On Saturday morning, we were picked up by Victor and Katherine and taken to the airport to make our flight back to Bogota.
We left with heavy hearts, but with remembrances of so many good friends. AND, we now have invitations to come back to almost EVERY city in Colombia!!!! So many people told us “ Mi casa is su casa” (my house is your house).
We checked into our Bogota hotel and went out in search of a few more souvenirs to bring home. I had found a store called Artesanias de Colombia which carried authentic artwork from all over the country. We were astounded with the selection of goods that they carried. After about an hour in the store, we left with two BIG bags of stuff to use to decorate our home.
We walked around in the neighborhood and were impressed with the quality of stores in the area. We picked out a restaurant and each ordered a roasted chicken dinner (1/2 size). Little did we know that the 1/2 referred to half of a CHICKEN and not just a smaller serving size!!!
It was served with a crisp salad with oil and vinegar dressing and well cooked miniature potatoes.
For dessert, I had a Chocolate Ice Cream bar which was rich and heavenly…..
We caught a taxi back to the hotel (can you say “Bat out of hell”) and spent the rest of the day crashed in our room.
As we were checking out of our hotel on Sunday morning, I looked at our stash of suitcases and carry-on bags and realized that we had turned into one of THOSE people…..
….you know, the ones who carry large BAGS of stuff onto the plane!!!
As I write this, we are about 3 hours out of Atlanta and are looking forward to getting home and resuming normal life for a few weeks before we head to India!!!
Michael and I have talked a lot about our thoughts on Colombia. Before leaving the U.S., we were asked repeatedly why we wanted to go to Colombia….wasn’t it dangerous!!!
Instead of danger, we found gracious people who loved their country very much and were extremely happy to show it off.
As Michael wrote in a Facebook post….. “What we most want to say is that Colombia and its people have provided us with some of the sweetest experiences of our lives. It has been safe, comfortable and a magnificent adventure. If you don’t come for a visit, you are missing a really wonderful people and place. Oh, and the food is to die for!”
On Friday we had planned to visit a local Coffee plantation, but when it came down to it, we were simply too pooped to go!!
So instead we started our packing and it was a good thing we did because once again we had bought too much stuff…….
….and had to go buy a new suitcase…..
Part of the problem was a largish wooden “Praying Mantis” that we had purchased and it needed special packing!!! I had measured it earlier in the week and had bought a plastic box that it would fit in, but then I had to pad it out with lots of dirty clothes….
After we finally got everything packed, we headed for a light lunch at our favorite restaurant (Versus). The waiter knows us well and immediately brings us two Club Colombia beers!!!
As we were walking back to the hotel, we passed two police officers on the corner across from our hotel. They appeared to be stopping traffic from traveling on one side of the road in front of the hotel.
As we looked around, we realized that people were gathering along the street and being good “Sticky Beaks” (Australian for nosy), we sat down on a step and decided to watch and see what was happening.
Michael finally asked one of the security guards who was standing outside and he told us that it was a Bicycle race coming thru. We checked it out after the fact and found out that it was a race that went thru all of the Departments (States) of Colombia.
As the time grew closer, cars stopped in the middle of the street and cabbies parked their cabs and stepped out to watch as well….
And here they come…..
It was fun to be part of the festivities and we cheered with the rest of them when the riders came thru……
After that excitement, we spent some time sitting on the roof of the hotel and enjoying the sunshine, except for this rain shower that flew thru…..
In the evening we met up with Victor and Katherine for dinner at La Fogata (reportedly the best restaurant in Armenia). I ordered the appetizers and selected sautéed mushrooms and Chunchullo with Guacamole. Chunchullo is fried pig intestine….I know it sounds gross, but it was fried crisply, salted and was wonderful!!!
I forgot to take photos of our main courses and desserts, but suffice it to say that the food was delightful and the company was entertaining!!!
And in a final note, Nicky Jam and his entourage were staying in our hotel before and after their concert on Thursday. Although they looked rough, they all seemed to be quite nice……
As Michael headed out for his last day of working in Colombia, I had one thing in mind……to find out how to make our Cellphones usable in foreign countries. We had been told that they were “unlocked” so that we could use a different countries SIM card, but they hadn’t worked when we first arrived. SO, I spent about 2 hours following posts on the internet and finally discovered how to make mine work!!!!
I picked up Michael’s phone at his lunch break and we were both fully connected by 2:00pm!!! Hallelujah!!!
Over the last two weeks, I had seen an older man standing outside of the University gates, doing a brisk trade selling lollipops, gum, cigarettes (one at a time) and renting cell phones. I had smiled at him and then spoken to him over the last few days. Today, he came up and gave me a packet of Chiclets as a gift. It was so sweet!!! I had planned to take a selfie of him and myself when I returned that evening, but he was gone and I haven’t seen him since. It is interactions like this that make my trips so very special and memorable!!
A group photo was taken after the last talk and I just happened to be in the audience so ended up right in the middle towards the front…..the only accountant at the ColEvol meetings!!!!
To end off the Symposium there was a special presentation by a dance troupe from the area. Our friend, Katherine was one of the dancers and I especially wanted to see her talents!!
We were not disappointed!!!
This is beautiful Katherine….
The first series of dances were telling the story of the coffee producing process, from preparing the ground, planting, picking and roasting.
I was impressed that they did it all barefooted!!!
When I meet Michael each day at the University, I normally have to wait for a few minutes and have enjoyed watching the goings on around the campus. There is a “crosswalk” just in front of the entrance and there are cars, motorcycles, scooters, taxis and bicycles going every which direction. I put crosswalk in quotes because cars do not stop for you to cross. You just find a gap and step into it!!
