Showing posts from September, 2010

One Family's Return Trip: Best Thing We Did In Valle

Exact Quote:
"Mom, mom, can you believe it? I learned to walk and ride a bike in Colombia!"

Gracias Tío, Tía, Daddy, y hermanito :)

One Family's Return Trip: Buying From Street Vendors

When I went to live in Mexico for study abroad, oh so many years ago, our teacher/advisor told us to avoid getting sick by not eating from street vendors. I diligently obeyed. However, my husband convinced me, on our first trip to Colombia, that some food can safely be eaten. I began to try Mango biche, arepas, roasted corn, and all sorts of food. I have never gotten sick from street food, well except for my trial of sugar cane -- that made me really sick ;).

On our last night in Valle, on our way back from the Coffee park, we bought the most delicious arepas de peto right off street. Just thinking about them makes my mouth water. Don't be afraid of eating these delicious treats from a street vendor :)

One Family's Return Trip: In Home Service

Back in the day, or so my mother tells me, you could get house calls from doctors and other professionals. This is almost unheard of today -- but, not in Colombia. My sister-in-law has this woman come to her home to give haircuts, manicures and pedicures. The cost for each $5,000 pesos (about $2.50 US).

We decided to take advantage of the savings and the males of our clan all got haircuts and I got and manicure and pedicure. The total cost with tip was $15 US. This is what it costs to cut just one boy's hair. Certainly something to consider before coming back to the US, a financial boon for you, and a boost to the local economy -- definitely a win/win!

One Family's Return Trip: El Parque Nacional del Café

We finally made it to the Eje Cafetero (the Coffee Axis). The Coffee growing region known as the Eje Cafetero consists of the departments of Caldas (Manizales), Risaralda (Pereira) and Quindio (Armenia). On a bright sunny morning, we were off to Quindio to go to the National Coffee Park.

This park is truly on the list of PLACES NOT TO MISS!!! It is part museum, part botanical garden, part Disneyland. Unlike many of the other places we visited, the Coffee Park was a little pricey, however, I would recommend that you purchase the Pasaporte Multiple that currently is $49, 500 pesos (about $25 US). This allows you to see all of the attractions and ride any ride over and over. The 7 Aventuras costs less, but you can only do 7 things -- which means if you visit the museum you can only go on 6 rides -- this includes the chair lift to get you to and from the bottom of the park. If you use the lift, you are left with 4 things to do one of which absolutely needs to be the SHOW DEL CAFE. Do not m…

One Family's Return Trip: Empanadas Vallunas

From the NOT TO MISS CUISINE files, comes the delicious Empanada Valluna. They are different from the Empanadas that my mother-in-law makes. For those, you can use the following link to her recipe:

The Valluna version of the empanada are equally as delicious, but they taste different. They have meat and potatoes like those I was familiar with, but the spices are different. The woman that made them told me she uses tomillo (thyme) as one of the spices. This spice was definitely not on the list for my MIL's empanadas. These deep-fried delights are really not to be missed if you want to have a truly cultural Valle experience.

Here is the recipe -- as with any recipe in Colombia -- no one knows how much of anything to use. I hope to test this out in the future, but for now, if you give it a try, and it works out, let me know the measurements you used:

STEP #1 -- Prepare the MEAT In about 8 cups …

One Family's Return Trip: Detour

A few months ago, back in the States, our car got a flat tire. We were told that it would be impossible to fix the punctured tire. In Colombia, however, a similar puncture on the same type of tire can be easily fixed in just a few minutes. This little detour was fixed in 15 minutes, no appointment, no waiting. AMAZING! Oh, and did I mention it was 6:45 am. Double Amazing!!

