Showing posts from November, 2009

November 2009 ICBF Wait List

The most recent Wait List was published by ICBF on November 23, 2009. Once again, the ICBF Wait List applies to adoptions through ICBF only -- not through CASAS PRIVADAS. It also ONLY APPLIES TO NON COLOMBIAN FAMILIES. It DOES NOT reflect special needs children. The definition of special needs are children with disabilities, children over 8 years of age, and sibling groups of 3 or more. There also has been limited movement, all dates that have advanced I am putting in BOLD and RED . Also, this list only reflects that there are no more dossiers at the national office prior to the date shown. Dossiers from before Jan 2006 in the 0-23 months category, for example, may still need a referral, but they have already been sent to a region and are no longer at the national office. Age of Child ------- Date of Application Approval by ICBF Child 0-12 months ------ Mar - 2006 Child 13 - 23 months ---- Mar -2006 Child 2 years ----------- Jul - 2005 Child 3 years ----------- Dec - 2005 Child 2 - 3

La Voragine -- The Vortex

Two weeks ago, I received an e-mail from an adoptive mother with a great question. "My teenage son was adopted from Colombia. I would like for him to know more about Colombia and be able to relate to other Colombians his age. Could you tell me what books Colombians read during high school and if there are English translations for the books?" I thought it was a great idea. So, here is the first suggestion -- which just happens to relate to yesterday's post. In 1924, Jose Eustasio Rivera wrote a book called "La Voragine," in English -- The Vortex. The story is about the rubber barons and their mistreatment of the Indigenous population of the Amazon. It is written in the 1st person is almost an autobiographical way. It is the story of Arturo Cova and Alicia (his love interest) and how they elope from Bogota for the Eastern jungle. It relates their experiences with the rubber barons and the massacre of San Fernando. I confess that this is not a book that I hav

How Rubber Destroyed the Indian Communities in Colombia

The story of the indigenous groups of the Amazon is one of both sadness and hope. Sadness because the rubber trade caused the loss of 80% of the Indigenous population of the Amazon region. Entire tribes were wiped out. People were uprooted and transplanted and much of the native life and culture were lost. However, there remains hope. This hope exists because many tribes, though greatly reduced in number, have survived. They have maintained their language and have recovered their culture and their traditions. Colombia recognizes the importance of saving these tribes. But rather than talk about the present, let's look at how rubber exploitation almost destroyed the Indians of the Amazon. It all began in the late 1880's when the Peruvian, Julio Cesar Arana, started a rubber-collecting business known as Casa Arana -- later called the Peruvian Amazon Company. The company, with its main office in Iquitos, made him a multi-millionaire at the expense of the Indigenous popul

Bora Indians

The Boras of the Amazon live in Peru, Colombia and Brazil, with approximately 1000 Boras Indians living in Colombia. They have divided themselves into different clans, in which each clan represented by a different animal. Each clan paints the design of their clan on their face using huito dye. People are not allowed to marry within their clan. The Bora live, like the Yagua, in large communal houses called Malocas. The Maloca is shaped as an octagon and has three openings. It is said to be the representation of the universe. Their traditional clothing is made from tree bark and is course -- like burlap. Typically women do not wear anything on top. The Boras are survivors. Despite their horrible treatment as slaves by rubber plantations in the early 1900's, they have managed to bounce back and are fervently trying to maintain their language and culture. You can learn more about the enslavement of indigenous peoples of the Amazon in the book: The Putumayo, the Devil's Parad


The Yaguas indigenous group live in the Amazon regions of Colombia, Brazil and Peru. There are approximately 300 of them in Colombia, and they live on two reservations -- Santa Sofia and El Progreso. They do not call themselves Yaguas, but rather Nihamwo -- which means 'the people'. The typical attire of the Yaguas is made of palm fiber and looks like a grass skirt. In fact, when the Spanish first came across the Yaguas, they saw people wearing grass skirts and carrying blowguns in the trees lining the Amazon river. Because they wore skirts, they assumed that they were women and named the river Amazon after the mythical Greek women warriors. The Yaguas live in houses with large family groups (usually consisting of up to 10 families). The large home has 2 doors and a conical shaped roof covered in palm leaves. Inside, the home is sparse with many hammocks hung from the roof supports. In addition to the homes, villages will have several small huts that serve as kitchens

