Cartagena 2018

As part of our saying goodbye to Colombia, we took one last weekend trip to Cartagena where we stayed at the Santa Clara hotel, a former nunnery dating back to 1621, saw a plethora of birds at the Aviario Nacional de Colombia, enjoyed the beach of Playa Blanca, and sweat like crazy as we walked through the streets of the old city — in preparation for the humidity to come in Texas.

Below are some pics from our trip. To view the entire album click here.

San Miguel De Allende

We spent the first week in July in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico...lindo y querido como siempre. Suzan kindly hosted us at her beautiful townhouse there. We managed to fit in all of our favorite things--churros, swimming at La Gruta, tacos al pastor, live music by Gil and company, pie at El Pegaso, the jardin, margaritas, more churros....while relaxing quite a bit. Annika loved doing projects and spending time with her Mimi. We left happy, relaxed, and a few pounds heavier (so well worth it). Until next time...

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Annika Riding On Her Own

Annika is already able to ride a bike on her own (for the most part), thanks to her Strider bike, but it also helps to have someone show her the way like her friend Lexi.  Unfortunately, Lexi and her family's time here in Bogotá has come to an end and we had a little play date picnic to say goodbye.

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Such is life as a diplomat...  

Parents Visit Bogotá

We were happy to host my parents who flew down to pay us a little visit.  We took them to Andres Carne de Res, Monserrat, Plaza Bolívar, Casa de Nariño, and Usaquen. We made an attempt to visit the town of Guatavita which failed due to road constructions and delays.  We did manage to find a scenic off-road route through the mountains that took us back down to Bogotá.

In addition, my parents got to experience a little bit of our life here as diplomats.  We introduced them to our friends and took them to the U.S. Embassy, Annika's school and swim school, showed them areas near our home, and, more importantly, spent quality time at home.  Annika misses not letting her Abuelo nap in the chair and Abuela's hugs and kisses.

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Matarredonda Ecological Park

Just a 45 minute drive from our place -- up a windy road along the Eastern Hills -- is the Matarredonda Ecological Park.  At ~11,200 feet above sea level, the park contains two unique eco systems: Andean cloud forest and Páramo (part of the Cruz Verde Páramo).   We hiked along one of the main trails in the park, a relatively flat trail called camino real allegedly set by the Muiscas and later by the Spanish Conquistadors that connected the Eastern Hills and Bogota.  We hiked along this trail and stopped briefly for lunch while enjoying the beautiful views of the páramo with the clouds rolling up the mountains.  Living in the city has unfortunately made Annika slightly uncomfortable with the experiences of hiking.  The trail was filled with rocks, flowing water, mud, and sponge like grass but she managed to enjoy it for the most part till about 45 minutes into the hike her foot sank so deep in the mud that it got inside her boots and her pants.  With Annika partly wet and the temperature dropping to the upper 40s, we decided to head back.  We still managed to hike for a couple of hours or roughly 2 miles though.  We hope to get Annika back out there soon.

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Heading back after a little spill
Back in good spirits
Puchi's perspective
Nigh Nigh!

Annika's 4th Birthday

Poor Annika was sick for a week including on her birthday, however, she got to enjoy her special day opening gifts from her family and friends, eating long pasta as requested, and chocolate cake again as requested.  Luckily she recovered in time for her birthday party at Monki's Place where she and her closest friends got to play and jump so much a 2 hour nap was needed after to recover.

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Birthday chocolate cake
Don't touch my cake!

Getting her hair did for her party

Getting her hair did

Puchi and the Mamuchi

Birthday photographer!
Little Photographer

Annika playing with her friends from school (Thiago and Jeronimo)

Annika playing with her friends from school (Thiago and Jeronimo)
eSnack Break
Back to Playing
Picsa Break
Annika and Magdalena
Back To Playing
Cake Break
Back to playing
Back to Playing
Passed out!
A Nigh Nigh

Aspen, Colorado

Our annual super bowl weekend snowboarding trip.  This year we went to Aspen.  Even though snowfall amounts for the area were some of the lowest in decades, there was a lot of man made snow put on Buttermilk mountain thanks to the Winter X Games the week prior.  Buttermilk mountain also has a wonderful ski school with plenty of spanish speaking instructors -- perfect for Annika.  Her first time seeing snow and hitting the slopes was a success.  She absolutely loved it and that made us happy since it allowed Julia and I to hit the slopes as well.  As a nice send-off, on our last night it snowed and continued to snow till the early afternoon giving us a rare experience of snowboarding on some nice powder.  Boy was that a fantastic gift!

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Videos below:


We spent 10 beautiful days, November 5th - 15th, in Argentina visiting 3 cities: Buenos Aires, El Calafate, and Bariloche.  

