Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dad Visits Colombia!!! (Part 2)

This is part two of my dad's visit to Colombia. To read part one, click here.

After the cows were milked and, perhaps, a quick nap, the five of us (me, my dad, Diana, and her folks) went into Chiquinquira town. It was mostly a quick trip around a couple of pedestrian-only streets, a couple of churches, and a few shops. My dad had wanted to check out a local supermarket while he was in Colombia to see what they were like. We went to a small supermarket that's in one of the plazas and he bought some local drinking chocolate to take back to the United States.

While we were walking, an extremely well-behaved dog started following my dad, including waiting like 20 minutes for us while we were in the supermarket. We couldn't believe it. Before going back home, we stopped at a bakery and got some bread and snacks including a treat for my dad's new dog (no, he didn't take it home with him but I'm sure it'll wait for him until my dad returns one day).

The next morning Diana's parents needed to go back into town to take care of some farm business. My dad went with us and while they were in their meeting, we checked out the central market. He might be a little hard to spot because of his camouflaged outfit but that's my dad towards the right side of the photo in the yellow shirt blending in with the Colombian bananas and other fruit:

To celebrate Diana's birthday, we drove "down the hill" towards Villa de Leyva to have lunch in Sutamarchan. Sutamarchan is basically a tiny village at an intersection of two roads where an industry of small piqueteadero restaurants have popped up. Piqueteada means chopped and they all serve some combination of (chopped-up) local sausages called longaniza, blood sausages, chicharone (fried pig skin), yucca, mazorca (a type of corn), plantains (a non-sweet banana), and some other items on big-ole' platters. It's probably not the healthiest of foods - there's certainly no RDA guidelines - but it's damn good.

Me and dad in front of the La Fogata piquetadero in Sutamarchan:

After lunch, we made the trip back to Bogota and all slept like babies that night. Sunday was, sadly, dad's last full-day in Colombia. Before he arrived, there was only one thing he wanted to see (besides a supermarket) while here - Tequendama Falls. Diana and I were just there a couple of weeks ago with her best friend from growing up but we were happy to go back.

We saved Tequendama for our last day because we would have to drive across the entire city of Bogota to get there and we figured that Sunday would have the least amount of traffic. Well, we were partly right. It took us just under two hours  :-o  to make the trip that, distance-wise, would take about 40 minutes or less if there was a freeway/autobahn and/or no traffic.

We lucked out because it had been raining (quite heavily) in the days before so the waterfall was flowing heavily. The weather was partly cooperative in that it wasn't raining but it was a bit cloudy. What was extra cool was there was mist rising from the falls:

Oh, and the corn-on-the-cob Diana's eating? She's addicted to it. When we pulled up, the first word out of her mouth was mazorca (roasted corn on the cob) because a woman right next to where we were parked was selling it. Diana's never met a mazorca she'd didn't like!

Family self-portrait at El Salto Tequendama, Bogota, Colombia:

After visiting the falls, we continued driving down the hill for about 30 minutes so my dad I could check out the tropical scenery. We stopped at this road-side stand to buy some fruit and snacks to take back to Bogota. I love how rich this photo is with all the fruit and colors, but wait, is that a motorcycle and dog on the roof???

Why, yes it is! I walked across the street to get a better perspective of the fruit stand, the second floor, the and mountain behind it. It was more like an illusion as there's a small dirt road off to the left leading up to the "second level", which is a bit farther back than the first level. Still, a lovely scene - I could so live in place like this. Oh, and those damn tropical mini (finger) bananas are addictive!

We got back to Bogota just in time for dinner with the extended family and to celebrate Diana's birthday with a "ponque" (punk-kay), which, I believe, is a Spanglish for "pound cake". Feliz cumpleaƱos morenita!

It was great to have my dad come visit. I enjoyed it immensely and I think he did too. Actually, I think that he was surprised at how much he did. I'm hoping that he'll come back with us one day soon. After all, Diana's family seems to approve of him - their Go/No-Go criteria is how their dog Rises feels about you. I think we all can guess the answer:


Our hero's journey wasn't without its bumps. When we got to the Bogota airport for my dad's flight home, after about an hour in the check-in line(!!!), we found out that it had been delayed by 50 minutes. Since his connection was just over an hour, it looked likely that he might not make it (since he had to pass through immigration and customs first) but the airline sent him on to Florida anyway. My dad was a bit frustrated but what can you do? He ended up making it to his connecting gate in Florida before the doors were closed but the flight had been oversold so he would spend the night.

The airline really took care of him. He spent the night at a ("very nice") local Holiday Inn and had a ("delicious") free dinner where he ate with some other stranded passengers. Their war stories were far worse than what my dad was experiencing so his mood picked up. In the morning, he took a $130 (free-to-him) taxi ride to an airport in another city for his flight home, which was uneventful.

I feared calling my dad that day because I was afraid the delays might have ruined the whole trip for him. Quite the contrary when I finally did talk with him. He was so incredibly positive about the entire experience and how he learned and enjoyed so much. The trip to Colombia was great. The family was super nice. Where we stayed and what we did were great. The people were friendly. Even the more-than-24-hour journey home ended up being a great experience in the end. Odysseus had indeed made it home. I think he even said something about his next international trip! The question is where do we go next???

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