One Family's Return Trip: El Alcarabán

My sister-in-law's family owns a "finca" (kind of like a cabin, but with fruit trees instead of pine trees), just outside of Pereira. It is called elAlcarabán, after the birds that live on the property. The birds nest on the ground. If you happen to get too close to their nests, they whiz down at you squawking like crazy. You have to hit the dirt to avoid having them attack you. All of the boys thought this was hilarious. "They are dive bombing us!" Came the cry of four glee filled boys making machine gun fire sounds. The boys (and their mom) got to check out our PasoFino skills on this horse. It is a pretty bouncy experience.

And of course, what trip to the countryside isn't complete without a swim. Who cares that the rain made it a little chilly. Such an awesome experience. If you are ever invited to someone'sfinca -- GO!! They are a definite MUST!

One Family's Return Trip: Parque Sarmiento II

Okay, the park not only has a swimming play land, but it also has a river. We arrived after a rain storm and it was running pretty high -- up to the boys' knees -- and my older son was sure that by walking in the river he was demonstrating his Bear Grylls skills . Anyway, they were able to walk the length of the river in the park (about 1/2 mile), while we followed along on a paved path complete with pretty covered bridges. At the top of the park, the boys (Dads included) were able to ride in inner tubes and enjoy a mud fight. If you ask my boys, this was one of the highlights of their trip.

One Family's Return Trip: Parque Carlos Sarmiento Lora

Bewteen Buga and Tuluá, there is a wonderful water park. It offers a great kiddie pool (complete with little water slides) and adult pool area, restaurant, shelters, play area, and....more. The kids liked it so much that we went there twice. The first time it was a week day, and there was hardly anyone there. For several hours the boys and their cousins had the pools all to themselves. The second time was a holiday, and there were quite a few people there --more on that tomorrow.

One Family's Return Trip: Buga

Guadalajara de Buga is one of the oldest cities in Colombia. It was founded in 1555 at the order of Belalcazar. Today, it is most famous for its Basilica del Señor de los Milagros.
The Basilica houses a special wooden statue of Christ. Here is the story: One day, shortly after the founding of the city (in a date unknown and unspecified), an Indian woman who had recently been converted to Christianity (who has no recorded name) was washing clothes in the river. Suddenly, she saw a small wooden statue if Christ float by. She grabbed it and went home and planted it in the dirt floor of her room. Upon awakening, she discovered that the Christ statue had grown. Soon, people were coming to see the Cristo de las Aguas (Christ of the Waters), as it became called. People began worshipping it and adoring it, kissing it, touching it, etc.Soon, the archbishop of Popayán heard of the statue and became angry. He ordered that it be burned. The story goes that in 1665, the statue was thrown into a fir…

One Family's Return Trip: Bathroom Etiquette

Let's face it, the butt of all potty jokes in Colombia is the overflowing trash can in the corner. What is up with that?!?!

At this restaurant there was a sign which read (I tried to take a picture, but it was too dark and when I turned on the flash you couldn't read it sorry!),

"To Our Foreign Clients: Please do not throw used toilet paper or feminine products in the bowl. It WILL clog! There is a can in the corner provided for your convenience."

It struck me as I read this, "DUH! I haven't ever mentioned bathroom etiquette." If you don't follow the rules, this is where you can get in trouble with your host, your hotel staff, or your in-laws ;).

The norm in Colombia (and might I add much of Latin America) is to not flush used toilet paper down the toilet. I know it seems unsanitary, and admittedly it can get a little smelly, however, that is nevertheless the norm. You can throw it in the can next to the toilet.

That said, many times I have thrown the us…

One Family's Return Trip: Gone Fishing

In El Valle, there are a number of places that you can go fishing. They are little manmade lakes that are stocked with all sorts of fish. You can catch the fish and they will cook it right there for you to eat.

Knowing that the odds were in our favor, we decided to give it a try. Our youngest caught the first fish. Our oldest was the last one to catch anything. His frustration level mounting with every minute, but both boys and their 2 cousins all went home happy to have caught fish.

One Family's Return Trip: Cali Restaurant Suggestion

I wish that this picture were as good as the breakfast we ate at KUTY. KUTY is a PANADERÍA (bakery), and so much more.

