Whelp, it seems I got a bit of blogger’s sickness and haven’t posted about Easter vacation, let alone where we are right now (hint: it’s like Maine, but with funny money). But before I get into that, here’s what I should have posted in April:
For Holy Week we popped over to the kiddos’ fourth continent (depending on how you count them). We were approached by a fellow international school teaching family to swap homes (Thanks Matt & Bekah!) and jumped at the chance to experience the warmth of the Colombian people, if not the climate. Actually, we were looking forward to the chill of the Andes and were not disappointed. With a feel of cloudy England or the American Pacific Northwest, we tried to soak in the cool air while we could before returning to Panama City. Bogota’s thin air luckily didn’t cause any problems, though the offspring had their fair share of minor stomach bugs at the end of the week. That said, the food was pretty awesome, and people were great!
One of the nice things about a home exchange is that I don’t have this sense that I’m paying “x” amount per night for a bed and so need to squeeze out as much “stuff” as possible from a place in the short time I’m there. So it’s fine to just chill in the apartment and watch a movie. The week was an excellent balance between sloth and activity - something for everybody!
We joined our ISP amiga Dani on a graffiti tour in downtown Bogota, which was certainly one of the highlights of the trip.
Afterwards we had decent French food for lunch and then enjoyed the Botero museum.
Bogota is at 8,660 feet, and our kiddos did not show any signs of altitude sickness. So we decided to test them further by hopping on the gondola to Monseratte, a church and a few shops looming over downtown. Even at 10,341 feet, everyone did pretty well, and the view was super impressive.
After taking advantage the apartment’s backyard zip line and rope swing, we hit the road for a little excursion to Villa de Leyva and Raquira. Great dinner? Check – Municipal Mercado. Highly recommended! Great street food? Check – arepas filled with cheese with a side of (huge kernaled) Andean corn. Crazy colorful street scenes of crazy stuff to buy? Check – though we must admit that the pottery we bought in Raquira is black.
Villa de Leyva and Raquira are a few hours outside of Bogota so we got to see a bit of the countryside, and truthfully it reminded us a lot of California in March (after a rainy winter).
On the way home we explored the highly recommended Catedral de Sal, a cathedral built in a former salt mine. After experiencing and explaining the stations of the cross to the (not so little any more) little ones, it was time to see the main sanctuary, which was bumpin’. Granted, it was Good Friday. For dessert we joined the “miner’s tour” and took pickaxes to the walls. We got to take home a bit of salty wall to add to our eggs!
Overall, a fabulously varied exploration of an Andean metropolis and its environs. As everyone had told us, the people Colombia (like Mexico) were so, so kind. It was tough to leave, and with other Colombian cities to explore, I know we'll be back!