Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Our Time in La Mesa

We arrived here in La Mesa on Tuesday. After leaving Bogota around 9am, it was about a three-hour drive into the mountains.  The drive was interesting as we saw a lot of the city and then the countryside…and then the mountains where there is very little except a few hotels and small stores.  However, the drive was also long as there was construction on the mountain road and we spent quite a bit of time sitting still.  Sitting still with an 18-month old in the back of a taxi can get very tricky. 

Our Bogota Traffic Jam  Faces
Headed into the mountains.

We were given several options for where to stay during this time as we awaited our court date.  The hope is that you will be here for three nights, but there is no guarantee; there is another adoptive family here now that has been here longer than one week and are still unsure of their departure.  So you hope that you have chosen well for your stay!  Our attorney told us she had not had any families stay here, but we liked the way it looked online and it was one of our given choices so we decided to give it a try.  If we were unhappy, we had the option of going to a different place.  And so we pulled up around noon, were asked by our driver in broken English if it seemed ok, and were deposited here at the top of the mountain. 
Finca Hotel Paraiso Terrenal

While you are in this area, they tell you that ‘the wifi may be spotty.’  What they really need to say is that ‘wifi may or may not work here at all depending on the day, the weather, and the general mood of the wifi.  Your in-country phone will only work in only one spot, and your personal cell phone will work for calling…never.  Perhaps once a day you will suddenly get all of your texts and messages, and then after that you can wait til tomorrow.’  From this hotel, the closest ‘real’ store was a 25-minute drive each way.  So picture us just being far far away from anything other than the staff and the other guests.  The only ‘other guests’ when we arrived were the other adoptive family--that was all.  And so we again hoped we had chosen well. It was beautiful, that much we knew right away.

The balcony area off of our room.
Part of our view from the balcony.
Waterfalls were very present along the paths.

Part of the view from the main balcony.

The rest of the view!

In the end, it was definitely God’s provision that had us here. Violet had a very upset stomach since the first day she was with us {update: we discovered this week it has been a parasite--hopefully she will be on the mend very soon!}.  We thought it might be the food, all of the changes, the water—we just didn’t know.  When we had the pediatrician visit, she told us to just keep an eye on it.  But shortly after we arrived here, it was clear this was not going away and was probably not related to what she was eating.  On the first day at the hotel, she went through multiple clothes changes and a whole lot of diapers.  We needed clothes changes, as well, after it was all said and done.  At this time, we were still trying to acclimate ourselves to being here and were feeling the stress.  So we called for help, and our in-country person explained what was happening to the hotel staff.  They did our messy laundry with no fuss.  The manager wanted to be sure she was ok and that she did not need anything.  He is the only one of the staff who speaks English, and even then he only speaks a little.  However, every single person we encountered here has treated all of us with such kindness.  They put up with our attempts at their language and for the most part we were able to communicate well.  There was one particular woman who cleaned the rooms and decided to take on the role of abuela and be sure ‘la nina’ was well cared for.  She apparently also decided we spoke fluent Spanish and would give me very long speeches.  I got about 75% of it, though, and for the rest I would just nod and say, ‘Si,’ and she was happy.  She even made Violet some sort of special soup or tea (we could never tell which it was) that was for her ‘estomago.’   They showed their concern and wanted to be sure she received her ‘medicina,’ a probiotic, which she did as the doctor had it delivered on Wednesday evening.  (Praise be for their pharmacies and the places here that deliver, but that’s another topic…)
Seating area outside of the rooms.

Inside one of the rooms.

They washed her sippy cups and toddler spoons for us each day, brought out a tiny plate or bowl for her with little portions on it at every meal, and they helped us feel safe and cared for in a place where for the first 24 hours we felt a little alone and very unsure.  The manager and the desk clerk helped us read the directions on the formula can as they were extremely confusing (he had to have two others help, too, so it wasn’t just our language skills) and then had the ladies in the kitchen prepare it so she would have clean, warm water for her milk.  The owner (the manger’s father) was here on the second day, figured out what was going on, and had them send a carafe to our room with hot water so that we could make her formula up here without going down to the kitchen when we needed it.  Who does these things?  It appears the Colombians do.  They told us the hotel is a family business, and it shows.

