How was your weekend guys? A good one? A sunny one? A cozy one? An adventurous one? Ours was cozy and filled with friends. I still cannot believe how behind I am on posts in this space. But maybe that’s good– I have more stories than I can keep up with 😉 I had this grand plan that I would catch-up up on everything and then be able to post daily journey style on our way out to guatemala. This doesn’t seem like it will be the case. Colombia already feels like a lifetime ago.
It wasn’t. It was maybe a month ago?
I wish I was better at time.
I have no idea.
I know a lot of you guys were curious about our Colombia trip. And like it says in the title, Colombia was not exactly an easy trip, but it was for sure a good one.
I think when we plan trips we all have this rating scale set up in our heads. And we decide is the place we think about visiting really a tangible trip or just too difficult and too far out of reach? Flying to a place we once lived to visit family: easy. Flying out of the country to a resort town in another (English-speaking country): slightly more challenging, but still easy enough. Flying across the world to another country where you do not know the language: challenging. And then there are of course all the little details that help decide this rating scale. Is the place: A climate I love or can tolerate? Accommodating to my dietary restrictions? English-speaking? Easy to navigate and travel through? Easy for pre-travel bookings? Easy to travel to with kids? One with clean water or a low chance of a stomach bug? Etc. etc.
It’s funny because, my family is from Colombia. And I still have family in Colombia. I know the language well enough (it’s never been an issue when traveling to other Spanish-speaking countries). I didn’t really need to worry about booking a hotel. I knew there would be a lot of fruit. etc etc. There are so many signs in planing in which I felt like this trip could be sitting on the “easy to travel” side of a travel rating scale. And yet, it was maybe one of our more challenging trips.
I mean, the trip wasn’t so difficult. And it wasn’t actually bad at all. And traveling back to Colombia is definitely something we plan to do again soon (probably next summer again). I just can’t really explain why this trip would be harder than me going to mexico or guatemala– neither of those places has been difficult for me to visit, not even on the first visit and not alone with Marlowe.
The only real difference would probably be the climate. Which left me wondering, how unhappy would I be to still live somewhere cold? And… left me worried, will I be unhappy feeling the cold in Guatemala every night? I’m not sure. I moved to Florida for a reason: heat. I love the heat. But do I need it so much that I can’t find travel (longer than three days) truly enjoyable in the cold? I’m not sure. Something worth testing I guess. (And yes, “cold” is subjective.)
But we did have a good trip. And our visit to Bogotá (well the suburbs, we avoided the city) was really just a little blip/glimpse into all that Colombia has to offer. There is so much more that I can’t wait to explore one day. But this trip? We went with a purpose: to see family in Chia.
I’ve wanted to visit my family in Colombia for some time now. I haven’t been since I was around Marlowe’s age– or actually younger. A long, long time. (Too much time). I’m not really sure why my mother never took us back when we got older. Whether it was difficulty, safety, expenses, or just pure lack of convenience, I’m really not sure. I have three real memories: a playground on a corner, an indoor cement wall, and a pizza that tasted too sweet for my liking. But honestly, the third memory could have taken place anywhere– but Colombia feels right– being surrounded by Colombian family convincing me that that was/is the taste of pizza in Colombia and it was good and I should like it.
So with my obvious lack of personal experience and avoidance of research, I really didn’t know what to expect.
We knew a few things though: plan for rain and plan for cold. And boy, was it rainy and cold! I must have asked my aunt a handful of times, “does it get warm here?” Over and over I would ask. I was expecting that eventually she would tell me yes, ‘the climate climbs at some point in time’. It doesn’t. Year round in the mountains: a morning chill in your bones, a soft drizzle throughout the day, and clouds overhead. And yet, she was so happy waking up to the cold (again, subjective) and having a tiny peek of sun each day to warm your bones– but only if and if you were outside, standing directly in it. Something to look forward to each day.
Honestly, I think Alex could have spent every single day in bed. The three of us all struggle with “cold” temperatures. But I think it has surprised us both to see that I can in fact tolerate the cold more than him. Yes, I lived in the cold longer, but he lived in it more recently. But both this trip and our last to Guatemala has proven that. He tends to lay in bed, under the covers longer when its cold. While I think about doing this all day, I can and do jump/climb out of bed and start the day, even in the cold. Somehow I can force myself to be productive (enough) in it.
I didn’t plan much for this trip. I’m typically a big planner when it comes to trip (as you can see by my post about our Central America road-trip) — or at the very least I like to make a list of all the places I can eat and the places I want to see. And then each day I wake up to check the list and see what adventure we’ll tackle. I didn’t do that in Colombia. To be honest, I was lazy. But it didn’t matter, because as soon as I booked the flights, a flood of suggestions starting coming in from my aunt. And I thought: she’ll be our tour guide. And she was. And she was a great one. I could wake up each day and ask, “whats on the plan for today?” and she’d give me a list and we’d go from there. While I don’t think I would choose to travel like that all the time, it worked to our advantage in Colombia. I appropriately named her “tia guia.” — I’m clever I know.
