Monday, January 5, 2009

A Colombian Christmas

Ok, so Colombia was incredible, my Christmas and New Years celebrations there were fantastic, and 2009 is going to be a great year!

The husband and I have traveled quite a bit, but this trip was very different in the fact that we stayed with a host family (the family of our Colombian friend Cecilia). Normally when we travel we stay at small inns or family run B&B's.

We based in Medellin and took day trips out into the rural areas surrounding the city. Our favorite trip was a two day stay at the family's vacation home in a small town called Cauca Viejo. Cauca Viejo is a private gated community designed and built to look an old traditional Colombian village complete with a town square fountain, church, and shops. The home we stayed in was incredible! All rooms opened up to the central walkway and the window shutters opened up for a total open air feel. Our room even had an outdoor shower! We slept to the sound of the Rio Cauca rushing past. It was so cool.Our lack of Spanish was the only frustrating part about the trip, but we are determined to fix that issue and return. The family was understanding and accepted our attempts at Spanish, our constant flipping through the dictionary, and our sign language butchering. The kids under six could not understand why we could not understand and speak with them though.
We felt safe the entire time we were there. I think that has to do with the fact that Cecilia's family would not let us out of their sight, and the fact that there were heavily armored police and military everywhere. The country has come a long way from being run by the cartels, but they do still have work to do. My husband was excited to see the house where the infamous Pablo Escobar was finally killed in 1993. I didn't know this until he told me, but Escobar was the 7th richest man in the world when he died. Crazy. Below is a picture of just some of the military we saw.
I realize from my earlier blogs that I always talk about food, so I have to wax poetic about the Colombian food. It was muey bueno. I love the thick tortilla-like arepas and I got to try my hand at making some of the treats like smashed and fried plantains and these fried cheesy bready thingies called Bunelos. Yum! Good stuff. Mi gusta!

Our host family Santiago and Elisa took us out dancing a few nights and we danced until way past dawn! The Colombians sure love to dance! The are beautiful, vivacious, passionate, and hospitable people. We can't wait to go back.Below is a picture of the lights over the river in Medellin. It's incredible in person.

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