KAPAX the Tarzan of Colombia

KAPAX , whose real name is Alberto Lesmes Rojas, is considered the Tarzán of Colombia. Anyone landing at the airport in Leticia will see a giant mural of him on the wall of the airport. He became famous when in 1976, at the age of 28, he swam the length of the Magdalena river -- some 1700 kilometers. It took him about 5 weeks to accomplish this goal. Why did he do this? To help draw attention to the importance of keeping the rivers of Colombia clean -- a man before his time. He started life in a small town, Puerto Leguizamo , in the department of Putumayo . At the age of 8, his father abandoned the family. As a result, he was left without the means to go to school. Lonely and bored, he then spent many hours watching black and white Tarzan movies at the local movie theater. He was fascinated. After watching the movies, he would go out into the jungles surrounding the city and practice the moves that he had seen on the big screen -- earning the nickname --Tarzan of the Amazon. For ye

El Pirarucu de Oro -- International Folk Music Festival

Every year for three days at the end of November, the El Pirarucu de Oro festival is held in Leticia, Amazonas , Colombia. The festival takes its name, Pirarucu , from a fish found in the region that can weigh up to 150 pounds and grow over six feet long. The fish is an endangered species which has lead Colombia, Brazil and Peru to declare a ban on the catching or killing of the fish from November-March of every year. The festival takes place during the ban as a tribute not only to the music of the area, but to the fish so closely associated with sustenance in the Amazon. This year the festival is celebrating its 22 nd consecutive year. There are several categories of competition: 1- Murgas Leticianas -- People of any age can participate in this category, but the songs must reflect the music of the area of Leticia and the surrounding region. 2- Cantantes Aficionados -- In this impromptu contest, participants must sing about an assigned topic (they cannot receive help from the au

Yurupari -- Sacred Flute

According to Javier Ocampo López , Yuruparí is the god of the indigenous Tucano peoples of Vaupés . He is the product of a pregnancy that occurred when his mother Secuy ate the forbidden fruit of pihycán . After his birth, she hid him in a hollow tree where she would go and breastfeed him several times a day. Eventually, Yuruparí grew and left the tree to seek out his mother. Apparently, he had been blessed with magical powers. His first magical act was to change all curious women into rocks. Even his mother fell victim to this as he caught her spying on the men of the village while they were in a meeting. In an attempt to obtain dominance over all the women, Yuruparí started a new religion where women were not allowed to participate. He used a flute to symbolize membership in the cult. The flute also represented the voice of God and the bones of the mythic hero of his people -- Ualri . Then, Yuruparí was burned up and left nothing but ashes -- from which grew the PACHUBA palm

Ancas de Rana o Pollo

I have to admit that trying to find a recipe from the Amazons that was possible to actually make outside of the Amazon has been difficult -- since access to Boas, Monkeys, Manatees, Frogs, Snails, and Turtles isn't exactly an easy task. My mother suggested that I give you the frog recipe -- and since frog tastes a lot like chicken -- you might substitute frog legs for chicken legs. The recipe: Step #1 Clean the legs and rub them with lime juice. Step #2 Fry them in oil without salt, until golden brown. Step #3 Place on a paper towel, let drain and serve. Simple, but worth a try.

Unusual Fruit -- NOT TO MISS CUISINE

Long before I met my husband, I spent 18 months living in Toronto, Canada. Most of the people I lived and worked with were from Latin America. I remember that one of the families I knew was from Colombia. On their wall was a large poster of the many different fruits of Colombia. Dozens of fruits that seemed completely unfamiliar. I remember thinking that it would be great to try all of them. And now, having tried many of them, I must recommend that you try some too. The fruits are definitely one of the NOT TO MISS CUISINE items of Colombia. This week, with the focus on the Amazon regions of Colombia, I thought I would spotlight some of the amazing fruits of the region. Seje -- found in the Amazon and Pacific Coast regions. This fruit is most similar to a date and is the size of a marble. It is cooked before serving. Unfortunately, I could not find a picture of this fruit. Copoazu -- (Theobroma grandiflorum) -- This fruit is a relative of the cacao and its seeds can also pr

Amazonas -- Colombia's Amazon Region

In actuality the Amazon region of Colombia makes up 42% of Colombian territory, but it is the area with the lowest actual population. There are six departments that make up this region of the country: Amazonas , Caquetá , Guainí a , Guaviare , Putumayo and Vaupés . However, small parts of the departments of Narino , Cauca and Meta are included in the Amazon region as well. This region unfortunately includes some of the most dangerous parts of Colombia and is infested with FARC and other rebel groups. It was in this region that Ingrid Betancourt was held captive for so many years. It is also the region where the native indigenous cultures have been best preserved. In addition to the native populations, the large cities include 'colonists' from Colombia's interior as well as from Brasil , Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. According to the latest national census, conducted by the DANE, the Amazonian region's city of Florencia has the largest population (121, 898), followed

