January 9, 2014
Today was a long day. We did an eight hour jeep tour of the area, seeing two waterfalls (including one that is purported to be the second longest in the world), outlying tombs and burial sites (“More burial sites, Mom?”), the estrecho de Magdalena (the most narrow point of the Magdalena River, Colombia’s main river which runs through the entire country), a panela factory (a brown sugar factory which was definitely the kids’ favorite stop) and tasted the best corn and cheese arepas we have had in Colombia. These were cooked over volcanic rock from freshly ground corn and were delectable.
A follow up to yesterday’s diatribe about kids being good travelers if you just travel with them. They are and yet, as parents we have to be strategic about what we do. Today’s eight hour jeep ride was a strain on everybody’s energy and patience. Definitely can’t do too many of these in a row or during a given trip. At least not without junk food or some other bribes.
One thing I have to mention about today’s trip is that we managed to get a bit off the beaten path and I was really struck by the poverty we saw. As we drove past small hovels that surely house families of 7 people or more, I saw dirt floors and small kids’ plastic tables and chairs for the entire family to eat at. There was definitely no running water or indoor plumbing. It looked very sparse and my heart ached, especially when our tour guide, a little girl who I assumed to be around 6 years old turned out to be 10. I could only attribute her tiny stature to malnutrition. It was very sad.
On a different note, we switched hotels tonight from Hostal Hyuko-Yo to La Casa de Francois. The hostal was top rated on Tripadvisor and it was nice enough but I found it lacking in atmosphere. White walls, no pictures or rugs, very clean and utilitarian but not the kind of place where you want to hang out. Plus, the only food on offer was standard Colombian fair (grilled trout, chicken, meat with potatoes or fried plantains called patacones) and we were pretty sick of standard Colombian fair.