Monday, December 16, 2013


HI, All,

Sorry I've been missing in action for a while, but I've been driving around the state of Florida for the past week. On Wednesday, I traveled to South Florida to have lasik surgery on my eye. My astigmatsim came back in my right eye and I needed it ZAPPED to see distance again. On Thursday, I could see again … Thank God!!!

Then traveling back to central Florida for one night. Yesterday I headed toward Tampa to meet a ver special BLOGGER PAL, PK Hrezo… ALWAYS a great time with Pk. I've been fortunate to touch base with her on most of my trips down here. BUT, yesterday was special because I am contemplating moving to South Tampa after I sell my condo in Chicago.

PK was a fantastic host. We traipsed around Hide Park… which is BEYOND special. Hopefully I'll be able to swing one of those sweet bungalows! We had a latte an we were lucky enough to hit upon a Christmas parade on BIKES…. Thankfully none hit me. LOL.

Afterwards we drove around the Davies Islands and then she took me back to my hotel. It was a wonderful few hours with a special writer friend. There is NOTHING like talking writing with a FELLOW writer IN PERSON!

Today I'll be heading home… a very LONG drive. Hope to make Southern Kentucky if all goes well.

But, now it's time to share more about my trip to Bogota …

I found this city quite interesting. With a population of TEN MILLION, one is really AMOUNG the people. They are EVERYWHERE!!!! Kind and inquisitive, this gringo could really see the Indian roots of these sweet people. In the three weeks I was there I had only saw ONE other person with blue eyes and fair skin like myself … and that was my friend's sister-in-law, who is from another city in Colombia.

Heads turned everywhere I went. The children in particular were most intrigued. As I had mentioned before, traffic is one living nightmare. A person could actually walk faster. I'm not kidding.

But what I found the most fascinating is the mix of architecture. In the old part of the city, mission style stucco buildings grace most of the extremely narrow streets. Sadly, most are run down and full of graffiti. This does not only happen in our inner cities. A tourist must be AWARE in these sections. I was warned not to take pics with my new iPhone 5 because it would be ripped out of my hands. I was so disappointed… especially in the AMAZING wooden churches build in the 16-1700's. And no picture taking was allowed. But let me just tell you the gold leafed icons sparkled brilliantly against the rich dark wood aged for centuries. Truly breath taking. During this festive season, wood carved nativites held center stage. Stables were recreated just like one would imagine seeing at the time of Christ's birth. Colombia is a very religious country and Colombians all feature nativites as part of the holiday season.

Even the modern, high-end malls have stunning nativity displays. Luckily once I headed for the north and more exclusive end of the city, I was able to take some beautiful Christmas display pics…  This is the Hacienda Santa Barbara mall… is reminiscent of a colonial era home. Terrace on multiple levels it is by far one of the MOST UNIQUE and STUNNING shopping centers I have ever been to, and believe me I've been to a LOT… all over the world!!!

Their outdoor and open indoor Christmas displays were truly amazing. Let me know what you think!

Yes, this is PART of the mall!

Wonderful place to have a coffee …. when it's NOT raining….

One of the many stunning Nativity scenes ….

Camel ride anyone? …

They certainly love their camels…

Well, the rains interrupted the rest of my picture taking…. and although December is NOT the time to visit Colombia because of the afternoon thunderstorms and evening rains,  a visitor will be AMAZED at how green, lush and surpassingly similar to FLORIDA Bogota is… Yes, you read correctly. Add mountains along with the hibiscus, roses, bougainvillea, and PALM trees and you will see Bogota.

I hope you enjoyed a Bogota Christmas. Have an awesome Monday everyone.

I plan to return to Chicago by Tuesday. Please send positive vibes and prayers that I get home safely. Snow is predicted for Indiana and Chicago on Tuesday. So I hope to get through. 


  1. So awesome that you got to meet PK. And a great time to be in Florida. I was there for a few days visiting my mom last weekend. It was gorgeous weather. And it's freezing here. Have a safe trip back home.

  2. Safe travels, Michael!
    What stunning Christmas displays! Very magical!

  3. Wow, the decorations are amazing.
    Glad you had a good time with PK.
    And that you didn't lose your phone.
    Safe travels and watch out for snow.

  4. Those are gorgeous decorations. I can't help but be sad because we're leaving for Florida on Saturday and as I was reading this I was hoping you might still be down there!

