And now Colombia.
I’ll try not to make this one long and rambling, but we were there for two weeks. And did so much that’s worth noting. And so much that’s not really worth noting but I’ll probably note anyway because those are the things I like the most.
This trip was a workation of sorts. I went along with a family that I babysit on the side (my side bae’s, if you will) on their trip to Bogotá, Colombia! I’ve never traveled as a nanny before and I wasn’t sure how much I would like it since I’m pretty in to personal space, but it was so much better than I ever imagined!
First of all, Colombia gets a bad rap. I can’t tell you how many people were surprised that I was going there or warned me against it… but good thing I don’t really listen, because it’s such a beautiful country! I really only saw two parts of it, but it was enough to make me fall in love. We stayed in a part of the city that is really safe and popular and I could wander around by myself. All I actually did while wandering was drink a lot of coffee (I miss you, Juan Valdez!), buy so much that I had to get another bag for the trip home, and just stare at anything and everything I could. My favorite part about Bogotá is that it’s this enormous, bustling city that’s tucked right into the side of this lush, green mountain. It’s this beautiful contrast that got me every time.
Some of my favorite memories:
My birthday: This happened to be our very first day in Bogotá. We all slept in, explored our neighborhood a bit, got some empanadas at a street vendor (my first ever empanada!), and braved our first grocery store trip with all of us. And then that night the family I was with had some of their closest family friends (who live in Bogotá) come over for dinner. They were some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met! They make you feel like part of the family from the moment you meet them. They sang to me in English and then in Spanish and we had more cake than any of us could handle. It went in the books for one of my very favorite birthdays!
Downtown: This day was full of museums, walking, and crazy taxi rides. One of the family friends, Jorge, took me out for the day to see some of the sites that the kids wouldn’t have been interested in. We went to the gold museum, a military museum, Simon Bolivar’s house (one of my favorites!), and my number one favorite – The fat museum! That’s not actually what it’s called (missed opportunity there), but it’s a museum filled with paintings of chubby everything. Chubby people, chubby horses, chubby guitars, chubby skeletons, chubby pencils – everything. I loved it. Felt right at home. We also walked a lot through these amazingly tiny, brick filled roads. All of which seemed to lead right up to the mountain. It was so picturesque, yet I couldn’t get a picture to fully capture it.
Food festival: Oh my lanta, the food festival. We completely lucked out in that this festival happened to be there the two weekends we were. And literally 3 blocks from our apartment. Favor ain’t fair! We tried as much as we could – sausages, pizza, fries with shrimp, ice cream, popsicles, arepas (GLORY), and the weirdest fruit (specifically one nicknamed snot fruit… I tried so hard to like it but honestly it made me gag, much to the disappointment of our Colombian friends). What we didn’t eat, but not because it wasn’t everywhere (it was), was what we dubbed “meat on a stick”. Because it was literally… meat on a stick. Hard pass.
Villa de Leyva: We took a couple days to head out into the country. It’s about a 2-3 hour drive from the city and not for the faint of stomach (me). We all (plus two of our friends!) piled into a van and headed for the curvy roads! Amanda and I got a tiny bit sick, but hey – two out of nine people isn’t too bad! We got to Leyva just in time to head into their town square for the kite festival. It was packed – like, really packed. And there were nuns. If you know me at all, you probably know that I have a phobia. I can’t really explain it, but it’s very real and usually not much of an issue because nuns aren’t generally just walking around – unless you go to Colombia, apparently. The first time I saw one I tripped over the brick road and stumbled to hide behind Amanda (the mom of the family I was with) while trying to pretend I wasn’t tearing up out of panic (I was, but thank God for sunglasses). After that the family were real champs and helped keep an eye out for me. We had some close calls, but I’m still here. ANYWAY. Leyva was gorgeous. The house we were at had hammocks on the porch and cows and horses roaming. And was just down the street from a Jurassic park – complete with a zipline! Amanda and I braved it, despite not understanding the instructions the first time around (but shoutout to David for coming to our rescue and coming up to translate for us!). Also, the break didn’t really work and you had to hold down with a gloved hand to stop yourself, but that doesn’t really mater because we survived. Right? We also went to an ostrich farm (we got to ride in the back of a jeep on the bumpy dirt roads – my favorite!) where we fed some ostriches out of our hands! Honestly, they were kind of freaky with their dinosaur eyes, but I came away with all my fingers. David and I are even planning on getting ourselves one and naming it Usnavy (oos-nahvy. Not to be confused with “US navy”).
The cooking: We were lucky enough to have so many homemade Colombian meals. Some of my favorites were the breakfast soup, arepas with cheese (almost every day and still not enough), another soup that I forgot the name of (but was SO GOOD), and empanadas! The empanadas were like nothing I’ve ever had before. We were all just eating them as they were made and then waiting for more. NEVER ENOUGH.
Monserrate: This was one of the more tourist-y things that we did, but it was one of my favorites. Monserrate is on the top of the mountain and overlooks all of Bogotá. You have to take a sky tram type thing to the top because it’s 10,341 ft above sea level. That’s like, really high. At this point the kids were getting pretty tired and had experienced a little altitude sickness, so just their dad and I went up. Once you get to the top it’s almost like it’s own little village. There’s a church, some shops (though these are kind of tucked behind the church and feel like some kind of back alley operation), and a restaurant. And the views. On one side you see nothing but city for miles and on the other all you see is mountain on mountain on mountain. It was breathtaking. Like… it literally took my breath away. I ended up getting some serious altitude sickness in the taxi on the way back to the apartment (luckily I waited until I actually got to the apartment for the real “sickness” – but barely). But after taking some oxygen drops (which confuse me… isn’t water already oxygen? Are they just… drops of concentrated water?!) I felt kind of human again and was already thinking how worth it it was. I’d get sick for you all over again, Monserrate. ❤
The people: The family that I went with is one of the funnest families I know. They’re always doing things and going on adventures and just making the best of every moment. It was so fun to get to tag along and be part of the family for a couple weeks! I felt right at home. And the family friends that I met there! They made all the difference. They’re such genuine and sweet people. We especially spent a lot of time with David – couldn’t shake him! Ha. He was so busy with his own school and life, but spent every free minute he had hanging out with us. Even when it meant taking awkward “prom” pictures with me, translating in real time, and escorting me on a night out since I couldn’t go out alone after dark. You’re the real MVP, David!
That was excessively long and I’m really sorry if you read it all. I tried to condense! Actually, I did condense. So I guess you’re welcome, too?
Anyway. You should go to Colombia. I didn’t even see one drug lord, I don’t think. BUT if you do go and you’re blonde I would highly suggest dying your hair first. Unless you want to boost your confidence with lots of semi-creepy stares and catcalls… in that case, you’re all set.