Showing posts from February, 2010

Oldest Film Festival in Latin America

Yesterday, the Cartagena Film Festival ( Festival de Cine de Cartagena ) began. This year organizers are celebrating the 50 th anniversary of the Festival, which makes it the oldest continuous festival of its kind in Latin America. * In the 1960's, the Festival was in competition with the festival in Havana. In the 1970's, it hosted many up and coming names and faces. The 1980's proved to be its Golden Years. Unfortunately, the 1990's brought decline to the event and up until 2 years ago, the Festival seemed to be on its last legs, losing prestige to other international and Latino film festivals. Skeptics and critics alike had all but written of the event. However, new leadership is bringing about a change. The movies being shown are now award contenders. Additionally, many homegrown Colombian movies are getting a showing at the Festival. You can read about one here: For more

New Tourism Campaign

The Colombian Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism has announced a new campaign to increase Colombian tourism -- by Colombians. While the last 6 years have seen an increase of 10% in international visitors to Colombia, there has been little growth in domestic tourism. Colombian officials hope to change that with a new campaign called "Vive Colombia -- el país que llevas en el corazón." Watch the campaign video here:

National Parks -- Parques Nacionales Naturales

Like most parents, we start planning our summer vacation way in advance. First, we decide where we will be going. Then, we research all of the activities and options and prices for our decided destination. This year, we are planning a month long trip to Colombia. This means I am researching what new places we will visit this year. My hope is to document our trip back on the blog here. We will be taking our 5 1/2 year old and our 9 year old sons. In part because of my research about biodiversity for this blog, in part because of the new tourism campaign, and in part because of our vacation, I have been researching Colombia's National Nature Parks. Did you know that this year Colombia's National Nature Parks are celebrating their 50th anniversary. In honor of that Golden Anniversary, I plan to feature information about several parks that you might consider visiting over the coming weeks. To check out the whole series, you'll want to click on the National Parks Tab at the rig

1st Colombian Winter Olympics

This year, for the first time, Colombia is participating in the Winter Olympics. (By the way my little beef with NBC is that for the last 3 Olympics, where Colombia participated, they always cut away on Colombia and then say, "While we were away, Colombia and, X, and X entered the stadium ." Couldn't they choose different countries to chop out each time?") Anyway, as a country where very little snow falls, winter sports are not particularly popular or available. Therefore, it will not come as a surprise to find out that the lone Colombian participant, Cinthya Denzler , wasn't actually born -- or even raised -- in Colombia. However, she does have dual citizenship. Ms. Denzler was actually born in 1983, in Santa Ana, California, the daughter of Swiss parents. It was in the Alps that Cynthia spent her youth and it was also there that she developed a love of skiing. Then, ten years ago, her father, Hanspeter Denzler , went to Colombia to open a clothing manufactu

February Wait List

The most recent Wait List was published by ICBF on February 1, 2010. Joyfully, there has been a lot of movement. 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. 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 May 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 ------ May - 2006 Child 13 - 23 months ---- May -2006 Child 2 years ----------- Sep - 2005 Child 3 years ----------- Jan - 2006 Child 2

One Family's Journey: The best thing we did in Colombia

Our trip to Colombia was an amazing, frustrating and beautiful time in our lives. I'm sure any adopted parent will tell you that they'll never forget their first days getting to know their child and everyday I wake up I still can't believe that we are the parents to this little hurricane! During our time in Bogota, we had many ups and downs and many special moments, but there is one moment that I almost missed: Meeting my son's foster family. Because we sent a relative to our son's independent medical exam we were able to get our son's foster mother's information and the morning we left we called her and asked if we could meet her and her husband to thank them for the love and care they gave him. I won't lie when I say I was somewhat hesitant to do this. What if she was crazy? But I thought, at the very least we must thank them. Our child is the person he is today because of their love and care, it's the least I can do. So we arranged to meet th

