Bogota · Candelaria · Chapinero · Colombia · La Arepera · Plaza Bolivar · South America · Teaching English · Travel

On Leaving Colombia

So the time came when I had to leave my new country.  This was very hard for me as I had had one of the best years of my life.

I came back from the rain forest, then went to Nicaragua for a few days to celebrate my big birthday with friends and family and came back to Bogota to spend a week sorting things out and preparing to leave for perhaps good.

My friend was waiting for me in my flat with my cat.  It was so nice of her to spend my last week with me.

I was tired after my recent travel and just wanted to stay in bed.  Plus, I was trying to subconsciously delay the inevitable leaving of the city and country I had adopted for the last year.  If I stayed in bed, it wouldn’t happen!  I dragged myself out of bed to start packing and see what I could fit in my suitcases to go back to the US, and figure out what I was leaving behind.

It was hard in that I didn’t know if I would be able to return again.  I hoped to return, but was waiting to hear on the course I had applied for and to see what was happening with Heart for Change, the organization I had come to Colombia with.  They were unsure of their future within Colombia.  I knew some people who had signed up for another year with them, but they had told us that they didn’t know what 2018 would hold for them, so I didn’t pursue that route.

I went through some things and had bags to stay with a friend here in Bogota in case I came back – he will watch them for me and if I don’t come back, he will keep them or sell them.  I gave some things to my friend who lives in Cali and she will use them while I am gone and keep or sell them if I don’t come back.  She is hoping to stay in Colombia as well.  There are so many of us in the position of wanting to stay and looking for work in the country.  I have a bag to leave outside for the homeless to pick up if they want to – this is a common way of recycling.  There are so many homeless in my neighborhood and they come by frequently and go through the trash and collect what they can use and recycle.  Nothing is wasted.  I love this aspect of life here as well.

The day was busy sorting through things.  We then went to walk around Carrera Septima and Plaza Bolivar, one of the last times I’ll be able to.  My friend lives in Cali and has only visited me one other time in Bogota, so I was eager to show her my amazing city.  I still love this city and never tire of walking around.  It is gorgeous and interesting and the people change the streets daily.  I had some gifts that I wanted to get for people and some items I wanted to get for myself. 

I had applied to a CELTA course in Bogota starting the 9th of January and I had not heard back from them yet.  I was hoping to get things settled and to stay in the same Airbnb and keep items there with the owner.  But there was no real communication from them.  I am still learning to be ‘tranquila’ about things and realize that what will work out will work out, but it is so so hard!!

I went by the headquarters of International House to see what I could find out face to face, but they had no further information for me.  I sent another email and they asked for my application again – so I sent that – and just had to assume that I wouldn’t get into the program and be okay that what will be will be and I can relax into that.

I continued packing, sorting and last minute shopping.

I was still dreading leaving.

We cleaned up the apartment and got the cat sorted with the vet and the animal control office at the airport and I dragged my feet and pouted.

I wanted to stay in bed and avoid the inevitable.

We forced ourselves to go out for the start of Christmas activities on the 16th of December in the evening, ‘Travesia of Sound and Light’, after walking up to my old neighborhood in Chapinero to get our last Venezuelan arepas for maybe forever.  It was nostalgic.  And delicious!!


The evening celebrations were awesome – but very very different than the celebrations we have in the US.  They had videos of the nature here in Colombia – a celebration of the diversity of flora and fauna that is found nowhere else – it is truly what makes this country so very special.  It reminds me of how lucky I am to have had this opportunity.

I gave a lot of things to my friend and she left on the night train back to Cali.I gave the bags to my friend in Bogota – he left.  I was now ready to leave – ready or not.I was left with two suitcases, a cat carrier, a nervous cat, a backpack and me.

I was surprised that at this point, I started to think of my time with my family and friends and felt a little uplift and even excitement of the time to come.

All was no longer bleak – I would see my kids and family soon and there were a lot of plans that we had – things to do – Christmas in the US – it would work out – I went to sleep with mixed feelings – ready to see what the future held.

