Feliz NavidadPosted: January 12, 2013
Ah, Christmas was so great. Everything went pretty much as I’d hoped (except for the day the family witnessed a stabbing*, got lost in a rough part of town, saw some prostitutes, and sat two feet from a cop strip-searching a mugging suspect). But really, it was perfect. We went all over; Guatape, Santa Fe de Antioquia, El Retiro, the Botanical Gardens, the pool. We saw Los Alumbrados, had Christmas Eve dinner in a fancy restaurant in Parque Lleras during which the children behaved like little Christmas angels.
They boys had a great Christmas; they got everything they asked for, except the Nerd rope Aiden asked Santa for in a note on Christmas Eve. They had so much fun with their aunts and grandparents; they never wanted them to leave. The aunts and grandparents, however, unaccustomed to the noise and chaos of a 3 year old and 8 year old boy, amplified by the 30 foot ceilings of the glass palace, were probably ready to leave.
Life was more fun when we were being tour guides and having great meals and adventures with some of our favorite people. Things have taken a strange turn since then; 2013 is off to a rocky start, but my horoscope says I’m going to get everything I want this year, so I’m hopeful.
Next year I will figure out all the Colombian Christmas traditions, which start the 30th of November (with citywide fireworks so massive one kid we met said he thought the world was ending) and go to the 6th of January, Three Kings Day. In between all that is the Dia de Las Velitas, Novena, Niño Dios, Papa Noel, the midnight Christmas party, and some bizarre New Year’s event involving effigy burning. I’m sure it’s all in good fun.
Medellin is covered with so many Christmas lights, I’m sure you can see them from space:
Aiden spent so long convinced he was on the naughty list. Santa sent a (possibly overly) reassuring note that he was actually on the extra-good list. Thanks to Santa, Andrew’s well-timed visit to Denver a few days before Christmas, and relatives who get exactly what you ask for, it was a very good Christmas.
Before everyone else arrived, Aiden and Sam dragged Grandpa Bill to the science museum:
We went to the amazing Guatape twice, once with Bill and the boys and later with the ladies. The first time we took paddle boats (called nautical bicycles in Spanish) out on the lake with Grandpa. The second time I made Kate navigate with the iPhone and we ended up driving on a donkey trail. Not the first time Google Maps has led me astray. But it was a fun detour to an amazing town called Santuario (Sanctuary). Unfortunately I was driving so I don’t have any pictures of that.
The last part of the visit was spent in Santa Fe de Antioquia- sorry Bill left town before that trip. The drive there is gorgeous (and includes South America’s longest tunnel) the weather is hot, the architecture is lovely, and the town happened to be celebrating the Festival of the Diablitos. We got two large adjoining rooms in an old colonial building a block from the main square and got to listen to the festivities until 4 am!
So glad we had family here for our first Colombian Christmas. We wish we could have had all of our family and friends here!
*No worries, the stabbing victim was well enough to run to alert the police, and a large crowd gathered to explain what happened. This was the day after Christmas and seriously the craziest I have seen things in this town. Medellin, did you spend all your Christmas money on Aguardiente? Was it the relief of not having to be on your best behavior for baby Jesus? Or did you just want to put on a good show for the gringos? Well, in any case, thanks for keeping it real.