Meeting the Leguizamon Family

The jetlag is playing its tricks, and we are not very rested after a short night of sleep. After breakfast we are so exhausted that we have to get back to bed for a nap!

Outside the weather is not engaging at all, and Sandra discovers that she forgot to pack her rain jacket! We set up in the drizzle to buy a bottle of wine for our hosts, to go with chocolate we brought from Switzerland. Indeed, today we are invited for lunch by Ryo’s foster family, and we are looking forward to meeting them. They traced us on Facebook 10 years ago, we are excited to meet them at last. It’s a large family as Eliza et Cayetano have eight children and a lot of grandchildren.
Tatiana, their younger daughter, has offered to pick us up at 11, so we have time for shopping. On our way to the super market we discover the famous Plaza Bolivar which we did not visit during our stay in 2006. It’s Sunday and some roads are closed to cars for people to bike on.
The super market does not sell alcohol before 10 am so we wander about the historical center, la Candelaria.

Old colonial houses painted in bright colors line the streets. As the morning grows old, more and more people gather outside despite the damp and blustery weather.
After buying our bottle we seek refuge back in our hotel room. Tatiana is late because of the traffic, so we have time to get warm again. We wait in the lobby surrounded by a large group of Israeli tourists.
Soon we get a message from Tatiana: “We arrived”. “We” are Tatiana and her niece Carolina, who is also in her twenties. The girls are absolutely lovely and both speak good English. It must be so strange for them to see Ryo Felipe as a grown boy, last time they saw him he was a five month old baby! We hug and embark in the car and Tatiana calls her mum to say we are on our way. The girls are super outgoing and we learn that Carolina is studying to become a teacher like Tatiana. She was in Florida as an au pair, where she leaned her English. We discover that we are heading to Suba, which is where most of the family lives. This is also Ryo’s home district in Bogota.

The arrival at Casa Leguizamon is absolutely extraordinary. All the family members are gathered and greet us warmly, it’s amazing, and all of a sudden we find ourselves in the arms of teary eyed Eliza and Cayetano, it’s such an emotional moment for everyone, and totally overwhelming for Ryo. We feel so welcomed, and it’s heartwarming to see the love this family has for Ryo, how special he is to Mamita Eliza y Papito Cayetano.
This is the best foster family we could imagine, we are so grateful and happy for Ryo. Carolina and Tatiana are very helpful and translate for us, which is of tremendous help, we have a harder time with the accents here in Colombia than we had in other Spanish speaking countries we visited.
Ryo was the first baby Elisa and Cayetano took, so he has a special place in their heart.

Since then they have had many children. At the moment they have three very cute little boys around 7 years old. One of Elisa’s son brings out a big frame with a lot of children pictures amongst which a picture of our Ryo in his bathtub back home! The family gives so much love and care to all the children they foster, it must be tough when the kids leave.

We see how everyone interacts in this big family, everyone is helping out, things are smooth and joyous, it’s wonderful, we are very impressed. We are treated to a delicious traditional meal, with yucca, papas, meat, guacamole and corn. Cayetano raises a glass, and says that their home is also our home and we will always be welcome.
After the meal, part of the family disappears downstairs and Ryo follows suite. Tatiana explains that the ground floor is in fact the family restaurant: Casa Leguizamon!
The family also has a farm (Finca) near Bogota were they grow vegetables that they serve in their restaurant. It’s really cool!
All of a sudden the all family is gathered again in the living room and singing happy birthday in Spanish, including Ryo: Mamita Eliza has her birthday on the first of August, but her family decided to surprise her and celebrate a couple of days in advance on this special occasion.
Her gift is a big high-fi stereo so she can have music in her living room. After cake and coffee, Tatiana sees that we are starting to look a bit tired and kindly offers to drive us back with Carolina. This is very thoughtful since we still are very jet lagged and had a lot of emotions. We say goodbye to the family and enjoy the drive back with the girls.
Ryo has been mostly quiet during this visit, and we really wonders what goes on in his head, this is so much to absorb! We take him to the hotel’s very nice swimming pool and then go out for dinner at La Puerta Falsa, a historic restaurant which serves tamales (plantain leaf rice and meat parcels) and soups since 1816. It’s tiny and very popular, but we find a table and enjoy a hearty dinner.
On the way back to the hotel, Skye asks Ryo how he felt today. Ryo says “happy but also a bit sad inside”. Sandra asks, “but why sad? It was a very joyous reunion!”
And here comes the touching answer from our son: “But mum, can’t you understand? I haven’t seen my family for 11 years!”

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