Come December and a few short days later my family arrived to fill my house and life with joy. I even got them to clean it ha ha.
They stayed 2 weeks (well mom extended her stay and celebrated Christmas with me and then some) exploring Bogotá and a few other places. It was nice to have them around not just to do touristy stuff, help install wifi, or other helpful life stuff but it felt good to be with family and share moments. Moments that these days are few and far between and generally short lived. This time we got a whole 12+ days together.
They enjoyed Bogotá, my dad worked a bit with a family friend meeting big shot Colombians, they explored, we explored, we travelled, they saw how my life is and where it is, they witnessed triathlon training and my swimming struggles, visited many restaurants, and spent time with me. 😀
I worked and trained a lot while they visited but I still had time for them…although i must say I was tired ever single day. While they were here we or they did local touristy things and we did a few trips together. The trips were all an adventure, all at the last minute and all somehow successful. Our first weekend we flew to the beautiful island of San Andres, about a 2 hour flight to an island that is actually closer to Nicaragua then it is to Colombia and where Spanish is not the main language (English and a local tongue). We had 2 full days and we made the most of it, especially me with all my triathlon training. The second weekend I had a triathlon team holiday party and we left town of course to do a mini triathlon. It was cool to have the family see how much effort goes into the sport, have everyone of them present to see my athletic pursuits and understand this side a bit better, and have family cheering for you is always excellent. This was also the first swim ever with a wetsuit for me, it was a really cold swim, i hated it, i finished it and then I finished the whole thing. After the party we did a road trip in the countryside which dad was really interested in doing/seeing. We stopped in Nemocon to see salt mines I had not visited yet and made our way back to Bogotá via back roads through Zipaquira. We even ate typical greasy roadside food which everyone at the time was very excited about. The last trip I did just with mom over Christmas because I had extra days off. We headed to Salento in the Coffee area of Colombia. I wanted to go to see Cocora, the National park with the highest palms in the world. In the end we even went for a coffee tour. We enjoyed the trip, beautiful views, cute but vibrant town, and mom did Cocora on horseback (she loves horses).
I have a lot of memories from their visit. Below I share some of my favorites (they are pretty funny too).
The day I went home at lunch with the intention to take them to see where I work. I had kind of mentioned I would be home but upon arrive I find Carina still sleeping and no one else around. haha I check a hotel nearby (since I had no wifi they frequented the hotel nearby to borrowed wifi – they were virtually hotel guest that just didn´t have a room, it was pretty funny) for my parents but only found dad who was lost and surprised that his daughter just appeared in front of him (a funny moment when you think about it since he probably forgot he was visiting me and not in Seattle where this would never happen) and mom was still nowhere to be found. We never actually made it to my office but I got dad to take a break from work and we got Carina out of the house and to the park a block from my house. We chatted awhile and then each went our separate ways…he he leaving Carina in the park to get fresh air and people watch since a city of 8 million always has people. I guess what I liked most was chatting with them and being happy that Carina got out of the house and Dad stopped working for that 1 hour. We were able to connect a bit and catch up, it felt good. Well that and it´s a funny story because we left Carina there for 2 hours alone, hehe but I think she liked it ;).
One evening I got mad at my family for staying at my house, creating a mess and not cleaning it up. As if I was the mom or something. ha ha I managed to get mom to sweep the floors but as it turns out she doesn´t do that much and has no clue how to sweep a floor. I ended up teaching her while dad, the cleaning expert, was laughing at us…like how the heck is this even happening with my own family. LOL I remember this moment a lot especially when I sweep the floor. ha ha Anywho after that day everyone kind of cleaned up after themselves. HA HA
The first day when they arrived, it was a holiday, I thought it was a great idea to take them up to Monserrate since I had free time and altitude difficulties really kicks in on day 2, plus I had never been. We went up, all slow with Carina but at some point everyone kind of disappeared from each other on their own journey, Carina sat on a chair, Dad went off quickly exploring and somehow mom tagged along with me. Mom and I went in the same direction as Dad but slower. When we got the restaurant area we caught dad sitting exhausted on a ledge ha ha …yep the altitude got him good. Nice try at going fast Dad! ha ha Monserrate was a good experience for everyone, especially with a great sunset and Christmas lights, a very pretty time to visit. Its a great place to see how huge Bogotá really is and well kind of escape the craziness below. Mom liked it so much she made me go back later with the idea to hike up but there had been a landslide so we had to take the funicular again.
