Showing posts from May, 2009

El Acordeon del Diablo

Swiss Director Stefan Schwietert created a documentary based on the life of Francisco (Pacho) Rada. Rada was often confused with Francisco El Hombre, and this confusion was spread when his daughter wrote a book on the subject. However, in reality, the Devil Dualer was really Francisco Moscote. Nevertheless, the movie is a magnificent look into Pacho Rada's life, his poverty -- despite being an icon of Colombian culture, his music, and his legacy. It is available in several languages (Spanish, German, French and English) via sub-titles, and SOOOOO worth the $29.99 It also gives you insight into the culture of the Costa Atlantica or Caribe. I think that it is a must for your collection. You can also find excerpts of it, in English on You tube. Here is the link to Part #1.

Francisco El Hombre -- The Legendary Man that Started it All

Vallenato seems to have arisen as an art form in the late 1800's, and originally was often used as a way to communicate messages from one town to another. One of the earliest performers is the near mythical Francisco Moscote Guerra or Francisco El Hombre , who was born in 1880. Based on the following incident (and really knowing how much truth is in the Magical Realism of the coast, I would hesitate to call it anything else), Moscote is often considered the founder of Vallenato music. Here is his story, or should I say one of the variations of the story, for there are many. However, the gist of it is always the same -- Man Vs. Devil: Moscote was a messenger, who travelled between different villages in what is today the departments of Cesar, Magdalena, and Guajira. Riding a top a burro, he would go from town to town bringing news and messages. Whenever he would arrive in a new village, he would go to the main plaza, take out his accordion, start playing, and he would sing the news

Escalona DVD and CD

In 1991, CARACOL TV hired Sergio Cabrera to direct a Telenovela (Soap Opera) in tribute of Rafael Escalona. In 2007, the entire Telenovela was made available on DVD. Filmed on location, the novela stars Carlos Vives, the 9 time grammy nominee. If you speak Spanish, it would be a must have! (We own it!) If you do not speak Spanish, but would like to enjoy the music from the Telenovela, you can buy the CD -- a bit pricy now that it is out of print. Or refer to the list of songs on the CD, and download from Itunes or other music sharing service. Here are the titles of the Escalona songs on the CD. 1. Testamento 2. Molinera 3. Patillalera 4. Almirante Padilla 5. Mejoral 6. Miguel Canales 7. Villanuevero 8. Jamie Molina 9. Arco Iris 10. Jerre Jerre 11. Custodia de Badillo 12. Resentida 13. Go

Rafael Escalona

On May 13, 2009, a Colombian legend died. His name, Rafael Escalona . His profession, composer of Vallenato music. Rafael Escalona was born on May 27, 1927, in a small rural village in what is now the department of Cesar. He started writing songs at the age of 16, while in High School. His songs told stories, in a troubadour fashion. His first song was dedicated to his favorite teacher who was being transferred to another high school and was called "El Profe Casteneda ". By 1950, he was a well-known composer, drawing on the history and culture of the region to tell stories of love, life, friendship, pain, gossip, etc. Although he was a prolific songwriter, he did not play and instrument or sing. In 1968, Escalona , along with former Colombian President Alfonso Lopez Michelsen , and Consuleo Araujo created the Vallenato festival mentioned yesterday (Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata ) in Valledupar . He was a good friend to Nobel Prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, w


In the Department of Cesar, in the section of Colombia known as el Caribe , is a town by the name of Valledupar . Originally, the town was called Valle (valley) de (of) Upar (Name of an Indian Chief). It is from this town and area that the musical genre VALLENATO gets it's name. Vallenato is definitely native to Colombia, and derives its sound from Native, African and European rhythms and sounds. The Native population contributed to the genre their gaitas (flutes made of bamboo). The Africans provided the drums, and the Europeans offered the accordion. The music developed and as it did, the traditional Vallenato groups used three instruments: the Guacharaca (see picture), the Caja Vallenata (a drum), and the Accordion . Today, vallenato groups (like Carlos Vives ) can be much bigger and include more instruments. There are four basic vallenato rhythms: paseo , merengue , puya , and son . Paseo is the most marketed and played type of vallenato . It has a 2/4 time. Son is

