Monday, 12 November 2018

Colombian Family History

Our wimpy 4x4 we rented--it had no guts, but man we would have never made it on some of those roads without 4x4.  Leo was really worried about driving in Colombia, but he did great.  Bogotá is a crazy city to drive in and navigation was hit and miss. We had a navigation system in the car that was good for getting to a town but not great for getting to a specific address.  We used a combination of Waze (a Colombian app that crowd sources traffic info) and Google maps on two different phones and the car's system to mostly get where we were going.  We did buy a cell phone plan for a cell phone while we were there because we knew we'd need it, but the cell phone was old and huddy because we needed an unlocked phone.  So by the end we figured out if we hot spotted Leo's nice phone from that phone we could get around fairly effectively if I read out the directions in advance because there was a pretty good lag on google maps.

One of the houses on the side of the road to La Pena. We saw a lot of sugar cane processing mills, lots of sugar cane and actually a really nice basketball court (not only random but rare, usually there's only soccer fields). I have to say though, that Colombia where we visited on the whole looked way more prosperous than the Cusco area, and way more prosperous than when we had been there 9 years ago.

So we had four days in Colombia to do family history work.  The first day was a bust.  Leo had to go to get his passport paperwork submitted in downtown Bogotá. After he got back, we went to a nearby mall to to buy a cell phone plan and eat lunch at Crepes and Waffles and then we drove to Tenjo and got there 15 mins before it opened, but we were worried about getting to Pacho so instead of waiting we kept going, and then we got stuck in traffic and the rain and we got to Pacho 30 mins after that parish closed.  Then we drove 3.5 hours to get to Villeta.  I actually felt we were pretty blessed because despite getting lost, we found our way back and it was thundering and lightening which we could see yet we never had to drive through the rain, which I was really worried about because the roads were so terrible and we could barely see as it was. And the rain was pretty intense because we saw the aftermath of landslides.

The second day we went to Utica, and the office was closed (not what the website had said) but the secretary helped us find a few records before trying to get rid of us.  On one of the records we found it said the couple was married by the priest from La Pena.  So she suggested we drive to La Pena and check the records there--we wanted to be back at Utica at 2 PM and I thought it kind of a wild goose chase but she said it was just up the mountain and we assumed we could go and then maybe hit some of the other nearby parishes.  As it turns out it took us 1 hr and 20 mins to drive the 17 km.  But the secretaries were super nice there and despite going past their closing time for lunch they helped us look through all their records and we found absolutely nothing.  So then we drove back to Utica just in time to get a snack before they opened.  The secretary there quickly realized she did not want to help us and just let us look through ourselves like I wanted in the first place.  We found a lot of names and went through most of the books--but we could definitely go back and look closer (females in particular and I think we missed a marriage book and maybe a death one) but we were looking intently the entire time the office was open.  So then we got back to Villeta in time for dinner and I had an hour long massage which was nice.

The next day we drove to Bogotá to pick up Leo's passport.  And then we went straight to Pacho and got there before the parish office opened.  (Pacho was supposed to be where Leo's great grandfather was from.)  There we waited for about 2.5 hours while the secretaries looked for us and found nothing.  They absolutely refused to let us touch the books there. After a waiting so long we went in to beg some more and they finally were willing to look through the indexes like we wanted in the beginning and we found a whole family of Colmenareses, but not related, at least as far as we know yet.  And then we drove to Supata trying to get there before it closed but missed that by 20 mins because of a big truck stuck in a mud hole on the road.  So we went back to Villeta and went swimming. It was a bust of a day too, except for swimming.

The next day we were really bummed about our day before.  And we had a couple ideas of where to go: Facatativa (the dioceses where we were hoping to find out where older records from Utica had gone) and Subachoque (we'd been there 9 yrs ago and found records and Leo had emailed and we knew they had more) or Supata (another place that Leo's mom had thought her grandfather was from but that's what she had said about Pacho).  Leo wanted to go to Subachoque and I wanted to go to Faca but we prayed about it and Leo felt that we should go to Supata.  So we went and when we got there the secretary was sick so the priest was filling in and he initially told us that we'd have to come back another day because he didn't know how the books worked and didn't have time to help us.  Leo was really disappointed but I convinced him to give our sob story of leaving tomorrow and coming all the way from the US, etc.  So after waiting for some people to buy masses he talked to him again, and the priest let us look at the books ourselves (huge blessing there) and so Leo started through one book and I started through another and almost at same time Leo and I both found the Colmenares family we were looking for in our respective books.  We then spent the next hour and a half frantically going through the books taking pictures of the records, but we didn't even finish either book completely before the office closed.  But now we know where to go back to.  Yay!

That afternoon we visited Leo's grandmother Carlina and then we went and saw his uncle Eduardo and cousins Raul and Alejandra.  Then we went to eat--it was 10:30 and we hadn't eaten since 7 AM because we had been flying from place to place.  I think whatever food we had in Pacho made me sick too.  I felt awful.  Luckily by morning I felt better and we flew home.

Some of the records we found.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Villeta, Colombia

After a week and 2 days in Cusco, we headed to Bogotá.  We stayed two nights at an airport hotel in Bogotá, but the rest of the time we stayed in Villeta--kind of a resort town for the wealthy in Bogotá.  And we did stay at a resort--for about the same cost as a Hampton Inn in the US. They met us with cocktails at the door and were super accommodating.  This was the view from the back.  They were so surprised that we left early and came back so late every day, they even offered to let us stay another night free so we could fully experience their resort.  But we had to fly home, so we couldn't.  Really why we chose Villeta and that resort was because it was close to all the towns where we wanted to search the parish records.

