Click the above photo for the video by Tucker.
DAN- It has been so long since I have spoken Spanish with any regularity. The language was not easy for me to learn in the first place and I was pretty nervous that I had left it all in some other life. Instead, a long-dark portion of my brain lit back up. Upon landing, I was chatting away and, while not perfect, it made my heart happy.
The first thing you should know is that Colombians are beautiful. I mean that in both ways. They have a diversity of backgrounds that has melded in Bogota to create some truly fine looking human beings. I have been married for more than 20 years, so I get to say things like this without feeling bad. It’s just the truth. These people are beautiful. Also, they are beautiful, in that they would do anything to help you out. Stopping to give directions, no wait, “let me just walk you to where you want to go”.
They start and end their days late. Eating and dancing well into the evenings. They protest passionately, but are quick to tell you the virtues of their country and they speak in what is widely regarded as the most beautiful Spanish. So much to love.
I originally fell in love with this country 25 years ago traveling and studying with a group that included my life-long friends Derek, Charla and Amy, all of whom should be acknowledged for their incredibly helpful guidance for our time here.
So many wonderful moments. A couple highlights for me were the street art tour which turned the streets into a living museum and biking on the freeways and streets which they close on Sundays in an event called Ciclovía. But the main joy and the real reason for our trip was to spend time with my Colombian families, Carlos and Margarita with daughter Alaana, Ana Maria and her son Samualito and my Colombian mother Livia. Even though it has been more than 25 years since I had seen them we immediately returned to hugs and laughter. Livia’s house was the place we felt most comfortable to be ourselves during the months I spent in Colombia and I was thrilled for us to finally meet each others families in person.
Colombia tu tienes mi corazon.
TUCKER- Bogota was super fun. We got to see friends, eat delicious food, and so much more. But one of my favorite things about Bogotá is the Ciclovia. Every Sunday the city shuts down massive highway routes and opens them up to bikers. It’s so fun getting to explore the usually crowded streets throughout the city on bikes. This tradition also helps keep the people of the the city happy and in good shape. There are also massive markets that you can visit and walk or bike through. You can play games, buy gifts, find cool souvenirs, and see amazing street performers. People make things from bracelets to fresh squeezed orange juice. Colombia also has a massive variety of fruits. I especially love the dragon fruit and passion fruit. There were so many things I wish I could have done in Bogota, but it was time to go. Bogota was so fun and I hope you can enjoy it too.
AVA- Colombia is a colorful and vibrant place. One of the aspects that made it so is all of the street art. There is likely some sort of street art or just some spray paint on every wall. What is the difference between street art and graffiti you may ask. Well, it’s up to you! Some say all art on the wall is street art, and some say it’s all graffiti. I normally say that all of the lettering and names are graffiti, and everything else is street art. Many people specifically hire artists to paint their buildings with the style of art the artist is known for, whether that is sketches, painting, abstract graffiti, and so much more. It’s hard work, but a career can be made out of it. I was inspired by this art, for I felt that I better understood the families and businesses inside the walls of the art. I think there should be much more street art around the world, and Colombia has just kicked it off.
CARMEN- Most days on a certain street in Bogata, there is an extremely large market. This market has almost everything, from fruit stands, to dancing. There is also some weird things, like this one person who had there head painted to look like a baby Mickey Mouse. The man had his head sticking out of a baby carriage with the body of a baby Mickey Mouse doll connected to it, the guy also had some way of making his voice sound really weird. Super creepy Right? Although overall the market was super cool, and we all got some souvenirs from there.
TERESA- Dan has spoken glowingly of Colombia for years, so, I didn’t know if it would meet the high expectations of his nostalgia. This was the only country that we traveled to that was listed with a higher designation for the US State Department (level 3, reconsider travel). However, it was always a dream of his to return and take the kids to this country that he loves so much and to visit a family that had a great impact on him. It was beautiful, chaotic, complex, and wonderful. It did not disappoint; Dan was right.
I felt like it was a country where people work hard and live with a love of life itself. Old couples dance with ease in the markets, making me wish I could move like them. I cannot!
Dan did the majority of the planning arranged for several guided tours. One of my favorites was the Catedral de Sal de Zipaquira. This is an Roman Catholic Chuch built 200 meters underground in a salt mine. It began in 1932 when miners carved a sanctuary underground as a place to pray and ask for protection from the saints. The project continued to include the Stations of the Cross (14 chapels), the Cathedral, Dome and 3 additional naves. It was impressive to say the least.
Obviously, meeting the beloved family from Dan’s study abroad in 1996 was the highlight. We had a blast racing cars at Roby Speed Race in the Centro Comercial Bulivar Nisa, a business owned and run by his friend, Carlos. Giant racetracks fill the space and we took turns trying to best each other while keeping our cars from careening out of control. What a fun and creative concept! They also introduced me to the delicious dish, Ajiaco, one of my new favorites. Getting to meet this family was beautiful.
Bogota Free Grafitti tour – It was fascinating to learn about the extensive graffiti in the city in addition to the street art. It is a great way to understand more about Colombian history and the political environment.
Meeting place: Parque de los Periodistas, Bogotá – Colombia
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Paloquemao Fruit Market I had no idea the number of fruits in Colombia that were new to me! We did two separate tours that sampled fruit and we didn’t even have any crossover!!! Afterward, find and try a Gulupa Lemonade at nearby Ricasole Picadas. It was delish!
Museo De Oro: Interesting.
Museo Botero: one of my favorite museums of the trip!