Monday, March 29, 2010


I am taking the week off in order to enjoy Spring Break with my kiddos.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Reptile Biodiversity

According to the Colombian government website highlighting the biodiversity in the National Parks, Colombia ranks #3 in the world for diverse species of reptiles. Approximately 6% of all reptile species live in Colombia. There are a plethora of lizards, snakes and turtles, as well as crocodiles, caimans, and gavialide.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Gorgona. So, I thought I would focus on one of the most unique species of lizards that can be found in Colombia. It is called the Lagaritja Azul de Gorgona -- the Blue Lizard of Gorgona (Anolis Gorgonae).
The Blue Lizard is very elusive. In fact, several scientists that have tried to study it have found it difficult to find and follow. Therefore, exact numbers are unknown and the species is considered a Critically Endangered species.
There has been talk of a captive breeding program, though at this time there is none.
It is illegal to collect, export, or purchse the Anolis Gorgonae as it was granted protected status by the Colombian government.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mundial 2010

It was recently annouced that both Juanes and Shakira will be performing at the World Cup opening ceremony. This lessens the pain for Colombians because now on some level they will have representatives at the World Cup.

You can read more here:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Children's Song -- Arriba Juan

When my oldest son was 3 years old, we took him to Colombia to visit his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He was stunned to see soldiers and guards with machine guns everywhere. We even were stopped at a check point guarded by a large menacing tank. He got such a kick out of the whole thing that everytime he saw a soldier, he would yell, "Hola Soldado" from the window. The shocked soldiers would smile, laugh at him, and wave.

So, this song is for anyone with a son, who like mine, loves soldiers. You are in a unique position to totally appreciate it. (Might I also point out that you can change the name Juan to any munchkin's name.)

Arriba Juan, arriba Juan
Get up John, get up John

ya cantó el gallito.
the little rooster has already crowed

Ay no mamá, ay no mamá,
Oh no, mom, oh no, mom,

es muy tempranito.
it is really early.

Arriba Juan, arriba Juan,
Get up John, get up John

hay que ir a la escuela.
you have to go to school.

Ay no mamá, ay no mamá,
Oh no, mom, oh no, mom,

me duele la muela.
my tooth hurts.

Arriba Juan, arriba Juan,
Get up John, get up John,

pasan los soldados.
the soldiers are going by.

Ay sí mamá, ay sí mamá,
Oh yes mom, oh yes mom,

ya estoy levantado.

I'm already up.

You can hear the song here:

Clip Art:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Sometimes, referral documents refer to older siblings that have previously been adopted by people either in Colombia or abroad.
For example, one family knows that their child has an older sister that was adopted by a family in Italy. Another family knows of a younger brother that was relinquished at birth and sent to Germany -- two years before their child entered the ICBF welfare system. Yet another family knows of a baby sister that was placed in ICBF care and no further mention was made of her in their child's file. And still another family knows that their birth mother -- having already lost custody of 4 children and being only 24 years of age -- may potentially lose custody of other children further down the road.

Most of the time ICBF tries to keep siblings together. However, if they enter foster care at different times, the children may end up never knowing each other. For this reason, I want to spotlight a new Yahoo group. It is designed to help biological siblings find each other.

Here is their mission statement:

The Colombia Adoption Sibling Registry is a database that adoptees and adoptive families of Colombian born children can utilize when searching for biological siblings who may also have been adopted.

Some families who adopt from Colombia find information in the documents provided by ICBF or a CASA PRIVADA which reveals that a child may have biological siblings who were also adopted. Other parents and adoptees may be unaware that younger siblings may have also been placed for adoption. Some adoptees and adoptive families wish to make contact with the biological sibling(s) and their adoptive parents, this is a place where such connections can be made.

The group has a few rules:



#4 -- TO OBTAIN MEMBERSHIP: You MUST SUBMIT your child's birthmother and/or birthfather information for entry into the database.

#5 -- WHEN REQUESTING MEMBERSHIP, please state whether you are an Adoptive parent or Adoptee and what year your adoption was finalized.


