Colombia Day 16 – Life at Hotel Pension Stein

The big news today is that we will be finalizing the adoption tomorrow morning at 9:30 AM central time! The final step will be traveling to the court and signing the “sentencia,” which is the final decree stating that Cameron is ours forever! We are so excited! Everything has gone so smoothly and things should proceed fairly rapidly from this point on…

…it just started raining…I love to hear the rain bouncing off the leaves of all these tropical trees, it is so soothing…

…anyway, we have to get copies of Cameron’s old and new birth certificate, plus his Colombian passport before we can go to Bogota to get his visa. It will take a day for the lawyer to drive to Buga, where Cameron was born, to get these documents. Once we have those, it will only take a couple of hours to get his passport. Then we will be ready to fly back to Bogota. Once in Bogota we will have to visit the doctor, the ICBF Headquarters, and then the US Embassy for the visa. If all goes well, we should be flying home the end of next week.

Living at the Hotel Pension Stein for the past couple of weeks has been amazing! If we ever return to Cali in the future, which we certainly plan to do, we will be staying here. Whether for business, pleasure, or adoption, I can’t imagine wanting to be any place else. The staff is wonderful, the general areas are well maintained, the rooms are clean, the food is incredible, and the atmosphere is perfect!

From the moment you arrive and climb the stone stairway to the main entrance, you sense that this is a special place. The owner and Swiss Consulate, Enrique Frei, is a wonderful man who goes out of his way to make your stay pleasant. Adopting families seem to be a special passion for him as every need is anticipated and met. Cribs and baby bath tubs are provided in your room according to your needs. Wireless Internet is provided to keep you in contact with family and friends. Three meals a day are carefully planned and served with any special dietary considerations that you might have. Baby food, juice, fruit, soda, coffee, and water (both hot and cold) are provided 24 hours a day. Bottle sterlization and laundry is taken care of by the staff here, and all of it at an incredibly affordable price!

Needless, to say, we have fallen in love with the Hotel Pension Stein and are very grateful to Enrique and the staff for how well they have been taking care of us. Here are some pictures from our stay so far.

Day 16 Photos

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A look from the balcony of our room. Toward the end of the video you can see the dining room down to the right and the little gym off to the left.

Colombia Day 15 – McDonald’s Day

That’s right! We decided to eat lunch at McDonald’s today. We needed to get some KLIM for Cameron so we decided to take a taxi to a shopping center called Chipichapa. It is a really nice up scale shopping center with a food court, movie theater, and lots of name brand shops. It was interesting to see how many of the shops were American brand clothing. We were really trying to find some authentic Colombian shops, but this shopping center didn’t seem to have any. There was another Exito so we were able to get Cameron’s milk.

The highlight though was lunch at McDonald’s! We thought that we would be able to walk up to the counter and say, “Combo Uno!” However, there weren’t any numbers on the menu!! A little stunned, we mumbled through the Spanish words on the menu and ordered a Happy Meal for Cameron and two Quarter Pounder meals for Mommy and Daddy. They gave Cameron the biggest Happy Meal box we had every seen!! We could’ve put him in it and carried him around the mall! Lunch was good, tasted just like in the states.

We had hoped to hear some more news today regarding our court process, but Magnolia called and said that there was nothing new to report. She said that they would know more tomorrow. We will be meeting with her tomorrow morning around 10 AM to see what is happening. We’ll report more tomorrow.

Day 15 Photos

Day 15 Videos

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Here is French Fry Boy doing his little French Fry Dance! You can’t see it as well in the video, but he is shaking his whole body back and forth. Ain’t he cute!

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The dancing fountain in the Chipichapa Shopping Center

Colombia Day 14 – River Day

The city of Cali is several hours from the Pacific Coast, so when you are looking for a quick afternoon by the water, you don’t think of the beach…you think of the river.

The Pance River is located in the southern side of Cali and is a popular place where the locals go for recreation and leisure activities. We took a taxi about 20 minutes outside of the city to a wonderful little river resort like place that Enrique takes the families. There is a pool, kiddie pool, and access to the river. It was a wonderful little Sunday get away, and once again, the food was incredible!

