Our flight today wasn’t until 12:50pm and with hotel checkout not required until 1pm, we were hoping for a sleep-in followed by a leisurely breakfast then catch the 11am shuttle bus to the airport.
The reality was a little different. Andres was a little restless overnight and eventually woke up at 6am. He insisted that we all get out of bed at that point – he was wide awake and wanting to play.
We were showered and eating breakfast by 7am, back to our room by 8am, desperately wanting more sleep, but Andres was not having any of that.
Breakfast was a buffet style, some cornflakes kept Andres happy and Leanne ducked back to our room to get the small jar of peanut butter we had brought for him to have on some toast. I had some scrambled eggs, served in a small corn-chip bowl, which I though was cute – and actually tasted quite good (the corn chips were not salty). The pancakes with maple syrup and whipped cream looked very appetising, until I took one bite and realised it was not whipped cream, but cream cheese. Such a disappointment! Still, the meal filled the tummy and was included in our room rate, so no complaints.
While we were getting ready and having breakfast, I tried doing another time-lapse capture and this time managed to get just over 4 hours of photos to make a decent length video. The time of day made it a much more satisfying result too – the light was much better:
… again, try watching it in HD if you have the screen and bandwidth to do so.
Back in the room after breakfast, I was able to catch up on a bit of work while Leanne entertained Andres. We finally got ourselves organised and downstairs to check out around 10:30am, then had a short wait for the shuttle bus.
We did have a bit of an issue on the way to the airport, the driver asked us (in Spanish) which terminal we were leaving from. We were flying on a domestic LAN flight operated by Aires Airlines and none of the options he had on his chart seemed to fit. He called someone at the hotel on his phone and had me explain to them what our flight was, and they said we should go to the international terminal. We were a bit worried that we might somehow be needing to go through international security and such (like we did last time – our flight went Bogota – Cali – Miami), and hadn’t allowed enough time at the airport. However, when we arrived it turned out that LAN “national” (ie domestic) flights also leave from the “national departures” section of the international terminal.
They don’t supply baggage trolleys at the airport, rather, some well-dressed gentlemen in spiffy uniforms stand ready near the terminal doors with large trolleys ready to help you with their bags. They will actually bring the bags directly to the check-in counter for you. They generally ask for between COP10,000 and COP20,000 for their work – which works out at between $5 and $10. Trollies at Sydney airport cost us $4, but they didn’t come with someone to push them for you! We wouldn’t have bothered if we didn’t have so many bags, which made it effectively impossible to carry everything between the two of us without one.
We checked in with no problems, headed up to the departure area and went through security pretty quickly. There was no gate information for our flight yet, so we parked ourselves at one of the empty departure lounges while I went to find some food for lunch. Not really feeling like much or being too experimental, I decided to try ordering Subway to see how it differed from what I buy back home. Turns out that the only practical difference between a Chicken and Bacon Ranch Sub in Colombia is that I had to order it in Spanish! The end product wasn’t quite as good as I would expect from my local Subway back home, but it was pretty close. Leanne later bought a Colombian empanada from a different store, which she said was very nice.
Eventually they announced a gate for our flight, so we relocated to that lounge area – it was a little disconcerting that we were getting closer and closer to departure time with no plane to be seen at our gate. Finally, there was an announcement over the PA (in Spanish), and judging from the reaction of the passengers, some major delay had occurred. Some people were visibly agitated, so we were worried that the flight had been cancelled or something. Leanne went to ask someone what the announcement was about and came back with news that the flight had been delayed 40 minutes. No big deal really – certainly not worth the reaction we saw from some people.
Andres was getting a bit grumpy, so I decided to try pulling out the tablet computer and showing him some of the computer games that I had loaded onto it. I actually had a tablet version of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit where you control the car by tilting the screen left or right – I figured he would be able to work out how to do that, even if the actual game play was a little more complicated. He was a bit reluctant at first, but after a bit of coaching, he got right into it – getting quite excited by it all, much to the amusement of some of the other passengers sitting near us.