There is a similar group that exists for Guatemalan adoptions. Through use of the group, several siblings have found each other. Once a contact is made members can decide how to proceed, and both adoptive parents and adoptees should realize that not everyone is prepared or desires and extensive relationship.

For my readers in Europe, please post information about this group in your respective forums. The more people who know, the more likely siblings can be found.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Indians in Colombia

Back in the early 1990s, when I was a university student, I spent almost 6 months living and working in rural México. One thing I learned from the people I lived with was the great pride that they have in their indigenous roots. Families proudly name their children after famous indigenous people or simply give them indigenous names -- I think just about every family has a Cuauhtemoc or Xochi or Quetzal. Unfortunately, Colombians don't really have that same love for their indigenous roots.

I was reminded of this in a recent article I read. The article featured a photographer from Bogotá, Santiago Harker, who has just recently published a coffee table book about a fishing community of Wayuu Indians -- Apalaanchi, pescadores wayuu.

In the article he states, "We are a country without memories and we do not feel pride about our indigenous origins.....We have no pride because we are ignorant. I hope more photographers and anthropologists will decide to study these communities so that the people can come to know more and develop that sense of pride."

Unfortunately, being an Indian in Colombia has never been a symbol of pride. Many a Colombian mother has been guilty of telling her children, "No seas Indio." (Don't be an Indian). This disparaging remark clearly does not promote positive feelings about a people or its culture.

In fact, there was even a time when the Catholic church kept records so that you could prove that you didn't have any Indian blood in you. We discovered this when we traced my husband's genealogy back to the 1700's. As we opened the book, the first page read: "These records are kept to prove that the persons whose names are written herein have no Moorish, Jewish, Black, or Indian blood coursing in their veins." If a relationship with an Indian did result in a child, the books often did not bother writing the name of the Indian down. We found statements like: "Eufracio, son of Maria Ayala and an Indian."

Such discoveries were painful to me and in particular to my husband. Yet, discovering such heritage produced a greater desire to learn about the history, culture, and customs of the Indians in the area where his family came from. We have discovered that the town where his family is from was once a part of an Indian Reservation, and that many Indians moved there from other places to be together. We have learned to appreciate the pottery tradition of his family. We have learned and tell our children the stories and legends of the Chibcha and know that remembering is the first step in gaining an appreciation for a people that made my husband who he is today.

If you would like to read the article with Mr. Harker, here is a link:

Friday, March 19, 2010

You Go Girls!!!

We all know that Colombians love soccer or Fútbol as it is known there. Unfortunately, the National team has been somewhat of a disappointment as of late -- especially when it failed to qualify for the World Cup that will be held this summer in South Africa. However, Colombians have a new, and what some would consider surprising, reason to rejoice. It is not the Mens' National team that will he headed to a World Cup Event this year-- NOPE! It is the Womens' National team.
This summer, representing Colombia at the Under 20 Women's World Cup in Germany will be a group of feisty females. This will be Colombia's first experience at the Women's Under-20 World Cup. Two years ago, they did send a team to the Under-17 World Cup and now many of those women have grown up and are ready to take on the world.
You can read more about their qualifying win and see pictures here:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2010 South American Games

Families that are in Medellín pickin gup their children will have a special treat this week. They will be joined by hundreds of athletes, coaches, and journalists from all ove South America as Medellín hosts the 2010 South American Games (Juegos Suramericanos). The games start tomorrow (March 19th) and will run through the 30th. I can imagine that hotels will be full and the town will be hopping.

There will be athletes from 15 different countries participating in 42 different events (31 different sports). The picture is of the park that will host the games.

Here is a little bit of interesting trivia. Like in the Olympics, the game sports an official flame. However, this flame doesn't come from Athens. Nope! It was lit by indigenous priests in Bolivia at the Puerta del Sol (Door of the Sun) in Tiwanaku. The flame then travelled to the airport in La Paz and on to Medellín. Over the past 2 weeks the flame has travelled to different neighborhoods in Medellín and today can be found following the route from Comuna 8-10 to Villa Hermosa to La Candelaria and finally to Pernocta en La Alpujarra. Tomorrow the torch will arrive at Estadio Atanasio Girardot.