We enjoyed relaxing in the pool and listening to rush of the river. I promised Cameron that white water rafting was in his future! He looked excited. =)

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Colombia Day 13 – Petting Zoo

Today we visited a petting zoo, well, really is was more like a small animal petting theme park. There were a lot of different animals, little refreshment stands and fast food places, a large pond where you could rent a fishing pole and fish, as well as horse back riding. It was an interesting little place and we got to expose Cameron to some more farm animals (preparing him for Grandma Snyders farm). He started out a little scared, but slowly started to warm up to the idea of being near the animals. He never did pet any, but at least he stopped freaking out when they got close. There were a lot more animals than we took pictures of, but you get the idea.

Before I post all of the pictures and video from today, there is one special video that I wanted to highlight. Mommy has been trying to teach Cameron how to give kisses. This is as far as she has gotten. He doesn’t quite understand it yet. =)

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Cameron trying to give Mommy kisses.

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Cameron is warming up to the animals.

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These two llamas kept fighting over the food that Mary Ann had in her hand.

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Mommy tries to get Cameron to pet the little donkey.

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Trying to take picture of Cameron on the fence, but he just wouldn’t stay still.

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Cameron loved the slide. Daddy keeps forgetting to tell Mommy that he can’t flip video. =)

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Cameron tried his best to climb back up the slide.

Colombia Day 12 – Market Day

Today was market day! Every Friday the owner of the hotel takes the interested families to the market were he buys the food for the hotel. It is an amazing look at the Colombian culture.

We left the hotel around 10:30 AM with two other families. After a 15 minute drive, we arrived at the market. Enrique, the owner, took us around the market and showed us all of the places that he buys the food. He explained the different fruits and vegetables available in Colombia. It was a extremely interesting trip and we learned a lot.

Later on in the day we ventured out to the Exito, which is a store much like our Walmart. We needed daipers and were told that it was the best place to go. Using Bing Translater, I figured out how to ask the lady at the front desk to call us a taxi (I wrote it all down and showed it to her…she laughed at me,  but she was very helpful). =)

The taxi ride cost us $6,500 pesos (about $3.50 US) one way. We got to the store and sure enough, it looked a lot like a Walmart. We wondered around the store trying to find diapers and baby food. Prices really aren’t all that different from the states. Anything that is imported is more expensive, so toys and electronics aren’t something we want to buy here. Food is reasonably priced and clothes are about the same as we would pay at Walmart. All in all, we weren’t that impressed, but we got our diapers! =)

Magnolia e-mailed us last night and offered to take us on an overnight trip to coffee country. She said that she would have to check on some prices for renting a car and get back to us. She called back today and said that she had planned on taking us, another family, and some guest staying with her from the states. The other family decided not to go, so that made the rental price go up for us. Magnolia could just take her car if it was just her and her guests, so we decided not to go. We figured that the whole weekend would have cost a good bit, plus we would have had to pay for the hotel here to keep our room. Though it would have been an interesting trip, we figured it was better to just hang out here for the weekend. We are hoping to hear something more on our court process on Monday.

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Colombia Day 11 – Lazy Day

We just spent the day hanging out around the hotel today. Our lawyer, Elena, stopped by the hotel today and told us that we had completed step one of the three step court process to complete the adoption. She said that it was very good that we got this step done so quickly. She said that it was a good sign for the rest of the process.

We took some pictures for an adoption announcement that Mary Ann’s dad is working on for us. Here are some of the “rejects” that ended up being kinda cute.

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Colombia Day 10 – City Tour

Today we got to see some of the sites and sounds of Cali. Enrique arranged a city tour for us with his driver. He likes doing this for all of the adopting families so they get a chance to see the city. We had no idea were we were going to go or what we would see, but it sounded like fun and we needed a reason to get out for awhile. So off we went.

Did I mention that the driver didn’t speak English? =) It made things a little interesting, but I guess he had done this enough times that he could communicate the important details. Honestly, the views we say spoke for themselves. We had no idea that Cali was so big and so beautiful!!!

We drove up to the highest point of the city, the Cristo Rey, which is a huge statue of Christ that looks down over the city. On one side you have this huge city that seems to go on forever, and on the other side, these incredible mountains that stand between us and the Pacific Ocean. It was amazing.

