Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Colombian Excursion (Part I)




"There is no place like home . . ."


Don't get me wrong, I enjoy exploring new places just like the next gal, 
however, let's just say, airplanes and I don't mix.


Things have changed recently with my kids moving to another state.
Planes and I have been forced to reunite.


My husband has family in South America. Being that I'm flying again,
we decided this summer was a good time for me to finally meet them.

So, off we went . . .

In 3 hours and 45 minutes we arrived in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Our adventure began almost immediately.


An hour before we were to land, while running errands on a motorcycle, 
our host had a small, yet significant, accident. 


A pebble ricocheted into his eye, bruising his retina. 
Obviously, and understandably, our ride was delayed.

Without international access our phones were useless.  
No one could contact us or vice-versa.  

We already had a story to tell.

Lesson Learned:
International cell phone access is probably a good idea.


Our first stop, an authentic Colombian restaurant for "sopas de pollo
(chicken soup, Barranquilla style) ~ Delicious!


Lesson Learned:
Take pictures of your food.


The very next morning, we were up and at 'em.
My husband's aunt (tía) was our tour guide.  


Without her we would have been at a complete loss.
She was our GPS.  Invaluable.
Here she is standing in front of the gated commnity
we were blessed to stay in during our visit.

Lesson Learned:
If you don't have international phone access,
be sure to take a "tía" with you.


Husband (Esposo) , Me (Yo), Mom - In - Law (Suegra), Cousin (Prima) , Aunt (Tía)


Catholic Church ~ St. Nicolas

This is the church where my in-laws were married over 60 years ago.  
(My father-in-law "suegro" is with the Lord now.)
I could just imagine how beautiful my "suegra" looked on that day,
and my "suegro" nervous and excited.  


St. Nicolas is located in "El Centro" (The Center),
a historical section of the city of Barranquilla 
where countless vendors sell almost everything:  
food, luggage, prescription eye-glasses, cultural knick-knacks . . .


Lessons Learned in El Centro:  

* Walk fast.  
* Pay attention.  
* Wear comfortable shoes.  
* Wear light clothing.  
* Listen well.  
* Don't be alarmed if you're charged $30,000 for lunch.  
(Smile)


Spanish is my second language, 
I learned what I know speaking to my grandparents as a child.

Each Latin american country speaks Spanish differently.
While the basic rules are the same, vocabulary and expressions vary.

When someone spoke, I could grasp most of what they said, 
but, I must admit, some meaning was lost in translation.  

Lesson Learned:
Go with the flow.  
The experience is the main idea.


The colors of the Colombian flag are painted almost everywhere. Colombia's soccer team played Argentina during our stay.  Adults, teens, kids, even babies wore the colors of their flag in support of their team.


This is a brand-new board walk the city built
by the great Magdelene River. (El Río Magdalena)


When it rains, people must stay indoors because dangerous "arroyos" form fairly quickly.  This is when the river overflows into the streets taking everything in it's path.  
Currently, the government is building a city-wide drainage system to fix the problem.

Barranquilla is under significant construction.  They are building what will be Latin America's largest convention center. Fixing the "arroyos" is vital to their vision.


Lesson Learned at "El Rio Magdalena":  

* It's h-o-t in Barranquilla.  
* Forget about your hair, keeping cool is priority.   
* Don't try to pick up an almost four year old 
after pulling a muscle a week prior.  
What was I thinking?


You know we hit all the malls . . .


This mall is called, "Buena Vista". It has a bridge connecting 2 buildings and four floors, looks like an airport. Beautiful.  

We stopped for some java (café) at a coffee shop  which looks very much like our popular ones. Theirs is called, "Juan Valdez Café".  The coffee was delish! Colombians drink a very dark, rich coffee blend called, "tinto",  usually without cream or sugar.

Lesson Learned:  
Don't forget to take pictures of coffee shops.


Monday, June 29th, was a national holiday called, "St. Peter's Day".
Everyone had off, so we took a road trip to the city of Cartagena, 
about an hour and a half south of Barranquilla.  
This is more of a tourist hang-out. 
There were lots of hotels and beaches and people.



Lesson Learned:  
Don't forget to put on sunscreen.
Ouch!



After basking in the scorching, Cartagena sun, 
we gazed with wonder at the 
Walls of Cartegena, "Las Murallas".  
It's where stone walls and canons, used long ago, 
surround a historical town.  
In the 1800's, many battles were fought here to free Colombia 
from Spanish domination.


We took a horse and buggy tour around the city, 
reminding me of the horse & buggy that picked me up 
to take me to the church on my wedding day, 
28 years ago almost to the date.  



We passed young girls having their Quince pictures 
taken by professional photographers.  


In the Hispanic culture, teenage girls celebrate their 
fifteenth birthday with big fanfare.
If the family cannot afford a big celebration, 
they try to buy or rent a dress to take pictures.


People still live and work in this historical town, 
and many tourists, like us, ride around.  
We were not able to walk through the district due to time restraints.    





Lesson Learned:  
If I ever return to Cartagena,  
I'm skipping the beach and hitting the town.





I hope you're enjoying my picture journal. Come back soon.  Next time I'll be posting pictures of "La Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrina", Simon Bolivar's monument in 
Santa Marta, Colombia and more. 

(Disclosure:  I'm not a photographer by any definition of the word.  
These photos are DIY taken with lots of love and lots of fun.)


Hasta La Vista!  "Chau"~

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