Bogota · Botero · Candelaria · Colombia · South America · Teaching English · Travel

Botero Museum

The kids and I had the day free as it was yet another ‘Puente’.  There are three in a row in August, which is great for me!

We decided to go to the Botero museum as it is always open.  Rosevelt was thrilled that it was connected to the Money museum which was also free and has money!  The museums are just up from Plaza Bolivar and are not really noticeable as it is just another white building on the street.

Botero museo

Fernando Botero is the most recognized Colombian artist.  He is from Medellin and is still alive.  He donated the works that one sees in the museum, so that is why the museum is free.  His style is large people and landscapes and can be critical of politics at times. His is a painter and a sculptor.  I LOVE his sculptures.

Inside the museum there is a beautiful patio.  There is an upstairs and a downstairs in the museum.

Botero Patio

The kids and I had a great time – they loved the art and it is great to intorduce them to as they will always recognize a botero! This one is Rosevelt’s favorite!


The museum also houses works by Picasso, Cezanne and Moore.  It a sculpture by Dali, my favorite artist!  I was excited.


The museum is not large and is in the middle of Candelaria where there is tons to do – so…. make sure you go!  The whole family will love it.

Bogota · Candelaria · Colombia · Graffiti Tour · Sant Just Gastronomia · South America · Teaching English · Travel

Graffiti Tour

Well, after hearing and reading about how amazing the graffiti tour here in Bogota is, we finally went! A friend had come to town and it was the only time we could meet up, as they only had two days here and the tour was on their list.  My friend who had just left went on the tour and I oohed and aahed over her photos, so I was looking forward to it.  Plus it was something that I could do with the kids that they would enjoy too.

We all enjoyed it a lot. Some of the graffiti here is absolutely amazing and the stories and history that the guard gave were interesting and informative.  The tour starts in Parque de Periodistas (Journalist’s Park) just south of 19th street and winds through Candelaria, going to the heart of where Bogota was formed.  The walk itself is interesting and beautiful and lasts about 2 1/2 hours. The pace is good and the tour is free, accepting donations to continue what they are doing.

Here are some of my favorite artworks:

Political GrafittiTrue LoveWall artWoman - graffitibirds graffiti

After the tour, we went for lunch at this cute little French restaurant that the guide recommended to us. It was included in the tour as the outside had an amazing lion painted next to the door.

Sant Just Gastronomia

The food was delicious, not terribly expensive and the service was excellent.  They speak, French, Spanish and English.  It was called Sant just Gastronomia in Candelaria.  We sat and talked and relaxed for a couple of hours comfortably without being rushed.

I then took the kids home walking to the bus stop along Septima.  It was a good day and the kids had a blast hanging out with our friend and enjoying the company, going around Candelaria on the graffiti and watching the buskers along Septima.

Bogota · Candelaria · Colombia · South America · Teaching English

Last day

We slept in today – thank goodness Ekatarina didn’t wake up as early as yesterday! The girls are all leaving today at some point – so we had a list of last minute things that they wanted to get done. Ekat wanted to go to a Russian grocery store. Because it is a Puente – she found out it was closed. So she walked around and a found a pastry shop and brought us back some delicious pastries. We had them with coffee and then went to the pastry shop to have yet more – with more coffee!

We went to Paloquemao to buy some things for the girls to take back to their cities with them. I walked Ekatarina to sort our her phone and get on a bus to the airport.  I found Lychees at the market – so ate a bunch!

We then went to this area of Bogota known for their fish restaurants.  It is called Comuneros.  We had been told about the area by someone at Paloquemao.  When we got to the area, we were hounded up and down the street by restaurants seeking business.  Normally Colombia has not been this way and we were all put off and annoyed.  Had we not been so hungry, we would have left the area for good. We ended us going to this dodgy place that was way too expensive and mediocre in food at best. We spent too much money and were not happy – and we were traumatized with the harassment by the restaurants, so we left very disgruntled.

