Wonders never cease!
I would have never in a million years thought that my dad would come to Colombia. It never even occurred to ask like I did probably 20-or-so times while we were in Germany. See, my dad's not a big traveler and never has been. He prefers his trips to be on the order of maybe four or five days (like to Wildwood, for example), which rules out the majority of international travel. He ends up traveling, for the most part, "only" to come visit me (where ever I am in the world). He and my mom visited me once when I lived in Ensenada, Mexico, (a big wow at the time) and he came to Barcelona twice, once for vacation and a second time with my family for the wedding. So he does get around a bit just not too often.
So imagine my surprise when my dad asked me innocently back in late December how long we'd be in Bogota. I told him that I didn't know. After the conversation, I turned to Diana and said that I think my dad wants to come to Colombia. Knowing my dad, she almost fell out of her chair but we immediately set into motion the planning just in case he decided to come down from Philadelphia.
Well, this past week, my dad arrived into Bogota's El Dorado airport! Woo-hoo! I'm not sure but I think that Diana's family was even more excited for his visit than I was. Of course, our first order of business was a big welcome lunch of Bandeja Paisa at a local Colombian-specialty restaurant with Diana's mom and dad:
Since Diana's parents couldn't make it to the wedding, it was the first time that our parents had a chance to meet. To make sure that he properly set expectations, my dad immediately let everyone know that he's a fun guy (or fungi as he says) and likes to play games:
His first night in town was spent hanging out at the family house for a few hours before we headed over to Diana's brother's apartment, which we'd be using as our home base while he was in Bogota. (A big thanks to Diana's brother, niece, and nephew for uprooting themselves and allowing us to use their place! Muchas gracias!!!)
We decided that it'd be best to spend the first full day exploring downtown Bogota including Plaza Bolivar and the cathedral (if you look closely, just to the left of the cathedral is la Casa del Florero, where Colombia's independence movement began):
as well as nearby Montserrate. Note the La Moreneta statue in the background. The church where Diana and I were married has almost the exact same statue. Oh, and the Catalan flag (on the right) is a nice touch too!
My dad and Diana checking out the view of downtown Bogota (elevation ~8500 feet) from the top of Montserrate (elevation ~10,000 feet):
Our day in the city center was cut a little short due to some rain and it being Bogota's annual day without cars. We were afraid that the Transmillenio buses would be super Trans-millena! Millena means full. :-) So it was back to the apartment for a Diana home-cooked meal and an early night.
The second full day was spent going out to Chiquinquira to visit the farm and possibly milk some cows. On the way, we stopped just outside Bogota in Zippaquira at the Cathedral de Sal (Salt Cathedral). You can read my old story but, basically, it's a church that's been built in the previously-mined spaces of an active salt mine. The sense of scale and being under ground make it an unusual but well-worthwhile stop. That cross in the background is like 50 feet tall!
If you know my dad, you'll know that he loves to use bathrooms everywhere he goes. I think he's marking his territory or something. So, here's my dad in the Baño de Sal (salt bathroom):
We had a quick lunch in the main plaza of the small town of Ubate (oo-bah-TAY). There are maybe ten small restaurants there where you can get a bunch of different meals and our normal M.O. is to stop there for breakfast. Most opted for the Mute (moo-tay), which is a local stew. What this photo doesn't show is the "rustic-ness" of the restaurant including pots, which look like they were stolen from the local prison, on its wood-fired stove.
We arrived at the farm just in time for the afternoon milking and lucked out that the rain held off. Dad checking out the action:
Looking back on my dad's visit, I think he enjoyed Chiquinquira most. It's a bit "rustic" but I'm guessing the relaxed setting, beautiful scenery, and charming town won him over. Diana, Diana's mom, and my dad outstanding in their field:
A couple of hours later, we headed into town to walk around. It was Friday night and the place was jumping. My dad even made a friend while there! Check out Part 2 (coming soon) to read about the rest of my dad's visit.