Showing posts from March, 2010


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

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 governm

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:

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 n


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 ea

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 communit

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:

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 foll

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 2 nd 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

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: POMBO MUSICAL 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

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 Especia

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: Jaguar (Pantera Onca) Puma (Puma Concolor) 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: Photos:

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, H,I,J,K,L,M,N,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:


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


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

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, P

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 re

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: COLOMBIAN MUSHROOMS 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.

National Parks: Chingaza

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 wi

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 4 th 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 hop

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: