Home again, home again

Where’d the blog go? Where are you guys? Are you back?

Somehow, many weeks have passed since my last post, and in the meantime, we’ve returned to the Bay Area and are working on getting ourselves settled back in! For those who may have missed the update, we decided in December to come back earlier than originally planned for two main reasons: 1) Vaya Adventures wants and needs more of Jim’s attention, and he was quite busy planning fun excursions for us most days and didn’t have enough time for the business and 2) homeschooling all three of our precious little angels and finding ways for them to interact with their peers and get space from each other was a challenge with all the moving around we were doing.

We’re very happy we embarked on a such an adventure, and we consider ourselves so fortunate to come home to the Bay Area and be surrounded again by so many of our family members and friends.

Hike with Ryan, Eveli, Sebastien and Grayson soon after we got back home:


Our actual trip home was uneventful, but a VERY long travel day, including our flight from Panama City to San Francisco. Jim and I didn’t even realize until after takeoff that this flight would by 7.5 hours long. We were not mentally prepared! At one point the pilot announced that we had 5.5 more hours and I thought Cecelia might scream.

After landing at SFO we encountered a very long customs line (and this was in advance of the immigration ban), which put us square in the middle of the Bay Area evening commute (Welcome home!) By the time we reached Berkeley, we were 19 hours into a 20 hour day (which started at 4am in Cartagena) and somewhat delirious, but with the help of our sweet friends and family, we gathered our cars, were fed delicious snacks and Cheeseboard Pizza, and hit our pillows hard for a LONG night’s sleep.

We definitely experienced some culture shock the first few days of being back. The Bay Area is FILLED with people, and traffic, and wow, so different from where we’ve been the past few months. Somehow five months felt fairly long while we were gone, but once we were home seemed much shorter.

The kids were so excited that they could speak English to people we met throughout the day and be understood, but they’re still busting out their new Spanish vocabularies here and there. We will definitely be sticking with Duolingo to make sure the learning doesn’t stop now that we’re home. Just ask Colin about his Spanish- all three of the kids have better accents than Jim or I ever will, and Colin likes to rub it in.

We’ve quickly embarked on making up for lost time at some of our favorite local restaurants, but I’ve also been so happy to eat at home more, and to cook exactly what we like to eat for dinner. Within the first few weeks, we’ve hit Zachary’s pizza, the Cheeseboard (more than once), SOOP (soup!), Sol Y Luna (our neighborhood Mexican joint), and Scoop (amazingly delectable homemade ice cream). We certainly didn’t starve at any point on our trip, but it has been nice to have some of our favorites so close at hand again.


Cecelia and Sean are back at Cragmont Elementary, and fully into the swing of things after only a few weeks. The first few days they definitely had some anxieties about their knowledge of the curriculum, and just feeling like they knew what was going on, but it didn’t last long for either of them. Within a few days, Cecelia had been given a viola (4th graders get instruments and have music instruction at school) and Sean was back to full-court basketball games at recess and lunch every day. They seem to have great teachers (both of whom we did not know previously) and have been really happy to see all of their old friends and classmates again.

Colin and I took a quick trip to San Diego to see Grandma and Grandpa because I was homesick too! Colin didn’t mind the uninterrupted attention of all three adults in the house, and he had some special fun with Grandpa while me and my mom got to go to yoga (three days in a row!) and did some (totally unnecessary) shopping.


Colin and I have been spending a lot of quality time together and he will be back in preschool a few days a week starting next week. Unfortunately, his old preschool did not have space for him right now, so we’ll be trying a new school. I think he’ll do great regardless, and that he’s ready…the other day after 2 straight weeks of hanging out with (only) me all day long he asked “When do I get to go back to school too?” (Translation: “no offense, mama, but I need some space!”

The last few weeks we’ve been so happy to visit with our sweet nephews and nieces (and their parents of course) and to see our friends (and a newborn baby!) Colin has helped me babysit his cousin Greta (8 months), and until I find my next job, I have a hunch that we’ll have some more babysitting opportunities coming our way 🙂 (My siblings have babysat for us SO many times we’re in serious debt, so it’s good to start paying things back a little).

Cecelia with Grayson and Greta:


Sebastien in his new Kaka jersey (retired national player from Brazil):


Colin and Greta with a gorilla family at a local kids’ museum:


Colin and I babysitting Greta:




The winter here has been VERY wet- tons of rain all of January and we’ve had quite a bit since we’ve been back too. We’ve gotten in some good (muddy) hikes at the Green House and the waterfall is gushing!




The kids and Jim took advantage and headed to Lake Tahoe this weekend with friends…I was tempted to go too, but if I had, this post never would have gotten written 🙂 (besides, it’s good for all of us to have a little space, right?) I took full advantage filling my weekend with visits with friends and family, updating my resume (anyone want to hire me?) and catching up on all the ‘little’ things that pile up when you leave the country for 5 months 🙂

Colin took his first (and second) ever ski lessons, and the kids had a great time tearing up some fresh powder with their friends.







I’ve still got stories to share about coffee tasting and white sand beaches in Columbia and more, so despite the irregular chronology, this is certainly NOT the last post.

We look forward to continuing to see our families and friends we missed while we were gone. We are so grateful we had the opportunity to go on this amazing adventure, and the support of our family and friends while we were gone and now that we’re back has been great.

Thanks to everyone who has sent me feedback and encouragement on the blog along the way! It’s been fun to share this adventure.

Tchau for now,



One thought on “Home again, home again

  1. Wonderful to know you’re back, safe and sound. I can’t say that I stayed awake nights worrying about you all but it wasn’t exactly a risk-free trip,if there is such a thing, and I admit to wondering off and on: “Hmmmm, now that beautiful family of five is way-way out there and what dangers may be lurking as they go about ??..” (or something like that). I could hear your joy on being back amongst family and friends. Let me add my thanksgiving to theirs that you are home again. Much love to all, Aunt Martha


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