Showing posts from January, 2009

Language of El Valle -- OIGA, MIRE, VEA

In this part of Colombia, there are several very common expressions used to get your attention. Well, it is more like several different version of the same expression. They all translate to -- HEY LOOK, LISTEN! 1 - OIGA , MIRE, VEA 2- OÍS , MIRÁ , VES 3- MIRÁ , VÉ And other combinations that include variations of the above. In some instances, the VÉ (pronounced: beh ) is added to the end of any sentence -- kind of like the stereotypical EH used in Canada. For example, you could hear, "¿ Cómo estás , vé ?" The answer would be, " Muy bien , vé ." Kids in this part of Colombia might say, " Mirá , vé , dame ___." Which means, "Hey, give me ____." Or " Oís , quiero ____." Which w ould mean "Hey, I want ____." The words do not literally mean LOOK or LISTEN. They are just an expression to get someone's attention and it is also considered a respectful preamble to a request. The use of the OIGA , MIRE, VEA is so common, it

Souvenir Suggestion -- Bordados de Cartago

The city of Cartago , located about 2 hours from Cali, is known as the embroidery capital of Colombia. Embroidery in the Valle del Cauca has its beginnings in 1540, when the Spanish Conquistadors brought the first hand embroidered items to the area. As the Spanish established themselves in the area, the Spanish women (mostly from Andalusia ) brought with them the skill of embroidery. Gradually, their talents were shared with the native and mestizo peoples of the area. Masters of embroidery then transmitted their art from generation to generation and today, embroidery has become a tradition. In Cartago , entire families are devoted to the art -- embroidering blouses, skirts, guayaberas , and bed and table linens. In appreciation of this tradition and its beauty, might I recommend a weekend or day trip to Cartago where you can purchase a blouse (for a girl) or guayabera (for a boy) as a cultural souvenir for your child/ ren . Check out some of the beautiful designs at the following s

Abuelita Carmen's Sancocho de Gallina

One of the great traditional soups of the Valle del Cauca is SANCOCHO DE GALLINA (Chicken Stew) . Here is a recipe that you can try at home. 1 whole chicken 1 large onion, chopped 1 cup of tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped 2 Tablespoons butter 3 cloves of garlic, crushed 10 cups of chicken broth 2 ears of corn, cut in several 3 inch long pieces 8 potatoes (preferably Yukon Gold) 2 plantains, green – not ripe, cut into pieces 2 plantains, ripe, cut into pieces 2 yuccas , peeled and cut into pieces salt, pepper and cumin to taste color (optional) cilantro – cut in small pieces (optional) Step #1 In a 8 quart pan, cook onions and tomatoes in melted butter. Step #2 Put chicken and broth in the pan. Then, add the corn on the cob and the unripe plantain pieces. Step #3 Cover and cook on Medium High for about an hour. Step #4 Take out the corn on the cob and add the yucca , ripe plantains, and potatoes. Also add the spices to taste. Cover and cook until the chicken is fully cooked. Check

Valle de Cauca -- Cali

The Department of Valle del Cauca (the Cauca River Valley) in Colombia is located on the western side of the country and faces the Pacific Ocean. El Valle, as it is often called, is definitely Tierra Caliente . The average daily high temperature is 88 degrees Fahrenheit or 30 degrees Celsius and top that off with with relative humidity often in the 70 to 80% range, and you really feel the heat. The up side of the climate is that no one will expect you to wear a suit and tie to your ICBF appointment . This does not, however, give you a green light for shorts and flip flops. Most business people will wear nice cotton pants – Docker type – and a short-sleeved collared shirt. Women wear light clothing, skirts, blouses, and short-sleeves. For all other activities in el Valle, you can feel free to wear your favorite summer wear. Valle’s climate not only helps define the clothing worn in the region, it helps to define the culture of the region as well. As with all of the Tierra Cal

What do you think?