As we learned, getting around isn’t the easiest thing. I mean, there are a lot of transportation options, but unless you know the area (and know it well), it all seems like an impossible maze game.
For reference: my grandmas home is about 30-35 KM away from the airport. And it took us about 3.5 hours of highway and traffic to arrive there. We flew From Florida to Colombia in faster time.
I learned that Chia is the ‘moon town’. Apparently the Muisca people (an indigenous group to the region of Bogota) had two main gods: the sun god, Sue and the moon goddess, Chia. I actually took a few courses on Religious deities in college. And I did very well in each… even though I can’t remember much (if any) of it now. But to learn that my grandmothers town was named after a goddess of the moon? Well, that was a random fact that pleased me a bit. And yes, if you’re wondering, these are the things I’m googling at 3 and 4 am when I can’t sleep at night.
I think the only really touristy thing we did was visit the salt mines in Zipaquira. I think you guys are well aware that we usually skip the touristy parts of places. But we thought this one might be worth a visit. The crowds and my hunger were both a struggle. But I’m happy we did it. I don’t have any photos, but I actually took a good bit of video! I want to put together a video of our trip. Not necessarily for the blog (though I might post it) but more so for family memories 🙂
The truth is, we knew food would be a difficulty. But I still hoped for the best and that maybe with some creativity we could find some vegan options in an otherwise non veg-friendly town. But oh man, Colombia is not a vegan friendly place, not by any means. In one town, my aunt said to the waitress “the thing is they are vegetarian, they don’t eat meat” and the waitress offered us rabbit. Man oh man, Marlowe was sad to hear “conejo” being offered to her as a practical food option. We ended up bingeing on yuca fries and plantains.
You know, I’m definitely not one of those people who expects there to be food options for me. Especially after all my restrictions. I’ve very much learned to deal with the fact that I might be hungry for a long time before I find something that my stomach can tolerate. But I think what surprised me was not the lack of vegan options, but instead the abundance of cheese and meat. And I think I mentioned this before and maybe this is gross, but I questioned everyday, “do Colombians EVER go to the bathroom?” I think the answer is, “no, not ever.” haha. Now I finally understand why my mom wasn’t worried when I went to bathroom maybe once a week as a child, heh. If you are not aware: pooping (without much effort) 1-3 times a day should be your healthy target. #themoreyouknow.
It was like a moment of glory every time we did find a vegan option. Like the gods had opened the clouds and thrown magic and love our way. We found a random vegan veggie burger in what seemed to be a festival of only cheese and ice-cream options — Marlowe was skeptical at first, but then very happy. And the people serving her were so sweet 🙂
One of my favorite things may have been the old cars everywhere. Taking care of old cars makes so much more sense to me than junking them for new car upgrades. And they were so cute and so many were colorful too 🙂
And avocado carts everywhere. And a vegan cake! At a cute bakery in chia, St Honore.
There were amazing fruit markets EVERYWHERE though. So yeah, maybe we couldn’t find almost any prepared vegan food everywhere, but gosh, the produce markets are something to be jealous of. So many types of passionfruit, the biggest guanabana I’ve ever seen, and just endless options of fruity magic. Oh and so cheap. SO so cheap. Like, 500% cheaper than the states.
The flowers were also something to be jealous of. I’m not sure at what point in my life I started noticing flowers everywhere, but I definitely do. Actually, another memory just came back to me– a memory of me eating a flower in Colombia. A little girl had convinced me to do it.
We spent a lot of days sort of just driving around, taking in the sites. On one of the days we saw the prettiest church high up in the mountains and I pointed, “WHAT IS THAT PRETTY THING!” And my aunt took us right up there, haha. Of course we finally got a family photo, but I forgot to take an actual picture of the church. You win some, you lose some right?
The hike down the mountain from the tiny church.
I have a million photos from our trip to Colombia. This is just a short set. I have photos from all our different adventures. There were a lot to be had. While we slept in Chia at my grandmother’s house, we explored during the day often. On this walk, I was taking photos of this gorgeous front yard and the owner peeked out. I smiled and yelled, “Tu casa es muy bonita!” Then waved and ran off… such a creeper I know. But such beautiful space and fun color 🙂
I’m looking forward to sharing more with you. I’ve wanted to share our Colombia pictures with you since we arrived there. And part of me thinks I should have on the spot. But I’m particular about certain things, and going in order of our life and adventures seemed right. But maybe not as right anymore. Do you guys have a preference? Do you care if I share my journeys in chronological order or in an order that feels emotionally acceptable? Maybe I should adventure less and ramble more… but that doesn’t sound fun either 😉
Like is a bit upside down over here. Hoping to update you guys on our new Guatemala plans— or whatever little plans we do have. As mentioned, things have shifted a bit for sure!
Thanks for being here friends <3