Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Days 27 and 28: "Our first crowd protest and buying chocolate in bulk"

So yesterday Breann and I were able to organize a trip without kids back to the Candelaria (old downtown Bogota). We had a rather aggressive female cab driver, but she got us there in good time. We headed first to the main square for me to get my location figured out. About 5 minutes after that happened, a large group (of at least 500 people or more) started marching down the main boulevard with sirens and signs and chanting and all that. We were a bit nervous for a few minutes given all of the crowd control policia about and the guns and such, but it became clear that this was a decently positive movement...

I felt decently safe behind these guys..

After all that, we went inside one of the big beautiful cathedrals.. along with a whole bunch of the cutest tribal little old ladies I've ever seen. I don't think anyone in that room was more than 5 ft tall. After admiring all that beauty in the churches, we walked over to the same little "hobbit" style cafe that Ted and I went into. This time, we went for a really yummy shrimp stew item and some other random stuff.

Also, I found a random tank in a courtyard, but this was just part of the military museum.

We had some drama on the return, as the driver that was supposed to pick us up at the Botero Museum wasn't able to show. Luckily, after all the drama that Ted and I had trying to find a way home last time, I was able to get to the success location first and get a cab pretty quickly. Made it home ahead of schedule!

Things are quieter around here these days at El Refugio as all of the Italians have gone, and the poor French family that had been stuck here was able to leave today to go sign their Sentencia!! Because I share their court (22) and lawyer (Alberto!!), Fana and Alberto are trying to be proactive to make sure that if the court asks for the same strange paperwork that they did on Chloe which got them held up.. that maybe they can start working on that for me now-ish. So far, I haven't heard anything else, good or bad. We will let them take care of the French family, and then hopefully my turn will be coming up soon. I will be here 4 weeks tomorrow, which is ideally about the time that something COULD potentially happen. I think I was 4 weeks and a few days last time when I got to go sign Lucas' adoption decree. I am hoping for news next week, as that would ensure I can make my plane tickets home and we won't have more significant financial drama. We did have a budget for this, but if something goes terribly awry, we will have to come up with some fancy footwork as it costs me $4,000 a month to just be here.

Now that the French family gets to be on their way home next week, let's hope it will be my turn soon!

Today we have done nothing but hang around here and go to the parks and play places. Breann and I will get to escape for 2 hours tonight after dinner/bath time.

I leave you with yet more cuteness, as Sam is now finally loving his bath. He's pretty cool.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Days 25 and 26: "Leather district, market, and yet another stroller"

So on Saturday, Breann and I were able to head out to the leather district, which I have never been to! It is a whole group of artisans who have shops set up in a certain part of town (which I think was near Candelaria but I'm not totally sure... I didn't pay good attention). We had a bit too much fun. I didn't want to be a complete tourist by taking picture after picture of our stroll, but I did take one of the street.

In the end, Breann and I each walked away with a new leather jacket (mine camel, hers black, and super hot). I got a hand painted wallet and she got a pistol holster for her man. Henry our driver took excellent care of us, he even holds diaper bags and purses.

Yesterday, Sunday, was Cyclovia again.. before we could enjoy the cyclovia, we had to buy "Sibley emergency stroller" Number Dos. As much as I didn't enjoy parting with the money, I did get a high quality McClaren brand rig that is a breeze to push and is big enough to hold Ben comfortably which is no small deal. I didn't think of it until later, but this was actually an okay purchase, as now I don't have enough space in my Mazda 5 to drive 3 children and a large stroller all at the same time. This one is bigger, but it folds down like an umbrella that I can put in the front seat or up on its end with the addition of the new child until we can get our hands on a minivan sometime in the next year.