The medals are in the shape of hearts. See them here:
If you happen to be in Medellin, you can purchase tickets to the opening ceremony by calling 444-4446. You can also find out about events, times and locations, here:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Old Providence McBean Lagoon

Located in the islands of Providencia and Santa Catalina in the San Andrés Achipeligo, Old Providence McBean Lagoon is Colombia's newest National Park. It was created in 1995 in order to preserve a portion of the island's unique mangrove forests from foreign investors who were desirous to build time-share condos there.

The Park covers 90 land hectares and 995 marine hectares and includes about a 10% portion of Providencia's corral reef -- the 2nd largest reef in the Caribbean. It also includes the Tres Hermanos and Cangrejo Keys.

The rainy season is from July to December with the rainiest months being October and November.

The park can be reached by flying from San Andrés to Providencia (about a 20 minute flight) or by taking a boat from San Andrés (about 8 hours). [FYI, flights to San Andrés can be taken from Costa Rica, Panamá, or from BOGOTA, CARTAGENA, BARRANQUILLA, MEDELLÍN or CALI.] The great news for you gringos that don't speak Spanish is that the main language of Providencia is English or English Creole. At the park you can snorkel the coral reef, swim or sun bathe on the beach, rent a sea kayak or wind surfboard, or hike a nature trail to the top of Iron Wood Hill.

The park is open every day until 5 pm and the entrance fee is about $8 US for adults and $1.50 US for kids 5-12, under 5 = free. If you plan to stay on the island, there are several hotels, cabins, or hostels where you can stay. Here is a link to a great report on where to stay, where to eat, etc.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pombo Musical

Okay, so this is a little late, but back in November 2009, the Latin Grammys were handed out. Busy with moving and recovering from surgery, I had written about 2 months worth of posts that kind of went up automatically, and I totally overlooked my favorite album of the year. It won in the best Children's CD category. It's title:


Before I talk about the album, here is a refresher on Rafael Pombo - (translated and summarized from the album insert):

Rafael Pombo was born in Bogotá, on November 7, 1833. He studied civil engineering and was a math professor. Later, he enlisted in Colombia's diplomatic corps and eventually became a member of parliament. He is also considered one of Latin America's main poets during the "Romanticismo" period. His poems teach virtues and values that are universal and true in all ages, and every Colombian knows them. On August 20, 1905, in a solemn ceremony, he was crowned as Colombia's Poet Laureate. He died on May 5, 1912.

Now for the album:

The idea for Pombo Musical was hatched by Carlos Vives in an effort to raise funds for the Fundación Rafael Pombo (FRP) and ICBF. The songs were all written by some of Colombia's most famous artists: Juanes, Andrea Echeverri (from Atercipelados), Adriana Lucía, Duo Huellas, Verónica Orozco, Fonseca, Cabas, and H2 to name a few. The rights to each song were given to the FRP and the distribution of the CD is very limited. IN FACT -- YOU CANNOT GET IT -- EVEN ON THE INTERNET -- OUTSIDE OF COLOMBIA. YOU CAN'T EVEN DOWNLOAD THE SONGS ON Itunes. I owe thanks to an adoptive family who brought my copy home from Colombia and mailed it to me. SO AWESOME, THANK YOU!!!

IF you are currently in Bogotá, you can pick up your own copy at TOWER RECORDS. It will set you back $25,900 pesos. If you are home, you can start begging your yahoo group friends to tuck one in their luggage for you. AND AGAIN -- A SPECIAL THANKS TO MY YAHOO GROUP FRIEND :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Rafael Pombo -- Modelo Alfabético

About a year ago, I introduced you to Colombia's Dr. Seuss. His name is Rafael Pombo. Pombo wrote a number of poems that he hoped would teach children to be wise. This poem is my favorite. It is called Modelo Alfabetico (Model Alphabet). In this poem, Pombo tells his son the attributes he feels will make an honorable man. It happens to be my favorite Pombo poem. I love the message he was trying to convey. I have included an English translation, so many of you can fall in love with it too! :)

¿Quieres ser hombre completo,
Do you want to be a complete man

hombre a prueba de alfabeto?
a alphabet proof man?