One Family's Journey: El Dorado Airport

El Dorado Airport can be crazy. CRAZY I tell you. You need to go three hours before you flight. It doesn't always take three hours but many, many times I've gone three hours before my flight and barely made it to the gate on time. This is especially true if you are going on an early morning flight. Here's what you can expect when you leave the country. 1) Bring with you a copy of the Sentencia and the birth certificate. Our facilitator made us a little airport packet. Immigration will ask to look at this, sometimes they keep it! (Yet another reason to get lots of notarized copies of everything). It is their right to do that. 2) There are some weird airport exit taxes in Colombia, sometimes they are included in your ticket, sometimes not. I don't understand the rules and never have, but regardless the airport personnel will help you figure it out. They usually send you to get your passport stamped at this special " Impuestos " window and then someti

One Family's Journey: To-Do Before You Leave

Okay you made it! Time to say goodbye to your Colombian friends and family, eat your last empanadas and wonder if the flight home is going to be smooth or bumpy? We had less then 8 hours from the time we got our visa till the time we got on our flight, but we still managed to do something which I highly suggest to other parents. 1) Get a copy of your child's entire file. This requires you to leave a written request and a notarized copy of your Sentencia with Bienestar. You can do this any time after the Sentencia is final. The file we got contained some very interesting information that was not included in the Referral. I highly suggest it for your child's benefit. When he gets older and starts to ask questions we can tell him "Here it is, we got everything for you." 2) Likewise, you can go to the hospital where your child was born and request a full copy of his medical records . We didn't do this, but I think it would've been a good idea if we had the

One Family's Journey: Embassy Rounds

So now you've got Sentencia. You've got your child's Birth Certificate. You've got your child's passport! What's next? Embassy Rounds! 1) First you have to go see an Embassy doctor who will make sure that your child does not have any contagious diseases. This is a public health precaution not an actual doctor's visit, so don't expect your doctor to actually give you any health advice. The guy who saw Elian grumped at us "That kid is active!" My husband said, "Well he's a toddler". Many kids will need some vaccinations which can be given at the same appointment. The doctor will give you a sealed envelope to be taken to the embassy. DO NOT OPEN IT!!! The envelope will say this in big letters, but still it bears repeating. DO NOT OPEN!!!! Okay, I feel better, I've done my duty! 2) When you have gathered the following: A copy of Sentencia Your child's passport The medical results Your child's birth certificate The conform

One Family's Journey: Sentencia and What Happens After

After a quick break to catch my breath we're back to tell you the story of our last week in Bogota and all the legal hoops we made it through to come back home! Here's what you can expect to happen when you get SENTENCIA ! 1) Your lawyer will submit your paperwork as I described in my last post. Then you will wait around. This part is exceedingly boring, but after the drama of our last week, I would tell future parents to enjoy the calm because things get WILD the week you leave. 2) Your lawyer will call you and tell you that the judge has signed Sentencia and when you're appointment is to sign the papers. Our lawyer called us on a Monday morning and we went Monday afternoon at 2:30 pm. I have heard that some judges like to meet the families before they sign, but we never saw our judge. 3) You arrive at the court, and in Bogota anyways, it's all extremely disappointing. No judge, a million people looking for who knows what and PILES of paper everywhere. In Colombia, di

Carnaval de Barranquilla Happening Now

You can read more here in English: And here is Spanish:

Amphibian Biodiversity

Colombia ranks 2 nd in the world for diverse species of amphibians (only Brazil has more). Here are some interesting statistics -- according to a report jointly issued by Conservation International, The World Conservation Union, and Nature Serve : Colombia is home to 698 unique amphibian species. 648 -- frogs and toads 19 -- salamanders 31 -- caecilians Colombia also has the largest number of threatened amphibian species in the world with 208 -- that means about 30% of the amphibian species in Colombia are in threat of extinction. 50 species are critically endangered 78 species are endangered 80 species are threatened An additional 48 species are considered near threatened. A few months ago, I wrote a post about one critically endangered frog species -- the Golden Poison Frog. Read about it here: Photo:

