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.