Sé Amable, Activo, Aseado,
Be friendly, active, well-groomed

Bondadoso y Bienhablado,
kind and well-spoken

Claro, más cauto en Confianzas,
Clear, but cautious in extending trust,

sordo a Chismes, parco en Chanzas,
deaf to gossip, a frugal jokester,

libre en Digna Dependencia
free in worthy dependence

del Deber y la Conciencia;
of responsiblity and conscience

Experto en algo Especial,
Expert in something special

Franco, Fiel, Firme, Formal,
Frank, faithful, firm, formal

Grato, Generoso, Humano,
Pleasant, generous, humane

buen Hijo, esposo y Hermano,
A good son, husband and brother

ejemplo a la Ingenua Infancia;
an example of pure-hearted childhood

Justo, Jovial, sin Jactancia;
Just, jovial, without boasting

Gentil en serios hechizos,
Charming in serious situations

No en modas, polkas y rizos;
Not into fashion, polkas or curls. (The 'bad' trends of the day)

Leal a la Ley, Laborioso,
Loyal to the law, hardworking,

Modesto, no Malicioso,
Modest, not mean

Natural, Noble en tu modo;
Natural, noble in your own way

con Orden y Objeto en todo;
with order and purpose in everything;

Paciente y Perseverante
Patient and persistent

La Prenda del triunfante;
The rewarder of the winner (don't be a sore loser)

Patriota, Puro y Pacífico;
Patriotic, Pure, and Peaceful;

Puntual, no en Parla Prolífico
Punctual, not prolific in words

ni Quijote o Quejumbroso.
Not a Quijote (implies not a hero in your own eyes) or a whiner

Se Realmente Religioso
Be truly religious

Sin Superstición Salvaje;
and without wild superstitions

Sobrio en juicio, en boca, en traje;
Sober (or modest) in judgement, in utterance, in dress;

Servicial, muy Tolerante,
Helpful, and very tolerant

Útil, Veráz, Vigilante,
Useful, truthful, and vigilant

Valiente, no Vengativo,
Valient, not vengeful,

ni un Yoista repulsivo.
not self-centered repulsive person

Sé exácto como un reloj.
Be as exact as a watch.

Nunca Zángano, ni Zafio;
Never lazy nor uncouth.

Sé otro Washington, si hay dos;
Be another Washington, if there can be two;

y haz que diga tu epitafio:
And make it so that on your epitaph it reads:

Honró a Padres, Patria y Dios.
He honored his parents, his country and his God.

Recently, Carlos Vives put this amazing poem to music. SUPER COOL!!!! I'll talk more about the CD tomorrow. Here is a preview.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Feline Biodiversity

Colombia has 6 different species of felines, and the Colombian Government considers their preservation of major importance because of the high degree of cultural value that these wild cats represent. In actuality, all 6 species are considered either endangered or near endangered species in Colombia. Here is the list if you are keeping track:
  1. Jaguar (Pantera Onca)
  2. Puma (Puma Concolor)

  3. 3. Ocelot (Leopardus Pardalis) 4. Jaguarundi (Puma Yagouarundi) 5. Margay or Tigrillo (Leopardus Weidii)
    6. Oncilla (Leopardus Tigrinus)

The Colombian government considers these species an umbrella species because their conservation indirectly facilitates the preservation of many other species because the large cats (jaguars and pumas) need to live in large areas. Thus, if the cats are preserved, so also is the ecology of many areas of the country.

For more information, you can check out the following pamphlet:


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Children's Song -- El Patio de mi Casa

It has been a while since I have posted a song that you could teach your child, but there are a few more you should know. This one includes a portion, though not all, of the alphabet. It can be sung in a round.