Butterfly Biodiversity

Prepona praeneste or prepona roja de la montaña In Colombia there are an estimated 3800 different butterfly species, with a confirmed count of 3273 as of January 2009 -- ranking the country #2 in the world in terms of butterfly diversity. Like Birds, many species are threatened. Among the threatened species are the Arhuaco ica or mariposa de los arhuacos, Lymanopoda caeruleata or Limanopada azul, Morpho rhodopteron or Morfo Anacarada, all native to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. In addition, the Prepona praeneste or prepona roja de la montaña from the Andean Zone and the Prepona werneri or prepona azul from Chocó are all endangered species. The loss of species is due to the growth of agriculture, cattle, and most importantly the cutting down of trees in order to plant drug crops which are then sprayed with chemicals (thank you US government) that destroy insect habitat. On Flickr there is a group of 54 pictures of Colombian butterflies. You can click here and then click on detail t

Bird Biodiversity

Did you know that Colombia has the largest number of unique avian species in the world? With 1,871 different species, they rank #1 in avian biodiversity. I am a statistic lover. So here are a few you can throw up on your personal blog or your child can write into their report on Colombia. In 2009, there were 1871 unique, recorded avian species in Colombia. Of those, 1 has been declared officially extinct. Another 13 species are critically endangered, 31 are endangered, 52 are threatened, and 60 near threatened. Currently, there are 15 avian preserves in Colombia. Three in Antioquia, 3 in Santander, and one each in Boyacá, Cauca, Magdelena, Meta, Nariño, Norte Santander, Quindío, San Andrés and Tolima. A few months ago I wrote post about one of the 13 critically endangered species. You can read about it here: Today, I want to focus on the species we have lost. Known as the Zambullidor Bogotano (Colombian Grebe o

2010 International Year of Biodiversity

We share the planet with 13 million different living species including plants, animals and bacteria, only 1.75 million of which have been named and recorded. This incredible natural wealth is a priceless treasure that forms the ultimate foundation of our wellbeing. The systems and processes of this BIODIVERSITY produce our food, water and the air we breathe – the basic fundamentals of life. However, Biodiversity’s contribution to our life is not just practical, physical and utilitarian, it is also cultural. The diversity of the natural world has been a constant source of inspiration throughout human history, influencing traditions, the way our society has evolved and supplying the basic goods and services upon which trade and the economy is built. The disappearance of unique species is a loss that cannot be calculated and leaves us all much poorer. The UN has declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity. As a consequence, a global campaign designed to encourage worldwide action

What We Wish We Would Have Known

It is about time for another installment of Jane's advice for people adopting a older child. So here goes and thanks Jane: Here are a few ideas from the "Stuff we wish we would had known about before adopting an older child" file: That a summer vacation isn't real life. Some of the children who are up for adoption come as guests of a summer program. Of course children on vacation are going to have a good time with their host families. But once the vacation is over, the papers are signed and real life begins, it is a shock. Be prepared for the reality. That a child's wishes may not be in her best interests. If your child wants to change her name, that's not cute. She wants to forget the past, which is impossible. Just because you have adopted an orphan doesn't mean you have to accede to every wish. If she wants to stay up late, text boys you haven't met, watch only Spanish TV, it's OK to just say "NO!" And then explain why. You'll be


If you will be headed to CALI in the next few weeks be aware that the city is currently experiencing an out break of DENGUE FEVER. Unlike Malaria, which typically strikes in rural areas, DENGUE hits both rural and urban areas. So far, there have been 718 suspected cases with an additional 111 confirmed cases. The fever causes severe pain and headaches and for this reason received the nickname -- breakbone fever , can result in death and this week claimed the lives of 4 children and a 24 year old man. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and there is no immunization to protect you from it. A fumigation initiative has been started in Cali, but it would be a good idea to bring repellent. You can read more from the Colombian newspaper EL TIEMPO : Photo: jpg & img =0&search=mosquito&cat=a