That time I showed my mom and Carina the Zona T and they were both in awe because they never would have discovered it without me since it is hidden away from the main streets. Once it was discovered they were there everyday…ha ha They enjoyed the Zona T because it has so much going on including shopping, which they love ,but also because I work here and they could chill at Starbucks, message me with the free wifi and then see me between work and exercise and then tire me out with a late dinner after exercise all in the same spot. I know typical gringos and Starbucks, let alone Seattleites…ja ja but it worked well for us since the whole area is open late. I finished night swims around 9 pm. Besides the continuous visits, I also sent them in a hired taxi to see the Candelaria, Museo de Oro and Botero Museum….some musts that I just wouldn´t have time to show them otherwise. Again another area they would later return to with dad to checkout some emeralds (my mom´s new obsession and a Colombian native stone).
The time I sent mom to pay my bills at a bank and get Carina a wheelchair. This alone sounds like an adventure, right? I have no clue how mom actually managed to pay my bill since she doesn´t speak Spanish, and I am sure the whole experience of other world banks is just insane but she did it with the help of a few key words scribbled on a tiny piece of paper and I am forever grateful she did since I literally had no time to do it. In addition to this I sent her to rent Carina a wheelchair a few blocks from the house. This was an excellent fail with an ever after ending. The place although close was nowhere she had been to, even with an easy to understand address and what seemed like simple directions she managed to get lost. I meanwhile was working out of town and on my way back on bike. I was going fast to try to get home on time for some planned event with the family that I am pretty sure got cancelled last minute, typical. Almost to the house I spotted mom walking on the sidewalk, not sure how I saw her since I was on a bike paying attention to buses and cars, etc and not the many people on the sidewalk, but I saw her and stopped. Turns out she was in search of the wheelchair and not very close to it, so I got off the bike and we walked there. Turns out she wasn´t even prepared to put the deposit down for it even though I told her the steps she needed to take to rent it, so it´s a good thing I found her. As soon as it was rented she took off walking it home and I returned on bike. The wheelchair was well received since it really helps Carina get around without wearing herself out (she´s also a trooper when it comes to walking around but it can be dangerous when her legs get weak from too much walking and she refuses to acknowledge that they are tired). I later made mom return the wheelchair alone..he he
The typical family visit always includes a crazy walk with Carina in her wheelchair. She is usually scared of the ramps (Bogotá has some pretty steep ones) and the use of the street (nothing new here since we tested this in Panamá last year, although I think it still scares her..oops) but I think she enjoys them. This time we took the 100 up to carrera 11 and made our way to dinner in Parque de la 93. It was a fun trip on a street they had not been along, one that has ciclovia so that too was new to them and enjoyable since not many bikes use it at night. The trip gave mom a new street to explore the next day and Carina some out of the house time.
