Tuesday, December 21, 2010

bringing a little holiday warmth right to you!

Mom, Mac and I spent a couple nights on Baru Island in the north of Colombia, followed by a couple nights in Cartagena. After rainy cold in Bogota for what seems like decades, we were so appreciative of the blue skies and hot sun.

Since I know so many of you are suffering from terrible cold in the US and Europe, I thought I'd share just a teensy bit of Caribbean warmth with you. You know, in an effort to make you feel like you could shed some of those layers of clothes you're having to wear just to check the mailbox.

view from our hotel room in Baru

the view from my pool chair

our resort's beach

Our candy cane "date stamp" to prove it's the holidays. Ho!Ho!Ho!

Lest you think the vacation was totally stress-free, we did have the scary "ferry" ride over the river to and from Baru. On our return trip, we were on the back two seats of the bus and because they had to squeeze as many vehicles on the "ferry" as possible, our full-sized bus was forced to back up on the ferry until the rear tires were at the edge of the ferry. If you'll imagine a bus, you'll notice there's a lot of space between the back tires and the back of the bus (like one-quarter of the bus sticks out past the tires AND the engine is in the back of the bus which makes - in my non-professional engineering mind - the back end of the bus too heavy to be sticking out over the river). But there we were nevertheless.

the road leading up to the ferry "port" (honestly I was pretty sure that I'd fallen asleep on the 1.5 hour flight from Bogota to Cartagena and somehow woken up back in Mozambique.)

the ferry terminal

one of the ferries

one of the ferries being loaded. We were in one of those green buses waiting for the next ferry.

the ferry "terminal" scene was happening. You could buy snacks, use surprisingly clean bathrooms, play with wild kittens, and generally soak up the atmosphere. Or just pray that your ferry didn't sink if that made you feel better.

And finally a photo of our harrowing return trip. This photo is taken from my bus seat, looking out over the river. We were on this ferry with another bus, a cement mixer and two large pickup delivery trucks. S.C.A.R.Y.

But after that scary ride back, we knew Cartagena was waiting for us. More sun, more pool, more heaven.
Mom in the pool

at our hotel, Bovedas de Santa Clara

Mac and Mom at Club de Pesca for our last night's dinner

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

minor Christmas miracles

1. I have now slept really well three nights in a row without the assistance of sleep meds. This is HUGE and I feel so rested. We've chalked up the insomnia to a failure to acclimate quickly to Bogota's high altitude. Maybe I'm acclimated???

2. My mom arrived in Bogota yesterday for Christmas and we are so excited to have her here. Mac really, really wanted to go home for Christmas - which we never do when we're overseas - and he was so happy to see her when he got home from school. It was a great reunion.

3. It's entirely possible that the weather has made a turn for the better here in Bogota. After what seems like months of rain (and devastating flooding all over Colombia as proof), we've now had a string of really nice days. It rained some yesterday but not all day, which is improvement. And the temperatures when it's not raining? In the mid- to upper-70s. LOVE IT!

4. Mac, Mom and I are going to Baru Island and Cartagena on Thursday for a few days and I can't wait. Hot, humid, hopefully sunny weather: here we come!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

a big sports day for Mac

I've come to the realization that if I wait to catch up on the blog, I'm going to get further and further behind, thereby increasing my guilt and frustration levels. So I've decided just to start blogging again and I'll catch up on all that pesky stuff like birthday parties and big visitors as time permits.


Yesterday, Mac's school had an inter-house sports day for what the Brits call Key Stage 2 which means in American English grades 2-5. And by inter-house, I mean like Harry Potter where the school is broken into four different houses of which each student is a member. Mac's a member of the Griffin house, and he and the other Griffin-ers (Griffin-ites, Griffinados,???) work to earn house points because whichever house gets the most points (through any number of ways, like academics, sports, performing arts, doing a good deed, etc) wins the house trophy, which is apparently a really.big.deal.

So back to the inter-house sports day. This is what used to be called Field Day when I was in school, but you were competing for yourself then and not for a house. They had individual events yesterday in the 800m race, 80m sprint, shotput (which they called the ball throw), high jump (which they called the wall jump), and long jump, and they also had team events for a 4-person relay, whole-house relay and 8-person tug-of-war.

Mac needs to have his face put on the box of Frosted Flakes because that was apparently the breakfast of champions yesterday. For his year for the boys, he came in first place for the 800m, 80m sprint, and long jump, and he and 3 of his housemates tied for 1st place in the 4-man relay race. He was also on the tug-of-war team that won the whole tug-of-war competition.

on the podium for 1st place tie in 4-man relay

ready for the 80m sprint start

wearing the bling

heaving ho in the tug-of-war (check out the muddy pants - it was a bad day to be our washing machine)

At the end of the day, they gave out some other awards, including the Junior and Senior Victor/Victrix Ludorum awards. For those of you are as not as fluent as I now am in Latin, Victor Ludorum is Latin for "the winner of the games" (Victor is masculine and Victrix is feminine). (You can check that out on wikipedia if you don't believe me.) Basically each student got a point for participation in each event plus winners get increasing levels of points depending on where they placed. The Junior award is for grades 2 and 3 (years 3 and 4 in the British system) and the Senior award is for grades 4 and 5 (years 5 and 6 for the Brits).

Anyway, all of this to say that Mac got the Junior Victor Ludorum award which came with a trophy that looks like what they give out at the Masters golf tournament. (Not really, but pretty close, I think). Mac loves trophies and he thought his fake brass Little League trophy was something special until he saw this. Check it out:

He was presented with one trophy to keep (the one in plastic) and the other is returned to the school's trophy case where his name is put on a plaque.

It was a good day to be Mac.

Now I just need to figure out how he can make a living in Track and Field athletics that is sufficient to support me....

Sunday, December 5, 2010

an interesting factoid

Mac's Learning Log assignment for this week is "Who Am I?". We were discussing the topic at dinner tonight, and we shockingly determined that since we visited Ephesus, Turkey on our cruise in June, Mac has lived or vacationed in 6 of the 7 continents. This is remarkable to me since I never even went on an airplane until I was 14. Now we just need to figure out a way to get to Antarctica so we can check the last box on this 8 year-old's "world passport".

I have so much to update you on - Mac's birthday, his party, Thanksgiving, our visitors from South Carolina, Mac's violin concert, our visitors this weekend, the upcoming holidays, etc. But since I haven't downloaded any photos from the last few weeks, that will all have to wait.

Hope that you're all well and that the holiday season is in full swing wherever you are!