Summer Reading for Middle Readers

Yesterday, we read about San Pedro Claver. In the brief summary, mention was made of his trips to the slave ships, where he was accompied by interpreters. The Negro interpreters were criticaly important to his work among the suffering slaves. One of them, named Calepino, spoke 12 languages. The others were: Andres Sacabunche and Ignacio Aluanil from Angola, Solfo and Yolofo from Guinea; Biafara, Manual, Juan Manolio, and finally Nicols Gonzlex. Using the story of San Pedro Claver and his interpreters, Julia Durango has created a wonderful book for middle aged readers (ages 8-12). It is entitled " The Walls of Cartagena, " it was published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing in July of last year. Having read the book, I believe that it would help teach your child/ren about this amazing man and the work that he performed in Cartagena. Here is a website with pre-reading and discussion questions, as well as writing topics, so you can help your child get the most ou

San Pedro Claver (Saint Peter Claver)

When we think about Civil Rights and Anti-Slavery movements from a 2oth century perspective, we think of the bravery of the early Civil Rights leaders. We talk about Martin Luther King, Bishop Tutu, and others. The men and women of Civil Rights movements have always bucked the current. However, it is one thing to do that in the 20th or 21st Century. It was quite another thing to do so in the 1600's. This is what leads us to the story of the San Pedro Claver (Saint Peter Claver), the man known as a "slave to the slaves.". Whether or not you are Catholic, whether or not you are Afrocolombian, everyone can appreciate the life and dedication of this great, caring, progressive man. San Pedro Claver was born in Verd, Spain, on June 26, 1580. He became a Jesuit in 1602 and sailed to what is today Colombia in 1610. He became the Priest of Cartagena de Indias on March 16, 1616. Eight years later, he made a commitment that would change his life. On April 3, 1622, he wrote a commitm

158 Years of Freedom -- Día de la Afrocolombianidad

One hundred and fifty-eight years ago, on May 21, 1851, a law was passed by the Colombian government that would change Colombia forever. The law, #725, recognized Colombia as a pluralist and multicultural society. The Law itself recognized that Afrocolombianos had the right and necessity of "regaining their historic memories (their roots)" and abolished slavery. Tomorrow, celebrations are planned throughout Colombia in recognition of this historic and important day in the lives of Afrocolombians . If you are the lucky parents of Afrocolombian children, why not do something special to celebrate with the other millions of Afrocolombians . Here are some resources: In Spanish:

Call for Stories

I have gotten some wonderful e-mail about Jane's posts on her older-child adoption wisdom. So, I would like to publish some stories about your adoption experience -- be it older child, sibling group, pre-schooler, toddler, infant. Was there something special about your experience that will give encouragement to those that wait? Do you have grains of wisdom that you would like to share with other adoptive parents worldwide? For our European readers, I can take your comments in Spanish, Italian, or French -- I might also have help with Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and German. So, please don't let the language barrier stop you from sharing. Please send your adoption stories, comments, or ideas for future blog topics to me at: colombiansadoptcolombians @ Please remove the spaces before and after the @ symbol before sending. And before I forget, no one pays me for this blog, so I can't pay you. Know that your stories are appreciated and are posted here with no hope o

The Perfect Family -- More thoughts from Jane

Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect family! Or, to put it another way, perhaps ANY family is the perfect family for a child who has none. We know single moms who have adopted, a single dad who has two adopted siblings, and families whose adopted teens are "only children" in their new family group. However, after three years of socializing with these parents, hearing their stories and observing outcomes, John and I are in agreement about one thing: older parents who have already raised their children make pretty good adoptive parents of an older child. So my observations are those of an older mom whose biological children have flown the nest. Our older adoptive child exhibited two kinds of behavior: the universal adolescent and the "red flag". Being able to recognize the difference between the two and responding appropriately was HUGE in building our relationship with our adopted 14 year old. We had raised two biological children and sent them off into the

La Muñeca Azul

This is a classic children's song. Again, there seem to be word variations in the lyrics depending on which Spanish speaking country you are from. However, this is the version that was taught to me by my Colombian relatives. Tengo una muñeca vestida de azul (I have a little doll dressed in blue) Zapatitos blancos , delantal de tul (Little white shoes, an apron of tulle) La llevé a paseo , Y se me constipó (I took her for a walk, and she got congested) La pusé en la cama con mucho dolor (I put her in bed in a lot of pain) Y esta mañanita me dijo el doctor (Early this morning the doctor told me) Que le dé el jarabe con un tenedor (To give her cough syrup with a fork.) Dos y dos son cuatro (Two plus two is four) Cuatro y dos son seis (Four plus two is six) Seis y dos son ocho (Six plus two is eight) Y ocho diez y seis (Plus eight is sixteen) Y ocho vienticuatro (Plus eight is twenty-four) Y ocho treinta y dos (Plus eight is thirty-two) Ánimas

