A quiet day today, after visiting Chiquitines on Thursday, then back again to collect Nicol on Friday, Sugar Cane Museum on Saturday, drive to the country for lunch on Sunday – we needed a rest day to relax and catch up on a bit of sleep!
I did some work in the morning while Leanne took the kids out to the front porch of the hotel. Andres has been enjoying playing with the two other boys staying here at the moment. One is 18 months old and the other about 2 years old, so they are quite a bit younger than him, but he still has fun with them.
After lunch we all had a bit of a sleep and then late afternoon we headed to the shops to pick up some supplies.
It’s great staying at the Hotel Pension Stein – most things are taken care of for you, we don’t need to cook, clean up, change the sheets or towels, do the dishes, or any of the usual daily chores. We don’t even need to sterilise our own bottles – they provide a basket for us to put stuff in and the kitchen staff sterilise them for us while we eat our meals.
However, there are some things we still need to do ourselves. Feed and change our baby is the main thing. That requires supplies of nappies, wipes, formula, baby food and more. So we have regular trips to the supermarket to buy things – plus there are other supplies we occasionally need, like tissues and small tetra-packs of milk for Andres for when we go out. We also needed more cornflakes since our small box was almost empty. I don’t find them very substantial, so I tend to eat quite a few compared to what I would if I had Weetbix.
It was about 4pm by the time we got ourselves organised enough to go to the shops, unfortunately today it decided about this time to start raining. It was a steady drizzle on the way there, so not too much bother. Leanne carried Nicol in the Ergo carrier with an umbrella easily covering them both, while I carried Andres on my shoulders and he held our umbrella above his head for both of us. Worked fairly well.
The return journey was a bit more perilous – the drizzle turned into a downpour and with it came some gusty wind, making the rain fall at an angle rather than the usual straight-down. This made umbrellas less effective – especially those held way above my head by a 3yo sitting on my shoulders. All I can say is, my quick dry clothes work well – and they needed to, since I got quite saturated on the 10 minute walk back to the hotel from the local mall.
We have become regulars at the local supermarket now and our kids usually get friendly smiles from the staff. We also get a lot of attention from other shoppers there, and regularly get stopped by people (usually older women) asking questions about the kids and telling us how cute they are. I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has walked past Andres and touched his hair. Back home he sometimes gets a bit touchy about this (we have encouraged him to say “no tocar mi pelo” to people … “don’t touch my hair”), but he hasn’t really been upset here in Colombia – although he does sometimes get a bit shy or feel a bit awkward with all the attention he gets.
We also come prepared when we shop – since I use my Amex charge card to pay for things, which requires a signature rather than a PIN, I usually get asked for identification to verify the details of the card. To this end, we have taken to carrying my passport with us whenever we are going to the shops and I know to hand it over with the card – makes things easier. Fortunately it is easy to recognise the request for identification even with my limited Spanish skills.
The other thing I learned back in 2008 on our first trip to South America is that most vendors will offer you a choice of how many payments you want to make the purchase over. I’m not completely sure of the reasons behind this – I can only assume that this is some means of allowing people on limited incomes or with small credit limits to spread the charge over several periods rather than hitting them all at once? I’ll have to find out about that. Either way, we learned early on there was a phrase we would be asked near the end of the payment transaction – which essentially translated to “how many payments”, to which the easy (and usually best) answer for us is simply “uno”. I can’t remember what the phrase actually is now, I just know the sound of the question and the context in which it is asked, and automatically answer “uno”.
The one thing we didn’t buy this trip (we already had enough to carry), was more Colombiana to drink. The hotel keeps a fridge full of soft drink and beer for guests – with a clip-board next to the fridge where you mark how many “gaseosa” or “cerveza” you have consumed for billing purposes. However, while they do have the very nice Quatro, they don’t stock any Colombiana! I must talk to Enrique about that – although it’s probably a good thing we have to go out especially to buy it rather than being able to just grab some from the fridge whenever we want!
Nicol is still being a bit annoying with her night-time sleeping. We’ll see how she goes tonight, but if she wakes up very early demanding a bottle again, we might have to try a different approach with night-time feeds.