Wednesday morning dawned bright early. After a similar routine of waking up, eating breakfast, getting dressed, etc. we headed down to the hotel lobby to await the arrival of Paula and her Project Director.
Paula is from Medellin (about 290 miles south of Cartagena) so she flew in the night before and had stayed the night at a local hotel. This was the first time she had been in an airplane or away from her family (although, I must say it didn't really effect her she was sooo excited!). She had never seen the beach or played in a pool so we were looking forward to spending a relaxing day together at the hotel.
As soon as she hopped out of the taxi she enveloped us all in one of her huge bear hugs! Her face was lit with smiles as she handed us a box. Inside was a beautiful, hand-made sunflower clock. We have it hanging on our wall in the living room and it matches perfectly!
After "hello's" were said all around we headed up to our room to discuss the day's activities. We finally decided to head down to the pool and beach until lunch time and then shop around the local market afterwards.
We all got dressed and Paula led the way down to the water's edge. She did really good in the water, even though it was her first time. Her smiles and laughter filled the air! We enjoyed "riding the waves" and found it humorous that she decided to dive under every wave even if it wasn't that big!
After an hour or so we headed up to the hotel's pools to "swim". Unfortunately Paula wasn't able to swim but we still had fun floating around in the shallower pool.
Frequently she would try to ask us questions or comments only to realize our knowledge of her beautiful language was extremely limited. We were very blessed to have Darwin, our translator, nearby to help us out!
After about 2 hours in the sun, and a great game of water "monkey-in-the-middle", we decided we were done with the outdoors and ready to wash-up in preparation for lunch. The men took showers in the outside public showers while we ladies took turns in the shower in our room :). Everyone was soon clean and we took the elevator down to Level 2, where the hotel's restaurant was located. It was a buffet syle meal with plenty of delicious choices.
I am ashamed to say it, but I did have an American styled meal in Colombia (I guess I was just missing some of our foods :-) ).
During lunch is when we discovered how much Paula LOVED food! I have never seen a girl eat that much in my life!! I'm so glad it was buffet style :-)!
Paula and her project director, Monica, in the background!
Paula and her dessert....and her smiles!
She kept getting plate after plate but as she neared the end of her meal she begin to gather food to take home to her familia. The waiters were kind enough to get her a box and allow her to take some home. I don't know how good they tasted after an airplane ride and hotel stay but I'm sure the thought was still appreciated :).
Darwin and Paula both got a strawberry smoothie that was incredibly sour. Paula would pour 3 or 4 packets of sugar in her cup, taste it, make a puckered-up face and add 3 to 4 more. I think she ended up putting 10+ in her drink before it suited her taste. It was a very humorous affair as her project director continually was saying "Paula, Paula!" with a look of astonishment and fun! Paula would simply laugh and add some more!
With lunch completed we decided to do some shopping as we wanted Paula to take something home with her as a reminder of our trip. All the shops in the hotel were closed for lunch so we asked a local where we could find a shop with dresses. He directed us to keep going down the street a little ways, turn left and walk a little more and then you should find it. I have no idea how long we walked but it felt like 20-30 minutes in the hot 90degree sun, to get to the open market where they were selling everything you could think of! I took an hour or so for Paula to pick out something for herself and...everyone in her familia before we left :).
Finally back in the hotel we took the elevator up to our room to get her things and say good-bye. While up there we broke into some of our American chocolate and shared some with her. She was ecstatic! We even gave her a baggy full to...guess...take home to her familia :).
The time had arrived for them to go so after several hugs each we sadly said an official "good-bye" before the taxi drove off.
It was only about 3pm so Darwin, Kimber, and Daddy headed back to the open market to get some presents for our family members, while I rested and did some of my devotion time. Not too long after that they arrived back at the hotel and soon Darwin had to leave also. We enjoyed a little bit of rest time together watching Facing the Giants before going to get some dinner.
Sorry for the face :). They had some delicious chicken on a stick! I think daddy ate about 10 or so! :)
And a view of our nightly amusements while we ate...the traffic :). Kimber really just took this picture because of the caballo in the center of it (next to the side walk on the left).
Dinner done with we went back to our room and settled down to eat some snacks while we watched Iron Man. Not long after that we all feel asleep, exhausted from the sun and business of the day.
This was to be our last day in Colombia. Thankfully our plane didn't leave until 2:30 we were able to enjoy a little more time down at the beach and pool until noon! Kimber didn't take any pictures but we had a great time exploring the waters of Cartagena Bay especially since the water was quite warm and crystal clear. The sand sparkled like gold and there were plenty of beautiful shells to collect. But we couldn't stay forever. We soon had to shower once again, pack up, and find a taxi willing to take us back to the airport. Below are a couple of pictures Kimber got from the taxi on our way to el aeropuerto.
One of the many buses around Cartagena. You can see the beautiful Caribbean in the background.
Another view of the field where Daddy and Luz played some futbol.
This motorcyclist was weaving in and out of traffic (like they all do) when we noticed a gallon of something yellow attached to the side of his cycle (right next to his muffler). Any guesses? We were thinking gasoline...yea...not too smart :).
Another view of the water next to the road.
We soon arrived in the airport, passed swiftly through security and sat down to wait about an hour until our departure. We played some cards and read a little bit while we were waiting. Finally we were able to load and soon we were up in the air saying good-bye to Colombia.
Only 3 hours later we were back in American territory.
We were amazed with how swampy Florida was! No wonder hurricanes are such a big deal down here!
We had a 3 1/2 hour layover in Ft. Lauderdale but we enjoyed our time playing on the ipad (thanks, Grandma), reading, and eating. Around 10pm we were finally allowed on the plane to complete the final leg of our journey. Two hours later we landed safely in Baltimore where Grandma picked us up. We arrived back at her house about 2am and swiftly got in bed and immediately to sleep.
We thoroughly enjoyed our first international trip and are blessed with the many special memories we made while there. Thank you, Mamma and Daddy, for your many sacrifices so we could go! Words do not express how thankful we are!
The Lord was with us the whole time and really taught me about what true faith looks like in the lives of these brothers and sisters in Colombia. I am so blessed to live here and I never want to take that for granted, but I also don't want to forget those of the Body who are in need. I'm not sure exactly what the Lord wants me to do with this trip but I know He'll show me in His own good time.
May the Lord bless you all this week!
Learning to delight in Jesus,