After a 6 hour flight from Bogota we landed in Buenos Aires.  We stayed for a day in the city in which we walked through the streets of Palermo and had lunch at La Cabrera for some tasty bife de chorizo, chorizos, and Malbec wine.  We met up with our old friend Derek, aka El Chinito, from our tour in Mexico for drinks and fried empanadas which were delish!  The next day we hopped on a plane to El Calafate, a city in Patagonia, Argentina with incredible sunset views of Lago Argentino.  We stayed for 3 days at Blanca Patagonia just a couple of miles from the center of El Calafate.  The food in the town was fantastic with it's rich Italian influence -- we had homemade pastas, fish wrapped in a buttery pastry and cooked in clay, and empanadas (of course), to name a few. On our first day in El Calafate, we took a trip to Los Glaciares National Park to get an up close view of Glaciar Perito Moreno.  On the next day we took a "Safari expedition" to the mountains just outside of El Calafate to explore Patagonia's native wildlife that include Darwin’s Rhea and Guanaco (similar to llamas).  We also stumbled upon a large fossil deposit, thought to have been deposited by moving glaciers, and had a tasty lunch overlooking the mountains while drinking Malbec wine from the region (of course).  Annika quickly befriended our Safari driver.

We then flew to Bariloche, a city in the province of Río Negro, Argentina, situated in the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake.  We stayed at the wonderful Lirolay Suites on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi.  The food again was incredible, especially at La Salamandra Pulpería where we had ojo de bife, empanadas, and choripan accompanied with Malbec wine of course.  We rented a car and on our first day we drove to the outskirts of Bariloche around Lago Moreno with incredible views of the mountains and lakes.  The next day we took a longer drive through Villa La Angostura, a small and beautiful town with a nice downtown and a European ski resort feel to it, and later along Siete Lagos road (7 lakes drive).  This road is filled with breathtaking views of snow capped mountains and clear water lakes and goes along the shores of the Espejo, Correntoso, Villarino and Falkner lakes.  Annika especially enjoyed throwing rocks at one of our many stops along the lakes.  

On our last day in Argentina we flew back to Buenos Aires and explored the Puerto Madero neighborhood where we met up with an old high school friend of mine, currently working in BA as CFO of an oil company (dealing with lovely unions) We had lunch there -- one last bife de chorizo and Malbec wine (of course).

We highly recommend this trip to our family and friends and if we continue to stay in this continent, will definitely head back.

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Buenos Aires
El Calafate

El Calafate
El Calafate
El Calafate
El Calafate
Her new friend
Her new friend
Los Glaciares National Park - Glacier Perito Moreno
Julia eating an olive!
On a 'Safari expedition' just outside of El Calafate
Bariloche - Lift in Cerro Campanario
Bariloche - Cerro Campanario
Bariloche - Road trip through 7 lakes drive
Bariloche - Road trip through 7 lakes drive
Bariloche - Road trip through 7 lakes drive

Videos below

Bariloche - Annika throwing rocks
El Calafate - Los Glaciares National Park
Just shy of the end of the video you can hear the sound of thunder from ice falling into the lake
Bariloche - Road trip through 7 lakes
El Calafate - Hiking towards fossil deposit

Halloween at the Embassy

Got a lot of catching up to do as it has been a bit since our last post.  For Halloween, we headed to the US Embassy for a little trick or treating.  Embassy was very kind in keeping with this tradition so that American's posted abroad can participate, although, Bogota also celebrates Halloween, or Dia de los Niños as it is called here.  Annika was dressed as a mariposa.

Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá

Just outside of Bogota is a town called Zipaquirá known for an underground Roman Catholic church built within the tunnels of a salt mine.  Before the church was built, the miners had carved a sanctuary as a place for their daily prayers before going to work.  Construction of the church began in 1950 and was completed in 1954, and dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary, Patron saint of miners.  With Suzan in town, we decided to do something touristy and took her out for a short adventure.

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Isla de Providencia

For the July 4th (long) weekend, we travelled to Providencia, a small Caribbean island that's close to Nicaragua but officially part of Colombia. Annika took to the calm beaches and warm water...and enjoyed seafood at every meal--fish, Caribbean lobster, shrimp, octopus, and calamari. We stayed at the Hotel Deep Blue, which is not a beachfront property but which has an incredible view of the very picturesque Crab Cay. With almost no internet service and little cell phone reception, it was a true getaway, and well worth it.

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Below is the video of our trip or you can click here.

Texas Visit June 2017

After 3 tours or roughly 6 years of living at high altitude and in eternal spring, we decided to spend 2 weeks in South Texas during the month of June to remember what heat and humidity feels like.  Every day during our visit the high temperatures were at or above 100F and on one special day McAllen, Texas hit a record all time high of 111F.  We found shelter from the heat by spending some days at the beach in South Padre Island, driving to Blue Hole in Wimberly, Texas, and visiting a friend's swimming pool.  Cigars, scotch, and dominos were still played outside but we just had to wait till the cooler late afternoon.  Annika of course loved Abu's cooking, Vince's special pancakes, and took kindly to a medium-rare tenderloin steak.

It was great to visit the family but thinking our next trip will not be during summer months -- basically April through September.

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South Padre Island
South Padre Island

Video with the Cubans below or click here to view.

Drone footage of South Padre Island below or click here to view.

Video of Blue Hole in Wimberly, Texas below or click here to view

Villa De Leyva May 2017

Slowly, slowly, we're getting out to see various parts of Colombia. We took a one-night spur-of-the-moment trip to Villa de Leyva in May. Its whitewashed colonial buildings made for a refreshing backdrop, and we spent the two days more or less just meandering through the small town. We also took a field trip to El Infiernito pre-Columbian archaeological site with its...em, "monuments". We stayed at the Casa Terra and would highly recommend it.

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Video link here