Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Every Sunday here in Bogota, the city holds what is called ciclovia, the Spanish word roughly translated to "cycle-way."  Basically, the city shuts down several of the major roadways to vehicles and opens them to cyclists, runners, walkers, and any other pedestrians.  People take full advantage of ciclovia here, and we are no exception.  One of our favorite things to do is strap D in his stroller, set E up on his scooter and walk (while E scoots) the roughly three miles down to an outdoor market in the area of town known as Usaquén.  The walk is perfect for exercise when you're pregnant and have kids in tow, but bringing a bottle of water is essential.  The weather is usually really nice, but being at such a high altitude usually leads to dehydration quickly.  

D will sometimes fall asleep during our walk and E will request an occasional break to ride on daddy's shoulders, but it's a good walk none the less. 

One of the roads during ciclovia.
E is on the far right riding his scooter.

When we arrive at the market we usually stroll the crafts tables to see what's new.  During our first trip we purchased a hand-carved, wooden puzzle truck for the boys to play with and a hand-carved and hand-painted wooden jewelry box for me.  S and I were celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary at that time and apparently the gift for 5 years is wood.  S surprised me with it and I couldn't have been happier.  It's beautiful and I love it. 

One of the many beautiful buildings in this area.

E checking out the hand-carved piggy banks

Hat anyone?

These guys were awesome.  Both my boys were dancing to the music.

We've been to the market a few times now, and although we love seeing what's new, we have definitely found our favorite vendors.  The one guy who sells his homemade hot sauce is top of our list.  His hot sauce is GOOD and because Colombians generally don't do hot foods, this is a nice treat.  There is also the lovely woman who sells her own coffee and another woman who sells beautiful,  brightly colored fabrics for table cloths, place mats, etc.  We purchased a set of her place mats during our last visit and finally had the pleasure of using them the other night when guests came over for dinner.  

After strolling the market during the morning, we usually duck into one of Usaquén's many restaurants for lunch. There is a decent Indian restaurant nearby and a fabulous Peruvian place that we tried last time with our friends.  I was quite impressed and can't wait to go back again.  

Sundays are fun here in Bogota.  When we're not relaxing at home or chilling at the park with the kids (awaiting the arrival of baby #3) we are hitting the ciclovia streets and heading to Usaquén.  Family ad friends--get ready!  This is on the top of our must-do list when you come to visit!

Hammocks for sale.  Wishing we had a backyard to hang one in!

One of many street performers

A very Colombian style bag.  Love the colors.  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Beach Trip: Santa Marta

I can't believe it has taken me nearly a month to blog about our second trip to the beach in Santa Marta. Just like with our trip to Cartagena, we took advantage of a three-day Colombian holiday weekend, tacked on an extra vacation day, and hopped a 45 minute flight to the Caribbean coast. Unfortunately, we can't drive to a lot of places in Colombia due to rules and regulations, so it's a good thing flights are cheap and quick.  

We left on a Friday morning and arrived by that afternoon.  S and I had booked a bungalow on the beach at a well-known and well-reviewed resort in the area, and we were excited to have our own little bungalow for three days.  So, I was a bit disappointed when we arrived and we were informed that our reservation had been lost and they were trying to locate something else for us.  That quickly led to "Oh, sir, we have upgraded your room due to our negligence, please follow me."  I was hesitant to even believe we were upgraded--after all, they could have been feeding us any lies to get us to stay--but we were pleasantly surprised when we opened the door to a beautiful one bedroom suite complete with kitchen, living room and balcony.  It wasn't a bungalow like we had hoped (it was in the actual hotel part of the resort on a high floor) but we definitely couldn't complain.  In fact, it ended up being perfect. We realized that after the sun went down, the mosquitoes came out with a vengeance and we could only imagine the number of mosquitoes we would be dealing with in a bungalow, tucked away in the jungle near the beach.  We were grateful for the higher floor away from the hungry little monsters. 

Once we were checked in, we did our usual routine.  We spent the afternoon at the pool where we treated ourselves to some lunch and ice cream, and later ordered room service for dinner.  We have become room service junkies while on vacation, but that's just because it's sooooo easy and still affordable.  I remember growing up we wouldn't even dare look at a room service menu on family vacations because it was way too expensive.  Luckily for us, we are living in our second country where it is both affordable and delicious.  

The rest of the weekend was spent going back and forth between the beach and the pool, but mostly the pool because we have a certain 4-year old who has finally  conquered his fear of swimming and has turned into a little fish.  In fact,  E and I spent one morning collecting sea shells and jumping in the waves before he passionately requested to go back to the pool so he could practice his swimming.  He started off the weekend holding on the the edge of the pool and swimming along with his face in the water, but by the end of the weekend, he was jumping into the deep end and swimming up to 15 feet to his daddy's waiting arms.  He was so proud of himself and of course mom and dad were proud too! So, not only will the Santa Marta trip go down as a great family vacation, but I will always remember it as the vacation where E learned to swim.  

D had fun floating around in the big pool too, but he mostly preferred the kiddie pool which was all of 1 foot deep and easy for him to splash around and walk in.  That kid is fearless, so we spent a lot of time trying to ensure he didn't jump face first into the water.  He;s getting swimming lessons next just because he clearly loves the water and if we don't get him to learn soon, I'm afraid he will do something dangerous.  

By Monday morning we hopped a flight back to Bogota but vowed to return again.  It was so beautiful and we need our beach fix, especially since it's a constant 65 degrees here with rain nearly everyday. We will be back!

The day of arrival.
The ladies at the front desk gave the boys matching hats.

The gigantic and super fun pool.  There was a water slide too.  

S and his boys
Hanging out on the balcony the next morning.