This hotel was not perfect.  The power went out every night while we were here, each night at a different time.  In fact, it just went out right now as I am typing (the beauty of using a Word document as there is no internet anyways…).  As previously mentioned, you might have trouble with outside communication.   If you are looking for frilly accommodations and a completely bug-free bathroom, it might not be your kind of place.  You will be warned about the bugs in La Mesa, and that part is very accurate.  There are bugs.  Lots of bugs.  Strange creepy crawlies and then just regular old pests like gnats and flies.  But that is not the fault of the hotel; that is the way it is here because of the more tropical climate.  It rains a lot.  Every morning and every night it has rained while we have been here.  I don’t mind it because it is peaceful and it makes things cooler for sleeping, but I’m sure if you were looking for a great vacation spot it would put a damper on things.  There are many birds here which is lovely until you meet the roosters.  These roosters became my enemies after the first afternoon when we realized they crow at all hours of the day.  All. Day. Long.  I do think the rain is the only thing that shuts their beaks, but don’t be fooled—they’ll be back.  These poor fellows have no idea that their job is to crow in the mornings.   They are an all day show. 

He shall be called 'El Diablo.' 
That being said, I doubt you could find a more beautiful place to stay.  The name of the hotel means ‘Paradise on Earth,’ and they named it correctly.  We took lots of pictures, but it’s simply so lovely and hard to describe.  There are so many different types of plants, flowers, birds, waterfalls, and then there is the simple beauty of the hotel itself.  And the food alone would be enough without all of the rest.   Our meals were included in the hotel stay, and they served typical Colombian food.  However, there was nothing typical about it.  I am seriously going to need to up my cooking game when we get back home as everyone so enjoyed the way we have eaten for the past few days.  Tonight we asked the kitchen staff the name of one of the soups so that I can try to find a recipe, and we also asked for the key to preparing the ‘chocolate’ in the mornings.  Each morning after breakfast, they ask if you would like ‘café or chocolate.’ Natalie and Grant are now ruined and are expecting this magic to appear in the mornings at home.  Since this does not compare with our sad version of hot chocolate at home, we found out the secret and hope to find the right ingredients in the states.  I think they were happy that we wanted to know how to make those things—they were so willing to share.  We want Violet to know the traditions of her culture, and while these things seems small and  may take some trial and error we are going to give them a try.
Enjoying her morning chocolate.
Bemoaning the lack of the chocolate.
A  traditional salad before the meal.

Their larger meal is at lunchtime, so there was always a soup (sopa) before the meal. as well.

Someone was a big fan of the sopa.
Tomorrow morning we leave to go into the town of La Mesa for court.  They are preparing our breakfast early so they we have something to eat before we go.  That is just how it is here.  Then we will return to Bogota to finish our stay.  While we are all anticipating going home, part of me dreads the return back to the busy-ness of the city for our last week.  This is a place where you have to ignore all of the distractions because there are very few!  We have had a peaceful time here once we got the sickness somewhat under control.  We have played games on the game tables set up all around the hotel—pool (billiards), chess, ping pong, giant Chinese checkers.  We have strolled Violet all around the grounds which she loved, and then we have walked for ages while she pushed her stroller all around the grounds again.  (We also really like nap time!)  

We have struggled, but we have also laughed a lot together.  We have taken our time because there is nowhere to go and no schedule to keep.  Well, other than when the next meal happens because you definitely don’t want to miss that.  We have been able to show Violet her first glimpses of what family should be because there are not any appointments and no...anything else!   And it has been surprisingly good.  While I will be thankful for the conveniences of the apartment and the steps that take us closer to going home, I am grateful for the days we have spent here.  There is a small area for prayer near our hotel room.  The Bible there stands open to Psalm 27, so I decided to read it tonight.  
 It begins: “The Lord is my light and my salvation.  Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life.  Of whom shall I be afraid?”  It ends with this: “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” Just another reminder that He had us right where we needed to be.  Tomorrow is a big day.  Tomorrow we ‘officially’ and legally become a family forever.  But God has already done this in all of our hearts.  So I go to bed very tired but with a full heart that is thankful for the quiet and the peacefulness here.  And for the gift of tomorrow. Buenas Noches, La Mesa.

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