Lessons in Language and (Too Much) Togetherness

The kids and I spent the first part of this week exploring Bogota while trying to learn a bit of Spanish. (I feel like my Spanish is so bad, much worse than when I was in Lima for some reason.) Through Sean’s friend Mario, we found a very smart and sweet Spanish teacher names Luisa. We met her for the first time at the Botanical Gardens (Jardin Botánico) where we walked around and looked at the different plants while trying to tell her in Spanish what sports we liked to play, what our favorite food was and did we think Trump would win the election. 

(View from the bontanical gardens.)

We walked and talked for a few hours and after I was exhausted. It is really quite tiring  trying to mine the recesses of your brain for words that you used to know but can’t remember anymore. It is so frustrating not being able to say precisely (or even imprecisely) what you want to say. I have such empathy for people who move to the U.S. and don’t speak English. It is a really difficult and daunting task to learn another language, especially as an adult. I give Sean major credit for learning as much as he has during the last year and half. (I like to think that it “helps” that I make him ask for all the directions, give taxi drivers our address and make restaurant reservations. All things I hate doing even in English!)

To reward ourselves after our Spanish lesson, we met Sean for dinner at Tomodachi, a tiny ramen restaurant in the nearby Rosales neighborhood. The food was excellent and it was some of the best ramen I have ever had. Sean and I totally overdosed on the many hot sauces placed on our table. 

(Slurping up ramen.)

The next day we met Luisa at Maloka which is a children’s science and technology museum in Bogota. The kids had a lot of fun with all the interactive exhibits and Lusia was a good sport and volunteered to receive several electric shocks during a demonstration of a Van Generator. The following day we visited the Emerald Museum (Museo de la Esmeralda) back in the La Candelaria neighborhood. My sister Katrina had visited the museum during a trip to Colombia a couple of years ago and told us to check it out. The small musuem is on the 33rd floor of the Avianca building so the views are amazing. The museum itself was really interesting. After a short film, we entered what looked like an actual mining tunnel and experienced a little bit of what it would be like to be in an emerald mine, including actual emerald veins from three mines around the country. We then saw many different kinds of emeralds. I have to say it took all of my strength not to buy myself something at the gift shop. (Best museum shop ever: it was all beautiful jewelry!) 

(Mining for emeralds.)

Before meeting with Luisa that afternoon, the kids and I finally reached that moment where we were completely sick of one another. Except for the few days that I went to work while we were home after Sweden and before Colombia we have been together for pretty much 24/7 for the entire summer. It’s a lot. We spent the whole morning being annoyed at one another. I thought that they were not listening to me and complaining too much and they claim that I was “being mean” (among other complaints.) 

(Sofia refusing to look at me at the Plaza de Bolivar before meeting with Luisa.)

Luckily, we had the deadline of meeting Luisa to to pull it together and we mostly did. Even more lucky was that I had actually booked a babysitter for that night: the Colombian niece of the woman that has worked for me and my family for over a decade. 

I got a much-needed break from the kids (and they from me) and Sean and I had a fun and delicious meal at the Black Bear. I have been pleasantly surprised by how hip and fun the restaurant scene in Bogota is. And, for the most part the food has been excellent. I thought the food at the Black Bear was the best I have had so far (or was it the sweet, sweet taste of freedom?) We had a couple of small plates of salmon and steak tartare and deviled eggs topped with a fried shrimp followed by a langostine curry and the most delicious minute steak (a favorite of mine from childhood): a very high end version of the dish, topped with an arugula and tomato salad. The restaurant was dark and clubby and loud and busy for a weekday night. Looking outside, it felt like I was in Paris, not Bogota.

Today is Oscar’s birthday (a longer post to follow detailing how we celebrated the little man turning 10) and the kids and I are friends again. They are, of course, my favorite people in the world (even if they do annnoy me sometimes.) 

p.s. The Internet in our apartment is so slow that I think it would be it would faster to send a letter to each and every person reading this blog. It’s making me crazy!!

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