee. Hee. Here's a little snippet about the museum.

"The Banco de la República Gold Museum, in Bogota, Colombia, displays an extraordinary selection of its pre-Hispanic goldwork collection - the biggest in the world. Together with other pottery, stone, shell, wood and textile archaeological objects, these items testify to the life and thought of different societies which inhabited what is now known as Colombia before contact was made with Europe."
In this one Leo's holding his finger in front of the display case so you can see how little and delicate it is.
Some other cool artifacts.
I think I'm rather a pottery and textile person myself, but the workmanship in the gold is incredible.
This is their most famous piece. It's a depiction of an offering the Muisca tribe made into Lake Guatavita. Here's another quick factoid about that:

"Laguna de Guatavita was reputedly one of the sacred lakes of the Muisca, and a ritual conducted there is widely thought to be the basis for the legend of El Dorado. The legend says the lake is where the Muisca celebrated a ritual in which the Zipa (named "El Dorado" by the Conquistadores) was covered in gold dust, then venturing out into the water on a ceremonial raft made of rushes, he dived into the waters washing off the gold. Afterward, trinkets', jewellery and other precious offerings were thrown into the waters by worshipers."

This was a really cool room, you step inside and the whole room is dark and then they light it up in patterns like water with the music (indigenous chanting) and basically you're surrounded by gold. It represents the same ritual as I mentioned above. Very neat.

And as another random note, on another tour we were able to see workers refining emeralds. Colombia has 95% of the world's emeralds and there was emerald jewelry everywhere for sale. Really, I've never seen as gorgeous of emeralds anywhere in the States.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

La Finca

The first weekend we were in Colombia, we drove to La Mesa to Leo's Aunt Adrienna's finca (farm). It was a really neat drive. It's so surprising to me how much the vegetation and ecosystems can change in such a short time. It was an hour and a half drive and we went from the rolling grasslands to desert looking terrain with cactus, to being completely shrouded in fog with bamboo and thick ferns and foliage all around. So crazy. Beautiful too. Here's some of the shops and houses we passed. They sell everything under the sun along the roadside. It's actually prettier houses outside Bogotá then in the city. Because at least then it's not graffiti covered. We stopped for arepas at this roadside restuarant. They do pretty good business. Cycling is extremely popular in Colombia (I'd say we passed over a hundred cyclists on the highway) and they stop and pick up breakfast and lunch, etc. Do you see the big steel thing in the picture on bottom right? That's where they cook their meat. This is at Leo's aunt and uncle's finca. I want a finca like that. The pool area was gorgeous. And they had mango trees with mangos that were easily double the size of the mangos you see here for sale. Also orchids. I love orchids. And mandarins. I love mandarins too. We had a barbeque and most of Leo's family was there. It was fun. I didn't take all these, but apparently someone thought it would be fun to take a picture of everybody with Elena. Isabel was having lots of fun. I had lots of fun too when she took a nap and then I took a nap. (I was still jet-lagged.)Leo's aunt raises Paso Finos and shows them. Leo took a ride, but I declined. I've learned from others not to ride unknown horses when pregnant. And this is a bunch of Leo's family. I'll try to name them all just for posterity. Hee. Hee. Left-to-right: Wilson, Andre, Leo, Kami, Isabel, ?, Orlando, Sergio, Cesar, and Andre's girlfriend. Hey, I did pretty good. Just missed one. Anyway, it was beautiful there and Leo's family was extremely nice. They were all smitten with our two monos (blondes--Isabel and Elena) too.

Saturday, 12 December 2009


Well, it's been a while. It feels like ages since I wrote last. I feel ten years older too. But that might be because I spent most of yesterday washing down walls and my back hurts. I know, whine, whine.

Anyway, here's a quick update and then I'll try to post about Colombia.

Ana did not make it out of Colombia with the emergency US passport we bought her. She was all smiles at first because she had wanted to stay with her Aunt Claudia, but by the time Leo left her with our friend on the other side of security, she was in tears. By the time Leo returned back to me, I was in tears too. The whole thing stinks. Basically, because it was a US adoption (Ana had already been a permanent resident) they don't recognize the adoption. Our plan after that was to fly Doris (Ana's birth mother) down to Colombia and Leo and her fly out with Ana. Only we need the birth father, Francisco's, consent for that too....and he's moved and Leo's uncles haven't been able to find him. So we may have to publish in the newspaper a notice to see if he responds. That will take two months. Yeah, two months. I feel sick. I always thought at the very least we'd be able to get Ana home for Christmas. But that's when I thought we had Francisco's address. The US embassy has been extremely helpful, or has at least tried to be. The ambassador has apparently set up (or is trying to) an appointment with ICBF (basically Colombia's CPS) to try to arrange something for us. It's not looking good though because it's Christmas and nobody wants to work, and DAS (Colombia's equivalent to Homeland Security) is under allegations for corruption and is going to be dissolved at any moment and new units made up to replace it. (I guess they're hoping that by separating powers there will be less corruption. I doubt it.) So that's that. At least I really like who Ana is staying with. Leo's Aunt Claudia owns a hair salon on the front of her house so she's home all day with Ana, and her 15 yr. old daughter Alejandra is out of school for summer vacation so she's with Ana all the time too. And Alejandra and Ana get along great.

As for other news, our house we're renting is infested with roaches. It's repulsive. Also, it was disgustedly dirty, even though the property managers sent someone to clean. They painted two rooms and the rest they "spot" painted. Yeah, it was so gross, if we swiped the wall with our rags it would leave a smear of dirt and yuck behind. Two walls are completely rotted away in the bathroom (Leo and I never saw that bathroom before we rented because one of the previous tenants was using it.) One of the walls in the master bedroom is a canvas on a frame stuck up against the frame of the house. The light fixture in the kitchen doesn't work. And Ana's bedroom wall is coming off and her window is broken and is "fixed" with strawberry fabric and duck tape. Etc. Umm, yeah, I have issues with all that. I rather expected them, like most places, to paint, clean, and fix the broken things before we moved in. Basically, we decided to give them this next week to fix a bunch of stuff and fumigate and if they don't have it done or won't, we're going to start looking for a different place. Over Christmas. With all this other stuff with Ana going on. I am tired, that pretty much sums it up. (Oh, and in our defense, it was in the evening and dimly lit when Leo and I walked through it , so a lot we didn't see. I didn't even remember there was a fireplace in the living room, that's how little I remembered. Plus, we were in a rush to find a place, and like I said, we expected them to fix it up some.)

However, Leo, my sister Andrea, and her husband Tim are out there right now, painting the rest of the rooms. And the highlight of the week (besides getting back to the USA and eating my mom's homemade chocolates) was that I picked out three colors for our house. "Toast" in the living room. "Bamboo" in the dining room. And a light blue for the nursery that I forgot the name of. So exciting.

So now consider yourself updated.