Do you enjoy reading the comics? Well, recently, an American Pulitzer Prize winner, created a comic for his "Mother Goose and Grimm" comic that has caused quite an uproar in Colombia. Click on this link read it, and then give us your opinion in the comment section below. To make a comment, just click on the word comment below this post. A new window will open and you can leave your thoughts and opinions.

Words of the Week

So, you have been diligently studying Spanish in anticipation of your trip to Colombia. Now, here is a question -- if you are in Medellín, do you want to take your kids to an HELADERÍA ? Probably not! While in most of the Spanish speaking world an Heladería is an Ice Cream store, in Medellín, an Heladería is a BAR. SO, probably not the place you would want to take you little one(s). What about taking the kids to a GRILL in Manizales? Again, probably not. A Grill in Manizales is a Discothèque. You are with your kids in a restaurant and the waiter asks if you want a FRESQUITO -- what should you do? Say, YES! A fresquito is usually a soda pop. You see a bakery and you want some bread -- you grab that dictionary and look up the word for bread. Do you ask for PAN ? Nope! In Medellín, the word is PARVA . So, PARCE , I hope this helps. "What does Parece mean?" you ask. It is Paisa for amigo (friend).

Souvenir Suggestions -- the CARRIEL

I had a good friend that adopted a child from Colombia. She wanted to buy her child something Colombian that would be significant and that her child could always have from his birth country. There are so many things that are unique to Colombia, so I recommended that she buy an item that would be representative of the region and culture where her son was born. In the case of Antioquia and the Eje Cafetero, there is nothing more representative of the Paisa culture that a CARRIEL. Heck, even Juan Valdez carries one. A carriel is a leather bag often decorated with pieces of fur. There are a number of pockets in the bag and when you open it is looks a little like and accordion. There are also up to nine small compartments or hidden pockets. Carriels can be used to carry just about anything. In fact, the word Carriel has its roots in the Engli

Abuelita Carmen's Fabulous Frijoles

People eat beans ( frijoles ), arroz (rice), and in most places -- arepas everyday. So, if you are adopting a child old enough to eat solid food they are probably fans of this cuisine. To help you prepare a meal that can be a hit, here is a recipe for FABULOUS FIJOLES ANTIOQUEÑOS . 1 lb. Red Beans, preferably Cargamento or Cranberry beans 1 small can (8 oz.) of tomato sauce or two large ripe tomatoes finely chopped 3 Tablespoons Butter 1 small onion – finely chopped 2 teaspoon powdered chicken broth 1-2 teaspoons Cumin or more if you really like the taste 1 Plantain (Make sure it is VERY ripe or it will give the beans a bitter taste). Salt to taste Optional – add meat like flank steak, pork rinds, ground beef. Step 1: Wash the beans and put them to soak in water overnight. Step 2: Put beans and about 6 cups of water in a large pressure cooker. Bring to a boil and cover and let cook for about 30 minutes. Let out the pressure. Check water, and add plantain and meat. Cover and cook a

Not to Miss Cuisine

The food of Antioquia and the Eje Cafetero is delicious. But just because you aren't going to Medellín or Pereira doesn't mean you can't try it. In just about every city in Colombia there is a restaurant or street vendor where you can try one of the following foods -- and truly -- you don't want to leave Colombia without having tried them. If you did miss out, there are many Colombian restaurants in major cities around the world including New York, Miami, Chicago, Toronto, Houston, Los Angeles, and even Paris. So, check out the phone book, find a Colombian restaurant near you, and have a little taste of Colombia closer to home. Now, here's what's for dinner ---> Perhaps the most well-known meal in Antioquia and the Eje Cafetero is Bandeja Paisa . When you go to eat your first Bandeja Paisa , make sure that you are REALLY HUNGRY ! Here is what you’ll get: It might start with a bowl of soup, but the main course is a platter filled with red beans, ri

Antioquia & the Coffee Growing Region

The area of Antioquia and the Coffee Growing region -- known as the Eje Cafetero (Risaralda, Caldas, Quindío) is a mountainous temperate part of Colombia. The weather is beautiful all year round and Medellín (the capital of Antioquia) is known as the “City of Eternal Spring.” People from this area are known in Colombia as the PAISAS . Of all Colombians, the Paisas have the most distinctive culture. This culture has its roots in the unique way that the area developed. Settlers from Spain (Extremadura, Andalucía, and the Basque regions) came to this region. Notably, they came as family units and settled in the remote mountains of the area. The topography made large settlements difficult and most families remained separated. This meant that families became the central social unit and it helps to explain the size of Paisa families – having 10-15 children was not uncommon. Many of the original settlers were Jews, who had been forced to covert to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition.

