We have been having a lot of fun over the past couple of days exploring this area with the girls and my mom. My camera was out of battery so I don’t have any pictures for you unfortunately. I finally got my act together and charged the battery so I promise to have some photos on my next post.
The highlight of our exploring the past couple of days was that we ran across a Russian restaurant in the middle of the countryside near Bogota. Who would have thought? Dacha, authentic Russian cuisine in La Calera. Owned by Olga, a woman from the Russian provinces who married a Colombian man and moved to Colombia twenty nine years ago, the restaurant was very quaint like a Russian dacha (country home) with yummy home cooking.
I was prepared for the usual parilla (grilled meats restaurant) experience which all serve the same dishes – grilled meat, chicken, trout, ajiaco (potato, corn and chicken soup) – and I wasn’t really looking forward to it. As a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats fish occasionally), I am pretty sick of eating grilled trout wherever we go. So finding a Russian restaurant in the middle of nowhere was such a treat! We had blini (crepes) with mushrooms and cheese, pastries with potato and cabbage, borscht (a beet and cabbage soup), fish in a vegetable sauce, and chicken Kiev. None of this is refined cuisine, but it was such a welcome change!
Plus, it was fun to talk to Olga. Despite having lived in Colombia for nearly thirty years, she is still very much Russian. I have always felt the wide gap between the Russo-Ukranian culture I was raised in and the American culture I lived in. Since we are living in Colombia, the cultural differences are even more striking. I have become used to people being extremely polite here. Whether it’s asking for something (they say “will you give me the gift of ___?”) or dealing with issues that come up (very circuitously), people are so gracious and well, beat around the bush.
In contrast, the Ruso-Ukranian culture I come from is extremely direct and to the point. No beating around the bush. It can really come across as rude and rough sometimes, even to me. Especially to me. And yet, talking with Olga was so refreshing. Her take on Colombian men – too attached to their mamas just like the Italians and super possessive and jealous in that machista way – and life in general was judgmental, to-the-point, and honest. Telling it like it is, with no concern for political correctness. Sometimes I miss that.