Although it mostly goes against the way I live my life, thanks to two decades of influence from Sean, I have slowly started to discover the joys in taking it easy when traveling. (I really do think I am becoming more relaxed but my family might disagree.) I am the first person (and Sean is the last) to want to lounge on the beach all day, but put me in a city and I want to match its energy by seeing everything (in one day!) However, I have found that sometimes the best way to experience a new place is to not do too much.
We spent the last two in days in Bogota living life much as we would at home during the summer break. One Friday, the kids had a morning swim lesson while I went to the gym. We played a riveting game of Clue then met Sean for lunch followed by a little bit of shopping. (Sofia and I hit up a one day mega sale at Mussi, a leather goods shop in the Andino Mall and bought four pairs of real leather boots and shoes for under $100!) For dinner we went to Eli, Zuly and Isabella’s apartment. Their apartment is gorgeous and luckily, right around the corner from ours. Along with their Serbian friend Bojan (who, according to him, is one of five Serbians living in Colombia) we watched the U.S. versus Serbia Olymic basketball game. (We won, but not by much.) As we watched the sunset over the mountains, we chatted about our travels over dinner. (Eli told us an amazing story of being stranded on a boat on the Amazon for nearly 12 hours.) By the time we left to go back to our apartment it was late and we had already made plans with them for the next day. We are so lucky that Eli, Zuly and Isabella are willing to spend so much time with us. We have a lot of fun with them and it is so great to have an insider’s view into Colombia.
The next morning we drove about 25 minutes to La Calera for a typical Colombian Saturday afternoon lunch. Bogataños like to leave the city during the weekend and escape either to their fincas or to nearby restaurants in the mountains for a bit of fresh air. It is not a town that is any of my guidebooks and somewhere that we would have never known to go without the advice of Eli and Zuly. The neighborhood where we live hugs the mountains so it didn’t take long for us to start winding our way up. Sean kept track of the alititude on his phone and at one point we were near 10,000 feet. The restaurant Tamblor is an entirely outdoor place. While the ladies found a table, the guys went to the counter and ordered: one huge tray of arepas, patacones, guacamole and sweet plantains and another of grilled chicken, beef, sausage, chicharrones, corn and mini potatoes. The food was simple but delicious and we all kept eating long after we were full. The kids had enough room for ice cream of course!
We then drove a few miles down the road to another spot for a traditional Colombian drink, Canelazo. The view from the restaurant was spectacular but the hot drink which is made with cinnamon, brown sugar and aguardiente, an anise flavored liqueur was a bit sweet for my taste.
After we (mostly) finished our drinks, Eli drove us back to the apartment and we lazed around the rest of the afternoon with a just quick stop to the store for the fixings for a light dinner. We watched another episode of “Chef’s Table,” the Netflix series that we have become addicted to, then called it a night. (Exciting Saturday night!) I think my family was amazed that I had not dragged them out for a walk, to a museum or to a park. But, we leave early tomorrow morning for an overnight stay in the town of Villa de Leyva. Get your rest, Hayes family!
p.s. The reason there are no pictures with this post is because I have been unsuccesfully trying to upload them to the blog for the last 12 hours. We are in the Colombian countryside right now, with somewhat spotty Internet. But, we it is also one of the most beautiful and peaceful spots I have ever been to. More on this later….