Posts Tagged ‘arepas’

My Heart is STILL in Colombia!

November 24, 2012

It’s true.  We have been home from Cali, Colombia for 23 months with our little Colombian princess.  The adoption journey has had bumps and twists that we didn’t expect, but it has been so wonderful and rewarding.

Tomorrow is GOTCHA DAY number two!

TWO YEARS!!!  Hard to believe it has gone by so fast.  Sometimes our month in Colombia seems like forever ago… and sometimes it seems like last week.  I miss the lush greenness of Cali, the vast array of mystery fruits that were scrumptiously yummy, the glimpses of the Andes when the fog lifted, the bamboo forest we drove by to our villa, the coconut ice cream bars, the afternoon rain showers, the neighborhood boys who would come and ask,  “Is Austin Rick’s son?”, the sweet smell of the flowers, arepas filled white cheese, the stickiness of the night air and the pee-po pee-po LOUD evening serenade of the coqui frogs.

People often ask “Why Colombia?”  Quite a few factors lead us to the beautiful and tropical South American country.

1.) My husband, Rick, went to Valledupar, Colombia for a summer to build a church when he was 17-years-old.  He grew to love the warm-hearted people and the countryside teeming with unknown vegetation, never imagining that he would return to meet his daughter twenty-something years later.

2.) We have three bio kids who do not look like Rick AT ALL.  Ok, one does a little, but I was expecting little chubby, black-haired Indian babies when I married a Cree Indian.  Didn’t happen.  The Irish and Finnish genes dominated and we got two blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids and another slightly darker. So, when we had chosen an adoption agency, I looked through the pages for the countries they worked in….   I held up the two pages and announced to Rick, “El Salvador and Colombia are where the kids look like you.”  “Colombia,” he replied.  And it was a done deal.

3.) Not that I was anywhere near proficient, but I thoroughly enjoyed taking Spanish… back in the day.  Larisa also had Spanish courses and was mastering her second language quite nicely.  So a country in South America seemed familiar… somehow.  (Not distant in my mind, like, say, Kazakhstan… or China.) I related to Ellie from the movie UP…. her dream was to visit South America.  She tore pictures right out of a library book of the fascinating country.

I am as American as you could get.  I LOVE my country… the anthem brings me to tears.  Studying and teaching the history of our great land is a deep passion of mine.  But I have to say that my heart beats in thirds… a third for the USA, a third for Canada, where I spent my college years and the first 10 years of marriage, and now a third for Colombia where I fell in love with my daughter’s people and homeland.  My heart is still in Colombia. <3

From Wonder Mama to Blunder Mama

November 17, 2012

With the arrival of our Colombian princess’s second GOTCHA DAY next Sunday, memories of that time in our lives have been frequent, heart warming and still alarming in some cases.

November 25, 2010 the day we received Nora, is alive and well in my memory banks.  The morning began with my first Spanglish lesson of ordering breakfast from the kitchen in the hotel where we had arrived just seven short hours previously.  Translated from my lame Spanish back to lame English for your enjoyment….my order: “Eggs.  Milk.  Five people.  Juice.  Cooked bread.(toast)  Coffee.”  The kind person on the phone kept asking me questions and I had NO idea what they were saying.  I repeated my eight word order several times.  Surprisingly, we did get everything we asked for, plus hot cocoa, arepas, jam, honey and some fruit!

On our drive home from ICBF (Colombian social services), we were all jolted beyond belief in the traffic, on the steep hills and due to the driving style of our guide.  Thankfully we only had a 20 minute ride or we would have all been losing our breakfast.

Being the prepared official mother of four children, when Nora started looking woozy, I grabbed a gallon zip lock bag from my purse and she used it well.  Just a teeny bit of mama pride surfaced as I had anticipated the problem and solved it in the nick of time.  We also learned at that moment that she had been fed chocolate cake for breakfast.  LOTS of chocolate cake.

My mama pride dissolved into nothingness that same evening when we tucked Nora in for the night.  We all kissed her, Larisa brushed out her nine tiny braids before she was wrapped in her cozy new jammies and ready for beddy-bye.  My sweet husband has done the tucking-in for all of the kids’ lives.  He is such a thoughtful dad and spends time talking with them and listening to how their day went.  The kids love their Daddy time as much as I love my freedom time.  Rick went to put her in her bed in the second bedroom of our “apartment”.  I could hear him singing and talking to his new little daughter whom he couldn’t understand… nor could he speak a lick of Spanish.

About six or seven minutes into this familiar TO US ritual, I realized for the first time Nora was alone with this strange man whom she was to call Daddy.  The information we had about her past was sketchy, but it dawned on me that she could be terrified of my sweet, kind-hearted husband…. just because he is male.

As quickly as my little fingers could type into Google translate, I wrote the sentences “Your Papi loves you.  He will never hurt you.  He will always protect you and take care of you.  He is a very nice man.  He has never hurt anyone.  You don’t have to ever be scared of him.  He loves you.”  I unplugged the computer and rushed into the room where, as I suspected, she was clinging to the far edge of her bed with wide fearful eyes.  My heart broke… once more.  How stupid of us!  I read the sentences of love and assurance to her in Spanish and I visibly saw her relax and sink into the pillow with relief.

I went from Wonder Mama with the barf bag to Blunder Mama with the scary husband…. all in 11 hours!  I had a lot to learn…. and the learning curve was quite steep two years back.  Thank God for Google translate!

The Colombian Twin

December 20, 2010

I’ve heard it been said that everyone has a twin some where in the world.  I’m starting to believe it’s true.  We met Rick’s Colombian twin in Cali… he lived across the street from the house we stayed in.  His name is Juan Carlos and even without communicating very well, he and Rick were up to mischief from the get go.  They both love soccer.  They both think they are good at soccer… but Juan Carlos has videos to prove his story. 

We taught Juan Carlos and his kids how to play Ticket to Ride one evening.  Juan Carlos “helped” Larisa by illegally putting her trains on the board when no one noticed.  Later he got the Spanish/English dictionary and thumbed through it for some time before he came out with the accusation against the other players, “They are deceitful.”  See?  Rick in another body!   Larisa was winning for quite a while and he said it was because of his help.  When she ended up losing, he said she didn’t listen to him. 

Both Rick and Juan Carlos love Mexican/Colombian food.  The foods are so similar… the only difference is that the Mexicans use tortillas and the Colombians use arepas.  Juan Carlos hooked us up with some sumptuous food more than once…. SOOOO something Rick would do!  He also invited us to go with he and his wife to the neighborhood fiesta.  He tried to teach Rick to Salsa dance….. later he gave Rick a Salsa dancing video.  I guess his teaching skills require students with promise.

We didn’t just gain a daughter in Colombia.  We gained life-long friends (and cohorts.)