Word of the Week -- Sumercé

In the 15 and 1600's, the use of the pronoun " vuestra merced " was the formal, respectful way to say "you" in Spanish. Eventually in the 17 and 1800's, it was replaced by the " usted " we know today. However, in the Altiplano Cundi - Boyacense , the " vuestra merced" eventually became " su merced " and then Sumercé (sue mare SAY). Sumercé is used to address social superiors, or people who are perceived as social superiors. It is used throughout Boyacá and often in Bogotá when addressing older people as a way to show respect. In families, children are often taught to use this with parents. I bring this up because I knew a family that adopted a sibling group. They had diligently studied Spanish in preparation for taking custody of their children. The mother was disappointed when her children rarely called her " Mamá ", but rather kept calling her this unusual name " Sumercé ". Not realizing that her

Souvenir Suggestions -- the RUANA

So, you have adopted a child or will adopt a child from the Altiplano Cundi-Boyacense and you want to purchase them a great souvenir. Something that will reflect the culture of the region where they were born. What should you choose? Might I suggest a RUANA . A ruana is a woolen poncho that has its roots in the ancient Chibcha (Musica) indigenous culture. The story of the ruana starts with the following Chicbha legend: According to the stories told to the Spanish by these Indians, the Chicbhas were once visited by a powerful, yet simple and loving God. This God’s name was Bochica , also known as Nemqueteva , and less often Sadigua . He appeared 3 different times and it seems unclear as to whether it was the same person all three times. Bochica is the most common name associated with the story that relates to the ruana. According to the story, Bochica had white skin and a beard down to his waist – both were unusual as the Indians had dark brown skin and were Lampiños (unable to grow bo

Abuelita Carmen's Amazing Changua!

When we left to adopt our toddler, a boy 21 months old, I knew we would be spending the bulk of our stay with my in-laws. Actually, that was part of the appeal of choosing Bogotá over other areas. What I didn’t realize was how invaluable my mother-in-law would be in the process of his adjustment. When we received our referral, we had very little information about our son’s appetite and culinary likes and dislikes. I quote, “He likes eggs, any fruit, and will eat meat with patience. For dessert, he likes jell-o with condensed milk on top.” Not extremely helpful, but I thought, “Hey – he’s going to be a great eater.” Imagine my surprise when he wouldn’t eat what I fed him. We spent the first week in an apartment in Bogotá and it was a struggle daily to get him to eat anything. After our integration meeting at the ICBF regional office, we took a 3 hour trip to my husband’s home town. Enter Abuelita Carmen and her life saving recipes. So, I will share Abuelita Carmen's recipe for sure-

Bogotá for Beginners

Since every family has to go through Bogotá at some point, we will start our culture tour there. Bogotá is part of the Altiplano Cundi-Boyancense. It is Tierra Fría. In Bogotá, what you wear will determine WHO your are and HOW you will be treated. So, your clothing choices will be important. This is NOT the place for Crocs, Shorts, Tank tops, or Hawaiian shirts. This IS the place for EXECUTIVE OFFICE WEAR – NO CASUAL FRIDAYS. You will also want to come prepared for rain – lots of it. Bogotanos think of themselves as the cultural and intellectual center of Colombia. For many years, Bogota was known as the Athens of South America. Bogota boasts an opera season, a philharmonic, a theater festival, a huge book fair, museums, expositions, concerts, etc. Bogotanos also think of themselves as progresssive. Every weekend, Bogota closes its main streets and people are encouraged to walk or bike through the city. It also has impressive bike paths throughout the city where and estimated 300,000 b