We then walked from there to the Plaza Bolivar and Candelaria. I love Plaza Bolivar and it was great to find my friends equally enchanted with the area.  It was such a beautiful day and night. The weather was amazing the whole weekend.  Plaza Bolivar was the perfect way to finish the weekend.

Plaza Bolivar


Afrodisiaco · Bogota · Candelaria · Chapinero · Colombia · Disco Jaguar · La Arepera · Museo del Oro · Plaza de Mercado Paloquemao · South America · Teaching English · Travel

Puente Weekend Continued

We woke and got around slowly this morning –Ebony and Rachel had arrived around 2am and we stayed up chatting about our experiences so far in Colombia, so we were really tired!  It was so nice to catch up and compare and contrast our situations teaching English is different areas of the country.

Ebony is a lot like me – she likes cooking and we enjoy the same type of food – She had been interested in going to Paloquemao since orientation, so I was eager to take her there to explore the greatness of the market! Ekatarina was due to arrive about 1pm or so on a flight from her city of Santa Marta (She is the lucky one who gets to live by the ocean!!), and Gaby had still not left Funza, soooo.. we decided to go ahead and go out and get some things done.

We walked to the market and on the way we found a cute little garden with sculptures formatted on old stones from pre-historic times. It was tucked in the middle of a busy intersection. Of course we stopped to explore! It is called “Parque de los Talladores en Piedra de Los Martires”.  It was so cool – I love that about this city, there are things to see and explore everywhere you look!


We had a great time at Paloquemao and bought and sampled tons of fruit. They have so many fruits here that we don’t have in the US. I got some coconut milk and some frozen fruit pulp to make smoothies for breakfast tomorrow! Sometimes I feel so lucky to be living here!

We went back to the flat to meet with Ekatarina and get her settled in – Gaby still had not left Funza to come to meet us, so we decided to check another thing off the list and head out to Candelaria and the Museo del Oro.   El Museo del Oro is the top tourist attraction in Colombia. It is truly amazing and shares a lot of the Colombian history. It is not a big museum, but is impressive.  There is a room that has a cool experience of how important gold was as a sacrifice in ancient times here in Colombia.  When you enter the room it is all dark, then gradually lights shine on gold items around the room and get faster and faster until finally settling on a well in the floor in the middle of the room filled with gold items.  Then the sounds of a rainstorm erupt around the room.  It is super cool and very well done.

museo del oro

We walked around the area and had fish for lunch at a place called Afrodisiaco – it was run by some people from the Choco area of Colombia. It was delicious!  There are little places around Candelaria like this and it makes exploring so much fun.

Lunch Candelaria

We went back to the flat and met us with Gaby finally. We walked to one of my favorite restaurants in Bogota called, “La Arepera” and then we went back to the flat to get ready to go out to Disco Jaguar – a really fun dance club that has both a salsa room and a reggaeton room. It is a reasonably priced club and a lot of fun. It is on Septima in Chapinero and is only 15,000 COP to get in.  I have been there before and enjoy it for a night out and it is within walking distance of my flat!


We made it home about 3 am – tired and happy.

Bogota · Candelaria · Canton Norte · Colombia · South America · Teaching English · Travel

Restaurante el Catedral

Today is an exam day for the soldiers, so there was not a lesson to prepare. I did prepare the quiz that they took over the last lesson to take before the exam. It was good to be in class and the soldiers are nice and have a great sense of humor. I like them.  This was my first real work since being here.

I talked with Angela about why exactly I was there at the base. I think it went well. She was nice and more inclusive and I felt good about the day.  As I have found to be the case, there is little communication and she had no idea why I was there, so it is possible that she felt threatened by me and this is why she was distant.  I went over what the organization I came through was and what they hired us to do and that I was there to teach English and the military was not paying me and I was not there to take her job or threaten her job in any way.  She seemed receptive and hopefully we’ll have a better relationship and she will be more inclusive.