Abuelita Carmen's Limonada

My favorite Colombian drink is not coffee. It is Limonada . As summer rears its HOT head, here is a slushy refreshing way to cool down. This recipe straight from Abuelita Carmen. It serves about 4 - 5 slushy 8 oz. limonadas . Ingredients: Limes Sugar Water Step #1 -- Take 3 whole limes, wash, and cut off only the tips. Then slice the limes in half and place in your blender (peel and all). Step #2 -- Add about 3 cups of cold water. Step #3 -- Blend for about 15-25 seconds -- do not blend longer or the limonada will become bitter. You will know that you have blended enough when the limes are chopped up in pencil eraser size pieces. Step #4 -- Take a good strainer and strain the water/juice into a container. Let all of the water strain out ---I use the back of a spoon to push the juice through the strainer. Then, dump the pulp in the garbage disposal (it makes for a great scent when you flick it on). Step #5 -- Rinse out the blender so it is clean. Put the juice back in with about

Colombian National Holidays

Many an adoptive parent has been set back a few days by the observance of one of the many Colombian holidays. Here is a list of the official national holidays . This list was esablished by Law #53 in December of 1983. On these days, courts close, ICBF offices are closed, and many tourist attractions also close. So, if you will be in Colombia on these days, be forewarned. 1st January New Year's Day 6th January* Epiphany 19th March* St. Joseph's Day 1st May Labour Day 29th June* St. Peter & St. Paul 20th July National Independence Day 7th August Battle of Boyacá 15th August* Assumption Day 12th October* Columbus Day 1st November* All Saints Day 11th November* Independence of Cartagena City 8th December Immaculate Conception 25th December Christmas Day Maundy Thursday and Good Friday May or June* Corpus Christi June* (third Friday) Sacred Heart of Jesus Ascension Day* 40 days after Easter * When these holidays do not fall on a Monday, they will be observed the

World Cup Under-17

Now, I know that our European readers are well aware of the World Cup (that's the soccer World Championship for us here in the U.S.). This giant soccer (football) tournament is held every four years, and in Colombia pretty much everything stops while the games are played. There is also a World Cup U-17, for players Under 17 years of age. It is going to be held this year in Nigeria from October 24 to November 15. Rather than every four years, the tournament is held every two years. The process to decide which teams will be represented is rather long and hard fought. It pits all the teams of the CONMEBOL (South American Football Association -- one of FIFA's 6 continental confederations) against each other. The CONMEBOL includes some of the world's top football (soccer) teams like Brazil and Argentina. It also includes heavy competition from Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. The exciting news had in Colombia this weekend is that Colombia has qual

Marta Gomez -- Manos de Mujeres

This is the last of the Mother's Day stuff. Today, I would like to focus on a singer and a song. On April 16, 2009, Public Radio International's program, The World , featured Colombian born singer/songwriter Marta Gomez. She sings a more folkloric type music and has a beautiful, lyrical voice. Her latest CD is entitled " Musiquita ". You can hear the program and some of her music at the following link. One of the songs featured in the report is a wonderful song about the average Colombian woman. These are the women that make the country work. The song is called " Manos de Mujeres " -- Women's Hands. Here are the lyrics: Mano fuerte va barriendo, pone leña en el fogón -- A strong hand sweeps and puts wood on the fire Mano firme cuando escribe una carta de amor -- A firm hand writes love letters Manos que tejen haciendo nudos -- Hands that knit making knots Manos que rezan, manos que dan -- Hands that pray, hands that g

Role of Foster Mothers -- Mother's Day extra

Many adoptive parents can thank ICBF's great foster mothers for helping to raise their little ones prior to placement. On this Mother's Day, I wanted to share these articles from El Tiempo about the role of foster mothers in the ICBF program. If you can read Spanish, I highly recommend it.

Celebrating the Average Woman -- Abuelita Carmen

Today, I want to honor the millions of Colombian mothers who never achieve fame. Their pictures will never appear in a museum. There are no statues of them. They seem, apparently, to leave no footprint in the world. Their lives pass practically unnoticed as they diligently fulfill their roles as mothers. One such woman is the author of many of our recipes -- Abuelita Carmen. Abuelita Carmen was born in a very small village in Boyacá. She was the youngest of 9 children -- the only surviving girl. Her mother's husband had abandoned the family, and Visabuela Brigida -- who didn't have the best parenting skills -- was doing the best she could to raise her children on a small plot of land where she raised beans, corn, potatoes, and arracacha. Abuelita Carmen lost a brother to the Violencia in Colombia, and she watched as most of her older brothers left the village to find their fortune in other places (Bogotá, Mesitas del Colegio, Sogamoso). Abuelita Carmen loved to go to school, un