A clear memory I have is from my swim in San Andres from one island to another some 1500m (maybe more since I didn´t go straight). My memory in general of San Andres is of lots of extreme exercise (2 laps around the island on bike, a run halfway around, and a swim, island to island- wow, yes, triathlon training). For the swim we first had to negotiate a private boat, my parents came with, Carina couldn´t because it would have been hard for her. This negotiation alone took a bit of time but in the end I got my price and we were off. We stopped only at the island for a short time and then headed out for the challenge. Let me put this into context, I was gong to swim in the beautiful blue ocean, did I mention it is the ocean, yes beautiful of course. So oceans have waves, huge waves, so that was fun in itself and my first time doing a swim in the ocean! The water was clear, you could see fish, etc, I saw few as I was trying to just survive… then at some point I freaked and thought I saw a shark, turns out it was just the shadow of the boat…oops ha ha. I stopped several times, once because I was dumb and did the swim without the swim cap aka hair in my mouth and had to ask my mom to tie my hair back while I clinged to the boat, and a few other times to see how far away the island was from me since the waves didn´t make anything easy to see. Above all I remembered dad telling me ¨you´re almost there¨ even when I wasn´t and my mom telling me ¨you´re doing great¨ while I yelled back ¨yeah but your not the one swimming¨ or something in spanglish or ¨I hate this¨. and the boat captain saying ¨dale¨ aka just do it. Funny thing is these little cheers while swimming made me believe I could do it and continue even if none were true…For example, I had just started the swim when dad first said I was almost there…ha ha ha (I guess I was closer, so it counts) It was an experience for everyone in that boat and for me and I did successfully finish the swim. I was happy, accomplished and more confident (especially returning to the pool the following week) from this experience. If anyone ever wants this experience, there is a triathlon in March on this island and this is the exact swim!
That time I went with mom to Salento. What I learned is that my mom is a trooper! Anyone who knows me well knows I walk around a lot, I mean a lot. Nothing changed on this trip, we went exploring with mom always by my side, she never really complained but you could tell she was tired and very hot. First off, my parents didn´t bring any summer clothes (even though I said all weather clothes are needed here) so both San Andres and Salento were harsh hot environments for them. Our first day in Salento we walked around exploring, we were already tired having celebrated Christmas the night before with some friends and had to wait forever for taxis to return to work (since all went home from 11 pm – 1:30 am to celebrate in family) but this didn´t stop us. Yes, here Christmas Eve, like nearly the whole world, is more important than Christmas day, in fact in Bogota I was amazed by the amount of people on the neighborhood streets at 8/9 pm freely walking around, no one worried about safety or was scared of the dark. I swear it´s the only day of the year this happens and it was amazing, the streets fill with the joy of the holiday and the houses fill with laughter and light. Anyhow our flight was at like 6 am and then followed by a 1 hour taxi to Salento, we dropped off our bags and toured the town. Mom was dying of heat while we walked everywhere with lots of pauses to rest, then day 2 we went to Cocora and I walked a lot while she took a horse and walked back. Our last day we decided to do a coffee tour which I was told was a 15 minute walk from our hostel (yes, hostel, but an eco friendly and relaxed one and yes I know 15 minute Tarae time)…turns out this 15 minutes was a complete lie, it was a long hour and then some walk along a hilly country road (we obviously took a 10 minute Willys (taxi) back to town to catch our bus out. The tour was good, we actually picked the coffee beans. Although we missed one tour by 15 minutes and had to wait and again mom was dying of heat. She´s quite the trooper, I don´t remember any complaints about walking which is good just about the heat..ja ja
The times Carina gets excited and moves her butt like no other. It´s really quite simple. When you say family photo. Ha ha this woman is the first out of the car or out of the seat with the biggest smile on her face no matter how she is feeling. I love it. We love you Carina.
One more for the books, on Christmas Eve mom wanted to climb up to Monserrate, like a pilgrimage, unfortunately the trail was closed because of a recent landslide so we couldn´t do that but we could get up there for mass which was her main goal. As we arrived up top we heard the church bells, mass had started…out of nowhere mom booked it up the hill, yes high elevation, faster then even I could walk in this altitude. I swear some religious elements were making it possible for her to get there that fast and with easy in this altitude. I was surely impressed….the power of God I guess.
Obviously 3 weeks with family there could be more to tell here but I will just keep it to these moments so I remember them and you see and hear about these cool places we visited and our adventures together.