Actually, it originally opened its doors in 1975, when a pair of sisters decided to try their hand at bread making in Junín. Now, there are new owners and 4 locations in Cali. We visited the one on la Avenida Sexta con 27. It is like a small cafeteria with tables outside. We ordered their signature dish -- omelets. Whatever you decide to order, don't forget to try their Pan de Bono.

If you don't want to leave your hotel, you can order in 524-3040.

There are actually 2 KUTY restaurants in Bogotá, one right near the Plaza de Bolívar -- Carrera 8 No. 15 -96. So, even if you never make it to Cali. You can get a breakfast Caleño.

One Family's Return Trip: Goodbye Bogotá, Hello Valle

We arrived in Cali at about 7 am, and fortunately for me the day was cool. (I was wearing a sweater a real rarity in Cali). We were met by my Brother-in-law whom we haven't seen for many years -- tears all around. With luggage safely stored in his trunk, we were off to see the sights. One of the mandatory tourist sites of Cali is the statue of Sebastián Belalcázar which overlooks the city. And on the day that we arrived in Cali, this group of tourists was no exception. My Brother-in-law took us to see this and other sites in Cali straightaway. Belalcazar was one of the original Conquistadores of Colombia. Born Sebastián Moyano in about 1480. He was left an orphan and raised by his brother. He later chose to take as his last name the name of the city near where he had grown up.

How he arrived in the Americas is disputed. Some say he came with Colombus on his third trip in 1498. Others believe he came with Pedrarias Dávila, and then went on to explore the Darién with Vasco Balboa. Wh…

New Wait List Published

The most recent Wait List was published by ICBF on August 30, 2010. Once again, there has been a lot of movement. Great news for adoptive parents and for Colombian Children!!

Remember, the ICBF Wait List applies to adoptions through ICBF only -- not through CASAS PRIVADAS. It also ONLY APPLIES TO NON-COLOMBIAN FAMILIES. It DOES NOT reflect special needs children. The definition of special needs are children with disabilities, children over 8 years of age, and sibling groups of 3 or more.

All dates have advanced this time!!! YEAH!!!

Also, this list only reflects that there are no more dossiers at the national office prior to the date shown. Dossiers from before Feb 2007 in the 0-23 months category, for example, may still need a referral, but they have already been sent to a region and are no longer at the national office.

Age of Child ------- Date of Application Approval by ICBF
Child 0-12 months ------ Feb - 2007
Child 13 - 23 months ---- Feb - 2007
Child 2 years ----------- Jan - 2006
Child …

One Family's Return Trip: Best Thing We Did In Bogotá

Last year our son's preschool sent home an "All About Me" poster and information packet. It asked a bunch of questions. Questions that unfortunately, we just couldn't answer.

How much did I weigh at birth? How much do I weigh now? How tall was I at birth? How tall am I now? Show a picture of you shortly after birth, and show one now.

The purpose of the activity was related to seeing how things grow. But, when I read the assignment, my heart ached. How I wanted to be able to answer all of those questions!! But, I couldn't. I just didn't know the answers. They hadn't been included in any information that we had received about our son.

About that same time, I went to a church party where the women started talking about their kids. The discussion turned to labor and birth problems, and then finally to a comparison of who had given birth to the biggest baby. As usual, I had remained silent. But then, they turned to me, "How much did your son weigh?" Mo…

One Family's Return Trip: Casa de la Moneda and Botero Museum

Just one block East of the Centro Cultural GarcíaMárquez is the museum complex housing the Casade la Moneda and the MuseoBotero. The CasadeMoneda celebrates the Monetary hisotry of the country. You will see a coin collection that covers the entire history of the country. You can ask the guards or your guide to give you a collectable coin that is minted just for visitors to the museum.
You will also see this Pirate Treasure chest, courtesy of Sir Francis Drake. Again, what boy wouldn't love to see a real live pirate treasure chest. This was a huge hit, though the photographer needs a lesson! As you walk through the building, you also will eventually hook up with the MuseoBotero. A great place to see some amazing pictures from the famous Colombian artist. Both Museums are free to the public.