Eventually Andres tired of the game, or more accurately, got too tired to play it, so I packed it away. He soon fell asleep in my arms and when we were finally ready to board about an hour after our scheduled departure time, he was pretty much unconscious. Leanne carried him onto the plane and I carried all the bags. We were able to jump the queue once again, and it turns out that they had given us row 1 of the plane – so it looks like the bassinet request had followed us to this short flight as well.
Eventually we departed Bogota 90 minutes late, Andres did not wake up at all during boarding and they did not have suitable seatbelts for us to keep him on Leanne’s lap, so a quick bit of re-arranging led me to pull out two of our Sea-to-Summit travel pillows we keep rolled up in our bags to cushion him on either side and sat him in his seat (facing towards the back of the seat, head resting on the arm rest) with his seatbelt around him. This satisfied the flight crew and he slept like that the entire one hour flight to Cali, including take off and landing. Once again we waited until everyone else was off the plane before attempting to get him off – Leanne carrying him and me carrying the bags. It wasn’t until we were well inside the terminal building that he started to wake up, he had basically missed the entire flight.
We made our way to the baggage claim area and while waiting for our bags, I went to see if I could see anyone from our hotel waiting for us. I wasn’t sure if they would still be there given we were 90 minutes late arriving. Fortunately they were easy to find and I waved to them indicating I would get our bags and meet them outside. Once again, no baggage trolleys available, so I called one of the guys who had a trolley to come and help with our bags. We were quickly out of the terminal and to the waiting hire car – rather than send a small taxi for us like they did last time, they sent a hire car which was a large people-mover with plenty of room in the back for our bags once they folded the 3rd row of seats down.
Andres was a bit grumpy for the start of the drive into Cali – but he eventually perked up a bit and was fascinated by the sights and sounds of this busy city. He especially liked all the yellow taxis and the motorbikes with two or more people riding on them.
We felt none of the apprehension or nervousness that we experienced on our first trip into Cali from the airport – it was all familiar to us and the sensations took us right back to that exciting time leading up to us meeting Andres in 2009. It felt good to be back – we have come to regard Cali almost as a second home and this felt somewhat like a home-coming.
We finally made it to the Hotel Pension Stein and were struck by how much it was exactly like we remembered it from last time. Nothing had changed – many of the same staff are still there and the place feels and smells the same as it did back on our first visit.
We signed in and were taken to our room by one of the staff – we requested and were allocated room 247, the room next door to the one we had last time. It is up in the back corner of the hotel, away from the dining room and pool, but also away from the noise associated with those areas. It is a much larger room than we had last time, with two double beds a sofa-bed, a small table, a large desk, large built-in wardrobes and a small ensuite bathroom with shower and toilet. We also have a private and secure balcony with table and chairs and a rickety old rocking chair out there. Given the room faces north-west we won’t get the morning sun on the walls like our last room did – and the walls of the room have the roof of the balcony protecting them from direct sunlight during the day, so we’re hoping this will be a much more pleasant room in the warmer weather.
We settled in quickly and felt relaxed and right at home. We also managed to catch up briefly with our interpreter and guide, Magnolia. Many families from Australia and overseas use Magnolia during their stay in Cali and she is an amazing woman who offers so much support and assistance to families going through the adoption process. Everyone knows her and she really does help make things go smoothly.
Before dinner, we took a restless Andres down to the swimming pool – the weather hadn’t been as warm as usual and the water was quite cold. Andres was content to swim in the small paddling pool so Leanne didn’t have to go into the main pool with him afterall.
Dinner felt like we had never left – a bowl of fruit to start with, some soup, then main course followed by dessert. The memories came flooding back.
After dinner we retired to our room to finish unpacking and get Andres into bed. It had been another long day, so I ended up in bed asleep by around 8:30pm too.