We hit up Jenos Pizza again yesterday afternoon, the one with the really tall carpet slides. The only drama came when I briefly lost Lucas because he got lost in the tubes. He was pretty upset about it actually. After Jenos, we had a rest time and Breann and I snuck over to the La Fontana market. We had walked through earlier in the day for a preview.. and we probably shouldn't be allowed in there again unsupervised. I won't say that I am overspending, because truly I am not and all purchasing has been approved by the hardworking husband at home.. but I did feel just a bit naughty. Now that I have 2 Colombians, we felt it was time to upgrade my Colombian Emerald "bling". I walked away with a rather fantastic emerald flower cocktail ring. I'd show a picture, but it is being resized for pick up next week. Breann was able to snag herself a pretty sweet Colombian Auntie emerald ring as well but hers fit right the first time around. A lovely pearl dealer which I don't remember from last time was also present, and struck me a deal for paying in cash. I got a lovely silver pearl flower ring as well as a bracelet that I think will look rather fantastic on my next date night.

Lastly, we went back to scarf lady. 3 scarves for $50 mil pesos, which is basically $25 USD (ish). It started downpouring rain during our scarf-a-palooza, so scarf guy simply enclosed Breann and I in the plastic with nothing but our feet sticking out at the bottom. He was dedicated.

Here is an example of the 6 total that were purchased...

In the rain we caught a cab from La Fontana to Carulla for a few more items and then back to relieve Ms. Alecia (who was still in one piece).

Today, we are mellow. It's just another park and play place kind of day for now. So.. since we have done nothing else cool.. here are some pictures of the beautiful flower trees that are everywhere down here, particularly at the park we were at this morning.

Here is another gem from the park. Pick up your puppies poo.

Auntie Breann has earned her plane ticket down here. A few examples..

and lastly, some cuteness..

Tonight, Breann and I got a driver to take us back over to Usaquen area to return to the Mi Calle mexican restaurant that has some mean Mariachi's. Tomorrow morning we are back to the Candelaria, where I also have a driver lined up this time so we don't have the taxi drama that Ted and I had last time in the evening. Time to walk in some more really old churches.. and some cobblestone and the Botero museum. Later in the week we are planning on going back to Divercity play area and possibly the childrens museum where we have never been. May next week some Sentencia news? That would be cool :-)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Days 23 and 24: "Ben's Birthday, blood sausage, and fried intestines"

So there is a bit more excitement going on around here these days... which is also a metaphor for what is currently going on in Sam's crib. He gets all comfy and nods off in the Ergo at times in the morning, and when this happens.. naptime becomes a "challenge".. not so much about my kid not sleeping (cause I can live with that at home because there are other things he can do in his own space) as much as my now 3 year old really needs and enjoys his nap, and Lucas is a better man at night if he gets a little something as well when here.

Sam doesn't just quietly lay in his crib.. it is a full jumping yelling experience that is rather upsetting to the other folks in the room.

I snuck this shot of him just a minute ago spending some time standing on his head.

It's moments like these when Ted and I like to joke "So, Sam.. how are those 'special needs' coming along??"


Yesterday We, Breann, and the Fellermans from MN went back to do another trip to Montserrate as it was a first for Breann and them. Lucas was the proud tour guide, and told Zahria all about it.

Once at the top, Breann needed to start helping Ben before he went off a cliff at it had rained a lot in the morning and the cobblestone slopes were slippery. As he did not want to smile for his picture, they did mean faces instead.

We walked through the stations of the cross as well as the Catholic church and lookout spaces. I let the boys each pick out a cheapie item from the vendors at the top. At the very top is a modest string of street vendors, where I had vowed to try "blood sausage" as featured on Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bourdain. Wasn't that bad!! Was purple/black from the blood and "other" items.. but other than that it basically tasted like a dry sausage. I got in the zone and also went for some fried/grilled intestines of some sort as well as some charred black thing with suction cups which tasted like it looked.. charred and black.. and jerky-esque. We also all had a tamale which was quite good. Breann went for an Arepa, which is basically a pancake bread that doesn't taste like much.