Tierra Fría or Tierra Caliente

One of the defining characteristics of Colombians is that –well—they are difficult to define. Colombia is divided into several geographic regions. Each one retaining its own unique identity. This identity is reflected in the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the music they listen and dance to, their accent and vocabulary, and even the way they act. While the country has 32 departamentos (or states), they can be grouped into several geographic regions -- roughly the following: the Atlantic Coast ( el Caribe ), the Eastern Plains ( los Llanos), the Altiplano of Cundimarca and Boyacá (Altiplano Cundi - Boyacense ), Santander , Antioquia and the Coffee Growing region ( Antioquia y el Eje Cafetero ), the Pacific Coast (la Costa Pacifica ), the Cauca River Valley ( el Valle), the Pasto Region ( los Pastusos ), Tolima & Huila , and the jungle (la Selva ). I will be talking more in depth about each of these regions over the next few weeks. However, for today, I want to si

Colombian Word of the Week -- Juicioso

So, you are adopting a child over the age of 18 months and you want to be able to tell them to BEHAV E. What should you say? Here is a great word that I highly recommend. For a boy = Sé JUICIOSO (whee see OH so) For a girl = Sé JUICIOSA (whee see OH sah) It literally means "be judicious". But, in Colombia, it means "behave yourself." Most kids will have heard this a thousand times, and they will be familiar with its meaning and the behavior you expect after they hear it. Four years ago, a family I know brought home 2 children from Colombia. They asked me over to help teach the kids ESL. The adoptive mother was struggling with the language. When the kids started acting up, I reminded them to be JUICIOSOS. It helped. To hear this word, click on this link.

Translation / Traducción / Traduction / Traduzione

Many of this blog's readers are from France, Spain, and Italy. So, I have added the Google Site Translator to the blog. I am not sure how great the translations will be, but I hope this can further help you learn about Colombia and its culture. Muchos lectores de este blog son de Francia, de España, y de Italia. Así pues, he agregado el traductor del sitio de Google al blog. No estoy seguro si las traducciones son buenas, pero espero que las traducciones puedan ayudarle a aprender sobre Colombia y su cultura. Beaucoup de lecteurs de ce blog sont la France, l'Espagne, et l'Italie. Ainsi, j'ai ajouté le traducteur d'emplacement de Google au blog. Je ne suis pas sûr si les traductions seront bonnes, mais j'espère que les traductions peuvent vous aider à se renseigner sur la Colombie et sa culture. Molti lettori di questo blog provengono dalla Francia, dalla Spagna e dall'Italia. Così, ho aggiunto il traduttore del luogo del Google al blog. Non sono sicuro se le
A special thanks to my new friend from France who took the time to help this technology challenged person figure out how to get this working. Merci Beaucoup! Sébastien!

Colombian Concept of Time

Colombians do not typically have the same view as Americans about punctuality. However, most Colombians expect Americans to be on time (one of the stereotypes they have about our culture). It is expected by ICBF , a Casa Privada , your agency contacts, your taxi driver, the judge, etc. that you will be ready and on time – even if you are trying to drag three young kids along with you. However, Colombians themselves may not be particularly punctual – and do not expect for them to apologize or explain their reasons for being late. Here is a great example, we were supposed to pick up our son from ICBF at 3 pm. We arrived 15 minutes early and finally met him 45 minutes after our appointment time. There was no explanation, just a long wait. To summarize, your job is just to be ready and present at the originally agreed upon time. Do not get frustrated or angry that you were made to wait with a screaming infant/toddler. Just roll with it, and be prepared to entertain your child while you

