Showing posts from May, 2010

First Round Election Results

With 99.68% of the vote counted, here are the election results. Juan Manuel Santos -- 46.56% Antanas Mockus -- 21.5% As these are the top 2 vote getters, so they will meet in the final election on June 20th.

El Sereno or El Chiflón

Today's post is brought to you by my culturally savvy husband -- thanks Esposo! Noticeably absent in this blog is a warning about a ubiquitous health threat rampant in Colombia. Most illnesses acquired in the Country, especially colds, headaches and upper respiratory infections as well as many other ailments, and even the worsening of certain arthritis symptoms, can and should be traced back to EL SERENO. While the exact nature of El Sereno remains a distinct medical mystery, any mother in Colombia knows that as the sun starts setting around 6 pm (although there have been reports of encounters with el sereno as early as 5 pm and earlier if it's raining) El Sereno begins roaming around in search for victims who, unaware of its dangers, haven't covered their mouths, noses, heads, shoulders and/or backs with several layers of clothing. As Colombian mothers will tell you, El Sereno's favorite victims are children. This helps explain why Colombian kids look like astronauts s

Friends of Colombian Orphans

Friends of Colombian Orphans is hosting another online auction to raise funds for their work with older children in Colombian Orphanages. If you are interested in supporting them please check out the auction. Learn more about FOCO on their website:

Presidential Elections

On May 30, 2010, Colombians will vote for a new President. After 2 terms with Alvaro Uribe , the Colombian Constitution requires a change. There are many candidates and many parties in Colombia. However, there are typically 2 or 3 front runners. This year the candidates that seem to be leading the pack are (in alphabetical order according to party): Partido Conserador ( Convervative Party): Noemí Sanín -- a former Colombian embassador to the United Kingdom. Partido Social de Unidad Nacional (Social Party of National Unity) aka ( Partido de la U): Juan Manuel Santos -- ex-minister of defense under current president. Partido Verde (Green Party): Antanas Mockus -- former mayor of Bogotá The winner of the election is the person who receives an absolute majority of votes (more than half of all the votes cast). If neither candidate achieves an abolute majority a second round of elections (in which only the top two candidates from round one participate) will be held

Important Colombian Greetings!

I have been practicing Colombian greetings with my two boys -- in preparation for our trip this summer. In doing so, I have remembered some very important expressions that you need to know if you plan on spending any time in Colombia. The first is a universal, and uniquely Colombian greeting: ¿ Qué hubo ? pronounced like one word ( kyouboe ) While it literally means, "What happened?", the more frequent meaning is "How are you?" When I first went to Colombia, I recall wanted to tell people what I had been up to when asked this question. I would always respond with things like, "We went to see such and such today." After a few weeks, my husband looked at me one day and said, "You talk too much." What? I wasn't sure how to take this. Then, he said, "When someone says, '¿ Qué hubo ?' You just say, ' Bién .'" Okay, I could do that. So, now I will pass on this tip to you. If someone says ¿ Qué Hubo ? -- just

The Produce Alone is Worth the Trip -- Brazo de Reina

Today's post is brought to you by my Sister-in-law Kit. Thanks, Kit! If you were to ask me what my favorite thing about Colombia would be, I would have to say the food. This may surprise some of the people that know me because at the same time that I loved the food, I was unprepared for the monotony of the meals. Although I did struggle a little, there are so many different dishes that I loved, and crave regularly. I especially recall going to the market with my suegra . The open market was my most favorite experience. As a light haired American, I was instantly barraged with people offering their produce. The little children were sent to me from three rows over to insist that they have the freshest arvejas (in fact I was stalked by a little boy offering peas my entire time in the market, oh how he insisted. I caved. I couldn’t help it - he was so cute.). My Mother-in-Law with a watchful eye distanced herself from me and continued shopping like she normally would. I could not resi

How are you celebrating the Día de la Afrocolombianidad?

