And they are indeed, tough travelers. If they were a few feet taller they'd fit right in with the scruffiest of twenty something backpackers. Maya practically has dreads and Jacks shoes are so beat up they are being held together by threads (in fact they did finally break this evening while we were walking through the old city in Cartagena. He had to walk back to the hotel barefoot which was disgusting).
I am really proud of them for making it though three weeks in Colombia. There were tears and temper tantrums for sure, but many happy times doubling over with laughter at the many inside jokes we created along the way. The smell of our stinky clothes that have been washed once in three and a half weeks is pretty powerful, especially in this small hotel room.
And speaking of our hotel, we are staying at La Magdalena again, having made a one night reservation through booking.com like last time. Wouldn't you know it, they remembered us, had our room ready, even called us by name. They seemed genuinely happy to see us again. The street food vendor at chorizo katy remembered us too, from three weeks ago,when we walked by, calling out to us, hey amigo! Of course we had to buy a little bag of his sausage and potatoes. At Mulato Sabor where we had lunch for three days in a row when we first got to colombia were so pleasantly surprised to see us when we walked in this afternoon.
So what they say about Colombian people being so nice really is true, and we knew it all along (well, except for preadolescent boys, see previous post from mompos). We didn't come here for the sights, actually we didn't really know what kind of sights Colombia would be famous for. We didn't come here because the people were rumored to be nice. I guess we came here because it's something not many people do, and we wanted to do something and go somewhere really unique and different, yet relatively affordable. I mean, really, who goes to Colombia? We do!
Most people, including us before we came here, think that Colombia is totally off limits because of security issues. But when we met backpackers in Peru back in 2010 who had been to Colombia we were intrigued about their glowing reports of traveling in Colombia. I read a jillion lonely planet thorn tree forum postings about how safe this country actually is and that was reassuring as well. Colombia has such a bad rep for being dangerous, but like I have said before, I felt completely safe here all the time day and night....except for that nasty river port town. The safe feeling wasn't entirely due to police presence either. We have experienced that before in other countries and sometimes it makes us feel safer (Peru) and sometimes it doesn't (panama). I think part of the reason we felt safe here was the energy from Colombian tourists. There were just so many of them, everywhere we went. These folks seems to be enjoying traveling around their country more than any other people we have encountered...even if they do leave all that darn trash everywhere.
A few days ago I might have said I regret coming here, that it was too hard going and too many roads were unpaved. With less than 24 hours to go, I don't feel that kind of regret anymore. I am glad that we pushed our selves, faced tough times and unknown circumstances. All I have to do is look at this picture on this post and I know that this trip has given the kids so much confidence that they really can handle anything life gives them. With any luck, our family travels will make them want to seek out the fartherest corners of the world and crave intense experiences. We joke that we have beat the traveler out of them, and that when they grow up the only place they will ever want to take their kids is Disney World.
On this trip the kids revealed new plans they have dreamed up for their future which gave me a little window into the people they might become. Maya said she wanted to work in a foreign country helping people recover from natural disasters. This trip is helping her to form her place in the world and how she might contribute to it. As for Jack, well, we were in a small corner store and he put a 500 peso coin, worth about 50 cents but it would buy an empanada or a little sweet treat, on top of a cereal box and exclaimed that he was going to make someones day by leaving it there for a lucky person to find. Then he said that when he becomes rich and famous, as a soccer star of course, he was going to walk into stores and tape random $100 bills onto boxes of things so that people could find them and be happy. In our day to day lives I don't often see, or stop to see, the charity and generosity that is growing in these children of mine. Just looking at this picture again I see it more and more.