Georgina Fletcher -- Women's Rights Activist

Though Georgina Fletcher is considered a Colombian heroine, she was actually born in Spain. However, she spent almost her entire life in Bogotá. She was a writer, artist, and educator. In 1924, she was chosen as the Colombian representative to the International League of Iberian and Hispanic American Women ( Liga Internacional de Mujeres Ibéricas e Hispanoamericanas ) and to the Crusade of Spanish Women ( Cruzada de Mujeres Españolas ). After attending the international meetings of these two groups, she organized a Colombian association of the League. She went on to participate in the Second Pan American Women's Conference ( Conferencia Panamericana de Mujeres ) which was held in Lima, Peru (1924). In addition, she attended other International Women's conferences and was in correspondence with other Latin American suffragists and feminists. She tirelessly spoke out for women's rights, though little of what she said found an accepting audience and most politicians were vehe

María de los Angeles Cano Márquez

María de los Ángeles Cano Márquez , known as the La Flor del Trabajo (the Flower of Work), was born in Medellín in 1887. She grew up exposed to very liberal, if not radical, thoughts from her childhood. María Cano was greatly influenced by the feminist authors of her day ( Agustini , Storni , Ibarbourou & Mistral). In 1923, she helped write El Correo Liberal (The Liberal Mail). Then, together with María Eastman and Fita Uribe, she tried to start a Colombian feminist literary movement. She, herself, helped to found the Cyrano magazine in 1921 -- her effort to bring access to literature to the masses, and particularly to lower class workers. Most of the magazine's authors were political dissidents, sympathetic to the Russian Revolution. In 1924, her efforts to bring literature to the people included establishing a Public Library -- known as the Biblioteca Municipal. At the library, she offered to teach the illiterate to read. The more common people she met, t

Soledad Acosta de Samper

Soledad Acosta de Samper is considered Colombia's most important female writer of the 19th Century. She was born in Bogotá in 1833 -- the only child of colonel Joaquín Acosta y Pérez de Guzmán, a patriot in during the Colombian War for Independence, and Caorlina Kemble Rou -- a Scottish woman. From her youth, she was exposed to different countries, languages and ideals. At 12, she left Bogotá to spend a year with her maternal grandmother in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. A year later, she moved with her parents to Paris, where the family lived for four years. While in Paris, she accompanied her father to many literary and scientific meetings -- an opportunity which helped her form many progressive opinions. She returned to Colombia at the age of 17, and at the age of 22, she married José María Samper Agudelo in 1855. Three years later, she returned with her husband to Paris, where she began to publish under various pseudonyms. Then, she became a foreign correspondent for the "t

Policarpa Salavarrieta Ríos

Policarpa Salavarrieta Ríos is without a doubt the most famous, the most popular, and the most beloved Colombian heroine of all time. Her name is associated with the great heroes of the Colombian war of Independence and would easily come to the mind of any Colombian when asked about female heroines of Colombia. Policarpa was born somewhere between 1793 and 1796, in Guaduas, Cundinamarca, Colombia. The exact date she was born is unknown and actually so is the place, though her siblings were born in Guaduas. In reality, even her exact name is unknown -- her father called her Polonia, her friends Georgina Apolinar, and some even just Pola. However, it is under the name Policarpa that she became famous and so that is the name that has stuck. She was born, the fifth of nine children, to an upper class family that lived comfortably. (Today her home in Guaduas is a museum -- Casa Museo Policarpa Salavarrieta.) In the early 1800's, the family moved to Bogotá. There they suffered a family

Honoring Famous Colombian Women

This upcoming week, in anticipation of Mother's Day, I will be blogging about famous Colombian women. Each comes from a different walk of life, and each has contributed in her own unique way to the Colombian Society. I hope you will enjoy this special week.

Colombian National Tree

The Palma de Cera (Wax Palm) with the scientific name of Ceroxylon Quindiuense is Colombia's national tree. This species of palm tree is found exclusively in the Colombian Andes, growing mainly in the Province of Quindío. The tree itself grows at altitudes of over about 3,200 feet (1000 meters). This tree is the tallest palm in the world and are a prominent feature in the emblem of the National Parks. In preparation for the Third South American Botanical Congress, held in Bogotá in 1949, a Preparatory Commission selected the Palma de Cera as Colombia's national tree. In 1985, under Law # 61, it was officially adopted as a national symbol. * Photo by dfinnecy