E enjoying a swing in the hammock...
right before mom and D piled in and the whole thing collapsed.
Lesson learned--don't put a pregnant lady and her two kids in a rusty looking hammock!

Breakfast at the rooftop restaurant of the hotel

Beautiful birds during breakfast

View from the restaurant

We spent the morning at the beach...

Until E decided he had enough and insisted on going to the pool

Early morning view of the beach before the sun burned off the haze

Me and my sweet boys

This is by far my favorite series of photos:
D was enjoying his own private photo shoot until his brother stepped in on the action.
Can you tell he was a little annoyed, lol?

Sunset view on our last night

Saying goodbye to the resort

The view from our gate at the airport.  Gorgeous.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


A few weekends ago we loaded up the kiddos and headed to the Botero Museum which is located in La Candelaria, or the historic district of Bogota.  The artist, Fernando Botero, donated over 100 pieces of his own artwork in order to create the museum back in 2000.  Other international artists' works are on display there as well, and the museum itself is housed in a beautiful old colonial mansion that is open to the public for free.  We were unaware of that fact, so we were pleasantly surprised when we were allowed to stroll right on in.  

We arrived a little after noon, so we grabbed a quick bite for lunch at the museum cafe. I do not recommend it if you are ordering something more than coffee and pastries.  The food was horrible and took more than 40 minutes to arrive, which, if you have small children you know is a nightmare. Thank goodness for the outdoor courtyard where S and I took turns taking the kids out to play.  

Bad food aside, the museum was wonderful.  I love when the architecture of the building feels like a part of the artwork on display.  I've said that about the Guggenheim, and I will say that about this place. The old colonial vibe just made it all the more enjoyable.  

S and I, and E--our little museum guru--really enjoyed walking from room to room and taking in all the paintings, sketches and sculptures.  D relaxed and observed for approximately 30 minutes before he was screaming to escape his stroller.  No bother. S and I just took turns with him outside while we each went in with E.  

In the end it was a fantastic day and E even got a little note pad as a souvenir.  He has yet to draw or write it in though because he is "saving it."  For what, I have no idea, but I'm sure we'll find out soon enough. 

I'm not quite sure what this building is, but it was right outside
the museum and I thought it was gorgeous.

Ditto with this building.  I will find out, I promise!

The Botero hand at the entrance to the museum.

This is the museum from inside the courtyard.  Beautiful.

E loved this

Believe it or not, he's laughing because the statue has no arms.

If you look on the top of that mountain you can see  Monserrate.
I'm sure we will be venturing up there soon enough.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Photo Home Tour!

You know you want to see it.  You know you're just dying to take a peek at our new apartment. Well, now that we're officially "moved in," I won't deprive you any longer.  

While our HHE was officially here (in country) when we arrived back in May, we had to wait until the second week of July before we could have it delivered to our home.  All the stuff we had packed up in Turkey last January sat in a warehouse at the Embassy during those two months while paperwork was processed.  And believe me.  It was a process.  We also had our car shipped to our apartment too, but unfortunately, we still can't drive it.  We are still waiting on the insurance to go through and for our license plates to arrive.  Until then, Uber it is!  And it's a good thing our neighborhood is so walkable. 

Anyway, back to the apartment. I briefly explained about our housing situation just before our arrival, so I won't go into that again.  But just in case you forgot, we ended up with a two-story, three bedroom apartment in an excellent neighborhood.  Three bedrooms means that the boys will have to share a room for two years, but they seem to be loving it and I haven't heard any complaints.  The baby will get her own room once she arrives this fall. Needless to say, we really love our home.  And now that we're all settled in, we love it even more.  So, without further ado, here is the grand photo tour:

First up, the kitchen.  I absolutely love this kitchen and the amazing view of the mountains from our window.  I'm also convinced that we are seeing a running theme in our Foreign Service houses: blue cabinets.  We had them in Adana, and we have them here.  I don't mind though.  I like a little bit of color.  And they provide tons of storage.

Next up, the main living/dining/sitting rooms.  It is basically just one giant room off the kitchen that we divided into three spaces.  We couldn't run a cable down to install a TV in this room (don't ask me why-it was too confusing to understand in Spanish) so we use this as our "formal entertaining space."  We do, however, eat at the dining table every meal (no eat-in kitchen here) and keep a bin of toys stored away so the boys can play while S and/or I cook dinner.  

The fireplace wall

"Formal" living room (with M dog chilling on our Turkish carpet)

View from the stairs.  Thank God for Ikea slip covers on the sofas!
The sitting/bar area behind the formal living room.  Unfortunately,
I can't find slip covers to fit those chairs, so they are draped with throw
blankets until I figure something out.  They're just a little too...brocade, for my tastes.

Dining room (which is just off the kitchen)

We put a couple bookshelves under our stairs to fill the empty space.  And of course,
a dog bed :)

Next, the upstairs--we turned the landing into a play space/TV area for the kids and filled our built-in hallway book shelf with more books and photos.  The kids' bedrooms are on either side of the TV area and our bedroom is down the hall.

One side of the play area. Again, I'm in dire need of slip covers.  These chairs will
not stay white for long in this house--three kids and two pets...I'm just sayin'.

The other side of the play area.  Our boys have entirely too many toys. 

The boys' room (E's side)

D's side of the room (should have gotten a better picture of his crib)

This will be the baby's room/guest room.  Still a work in progress.

Built-in bookshelf in the hall

The Master bedroom and bathroom below



And last but not least, my office.  It's downstairs tucked away behind the kitchen, so it's nice and quiet. It was supposed to be the empleada's room if we had gone the live-in route, but I wasn't into that.  So, I turned it into my office.  I had a bit of trouble getting Internet to work down here, given that the walls are made of concrete and our Internet is connected upstairs, but we've got it all figured out now.  And again, I have an amazing view.  


So that's it!  Until next time...