Happy Día de la Afrocolombianidad!!! I have asked the adoptive parents of Afrocolombianitos how they plan to celebrate today's holiday. Here is their response: Johnsons -- USA In honor of the Dia de Afrocolombianidad we'll be celebrating 2 things...we got our referral call for Ava on May 20th, just one day before el Día! So we're going to celebrate that call and Ava's heritage. :) Pete and I hope to learn so much more as our children grow older so that our celebration of Ava's unique heritage goes beyond just one day, but I have to say honestly, we don't know much about Afrocolombian history. Our goal this year is to create a timeline of the history of Africans in Colombia (mostly to keep my husband and I accountable to learn/research) and let the girls color it and talk briefly about Ava's country and heritage with both girls. We're taking them to a local park that has a LARGE map of the world painted on the ground with fountains to play in on top of i

Afrocolombian Children's Book

In 1990, Colombia celebrated the Year of Culture. As part of the festivities, the government sponsored the creation of several children's books. Among them is a book entitled " Niños de Colombia Negra ". It was written by Esmeralda Va Vliet . It consists of several chapters: #1 -- Del Congo al Magdalena -- This chapter discusses slavery and the arrival of the black slaves in Colombia at the port of Cartagena . #2 -- Los caminos de la libertad -- Talks about Benkos (Domingo) Bioho , who founded the first freed slave city in the Americas and also mentions important dates in Afrocolombian history. #3 -- Pueblos negros de Colombia -- Talks about the different regions where the majority of Afrocolombians live -- San Andrés , Costa Atlántica , Costa Pacífica , and the Valle Del Cauca . The book is now out of print, but you can read it online here:

Racism in Colombia

In preparation for this week of official celebration of Afrocolombian culture, I have read a few books. One of them I will highlight today. It is rather interesting and offers insight in to Colombian culture in general. Anyone reading this book will walk away with a greater understanding of what living in Colombia would be like. It is far more than a book dealing with race relations. You will learn about Paisa culture, mestizaje , Antioquia , the Atlantic Coast and Choco . The author challenges how the Colombian belief that the Afro population is adequately integrated into Colombian society. He questions Colombia's self proclaimed image as a "racial democracy", and offer several valid reasons as to why Afrocolombians are not truly "equal". If learning about Afrocolombians and Colombian culture in general interests you. I highly recommend this read. It is not an easy read novel, but very enlightening nonetheless. The title: Blackness and Race Mixtu

San Basilio de Palenque

Here are a few other resources to learn more about San Basilio de Palenque. The Youtube piece is in English.

Benkos Bioho and the Cimarrones

When the Spanish began to bring slaves from Africa to Colombia, there were some who escaped and began to form free, outlaw communities. These escaped slaves were called Cimarrones , and their communities and their enclaves were known as Palenques . Benkos (called Domingo by the Spanish) Bioho is the most famous of all Cimarrones. He arrived in Cartagena de Indias in 1599, where he became the slave of Juan Gómez. The historian Fray Pedro Simón (1574-1628) wrote Benkos Bioho's story in his epic work. According to Simón, the mistreatment of slaves by Gómez led Bioho to rebel and flee his master taking with him his wife, three other men and three other women. He also encouraged an additional 22 slaves, owned by Juan de Palacios, to rebel and flee with them. The group of 30 headed out into the swamps and camped near the village of Tolú -- around 50 miles away. From there, Bioho organized the group into a guerrilla type movement, and for five years the group launched attacks on Spanish i

Maíz pira -- Popcorn

As almost everyone knows a good movie can be made better with the addition of POPCORN. That delight, which can trace it's roots to the native peoples of the Americas, is more than just a movie snack in Colombia. Let me illustrate My husband and I were married in the US, and less than 5 days later, we embarked on our extended honeymoon to Colombia. My third day in country found me sitting at the dinner table in his family's home. It was actually my second day in Sogamoso (located in the department of Boyacá ). We had done some sightseeing during the day, which had included quite a bit of walking, and as dinner time rolled around I was feeling pretty hungry. I remembered that lunch was the big meal in Colombia, but I had hoped for some delicious lunch leftovers for dinner. Strike one. My husband cheerfully pointed out that most Colombian families don't believe in giving leftovers to guests, unless they can be reworked into a new meal like CALENTADO (a story for another day)