Touching My Heart -- Abandoned Babies

I read two articles in El Tiempo last week that I wanted to share. Last week, 2 infants were found abandoned in Bucaramanga. The first is a litttle boy -- who a nurse named Andrés Felipe. He was found stuffed in a suitcase. He has been taken to the Fundación Cardiovascular de Colombia. He appears to be a newborn of 28 weeks gestation. The doctors at the clinic say he will need to be at the clinic at least 2 more months. The second infant, a little girl, was found in a cardboard box, wrapped in a sheet, and placed in front of a garbage can. Neighbors heard crying coming from the garbage, found her, and took her to a local health center, which then transferred her to the the hospital "Santa Teresita". ICBF has taken custody of the girl. As adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents of children like these, I pray that each one of us can say a small prayer for these children and the thousands like them in Colombia and around the world. I also pray that these children may

Día de Reyes Magos -- Three Kings Day

January 6 th is a National Holiday in Colombia, and it officially marks the end of the holiday season. This particular holiday is known as the Día de los Reyes Magos -- Three Kings Day or the Epiphany. There is a great explanation of the evolution of the celebration of the Epiphany at the following site. However, the key here is that in Hispanic countries, January 6 th has become known as Three Kings Day. It is a commemoration of the day when the 3 Wise Men who had followed the Star of Bethlehem, arrived bringing their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. This holiday is widely celebrated, however, while it is a big deal in Mexico, Spain and other countries, it is less of a big deal in Colombia. There is a tradition that the Reyes Magos give gifts (like Santa), but in Colombia this tradition is usually only observed by the few people that have money left from their Christmas Eve gifting. While this day should

Carnaval de Negros y Blancos

The Carnaval de Blancos y Negros (Carnival of Blacks and Whites) happens every year from January 4 –January 6 in the city of Pasto, department of Nariño, Colombia. This festival actually has its roots in the celebrations and festivals of the Pasto and Quillacingas Indians of the Pasto region, who would hold a celebration to ask the God of the Moon to watch over and protect their crops. Over time, their festivities united with the holidays of their Catholic Spanish conquerors (Day of the Immaculate Conception 12/8, Christmas 12/25, and Three Kings Day 1/6). Later these celebrations were joined by a holiday, the Día de los Negritos (Day of the Blacks) that was celebrated in Popayán. Día de los Negritos was a holiday that had been declared by the Spanish crown. The holiday was declared after a rebellion of slaves in Remedios, Antioquia (1607) caused a panic among colonial authorities. Upon hearing about the rebellion in Antioquia, the large population of black slaves in Popayán began to d

Deportista del Año -- Athlete of the Year

El Tiempo -- the Colombian newspaper -- announced its choice for Athlete of the Year . Their choice: Diego Salazar . So, who is Diego Salazar? The Colombian athlete that took the Silver medal in weightlifting at the Bejing Olympics. The Olympics in Colombia are huge! Only, unlike here in the US, they watch every sport no matter who is competing. Here we focus on our own country's stars. There, they know the names of stars from all over in all sports. Last summer, my father-in-law was telling me about a South Korean female weightlifter that he saw win the Gold. Did we even know that there was a South Korean female weightlifter, I ask? Anyway, when Colombia won their first medal of the 2008 games, it was a silver medal in weightlifting and Diego Salazar became the first Colombian Male since 1988 to win a medal. To see the picture gallery of his win, go to the following link and click on Ver galería. Y

Traditions for Midnight on New Year's Eve

Colombians have many different traditions (some of which are closer to superstitions) that are performed customarily at midnight on New Year's Eve. Each tradition has its own purpose and you cannot do them all; so, you'll have to choose your favorites. Here is a list of a few traditions you can try in your home: 1. Twelve grapes As the clock strikes 12 you need to start eating the grapes. Each grape represents one month of the upcoming year, and you are allowed to make a wish with each grape. But you have to finish eating all twelve grapes before 12:01 in order for your wishes to come true. So, have your wish list ready and eat quickly :). 2. Yellow Underwear If you want to win the lottery next year or at least guarantee yourself riches, try wearing yellow underwear as the clock strikes 12. If you want to double your chances, wear the underwear backwards. 3. Shafts of Wheat Make sure to place 12 shafts of wheat on your dining room table. This will ensure a year with plenty to