So I forgot to mention that one of the things I really wanted to do while in Medellin is visit a nearby town, Santa Fe de Antioquia, which hosts a big holiday party the last four days of every year. I figured that since we couldn’t go out on New Year’s Eve since we don’t have a baby sitter here, we could at least go to a big party during the day and celebrate New Year’s in Ukraine (accounting for the time difference). The road to Sante Fe has been closed all month, however, due to heavy rains and the resulting mud slides. I was bummed.
And then good news – the road to Santa Fe reopened! We woke up bright and early and drove about an hour and a half to this small and very quaint colonial town, which used to be the capital of Antioquia until it was eclipsed by its much larger neighbor, Medellin. To get there, we drove through South America’s longest tunnel, 5 km (about 2.3 miles).
At only 550 meters (about 1,500 feet) above sea level, Santa Fe was hot, hot, hot. We found ourselves melting quickly and the party hadn’t even started yet. The local hotels were prepared for tourists like us (a lot of people from Medellin come to Santa Fe as a weekend get-away) and offered “Dias del Sol” (Days of Sun), which means that for about $15/$20 per person you get lunch and the use of the hotel pool for a day. This sounded fantastic but of course we didn’t bring bathing suits. What to do?
There were a few shops in town selling swim suits at very reasonable prices ($12 – $15 for kids; $20 for adults),and the trick was finding ones that actually covered the body parts I wanted covered. First, for the girls, call me a prude, but I don’t want my 6 and 9 year olds walking around in teeny bikinis that cover slightly more than a thong. I just can’t go there, especially with Jade, my 9 year old. In Bogota, I buck the local trends and make them wear tankinis. Call me old fashioned but I believe that girls should be girls and “sexualized” swim suits that barely cover their private parts creep me out.
So after much searching, and bored exasperation on Esteban’s part, we managed to find some swim suits, that while covered in cartoon characters, also covered their bodies adequately. For me, however, it was another story.
Women really seem to like showing off their butts here. I have seen so many butt implants here, you wouldn’t believe it. Now personally, I don’t like the look of two watermelons hanging off a woman’s backside, unless she happens to be born that way (and if you were born that way, come to Colombia – you will be the most popular woman here) but that’s what is in fashion here. Accordingly, swim suits show off as much of a woman’s behind as possible. Again, call me a prude, but I just wasn’t going to wear a purple metallic only-slightly-larger than a thong out in public. Plus I use SPF50 on my body to protect against wrinkles and skin cancer. My super white behind just wasn’t going to make a pretty sight. (Now I know that my European friends who are reading this are laughing at my “American uptightness” but cut me some slack, I have recently been living in New England, where I felt somewhat daring for wearing a bikini to the beach after having three kids.)
So again, what to do? Way too hot to forgo the pool but to spend even $20 on a swim suit I was going to wear only once and with great embarrassment? I don’t think so. So I will spare the details of my underwear but suffice it to say that I had on a black bra and underwear that covered way more than the purple metallic bikini. I decided to revert to my Eastern European roots and go swimming in my underwear (in Soviet days, people often wore their white “grandma underwear“ to the beach). A bit embarrassing but I don’t think anybody noticed or cared.
By the way, the party really wasn’t much of a party or maybe it started much later. We had to leave Santa Fe by 4:30 to avoid driving through the mountains in the dark, and as of the time of our departure, there were craft stalls set up, people milling about the central plaza, drinking lots of beer, and young men and boys play fighting in the bull ring, as townspeople watched. Maybe I am getting old (or maybe I have been to too many good parties), but this wasn’t very excited.
We arrived back in Medellin hoping to have a nice New Years Eve dinner but everything was closed. I was later told that most people spend New Year’s Eve with their families here and then go out partying and dancing after midnight. So those of us wanting to have dinner around 7 pm were out of luck. We wound up finding a Cuban/Colombian restaurant where I had some very mediocre fried fish, potatoes and rice. Have I mentioned how sick I am getting of standard Colombian fare? Grilled meat/chicken/fish with French fries and/or rice. A Colombian friend asked me the other day what my favorite food is here in Colombia and jokingly (but not really), I blurted out, Wok, the yummy local Pan-Asian restaurant.
Anyway, we finally made it back to our hotel apartment ready for a party with the older girls. Jade and Siena set up snacks and Esteban and I made mojitos for us and juice spritzers for the girls. We were going to stay up until midnight to welcome in the new year. It was 9 pm.
Within half an hour, it became apparent that the girls were way too tired and wound up to stay up until midnight. They were bouncing off the walls and I couldn’t imagine enduring another two and a half hours of this torture. We quickly changed plans and decided to celebrate the Argentine new year which at two hours ahead would be happening at 10 pm Colombia time.
The kids were out cold by 10:15. Esteban and I decided that there is really no point to staying up until midnight when we have to get up early tomorrow and drive back to Rio Claro. We were out cold by 10:30. Pathetic! And the sleep was so delicious.