I have seen motorcycle restaurant deliveries from a pizza place, a fried chicken joint, a Chinese restaurant and a Japanese restaurant.
The most amazing thing are the variety of people riding motorcycles or scooters. There were Mom’s dropping off their daughters, boyfriends picking up their girlfriends and one vendor who was carrying mops, brooms and other cleaning supplies on his.
The first order of business for this morning was to say goodbye to Juliana. She was having surgery to remove pins from her wrist on Wednesday morning so was having to leave the school early…..
The special course at Universidad de Quindio was winding down today and they were busy getting ready for the Symposium that starts on Wednesday. The course had about 50 students with 6 or 7 different teachers, each leading 3 sessions…..
Michael said that the students were all bright and that it was a pleasure to get to know them and work with them.
He even met his “academic” granddaughter…..
….Tatianna did graduate studies with one of Michael’s former students.
To celebrate the end of the school, we were all taken to a local restaurant for a wonderful meal. It started with a phenomenal soup, however we have no idea what type of soup it was….maybe potato, maybe bean…but definitely tasty!!!
It was followed with a breaded fried pork, rice, home made potato chips and salad…..
There was much discussion among these biologists as to what type of flower was used to garnish the plate!!!
It was a jovial group with many speeches thanking the organizers.
We relaxed for the rest of the afternoon, but did venture to stick our hand out of the hotel window to take some photos of a magnificent sunset behind some huge Thunderclouds…..
The lightning display as the night went on was electrifying!!!
After our quiet Sunday, I was ready to do some sight seeing on Monday so as Michael headed to the University, I caught a taxi to the “downtown” area of Armenia. I had wanted to do some shopping and the hotel had suggested that the taxi drop me at a “Pedestrian only” street where I could walk and shop.
When the taxi finally stopped, the driver motioned both directions to let me know that I could walk either way.
I started walking to my left, enjoying stopping in various shops along the way. Eventually I came to Bolivar Plaza….I think that there is one of these in every city in Colombia!!
This square was almost empty except for the mandatory statue of Bolivar….
….and a very cool statue on the other end…..
There was an attractive, modern Church located on one side of the square…..
….so I went in for a look……
The stained glass was very effect in the interior and made for a pleasing, restful chapel…..
Back out on the street, there was a small art exhibit, featuring several fiber art pieces. They were all behind glass and hard to photograph (I got LOTS of photos of my reflection in the glass), but here is one of them……
I was drawn to the designs on the sidewalks as they looked as if they were rippling along…..
The effect was quite eerie as I walked along.
I loved this vendor as she drove her “Coffee Taxi”. There were pump pots of coffee sticking out of all four windows…..
I continued my stroll looking in various stores that I passed. There were TONS of shoe stores, specialty clothing stores and one largish department store. Even though it had a lot of different types of goods, it still seemed that it was fairly specialized.
Naturally I found the “Dollar” store (also known as the 1,000 peso store), and checked out several tourist type stores that mostly sold small kitschy items that had “Colombia” emblazoned across them. I did come across one tourist store that had some nicer things and enjoyed shopping there. The store clerk was young and went out of her way to help me. She kept using her IPhone to translate information for me, including telling me that I could by THREE pairs of earrings for the price of two!!
When the Taxi had dropped me off, I had spied this church in the distance….
and decided to make the 3 block trek to visit it. Unfortunately it wasn’t open, but the outside architecture was enjoyable….
It was right across the street from a huge park that was covered with lunchtime revelers….
I had tried to be very careful to make sure that I knew where I was, but I didn’t walk back the EXACT way that I had come and was soon LOST!!
I walked thru several streets that seemed to be dedicated to one type of store, In the pet store street, I passed one particular shop that had a large cage of birds just inside the door, with a very grumpy looking cat tethered under them!!
I passed an area that catered to artist supplies and saw several craftsmen hard at work in the back of their stores.
The next block contained home improvement stores with many specializing in just one type of product. One store sold only crown molding and I admired the ceramic tiles shown in this store front….
I even passed one woman who had a shirt EXACTLY like one of mine…..
By this time I was well and truly lost!!! I finally stopped and asked an old man and young man who were working in a restaurant and they pointed me in the basic direction. I finally found my way back to the pedestrian-only street and immediately went in search of an ice cream cone to ease my mind!!
Considering how lost I had gotten just walking 3 blocks to a church, I decided not to chance a 2 mile walk back to the hotel so hailed a taxi instead….my first solo ride in South America. I showed the driver the name and address of the hotel and off we went. Almost immediately we hit a traffic jam so he started making turn after turn and eventually I wasn’t exactly sure WHERE he was taking me!! I was just about to tell him that I would go ahead and get out, with plans to catch another taxi, but he made one last turn and pulled into the parking lot for the hotel. I shouldn’t have worried!!!
That evening, Michael and I planned to go to the Mexican Restaurant that we had enjoyed last week, but they were closed, so we went next door to the Sports Bar called “Versus” . I decided to try something different from last time and ordered a “Tino” which was listed under “Perros”. Now, perros means dogs in Spanish and we were hoping that these were hot dogs and not the four legged kind. Never to fear, this delicious meal came out and I dug in…..
I kept saying that I couldn’t believe how good the Wiener tasted but then discovered that there were two strips of fried bacon underneath it. THAT may have attributed to the taste a bit!!!
It was served with a sweet mustard, much like the ones that we had enjoyed in Australia. Likewise, the Ketchup was tangier than what we were used to but tasted great with the meal!!