Cumbia -- Folkloric

Monument to Cumbia in El Banco , Magdalena, Colombia CUMBIA is yet another purely Colombian musical invention. Many people are familiar with modern cumbia . Fewer are familiar with the classic folkloric Cumbia , from which modern Cumbia is derived. The classic cumbia is played using the gaita hembra , gaita macho, the maraca, and drums. Classic cumbia is a Zambo (Indigenous and African mix) invention. In fact the word Cumbia comes from the African word Cumbe which meant Fiesta or Party. Cumbia can trace its start to the beginning of the 1800s -- about the time of Bolivar. The city of El Banco , Magdalena, considers itself the birthplace of Cumbia , but Barranquilla made it famous. The Cumbia is based on a 2/2 or 2/4 time signature. Initially, the cumbia was purely instrumental. But, over time lyrics were added. In the traditional cumbia dance, the women wear long flowing skirts or dresses. The blouse has 3/4 sleeves and the bodice is tightly fit to the waist. The cloth is

The Gaita Colombiana

Gaitas are an indigenous flute of Colombia, commonly used by the Kogi , Zenu and Kuna Indians located on the Atlantic coast of Colombia. There are actually 2 different kinds of gaitas -- the male (macho) and female ( hembra ). The female has five openings and is responsible for the melody. The male gaita has only 2 openings and plays harmony. Often the person playing the male gaita will have a maraca in the other hand. The flute is made from a corazon de cardon ( a plant that is hollow when dry), beeswax, and duck feathers. Originally, the gaita was used in indigenous religious celebrations where the sound of the gaita imitated the sounds of the birds. But, with the cultural mixing of both the Spanish -- and particularly the African peoples, the sounds of the gaita have become an integral part of the culture of the Colombian Caribbean. The gaita plays a critical role in several musical genres including CUMBIA (see tomorrow's post). Watch a Gaita performance: http://

Independence of Cartagena

On November 11, 1811, the city of Cartagena de Indias , declared itself independent from Spain. It was the first city, in what is today Colombia, to do so. It was the second city in South America (Caracas was first). The city remained independent until Spain sent Pablo Morillo to retake the city in 1815. Morillo surrounded the city and used a naval blockade to prevent supplies from entering the city. After 3 months, the patriots deserted the city without surrendering. The plan was to seek foreign help and then return to retake the city. Unfortunately, the patriots boarded ships captained by traitors to their cause. Most were taken prisoner and eventually died. Some did escape and joined Bolívar in Haiti and went on to help him commence the liberation of Venezuela. When Morillo finally entered the city, he started a reign of terror. He wanted to teach the rebellious city a lesson. Many of the people of Bocachica were assassinated without trial. There were also mass executions in

Miss Colombia -- Afrocolombiana

Yesterday, I got an question about whether or no there has ever been an Afrocolombian Miss Colombia. I am proud to say that YES there has been! Her name is Vanessa Alexandra Mendoza Bustos. She was Miss Choco and won Miss Colombia 2001. She represented Colombia at the Miss Universe pageant and won the award for best native costume. You can see her in her costume in this video. Born in the small village of Ungia as one of 16 children. Her father died when she was young and she was raised by her mother. Before becoming Miss Choco and then Miss Colombia, Mendoza was a model. Photo:

Reinado de Belleza National -- Miss Colombia

I want to thank my husband for the following post: One of the defining characteristics of mainstream Colombians is that we want to be recognized as being NOT a 3rd World Country. Part of our interpretation of being a developed country is being part of something important and recognized globally. We feel that our participation in the Olympics, the World Cup or the Miss Universe Pageant for example, shows that we have earned a spot on the global stage. In the case of the Miss Universe or Miss World pageants, we feel that we are watching with the entire world. We assume that because the WORLD is represented in the pageant, that everyone around the world is as interested and consumed as we are by the event. This helps explain why our National Beauty Pageant is so important. It is about choosing the one person who will win it all at the global level -- bringing glory to the country. It all begins with the selection of the regional contestants. In every department, there are numerous beauty

