Seeing as how it's been over a month since we were in Colombia I feel like it's time to wrap up my Colombian posts. Since organization makes me feel all warm and cuddly inside, I wrote the previous posts by theme - doors, graffiti, food, etc. I decided on the themes based on how many pictures I had of each one so that the posts would be photo heavy as opposed to saturated with my ramblings. These last posts don't have a concrete theme because I have many random photos left over that I still really like and want to share but that didn't fit in with any of the other posts. Enjoy.
~ During Christmastime, the streets and parks of Colombia shine bright with colorful Christmas lights.
In Medellin they are so serious about their Christmas light displays that one can take a guided tour to see them in various locations throughout the city. Each place is jam packed with locals, tourists, and street vendors, which, with the lights, adds an electric feeling of energy.
*Lights along a busy street in La Zona Rosa of Bogota
*In the background are lights in a park in the neighborhood of El Poblado in Medellin
*Butterfly Lights that are lit up at night in Medellin's Botanical Garden
~ In the government center of Bogota one can walk right up to the gate's of the president's palace. We happened to be there when the military was doing a changing of the guard and were even able to catch a glimpse of President Santos and his family as they stood on the front steps of the palace to view the event themselves.
~ No trip to Bogota is complete without going to the top of Monseratte, a mountain located in the center of the city that rises over 10,000 feet above sea level. Since the 17th century it's been a destination for pilgrims who want to see the shrine built for the Fallen Lord.
But for those who want to take the easy route to the top there are trains and cable cars that make the vertical climb much faster.
At the top there is a sanctuary of La Virgen Morena (The Brown Virgin/ Dark Virgin) with a shrine to The Fallen Lord , a couple of restaurants, artisanal vendors, and amazing views of expansive Bogota down below - which solidifies the knowledge that you are really high up. I had to walk around very slowly and even then I was constantly out of breath due to the high altitude.
*At night all these figures are lit up during the holidays.
*Inside the gorgeous chapel
*More Homer - I'm telling you they love them some Homer Simpson in Latin America
*Las Chivas - These are tiny replicas of typical buses used to transport people in the country. They are now really popular with tourists and have been transformed into party buses in the bigger cities.
*Wiki Colombia (Cousin Rafael), the immediate family, and the Party Chiva.
*Beautiful hand-woven purses and bags
*A statue of Jesus looks across the mountain top to the white statue of the Virgin Mary on Guadalupe Hill.
~ My extended family on my mother's side is grand. As in very extended. Not due so much to my maternal grandfather, as he was only one of three siblings and his sister never had children, but due mostly to my maternal grandmother. Presumably my great-grandparents were dutiful Catholic Colombians so she is one of twelve children - three males and nine females. Unfortunately the brothers have all passed away as have two of the sisters. Still, everyone procreated and procreated so that our family members in Colombia reach well past fifty people. My mom has so many cousins that I have a hard time remembering names (and an even harder time remembering their offspring's names - my mom's second cousins). I really should make a spreadsheet to help me with that task in the future.
Anyway, this means that when we travel to Colombia we have a lot of people to visit and, inevitably, new children to meet. We are never able to see everyone because they are spread throughout the country but we try to get in as much family time as sanely possible, which means eating often and traveling much. Add to this the fact that we visited Colombia during the holiday season and you'll understand the saying "needing vacation from vacation" perfectly well. I don't think Chris realized all this before he agreed to go but he took it like a pro.
*My mom's aunt, Tia Gladys, welcomed us to Colombia with a live musical performance at her house. She is the one in the red sweater surrounded by the men with whom she plays guitar and sings.
*My young cousins make a wish at a wishing well
*With my uncle and his family - A tiny portion of the extended family
*Celebrating family with aguardiente and beer
*Speaking with my aunt and grandmother in Texas over Skype. My Tia was able to see family members she's never met. I mean, it goes without saying, technology is...wow.
*Los Calvos - My future children are doomed to an adult life of baldness. Sorry Chris with your full head of thick hair...it ain't up to you.
Inevitably in these gatherings there's dancing:
*My dad's moves are sensational.
*If you don't feel like dancing, there's always Angry Birds
In two weeks we visited three cities, saw lots of family, ate, drank, toured, and shopped. I know now that seven years between visits to Colombia is far too long so I need to go more often and stay longer. I want to see Santa Marta and Parque Tayrona. I want to visit Cali, where we lived for three years when I was a little girl. I want to spend time in Manizales, where coffee abounds and where we have family. I want to go back to Ibague, where my mom is from and where my dad did his Peace Corps service in the 70s. I want to get reacquainted with my Colombian roots because they are, after all, half of who I am.
I hope these posts will inspire you to visit Colombia if you haven't already. It's fun, safe, friendly, and beautiful!
*Thanks again to Chris for many of these photos - particularly the dancing and Christmas lights ones.