El patio de mi casa es particular,
The patio of my house is very special

si llueve se moja, como los demás.
if it rains, it gets wet, just like all the others.

Agáchate niña, vuélvete a agachar,
Crouch down little girl, crouch down again.

que si no te agachas no aprendes a bailar.
because if you don't crouch down you won't learn how to dance.

Hache, i, jota, ka, ele, eme, ene, o,
H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O

que si tú no me quieres, otro amigo me querrá.
if you don't like me, another friend will like me.

Hache, i, jota, ka, ele, eme, ene, o,

que si tú no me quieres, otro amigo tendré yo.
if you don't like me, I will make another friend.

Listen to the song by clicking here:
Clip art:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Every year since 1995, an international cookbook competition has been held in Paris, France. This year 55 countries participated in what is known as the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. The competition includes awards for 41 different categories of cookbooks and 18 drink books.

To help you get an idea of how big the competition actually is, last year they were over 8,000 entries. This year, when the winners were announced, Colombia walked away with some top honors.

Taking the " Best Book in the World about Non-alcoholic drinks" award, was Liliana Villegas with her book "Cafes de Colombia" (Coffees of Colombia).

There was also a children's cookbook series entitled, "Cocinando Cuentos de Hadas" (Cooking Fairy Tales), that was named one of the top three most innovative cookbooks in the world. The three books in the series are called: Alicia en el país de las delicias (Alice in Delicacyland), Hansel y Gretel y la casita endulzada (Hansel and Gretel and the Little House of Sugar), and Caperucita roja y el lobo glotón (Little Red Ridinghood and the Gluttonous Wolf).

If you are in Colombia, you may want to check out these books in a bookstore.

To read more about the Gourmand Awards, click here:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Okay, so here is a place for my bucket list. I had heard about Gorgona from an old Salsa song by Fruko and Sus Tesos called El Preso (The Prisoner).

The lyrics start out like this: "Oye, te hablo desde la prision, Wilson Mayoma, Gorgona." (Hey, I am speaking to you from prison, Wilson Mayoma [name of the lead singer of Fruko], Gorgona."

When I heard the name in the song, I asked by husband -- "So, what's Gorgona?" The answer -- the Alcatráz of Colombia. The next question, "So where is it?" On an island in the Pacific Ocean about 2o miles from Guapi, Cauca, Colombia.

Here's the story:

The earliest remains of inhabitants of the island date to 1300 B.C. One of the earliest European visitors was Francisco Pizarro, who, in 1527, gave the island its name. Following the Spanish conquest, Indians from the Sindagua tribe inhabited the island.

Then, in the 1950's, it was decided that because of the remoteness of the island, the sharks which infest the waters surrounding the island, and the poisonous snakes in the forests on the island, it would make an excellent penal colony. So, construction began, and in October of 1960, the prison opened.
Initially, the prison housed just over 1,000 prisoners, but that number grew to over 1,500 prisoners at any one time.

To the prison were sent some of the worst criminal offenders, many of whom died in the hot, humid diseased ridden environment. It has been said that some prisoners preferred the quick death from a snake bite over living among the murderous lot at the prison. Only one man successfully escaped from the prison.

In 1984, the prison was closed and the island was declared a Naitonal Nature Park. Today, the ruins of the prison have been engulfed by the jungle and are now home to monkeys, bats and other wildlife.

Now, the site is one of the top Ecotourism sites in Colombia. You can seen humpback whales, sperm whales, dolphins, and other whale species. There are also 75 bird species on the island.

The National Park system in Colombia runs the site which boasts lodging and restaurants. The island can host about 80 people at a time and you must make reservations. Most travel plans will include airfare from Cali to Guapi (about 30 minutes), boats from Guapi to Gorgona (about 1 1/2 hours), guide and walking tours on the island, a boat tour, lodging, and 3 meals a day. You will also need to pay all taxes and rent special boots to protect you from the snakes.