After coming back down we visited one of the oldest trees in Cali. The root system of the tree spread out over a entire hillside. Next door stood a monastery which we were able to tour. A dear sweet nun blessed Cameron as we were leaving. It was very sweet.

Cali is a wonderful city! Definitely someplace that we want to visit again!

Day 10 Photos

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I didn’t take any photos of the monastery. I wasn’t sure if flash photography was a good idea. Just off the main room where we were standing were some nuns chanting and I didn’t want to disturb them. Here is some video from inside the main worship area.

Colombia Day 9 – Swimming Pool

We found out today that we have been assigned to court #7 which apparently is a really good thing. Our translator says that court #7 is a fast court and that everything should go smoothly. There are three steps in the court process. Once we sign the final adoption decree (called sentencia), the only steps left here in Cali will be to get Cameron’s Colombian passport and copies of his new birth certificate. Then we will travel back to Bogota for a doctor’s visit, a final paper from the ICBF, and then to the US Embassy for Cameron’s visa. Then it will be changing our plane tickets and coming home.

We decided to celebrate by spending a little time in the pool. Cameron loves bath time, so we figured the pool would be fun. He didn’t like baths at first, but it might have been the whole idea of a couple of strangers trying to bathe him. We were right, he loves the water!

Day 9 Photos

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Taking it slow. The water was so cold that slow was the only way to go!

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Didn’t take long though. Cameron kept throwing his ball into the big pool.

Colombia Day 8 – ICBF Interview

The big event of the day was the ICBF interview. This is the interview were they make sure everything is going okay and that Cameron is adapting well to his new family. Magnolia picked us up around 1 PM and we traveled to the ICBF office for our 1:30 PM meeting. Everything went really well. They were impressed with how well Cameron was doing and very excited about him being with us. I heard the social worker say it was “Perfecto!”

Magnolia told us that the social worker that was working with us was retiring this Wednesday. We will be one of her last cases. She has been doing adoptions for a very long time (Magnolia didn’t even know how long). She was a very sweet lady and wished us well.

All of the paperwork was given to our lawyer, Ellena. She will be submitting everything to the court system. We will find out tomorrow which court will get our case. Magnolia says that as long as it isn’t court #5, everything should move quickly from this point. With everything else that has gone haywire with our adoption, I am fully expecting to be assigned to court #5! =) The adoption cases are randomly assigned to one of eleven different courts. Some are faster than others, so we will see what happens.

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Colombia Day 7 – A Trip to the Mountains

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there! Figured I would start with that since it is a little fresh on my mind. =)

Sunday’s are a little different around Hotel Pension Stein. Since they don’t serve lunch on Sunday’s, the owner of the hotel takes all of the adopting families to lunch at a local restaurant of his choosing. He tries to pick places that give us a taste of Colombia. Today we traveled about 20 minutes into the mountains, which are right next door to the city, to a little country restaurant (as he calls it). It was AMAZING! The food was so good. Even the things that I don’t normally eat were really, really good. We had a wonderful time!

There are so many families here now that are adopting. It is had to keep track. There are at least two or three Norwegian families, one Swedish family, one German couple, another American couple, and us. The other American couple is leaving today in order to travel to Bogota to get their baby’s visa before traveling back to the states. Best of luck to them on this last leg of their journey! Most of the other people in these pictures are adopting families. Some have already gotten their children and others will be going this week to start their process.

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Day 7 Photos

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Driving through the mountain villages outside of Cali.

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Outside of the restaurant. The gardens and play area were very pretty. I loved the big tree in the center of the grounds. It was very interesting close up.

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Cameron drinking lemonade. We thought we were going to get a funny face out of him, but it seems that he is used to it. Patrick thought it was pretty sour.

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The clouds were moving over the mountain top as we were eating.

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All the children went out into the play area after lunch. It was a little wet so we didn’t really want Cameron getting muddy, but he enjoyed watching.

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The drive back down the mountain. Watch the side of the road, there were lots of little tents with people selling goat milk and cheese. We even saw them milking the goats!