No, I did not feed my child strange street food, but he really enjoyed some of the juicy chicken and cornmeal in the tamale. Last night, we parked some more and played outside, and waited to skype with Grandma and Grandpa Sibley in MN.

Last night, Breann and I went back to Wok.. the super nice Japanese/Chinese place a few blocks away where good sushi was had.

This morning, Breann took L and B to one of the nearby parks so that Sam and I could go buy some presents for Ben's bday. I had looked before, so I already knew what he'd like. I picked up a big Thor "man doll" that I've never seen sold in the states, as well as 3 stuffed "man dolls", one for each boy- Ironman, Captain America, and another Thor. These are currently the source of much happiness and drama so there will be better pictures of them later. While at the park, Lucas said "Ben, what's that smell Ben??!!" (usually eluding to someones toot or dog poo or brotherly poo) Ben answered.. "It's the smell of MY BIRTHDAY".

Then we, Breann, and the Fellermans were off to Crepes and Waffles for Ben's Bday celebration.

There was also significant ice cream

As you could expect, Ben had the "full experience" of his ice cream and waffles. He is now stripped naked in his bed because we are out of clothing for him.

Here is another downer for the day.. when we were on our way back.. the cobblestone and uneven area became too much for our new stroller and Ben and the metal frame basically snapped. It is now a very sad looking 2 week old stroller.. not sure if I have a warranty receipt for this... oops.

We just got back about an hour ago and Ben fell fast to sleep and Lucas went down with a bit more of an argument over his new Thor. Soon, Alecia is coming to watch L and B and Zahria, and we, the Fellermans, and the two little new kids are heading out to the Leather District! It's my first time.

Sam is still singing me the song of his people and talking to his hand with his sock on it. "Digga digga". Hopefully he doesn't decide to fall asleep as soon as Alecia gets here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Day 22: "Shove Auntie Breann in a taxi, Ben and the beach, and who put poo in the yard??!"

So Breann has been the saver of my life the past two days... she is the extra set of hands.. the "hey can you grab that?" girl.. and Ben's bottom wiper (a truly glorious job).

Last night, she and I ventured our two blocks and enjoyed some appetizer and adult beverage action briefly at Bogota Beer Company. The outdoor patio is lovely and the perfect temperature, complete with candlelight and a warmer. We would have commemorated this, except that we would have both looked dumb smiling in the dark and we know it so you should just imagine. We also had to stop by Carulla for the needed pull-ups which we just realized we needed. Thusly, we were those chicks that show up with bags of diapers to the bar, but we are cool with it.

This morning the boys slept in a bit for us since I think Alecia let them stay up a bit last night. We enjoyed some breakfast and skyping with Daddy. Today, we went back to the Simon Bolivar central park that Ted and I had gone to before he left. It was Breanns first experience in the back of a cab with 3 small boys. She handled it like a champ, and kept Ben from opening the door and getting sucked out in traffic.

At Simon Bolivar, we enjoyed the beach again. My boys fully submerged themselves in a drainage ditch and then caked it nicely with a few layers of sand. They were gross and filthy. Ben then fell in a full pile of mud (actually on accident) so we had to strip him and put him in his extra shorts for the "other" kind of accidents. Sam was NOT at all interested in playing in the sand. I put him down, and he was not a fan of that weird dirt. He was happy just sitting next to me and watching the other kids play. I think this is a park that we will be doing a repeat of, as it only costs 9 mil to get a taxi there.

Breann went to study and we enjoyed another great rest time.. where I again fell asleep. I think I'm just backed up on sleep.

This afternoon we went to inspect the last of one of the play places I have passed a few times at Frisby.. the Colombian equivalent of KFC as far as I can figure. Their rain forest play place was lovely, but we couldn't find much kid friendly snack items without bone in them. We will that a narrow "miss", but at least we tried it. The folks at Pan Pa Ya probably missed me.