Most of the tourist sites I have seen quote prices of about $250 - $260 USD per person for a 2 night stay. To get you excited for a visit -- just check out these videos.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Musical Legend Dies

Jorge Villamil Cordovez was, in 2008, recognized as a LIVING LEGEND in Colombia. He is kind of like the Frank Sinatra of the country. He was the composer of over 200 songs -- most of which were instant hits, and he died last week in Bogotá

Villamil was born in El Cedral, Huila, Colombia, in 1930. He was trained and worked for many years as a doctor. In addition, he was one of Colombia's most prolific song writers and lyricists. Though ironically, he never learned to write musical notes in his life. Instead, he would memorize the melody and harmony and then play the songs. His first hit was entitled ESPUMAS and was released in 1962. You can hear it by clicking below. This song is also on the 100 Most Beautiful Songs of Colombia list from a contest held almost 2 decades ago.

In 1972, Villamil left his medical practice to dedicate himself to his music. By that time, he had several Gold Records and had won many awards. During his life, he was selected by Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the former Soviet Union for various musical awards.

After the funeral Wednesday, the Colombian television station RCN reported that Villamil had been responsible for writing songs that helped "...millions of Colombians fall in love." Here is one of his more famous love songs -- also a Colombian top 100 -- "Me Llevarás en Tí". FYI, several of his songs are available on Itunes for download.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Primate Biodiversity

According to the Colombian National Parks homepage, Colombia ranks third in the world for the most biologically diverse home to primates. In fact, it is home to 34 different species of primates, including 2 of the top 25 most endangered primates in the world. One is the Mico Tití, of which I wrote several months ago. You can read that post here:

The other critically endangered species is the Varigated or Brown Spider Monkey (Ateles hybridus) called Mono Araña Marimba in Colombia. This species actually has 2 subspecies one of which is found exclusively in Colombia and the other sharing territory in Colombia and Venezuela.

This cutie is suffering from habitat loss, hunting, and an illegal pet trade. Because of habitat loss, only "9% of their potential range exists as continuous forest." You can see this monkey in several Colombian zoos, but they are in need of a captive breeding program. You can read more here:

If you are interested in learning more about Colombian primates, Thomas Richard Defler has written a field guide entitled: Primates of Colombia. The book illustrates and describes 28 of the 34 primate species of Colombia. You can own your own copy here:


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Colombian Mushrooms

Author Gunter Pauli has developed an education model, called ZERI, that is designed to teach young children prinicples of science. Using the ZERI Fables book series, he gives children and their parents (or teachers) an opportunity to participate in hands on activities that help kids learn to use principles that they learn in the books. His hope is that children will improve their emotional intelligence, eco-literacy, and artistic/creative capacities.

Why am I discussing science learning on a blog about Colombia? Well, Mr. Pauli has a wonderfully illustrated bilingual (SPANISH/ENGLISH) book in his series called:


Pauli has lived and worked in Colombia, and his efforts to improve education, through an integrated approach, have caught on in Medellín and Manizales.

You can learn more about his book, and the Fable series it is a part of at The book is probably best suited for children ages 4-8.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

National Parks: Chingaza

Add Image
The Chigaza National Park is located just outside of Bogota (about an hour's drive on paved, well cared for roads) in the Department of Cundinamarca. It offers you an opportunity to get up close and personal with nature -- hiking, camping, birding and photography are your best options here.

Established as a National Park in 1977, Chingaza covers about 76,600 hectares. It ranges in elevation from 2,600 feet above sea level (800 meters) to 13,200 feet (4020 meters). At the lower elevations of the park, the climate is rainy and more tropical, while the higher elevations are host to a frigid tundra climate with temperatures reaching below freezing.

Most of the year, the area will receive a great deal of rainfall, with mid-December thru February being the dry season. The area receives so much rainfall that a particular moss has adapted to help hold the water. The Spahagnum moss can hold up to 40 time its weight in water.

The Park is home to the Chuza Dam, which provides Bogota with 80% of its drinking water.

Chingaza was also a sacred place for the Muisca (Chibcha) Indians and offerings of gold and emeralds were made there. There are even remaing Muisca ruins at the Seicha Lake Archeological site.