The Zenú (or Sinú) Indians

There are 2 different histories to the Zenú Indians. The first is the pre - hispanic history, which lasted from 300 B.C. to 1500 A.D. Then, there is the modern history and culture of the Zenú . Today, I wish to focus on the modern Zenú , a group of about 52,000 Indians, which lives in the department of Córdoba , along the Sinú river, on a Reservation known as San Andrés de Sotavento . The history of the Reservation is an interesting one. It was created during the 1700's and in 1773 it was officially recognized by the King of Spain. However, in 1905, the National Constitutional Assembly dissolved it. In 1969, the Zenues began the fight to reestablish the reservation. In 1990, the Reservation was reestablished and then a few years later it was expanded. This, however, did not happen without the deaths of many Zenú leaders. Now, with the reestablishment of the Reservations, the Zenues are struggling to recapture their native culture despite the loss of their native language ab

Sombrero Vueltiao

Internationally, perhaps one of the most widely recognized symbols of Colombia is the SOMBRERO VUELTIAO . It was also declared a National Symbol of Colombia by an act of Congress (Ley 908 of September 8, 2004). This beautiful piece of wearable art comes from the Caribbean coast -- specifically the departments of Sucre (capital = Sincelejo ) and Córdoba (capital = Montería ). With its origins in the Zenú Indian culture, this hat is made from the leaves of the palm tree called caña flecha . This palm tree grows on the edges of the rivers and swamps on the Atlantic coast. The leaves are dried in the sun -- a process that changes them from green to a light tan color -- and some even change to a near white color. Fibers from the plant are then sorted according to color. The darkest ones are then soaked in a black mud. Once the fibers are ready, they are braided together using a Zenú technique that dates back more than 1,000 years and originally was used to represent the Zenú beliefs

La Familia López's Arroz con Coco

One of the first Colombian dishes I ever tried was Arroz con Coco. I actually tried this dish while living in Toronto, Canada -- five years before I even met my husband. I met a family from Cartagena and they invited me to dinner -- on the menu -- Arroz con Coco. I liked it so much I asked for the recipe. I will now share it with you. INGREDIENTS: 2 cups of long grain white rice 1 cup of raisins 4 Tablespoons sugar 1 cup butter Sal to taste 3 cups of coconut milk from a can 2 more cups coconut milk which should be from fresh coconuts that you grate, add a little water, and squeeze out the milk yourself through a strainer . This is called the PRIMERA LECHE. Step #1 In a pot, put the PRIMERA LECHE and cook until it boils down and turns golden. Step #2 Add raisins, sugar and a little butter. Mix and add the coconut milk. Step #3 Bring to a boil and add rice and a pinch of salt. Let the mixture boil down until the grains of rice are just starting to be visible. Step #4 Turn the he

Chicha Caribeña -- Not to Miss Cuisine

While on the Altiplano Cuniboyacense Chicha is a fermented drink, in Cartagena CHICHA is any fruit drink that is NOT fermented. These are like the Liquados of Mexico. These drinks are available throughout the city and are made with any number of fresh fruits, which are blended with water and sugar. Here is a short list of some of the CHICHA you can try while in Cartagena . Anón Cerezas - Cherries Corozo - a nut from a palm tree Guanábana Guyaba - Guava Mamón or Mamóncillo Mango Marañón Papaya Piña - Pineapple Tamarindo -- which is considered the best Uvita de Playa -- Beach grapes Zapote And more Many of the fruits of Colombia are virtually unknown in the rest of the world, and they are truly delicious. Giving them a whirl is well worth the money and you could try a new one every day!

El Caribe -- The Caribbean Coast

The Atlantic or Caribbean coast of Colombia is called the Caribe region of Colombia. It consists of the following departments: Atlantico, Bolivar, Cesar, Cordoba, Guajira, Magdalena, Sucre, and a small part of the departments of Choco and Antioquia. The Caribbean is Tierra Caliente at its best. If you can't remember the post about Tierra Fria vs Tierra Caliente -- click here Most of the stereotypes apply. The Costeños -- as they are called -- are just another word for happy, friendly, party-going people. The Caribe is very hot and very humid. When picking up your child in this area -- no SUITS or PANTYHOSE are needed. Nice cotton -- docker -type pants and collared shirt for men, summer (modest -- don't wear strapless or spaghetti straps) dresses for women. If you are in Barranquilla, there is a sight you will not want to miss -- the brand new PARQUE CULTURAL DEL CARIBE, which was inaugurated a l