Bogotá for Beginners: Museo de Oro

When the Spanish came to what is today Colombia, they heard a tale of a tribe of Indians that were masters of gold. Indians in the Caribbean region spoke of a tribe of Indians that made beautiful gold pieces and that had so much gold that they would paint themselves with it and sacrifice boat loads of gold to their God. Thus began the search for El Dorado (the Golden One). Though the story the Spanish heard was greatly exaggerated, there was indeed a tribe of Indians that made a sacrifice of Gold in what is called the lake of Guatavita. When the Cacique (ka -SEE-kay) of the village of Guatvita died and his successor appointed, the new chief or cacique would indeed be bathed in gold. Then, he sat upon a large wooden raft that was covered in items made of gold. He would float out into the middle of the lake and all of the items would be dumped into the lake then he would jump in and wash off the gold from his skin. The piece pictured here at the left is a representation of that cere

Bogotá for Beginners: Museo Nacional de Colombia

In the U.S., we have the Smithsonian. In Colombia, there is the Museo Nacional -- the National Museum. The Museum was established almost 187 years ago -- on July 28, 1823. It thas been housed in many locations, but the most recent (from 1948 - the present) is the former Cundinamarca Prison -- which was declared a National Monument in 1975 because of its amazing architecture. A few years ago, a newly restored and updated interior was unveiled. What a change!!! Today the museum boasts permanent and travelling exhibits on 3 different levels. The permanent exhibits consists of 17 areas and over 2,500 pieces. The first floor houses the Pre-Colombian exhibits as well as exhibits from the time of the Spanish Conquest. Gold, pots, mummies, swords -- way cool for little boys!!! You can learn about native Colombians from many different regions -- Tolima, Boyacá, the Coast, etc. The 2nd floor houses exhibits from 1550-1886 -- the Colonization, Independence (including items belonging to Simón Bo

Bogotá for Beginners: Museo Botero

Back in December, I wrote about the artist Fernando Botero: Today, as part of the Bogotá for Beginners series, I would like to talk about the Botero Museum in Bogotá. This truly is a must see for any adoptive family. In 2000, Fernando Botero donated 123 works of art to the art museum that now bears his name. The works include drawings, paintings and sculptures. You can see online photos of the collection here: In addition to the works by Botero, you will find other works by the following artists: Corot, Renoir, Bonnard, Dalí, Chagall, Beckmann, Delvaux, Giacometti, Picasso, Miró, Bacon and Moore. The Museum, which is FREE to the public, is located in La Candelaria, right next door to the Casa de la Moneda. The exact address is Calle 11 No. 4-41. Its hours of operation are: Monday - Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Sundays and Holidays: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Bogotá for Beginners: Casa de la Moneda

In the heart of Bogotá, just a few steps from the Plaza de Bolivar, you will find the House of Coins --La Casa de la Moneda. Established in 1621, by the military engineer Alonso Turrillo de Yebra, who had been authorized by the King of Spain to create the first money minting facility in the New Kingdom of Granada (el Nuevo Reino de Granada). It was in a rented house, in what is known as La Candelaria, that Turrillo de Yerba began making the first gold coins in the Americas. The coins were known as doblones . The original ones made were done by hand and each looked slightly different on the edges. But by 1756, the production was mechanized and more uniform circular coins were made. In the 1960's, the Colombian government began the process of restoring the original mint and its colonial architecture. In 1982, the restored building opened to the public as a museum. There are both permanent and temporary exhibits. The exhibit that most impressed our boys was seeing a real Pirate treasu

Bogotá for Beginners: Divercity

What to do when spending endlessly long weeks in Bogotá waiting for Sentencia . If you have children ages 4 to 13, I would highly recommend spending a weekday morning at DIVERCITY . DIVERCITY is a mini city for kids inside a huge, new shopping mall in the North of the city-- the Santa Fé . Kids over 3 pay about $5 to enter (parents cost about $3). For the price of admission, they are issued a $20 divi dollar pay check. Once inside they cash the $20 check at the bank and learn how to use an ATM card. Then, they can start spending or earning money. They earn money by working at different occupations- police detectives, fire fighters, foot loop packers, coke bottlers, veterinarians , pilots, farmers, TV station announcers , Radio announcers, beauticians, insurance agents, supermarket clerks, paleontologists, architects, authors, discotheque workers, etc. They spend their divi money if they want to go on safari, watch a play, climb the rock wall, play arcade games, take bus rides, or