The Park is also the refuge of several endangered species including the Andean Condor (the National Bird of Colombia), the Spectacled Bear, the Tapir, and the Puma.

If you are a birder, you'll want to note that you can see the following species in the park:

Bogota Rail, Flame-winged Parakeet, Matorral Tapaculo, Rusty-faced Parrot, Blue-throated Starfrontlet, Bronze-tailed Thornbill, Bearded Helmetcrest, Black-headed Hemispingus, Rufous-browed Conebill and Black-chested Mountain-Tanager.

(UPDATE MARCH 2010) Got an e-mail from an adoptive family that tried to visit Chingaza and found it to be considerably further away that this post suggests. I have heard there are 2 entrances one is much closer. I will investigate further and report back.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Doowl Situhzen

Typically, I am not very open in this blog about my personal life. For the most part, I think I am just more reserved about airing our personal goings on, but this week I want to share a personal victory.

When my Colombian husband and I decided to have children we talked a lot about names -- we wanted something that would work well in English and Spanish. We talked about last names -- we decided to follow Colombian tradition and give the kids two of them. We talked about teaching them about our family's religious traditions. And, we talked about teaching them about both their US and Colombian heritage.

Teaching them the pledge of allegiance, experiencing the 4th of July, those things would be easy. They were going to be surrounded by US culture all the time. The challenge was going to be helping them to feel proud of and relate to their Colombian heritage.

We knew that the little exposure that we would offer could never make up for living in Colombia, but we were hopeful that our efforts added to our visits to the country would, at the very least, create a love of Colombia in their hearts and a feeling that somehow they belonged.

Our plan, at first, was pretty lofty. But, as the years have progressed, we have been able to establish traditions, adjust things that weren't working too well, and learn to appreciate the value of exposing your kids to more than one way of thinking. This month has given me 3 small victories that have let me know that we are doing okay.

#1 -- When asked where the kids wanted to go for summer vacation the first response was -- COLOMBIA!

#2 -- I took my 5 year old to the public library in our new town. Right by the information desk there is a huge globe -- as big as he is. He started turning it around and around. Then, he turned to the librarian and said, "Do you want to see my other country?" The librarian, looking perplexed, said, "Sure sweety, there are a lot of countries on that globe." My son gave her a quizzical look and said, pointing at Colombia, "That green one is my other country." The librarian said, "Do you want to know the name of that country?" My son looked even more confused and stated firmly, "I know its Colombia. They eat Changua there." The librarian looked at me and said, "Wow! Most teenagers can't find the US on the map, let alone Colombia. Did he learn that on TV?" Before I could answer, my little guy replied, "No, I am from Colombia like my dad. That is our other country. We have two countries in our family. Did you know there is a lot of gold there?"

#3 My oldest son, a second grader, was participating in a reading and writing assignment at school. Part of the assignment was to write something unique about yourself. Then, the teacher would read each student' s response in random order and the other students were to guess who had written each response. So, my munchkin writes, "I am a Doowl Situhzen." The teacher gets to his paper, and finally figures out that what he meant to write was Dual Citizen. She reads it out loud and the kids in the class all give her a blank look. She proceeds to say that Mateo could explain to the class the meaning of Dual Citizen. She reported that he was able to clearly identify what it meant to be a Dual Citizen and even offered to bring his two passports to class if everyone wanted to see them. The teacher later told me, "Most of these kids have never been out of the county, let alone the country. I can't believe that he knows so much about Colombia. He talked for five minutes about the food, the language, the animals, the history. It was great to hear about it. It was like a mini social studies class."

YIPPEE! Score 3 for our family!!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Results: Colombia's First Winter Olympics

While Cynthia Denzler never really thought she could hope for a medal in the Olympics, her goal was to finish in the top 30 as the first Colombian representative in any Winter Olympic sport.

Unfortunately, on February 22nd, in the Giant Slalom competition, halfway through the race, she missed a gate and was disqualified from the race -- DNF.

On February 24th, Denzler made a second attempt and came in 51st.

See a picture and read an article here: