I contemplated, for many days, how to start my first blog post. I wasn’t sitting deep in thought in some coffee shop, smoking cigarettes, wearing a turtle neck and a beret, actually quite the opposite. If you scanned my brain, you would probably see things like bacon, Dumb and Dumber quotes, cheese, and one of the women with augmented breasts, from the Novelas Johanna watches, floating around.

In between my thoughts of bacon and cheese, I had a revelation. During our first week in Bogota, we had become Hobbits. Nerd Alert! In the words of Jay-Z, let met justify my nerd.

“Home is behind, the world ahead, and there are many paths to tread through shadows to the edge of night, until the stars are all alight.”– J.R.R. Tolkien

Johanna and I decided, months ago, that we were going to embark upon an incredible journey. We sold our house, quit our jobs, packed our bags and looked towards the future.  While our plans were met, by so many, with positive responses, many others only gave a look of inquizitive incredulity. Why would you leave your comfortable home? What about your future? Your jobs? Are you both crazy?

Crazy 2


In response, I can only say yes, we are crazy, but I don’t think crazy is a bad thing. If you wish to travel abroad in a similar fashion, be prepared for the naysayers, but always remember, crazy people see things that others do not.

Crazy like a fox!



“Pay heed to the tales of old wives. It may well be that they alone keep in memory what it was once needful for the wise to know.” J.R.R. Tolkien

Like the Hobbits, we have friends helping us along the way. Johanna’s Aunt and Uncle, who live in the U.S, have an apartment two blocks from her grandparents house, in Bogota. They have been kind enough to let us live there for just the cost of the utility bill. Next week, I will talk more about how far the dollar can stretch.

Each person we have met, has have offered their help, and given us new contacts. Friends of Johanna’s, offered to hook us up with someone that lives in El Eje Cafetero, the coffee region, who can show us around, and help with accommodations. A doctor we met, told us his nephew runs a guided tour company. The doctor told us, his nephew would tell us the best places to go, and the cheapest ways to travel, even if we don’t use his company.

Don’t let a persons age dissuade you from a good friendship. This first week, we have hung out with more 90+ year olds than people our age. The elders of the community are the holders of history. You can learn more about a place in one day, talking with your elders, than any guided tour can offer. They have shared great stories, made delicious home cooked meals and as is true with most grandparents, they have inflated our egos. Seniors are also retired, which works out well with our schedule!

“And laugh they did, and eat, and drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day, (when they could get them).” –J.R.R. Tolkien

We have been eating like Hobbits, and enjoying every moment. There is fresh bread everywhere you look. There are bakeries on almost every corner, and the smell alone tempts you to eat at all hours.

If anyone ever invites you over for “onces”, accept. “Onces” literally translates to “elevenses”. Welcome to the Shire. Onces is a coming together of family and friends to eat and drink between meals. We were lucky enough to be invited for onces by Doña Elvira and Miguel Diaz. When we arrived, our gracious hosts served us tinto, the Colombian name for black coffee with sugar. After tinto, Miguel made us fresh Maracuja juice. We were soon swished into the dinning room, for the next phase of onces. Miguel made us hot chocolate by melting rich chocolate bars on the stove. Hot chocolate was served with a platter of different breads and a white cheese that you melt into your drink. Cheese and hot chocolate may sound unsavory, but I promise you, it is a delicious melding of salty and sweet. Onces was made even sweeter, when our hosts told Johanna that she had married a tall man. Our hosts hovered around 5ft tall, but I will still take the compliment.

“Someone else always has to carry on the story.” – J.R.R. Tolkien LOTR

When our journey ends, we hope that yours will begin. You will have fears and doubts, just like us, but you will become more self assured as the days go by. Always remember to travel like a Hobbit. Show respect to everyone you meet, take the help of others along the way, eat, drink and be merry.

We will be posting a blog a week. Next week we will share travel tips, and other important need to knows for your stay in Bogota. Stay tuned!

5 thoughts on “Elevenses

  1. Pam Lynch says:

    Well Zach, as usual I do thinks backwards, so I ended at the beginning. But I am just pleased to be here. You think you are language challenged. Your mom and I are most technilogically challenged and trying to hook me up with your blog was an adventure. I tried googling zachpacking and came up with some interesting hits (use your imagination). While in the process of trying to disguise my misleaded searches, your mom was able to hook me up, most likely with the help of your sister. Enjoyed every second of it. Happy Birthday, Zach. Can’t wait to keep on reading! Love you. Pam*


  2. Tina Burhans-Robinson says:

    Happy Birthday, happy travels and happy blogging!!! I admire your boldness. I can’t wait to read more and be inspired more.
    Your sister from another mother,


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