After work I went to the downtown area in the afternoon in Candelaria as I needed to get something for Norbert to take back to Jenny and Robbie. I went to the area by the Museo del Oro as that is very touristy and there are a lot of souvenir shops to choose from. The traffic was awful and I hate shopping, but I do love Jenny, so off I went! I asked the cab driver for a good restaurant and he brought me to this touristy area where they had restaurants geared to tourists, so expensive. It was definitely not what I was looking for, so even though I was super hungry, I walked away and back to the museum hoping to find something more to my liking and price budget.

I found this little place up some stairs and way in the back of a building called, ‘Restaurante el Cathedral’.   They had a sign hung out in the front featuring the ‘Menu del dia’ and it sounded good – so I went off to find this restaurant.  The owners were this tiny, cute little couple who welcomed me and warned me to be careful of where I put my bag – they even brought me this chair to put it on. They told me what the plato del dia was, but all they had left was chicken, so they made me another amazing plate! They brought me some fruit juice, Sancocho soup ‘ vegetarian!´, a fried egg, rice, veggies, plantains, and salad ‘ it was so very amazing!! It was all only 11,000 COP! It was the best soup I have ever had in my life! It has plantains and vegetables in it and lots of cilantro.  I’m going to have to try to make it on my own.  I asked them for the recipe, but they wouldn’t give it to me!  The negative thing – they are only open Monday, Friday and Saturday. They also told me that they rotate the soups, so I won’t necessarily ever get to eat that soup again.  I’m definitely going to have to try though.

I left in a much better mood – but it soon soured as I had to go shopping and pick something out – and as much as I hate shopping, I hate it even more when I am being accosted the whole time!! But… eventually I found them something that I am pretty sure they will love.

I made it home eventually very tired and grouchy AND Norbert leaves tomorrow.

Bogota · Candelaria · Colombia · Merlin's Cafe · South America · Teaching English · Travel

Merlin’s Cafe

We didn’t get much sleep and it was really hard to sleep in – the flat is very light and so I have been waking up much earlier than I used to. It was really nice to wake up with Norbert here! The poor guy had to wake early for work and I tried to sleep in – but – it was hard.

I have not yet been to Candelaria. People here tell you that it is a dangerous area – but then they tend to say that about a lot of areas. I have heard many things from people about how dangerous things are here. So far I have not found that to be true. So far I have felt safe and secure here.  I do take care not to take out my phone in crowded places, and to hang on to my bag with two hands, but I take those precautions in big cities around the world when I travel.  I don’t want to tempt fate and say I feel totally safe, because of course, anything can happen. I do know about other fellows who have had things stolen and have been robbed from. I don’t want to be one of those people!!

Now that Norbert is here to go with me, it is the perfect time to explore Candelaria! It is about two miles from our flat, so we walked down there and enjoyed seeing everything.

We found a little tapas bar that was selling a wine that was affiliated with Arsenal. Norbert LOVES Arsenal – so of course we stopped! They were having a promotion for the wine and giving away Arsenal items with purchases. We had some wine and scotch with olives while chatting. It was nice and relaxing.

There were a lot of street performers and Norbert really enjoyed them. He loves that sort of thing.   The people dancing, painting and singing were entertaining. There was a painter who was really really good. He used spray paint and heat to make the most amazing art. It was actually very impressive.  He put on a great show as well by selling cheap tickets and then picking a winner to get the same amount of money he was selling his art for.  He said you could buy the print for $20,000 COP, or you could buy a ticket to win the print for $2,000 COP.  He had 10 people buy the tickets and then had a boy pull a number out – that person won the print.  It was rather ingenious of him – of course we had a go at it!

We continued walking around the area and made our way to an amazing restaurant called Merlin’s Café. There were dragons everywhere and the atmosphere was rustic and quaint. The food was delicious and affordable. We had grilled meat with mushrooms and a delicious salad. The smell of garlic was what drew us into the restaurant and we were not disappointed! The service was very good and they brought us an oregano basil bread with oil and vinegar to dip it into.  It was a great experience.  We left feeling refreshed and satisfied.  I can’t wait to go back!

What an amazing and perfect day. We made it home thoroughly exhausted!