Cartagena.

When we made our plans for our quick, 3-day trip to Miami for Luís’ citizenship, passport, and our visa renewals, we decided to take a little detour on our way back to Bogotá.  Instead of flying straight home afterwards, we made a stopover in Cartagena for a few days, which is a beautiful Colombian city on the Atlantic/Caribbean coast.  For the entire year that we’ve been here, we have heard over and over again, “you HAVE to visit Cartagena before you leave.”   And since Nate and I knew that our little family desperately needed to have some quality down-time together for some really intentional bonding, we thought the opportunity was too perfect to pass up.

Cartagena, Colombia
Cartagena, Colombia
our view
our view

We booked a stocked apartment since it was cheaper than a hotel, plus it meant we could cook instead of eating out. (With a house full of kids this age, can you blame me?! Restaurants are NOT FUN right now.)   We spent several days exploring the cool walled city, splashing in the pool, and playing at the beach.  The kids LOVED it, and it proved to be just what they needed… a little bit of casual, laid-back FUN that they could experience together, as brothers.

the boys wading in the ocean
the boys wading in the ocean

We skipped a few naps, stayed out late doing fun things, and wore the boys completely out in the hot Cartagena sunshine.  They played hard and slept harder, and for the first time in 2+ months, Nate and I looked at each other and said, “this feels almost normal again.”  It was good, and we needed it.

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I was a bit worried about the whole Miami/Cartagena trip for Luís’ sake, because the only other time he’s been on a plane or to a new place was when we met him and took him away from his entire life as he knew it.  I was afraid that some anxiety and panic would bubble up, that sleeping in a new place might make him uneasy, and that he might be afraid it was all going to happen again.   But I also felt confident that being able to spend some intentional, undistracted time as a family unit, away from class and work and other responsibilities, would probably be good for us in the long run.  I prayed consistently before our trip that the Lord would ease any fear that might arise in Luís and that he would be confidently secure in his place in our family, despite another plane ride, meeting new people, and another new place to adjust to (even if only for a few days).

The Lord answered that prayer a million times over, and we were amazed at how well Luís adjusted to traveling.  I think he’s going to fit pretty well into this crazy lifestyle we’ve been called to!

exploring a fort and up to no good
exploring a fort and up to no good

In the short week and a half that we’ve been home since that trip, I can already see a difference in the way the boys are bonded to each other, and in the way that Luís is bonded to us.   It seems like he trusts us a little more.  The boys all laugh together a little harder.  Bedtimes have been a little easier.  A little more tenderness has emerged.  I see more and more glimpses of the “real” Luís starting to make an appearance.

Seeing a new, beautiful part of Colombia was good.  Seeing a new, beautiful part of my family was even better.

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{To see the full photo album from our trip to Cartagena, please click here!}

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