  5. So pretty!

    I bet those kids would be fascinated by my long red hair.

  6. Love the pics of XMAS lights in Columbia, Michael. And yes, you have my prayers for a safe journey home. Merry Christmas.

  7. Wow those displays are stunning. Made me more in the Christmas spirit just to see them. :)

    So glad you had such a good time with Pk, and your surgery was a success. Take care and have a safe trip, Michael.

  8. It's always nice to meet other writers. I don't blame you for moving to Florida as opposed to staying in Chicago. My crit partner lives outside of Tampa, but we haven't been to Florida since 2006.

  9. Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures. Bet you'll be glad to be home.

  10. Exquisite photographs, Michael. What a stunning location. Hard to believe it's a mall! Thank you so much for sharing.

    A move from Chicago to South Tampa? Are you in search of warmer climes?

    I can't believe you're in Florida. I wouldn't even be over my Colombia jet lag yet. :) Yes, please be careful on your journey home. The weather has been treacherous!

    VR Barkowski

  11. So many very cool pics of what must be a truly specia l place. I'm happy you are on your way back. Be careful on the roads. Chicago has gotten a mess of snow here. I had a good amount of snow on my birthday for the first time since high school. Yay!

  12. Awesome pictures!! Fascinating to see all the Christmas lights and scenes and no snow! Always makes me smile :)

  13. That's so cool that you've met PK.

    Good thing someone warned you about what could happen to your phone. But it is too bad. I would have loved to see those pictures. I have a thing for photos of graffiti covered objects.

    Love the pictures you did get, Michael!

  14. I do hope you make it back safe Michael. Those are awesome pictures. I'm sure you can't wait to get your own decorations up.

    Happy Holidays Dude.


  15. Glad your eye surgery went well Michael. And all the best for the long drive back to snow country. I hope you sell your condo for a good price and are able to follow your Florida dream. Those pics of Bogota are beyond gorgeous. I've just got back from Prague and that was beyond gorgeous too. The Christmas lights were just out of this world, especially in Wencenlas Square.

    Happy Christmas!


  16. Hi Michael .. glad you got the eye sorted out ... and now hope you're safely on your way back to Chicago. The move south sounds a good idea - so glad PK is around to guide you through the area.

    Bogota and your Columbia trip certainly reflect a different side of life .. a great experience .. and thanks for sharing those pictures - would love to have seen the other sights, but understand if photos were forbidden ..

    Enjoy being back in Chicago ... for now! - cheers Hilary

  17. Wow. Awesome pictures. I love that first one. It's so beautiful and relaxing. Sounds like an interesting place to visit, but there must not be many tourists there. Which can be a good thing.

  18. I loved the Bogota Christmas. Almost felt like I was there with you--what with your fabulous photos and descriptions. You're maybe moving to FL? No more Chicago?
    My younger son was born south of Tampa, and we've been back once for his 5th birthday. I love the Gulf Coast of FL. I need a vacation home there. We may return again next year. Can't stay away from the beach for too long.

  19. Advanced Merry Christmas & Happy New Year greetings and also Thanks and Smiles:) for ur support till now Dear Blogger Buddy God<3U:)

  20. An impressive post, I just gave this to a colleague who is doing a little analysis on this topic. And he is very happy and thanking me for finding it. But all thanks to you for writing in such simple words. Big thumb up for this blog post!

  21. The decorations are simply amazing. Safe travels Michael.Glad the lasik went well.

  22. I'm way too chicken for Lasik...I watched an episode of "How It's Made" featuring the procedure....
    Sounds like a very special trip. Safe travels, and prayers for your return journey. Which may be over...didn't look at the date of post.
    Tina @ Life is Good

  23. These pictures are magical! Thanks for letting us visit Bogota with you. How beautiful!

    Good for you for getting Lasik! It sounds awesome but scary at the same time.

    How cool that you got to hang out with Pk!! :)

    Happy and safe travels.

  24. Wow those Christmas displays are beautiful!

    Safe travels!

  25. Ooh, that coffee shop does look lovely.
    I'm still afraid of having Lasik done...
    Good luck with the move! We'll be in the same time zone :-) Not that one hour makes much difference, but...

  26. I'm so glad your surgery went well and Bogota looks absolutely stunning. We have hot Christmases here in South Africa.