One Family's Return Trip: El Corral

"Just a bit of Heaven!" That is what my nine year old called our lunch at El Corral. Just one block East from the Museo 20 de Julio on the Calle 11, you'll find a Juan Valdez coffee shop (on the corner of Carrera 6 with Calle 11). If you go up the stairs to the 2nd floor, you'll find El Corral Gourmet. In this case, Gourmet means you pay A LOT more for the food and you get to eat it in fancy containers :). The regular El Corral restaurants are quite economical, so make sure you read the sign carefully before entering if you are on a budget.

Anyway, we were starving, and after several weeks of eating Colombian food, the boys wanted burgers, fries and chocolate shakes. Since there is nothing in the world like El Corral Chocolate shakes, we bought one for everyone.

The restaurant is located in the building known as the "Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez" The Centro houses the bookstore of the Fondo de Cultura Económica. If you ever plan to read books to you…

One Family's Retrun Trip: Police Museum

Okay, you've finished your visit to the Plaza deBolívar, taken pictures, fed the birds, now what? Did you know that there are OVER 50 places to visit within easy walking distance (no more than 4 blocks). Among them are museums, churches, parks, and government buildings.

Every time we go to Bogotá there are places that we visit, and then there are those we are seeing for the first time this trip. Among the new places is the MuseoHistóricode la PoliciaNacional (Historic Museum of the National Police). Tours are available in many languages depending on who is on duty at the time. While we were there, you could get a tour in English, French, German or Italian.
To get to the Museum, you walk south one block on Carrera 8 (that is the street that EdificioLievano faces)turn right onto Calle 9 and walk 1 1/4 blocks to the museum. It is on your left just past the stores selling military gear.
The Museum is 5 floors of Colombian Law Enforcement History. The basement is dedicated to Colombian …

One Family's Return Trip: Plaza de Bolivar Birds

When we asked our 5 year old if there was anything he remembered from our last trip to Colombia, he said that he remembered feeding the birds. So, of course, we needed to spend some $ and time feeding birds at the Plaza de Bolívar. Around the Plaza are people selling bags of grain that you can feed the pigeons. A bag will set you back about 50 cents US. We bought 2 bags and spent a good 15 minutes feeding the birds.

One Family's Return Trip: Plaza de Bolivar NE Corner

In the North East corner of the park, you will find the NEW and IMPROVED ........ MUSEO 20 de JULIO a.k.a. CASA DEL FLORERO. This is the site of the initial shout of Independence for Colombia. The Museum has been undergoing rennovations and finally opened to the public on August 1, 2010 -- just missing the July 20, 2010 Bicentennial.
On July 5th, I wrote a post about Colombian Independence and the spark that lit the flame. You can read more here:


One Family's Return Trip: Plaza de Bolívar South & West Sides

On the South side of the Plaza, you will see the Capitolio Nacional. It is the seat of both the Senate (Senado) and the House of Representatives (Cámara de Representantes). Inside there are 3 large rooms, one where the Senate meets, one where the House meets and one where the whole Congress can meet together called the Salón Eliptico.
Construction on the Capitolo began in 1847, but was not completed until 1926. During the construction, 3 foreigners were in charge. First, was the Danish architect Thomas Reed (1847-1880). He was followed by the Italian Pietro Cantini (1880-1908). Next, the Frenchman Gastón Lelarge. The building was finally completed by the Colombian Alberto Manrique Martín. The following Mural can bee seen inside the Capitolio. It was painted by Santiago Martínez Delgado.
The neoclassic Edificio Liévano was built under the direction of the architects Gastón Lelarge y Ricardo Lleras Codazzi from 1902-1905. Today it houses the office of the Mayor of Bogotá.