Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A message from Me to E

My readers should know that E is a very special person to me. I don't get to visit her as often as I would like, but that's because E has a very busy schedule with school and pool plus friends and I am living about 4,000 miles away in another country.

Most of the houses in this village are between 250-300 years old. So if
someone ever says "You're as old as dirt," this may be what they are telling
you. Daytime temperatures range between 78-85 degrees when sunny.
But E is in my thoughts often. And so this blog today is dedicated to E - something to be shared with others as if Granny was doing a Show-and-Tell at school.

The 'new' place where I will store my
furnishings is here on the top floor.
I do not live in a grass hut in the jungle. But I do live in a house made of earth, called tierra in Spanish. The people here make a wooden form and then push the earth inside that form to make the walls which are about 21 inches thick. This is called "rammed earth" construction and is perfect for this climate because the walls keep the inside of the house, called a casa, at an even 70-72 degrees temperature day and night. No air-conditioning required, even though we live about 400 miles north of the Equator and the sun can get quite hot during the mid-day.

Even though the sun gets hot, I don't ever get sunburned here, and I don't tan much either. But I don't lie out under this sun. We do have swimming pools here, but they are kind of rustic. And I don't see many grandmothers swimming, which I wonder about... did they never learn how?

Further north, along the Caribbean coast, a city called Cartagena looks a lot like another city I lived in, St Augustine in Florida. I think this is because both cities were built by the same architect from Spain. But nearby this city (which does have air conditioning in the tall buildings) many people do live in huts which have roofs made of grass or 'thatch' and bamboo walls because they need to let all that moist and warm air move around and through their homes.

The place where I will be storing my belongings is made out of cement blocks, so it doesn't have the same kind of insulation as a rammed earth house, but my space will be on the second floor so I will get lots of ventilation when I am staying here.
This is not some kind of rare, Colombia chicken. But they
call it "azul pavo real" and 'pavo' means silly... hmmm?

I am very lucky to be moving my things to a place where there are a lot of chickens and they roam around and eat nearly all the bugs and then produce a lovely egg. Some of those birds get creative and make the eggshell green! The yolk inside is still yellow, but a much deeper yellow than the commercial eggs in the United States and I think they have more flavor as well.

This is also a country that grows a lot of coffee. I don't drink much of it because it is very strong and keeps me awake, but it is very flavorful and my favorite way to enjoy it is in ice cream in a cone. The coffee grows on bushes, or trees, that need to be in a little shade and the bean looks an awful lot like a cranberry when it is picked. The outer skin is peeled off and the bean inside is roasted after it is dried. Perhaps when you are bigger, E, you will want to try tasting it.
This is Rebecca, a tame yellow-naped
Amazon parrot that lives on the
property. How beautifully she fits in
with her surroundings....

Also, E, when you next go to Pike Place Market, look at all the flowers there. Many of those exotic flowers were grown in the Bogota area or in Ecuador. I have a neighbor who travels around to the flower growers and she buys and sells them for export to Seattle or Chicago or San Francisco or Boston.

One other thing Colombia is known for is the precious stone called an emerald (you can read more about them here and see one in the rough). Recently there was a landslide and the peasants recognized right away there was a vein in the rocks and there were a lot of good quality emeralds to be retrieved. It was too far away for me to go and see, but I guess not for some folks and the small village was jammed with people hoping to get a few pieces of this valuable stone. Since it was not a legal mine, I don't know on whose land it was discovered, but for some people this may have been a miraculous land-fall!

Knowing how much you love cats, this message would not be complete
without a picture of my Colombian kitties enjoying the rocking chair.
It is my dearest hope that you will come here someday, E, and perhaps I can show you this fascinating country myself. But for now, just know that I am sending you big hugs from the northern Andes mountains up to the Olympics and Cascades and if you are reading this on Wednesday, I will be there soon!


  1. Cats on a chair are a perfect finishing touch!

  2. dear sandy,

    what a beautiful message to E, and what lovely photos to show her. E must be such a special person, one you love dearly with all your heart. i hope she doesn't mind that your readers get to enjoy your very informative and heartfelt words and pictures.

    thinking of you and sending warm hugs as you prepare to fly away from your south american nest to be with E.

    karen, TC