Mango tree of the patio.

I loved that view.

Leo and I did go swimming one night and hang out in the jacuzzi.  That was delightful.

Sweet outdoor kitchen.

The sitting room inside.

And the inside dining area.

Our bedroom. I'm kind of sad we never set up our hammock.

This is out of order but when we arrived in Bogotá we went straight to our favorite restaurant, Crepes and Waffles for some ice cream.  There's one at the airport that's open 24/7.  Yum.  Mine was a chocolate hazelnut ice cream in a chocolate cup.  It was divine.  We ate there again at a another location on a different day too.  I pointed out every one I saw but Leo seemed to think only twice was enough.  Ruff.

Also our very last night in Bogotá we ate at El Corral Gourmet--which is a burger place, but it was really late (10:30 PM)  and we hadn't eat since 7 that morning, and it was one of the few places open and they had steak which is what Leo wanted.  It was the best steak of our whole trip and my burger--called the Filet Mignon burger was literally the best burger I've ever eaten in my life.  So, so good.

Mangos.  Yummy.  These fruit trees were all in the back of the resort--they said if we saw any ripe we could pick it and eat it.  Leo found a passion fruit and they whisked it away from him and brought it back all cut up.  The main manager literally told us that they wanted us to feel pampered.  It was kind of weird actually and Leo and I both are definitely not used to being treated like that.  I did get an hour massage which was nice because driving around on crazy roads all day gave me a headache and my shoulders were super tight.  The massuese kept commenting to Leo about how tense I was.  The massage was okay but she could have done it ten times harder with how knotted my muscles were. (Full disclosure--I've only had one other hour massage like that and my friend Alisha, who I paid to give it to me really rubbed hard and now with my grand expertise of two massages, I know I like it much harder rather than softer.)  But she did that whole warm stone thing and that actually was the best part.

A new section of Bogotá.



Ate all our meals here.  That's fresh pineapple and freshly squeezed orange juice that they served before they brought out my omelet for breakfast.  It was delicious.

Ahh, dinner at Crepes and Waffles, it was delicious.

Okay, random, but Colombia is obsessed with beauty. It has the highest amount of plastic surgery in the world. I always feel so underdressed in Bogota. So men's shapewear makes sense, but man, it's weird to see.

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Lake Titicaca y the Isla de Taquile

On Saturday night we caught a overnight bus to Puno and spent Sunday on Lake Titicaca and then caught an overnight bus back that night to Cusco.  It was a fast trip and one that I wish I could have extended but you know there is tons of things I wish I could have gone and seen in Peru, I'm glad we made it down at least for one day.

They gave a little demonstration on how they make their islands.  The guide was pretty funny.

In Peru almost everywhere we went the houses had solar panels, even on floating islands. Inside they had a tv and cell phones.  I like how they stored things--the knives and other random things like that  were just sticking in the wall of the houses.

They were weird to walk on, like walking on a sponge or trampoline.

We of course took a boat ride.

Moses (the kid on the left) and the other kid--never caught his name--were wrestling and rough housing and running into us and all the other tourists, which the other tourists were not so appreciative of so Leo spent our whole boat ride playing with them. We did get that they were four (they spoke Spanish but it was intermixed with a native language.) Moses had a super runny nose and I had wet wipes and Leo wiped his nose because one of the tourists Moses kept climbing over was worried it would get all over him.  We're good parents like that. Anyway, it made Leo and I both pretty homesick for our kids.

They used to live by catching and selling this tiny fish that is native to the lake but some darn Canadians back 80 yrs ago or so introduced trout and it's eaten most of the native fish so now only the tribe that lives on the island is allowed to catch the native fish--and their limited to what they eat.  I wonder why they don't catch trout and sell that?  Anyway, mostly they survive by tourists now.  At least that's what our guide told us.

Then we headed to the Isla de Taquile.  We had lunch there served by a local family. It was really good--fish and bread and a salad.  The island was beautiful and we got to walk around it before heading back to Puno.

They get everything ferried in from the boats and everyone was carrying stuff back up to their houses--even little kids like 5 and 6 yr olds.

Highest mountain in S. America off across the lake in Bolivia.

I guess this island (I'm not sure if it was other islands in the area as well) is famous for it's weaving and knitting.  And it was some of the best I saw in all of Peru.  I actually bought another table runner here because I loved it so much.

The kids all learn to knit as soon as they can hold needles pretty much and the quality of men's knitting is how women would judge if they were worth marrying or not.  And the belt the men wear are made by their wives--and their wives weave their own hair into it--the idea is kind of like a chastity belt, a way to always remember their wife and be faithful.

This kids was using a squashed plastic pop bottle to roll a ring down the hill.  I tried to catch a better picture but missed.  We saw a lot of young kids (12 or under) selling things all along the pathway.  Maybe because it was Sunday and they were out of school.

Tourist photo op--have to pay for the photo.  Ah well, I liked the sheep.

I thought the water looked beautiful for swimming but no one mentioned or talked about swimming (other than when they were talking about building their islands), I wonder if the water is too cold or why swimming isn't more a thing there for tourists to do--or maybe the outhouses over the lake deter people?

When we got back to Puno we walked to the plaza and made ourselves some Nutella sandwiches.  And then we had a lot of time to kill and we didn't really have any money with us (since I bought the table runner) so we called Mom on Skype and we talked to all the kids and wished Elena happy birthday.   If you want to buy souvenirs (just FYI), they're way less expensive in Puno than Cusco.