Prior to leaving for Frisby, both children were found dropping their pants yet again (and we already did that at the park!!) in the backyard.. and they swear the poo that someone was poking at was from a puppy.. but the question is how does a puppy go in the back of the El Refugio yard??! They are suspect, but they swear it wasn't them.. and that WOULD be the first poo-ing outside on purpose incident. This will be investigated.

Tomorrow, we have lined up a driver to go BACK to Montserrate with the Fellerman family. I'm planning to have some blood sausage.. and yes.. there is literally a lot of blood in it. I am a woman of adventure.. I think Breann will just be happy with some of the grilled corn and tamale action, as that was really good.

More pics to come tomorrow! There are only so many photos I can take at parks and play places, which are really where I spend most of my days right now.

Hugs from Bogota!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Days 20 and 21: "Auntie Breann to the rescue!!"

So yesterday was a rough day. Everybody cried for a variety of reasons. I was just run down from days and days of going to battle with my kids over "no, I can't carry everyone" and "You MUST hold my hand!!" and "You are a big boy, and I know you can put on your socks" and of course all of the fun food issues that one of my kids brings to the table when under stress.

Today was so wonderful! There are ways to manage multiple children at home where things are childproofed and you know where things are.. and people aren't starring at your every move (embarrassing at times)and you can trust your kid in YOUR family bathroom. Having another set of hands means if so and so needs their bottom wiped or "hey can you grab some crackers?" or "hey can you butter Ben's toast?" or whatever is such a lifesaver. No epic meltdowns today, and no tears because Mom couldn't give all trauma children everything at every moment.

Last night, I was able to sneak out after all of the kids were asleep along with Hilo (one of Carmens trusted drivers)and go to the airport to meet up with Breann. Everything came through just fine (including all the money that was SUPPOSED to be transferred but never worked out). Finally got our hotel bill for May paid that I had attempted to pay on May 1.

Breann and I of course stayed up too late talking like a sleepover. Sam went easy on her this morning with his "town crier" noises. We had a nice breakfast and got everybody out the door to show Breann the ropes of our part of town. We did "the loop" of my favorite play places and where I have to do occasional shopping. I didn't get a picture, but we spent an excellent 4 mil on some fresh mangos and learned that it is a much larger serving than it seems! We also enjoyed some pollo empanadas from one of my favorite Mom and Pop storefronts along the way.

My Mom had sent some care package (and stuff I forgot) items down with Breann, and this was helpful at park time. We enjoyed some slingshot foam airplanes today at the park, as well as some new little motorcycle Matchbox cars.

After the park, it was off to Pan Pa Ya, my favorite play place yet again for a latte and for the boys to get more wiggles out. Breann was quite impressed of course. In the words of Breann "It's nice to have an enclosed box that they can go be in". She is going to be a great parent as well!

We were able to put both of the Ergo carriers to good use towards the end of the long walking morning which really helped with the meltdowns. Just having that 10 minutes where Lucas can ride instead of walking along really brings the stress level down for everybody. At home, this won't be an issue because I have a nice sit and stand double stroller that he can ride along if he needs to... which I REALLY should have packed.

We got home, we chillaxed for about 15 minutes, and then it was time for lunch. Turns out Sam was tired from the morning, that he wasn't interested in waking up. Example below:

Today was Chloe's Birthday. Chloe was also turning three today. Her parents put together a pretty big party for her, since they got stuck in the court process (SINCE FEBRUARY!!) and had always planned on her being home for her birthday. There was a clown and dancing and cake and balloon animals. Also, turns out everybody wants to obviously give my children each balloon swords. Rather than be a total killer of joy, I allowed some sword fighting for at least a little bit, illustrations below:

Soon after, these went on top of the wardrobe.. obviously. I'm letting them use them for small periods of supervised time a little later. Tonight, Alecia is coming after the boys rest time to give me and Breann a two hour breather to go get some snackies and escape the children briefly. We haven't sit down to decide exactly what we want to do yet while she is here in terms of site seeing, but we should have more picture worthy things next week.

Night night all!