Golpe de Estadio

In 1998, Colombian director, Sergio Cabrera, released this humorous movie -- Golpe de Estadio (Stadium Coup). The plot: A US petroleum company has established a base in a small village in Colombia from which they can conduct geologic investigations. This small base, nicknamed New Texas, becomes a target for the Colombian guerrilla. Unfortunately, the only television in the area is also located in the village with the Colombian soldiers, and the guerrilleros don't want to destroy it because it is the only place where they can see Colombia's team play against Argentina. What to do? I really don't want to destroy the ending. Again, I have not seen it, but I suspect at the very least -- some shooting. And perhaps some dicey scenes and language. However, it is supposed to be a comedy. You can see the entire movie on Youtube -- start here.

Angel del Acordeón

Originally released in July 2008, and directed by María Camila Lizarazo, the movie Angel del Acordeón promoted itself as a movie for the "whole family". It looks really sweet. Here is the synopsis: On the Atlantic Coast of Colombia lives an 11 year old boy, Poncho Daza dreams of becoming a great vallenatero and winning the heart of the beautiful Sara María. Unfortuately, his family's economic problems keep him from achieving his dream -- at least at first. Eventually, he is able to become known as the legendary Angel of the Acordeón. The official website for the movie:

El Vuelco del Cangrejo

EL VUELCO DEL CANGREJO is a movie about race relations on the Pacific coast of Colombia. On a broader scale, it is a metaphor for the civil strife in Colombia. The movie was released in March 2010 in Colombia and won the International Federation of Film Critics Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009. The action occurs in La Barra, a remote village on the Pacific coast of Colombia. There a leader of the Afrocolombian community, called el Cerebro (the Brain), faces problems white man from Colombia's interior (el Paisa) moves in and starts changing things. He plans to build a hotel on the beach. There is conflict, an unusual stranger, and children in the movie. Here is the official trailer. I haven't figured out where I can see it yet -- might have to wait until I go to Colombia this summer. Or wait a few years and see if it shows up at our library -- maybe on DVD in a few months. Don't know, but it sounds good. I am going to keep it in mind. http://www.elvuelcodelcangre

Colombian Movie Week

As the summer movie season approaches, and I plan to spend time watching movies in English. I began to wonder what Colombia has to offer me by way of movies. I'll start by saying that the movies I am highlighting this week are all movies I have not seen yet, but that look interesting. Colombia has not movie ratings, so I cannot address whether or not they are appropriate for you or your children. There are no content warnings. I can only read reviews and watch trailers. But, I admit that there are some that look interesting. Like take today's choice. The movie is entitled: Los Viajes del Viento The Wind Journeys It was written and directed by Ciro Guerra. It was Colombia's official selection for the 2010 Academy Awards in the Foreign Language Category. The reviews say the plot is not the best, but that the cinematography, music, and introduction to Colombian culture make it a must see. You can find out where it is playing and when it will be released on DVD by following

Arrurru -- Colombian Lullaby

In honor of Mother's Day, I give you a post about the most motherly of all songs, the Lullaby... "Quieres Arrurru?" My sister-in-law asks her toddler, and moments later her child goes down for a nap. What is the magic of Arrurru? It is the typical sleepy time lullaby sung my mothers in Colombia. Here is how it goes, though I must add that many people only sing the first four lines rather than all eight: Arrurru mi nino (nina) Lull to sleep my son (daughter) Que tengo que hacer. I have stuff to do . Lavar los panales Wash the diapers Y hacer de comer. And make something to eat Matar la gallina Kill the hen Y echarla a coser. And put it to cook. Llamarle a su padre Call your father Que venga a comer. To come and eat. I know of at least one family whose referral documents stated that the child, and I quote, "Loves to go to bed with a song. His favorite is Arrurru." VARIATIONS: One other note, there are some variations on this song depending on the region of Colombi

Antonia Santos Plata

Antonia Santos Plata was born in Charalá (in what is today the department of Santander) in 1785. While little is known of her early life, she came to the forefront in 1819 during the time of the Independence movement. She helped to organize guerrilla operations from her family home in El Hatillo, where she helped to provide supplies, direct counter-attacks, and encourage others to join them. She was part of a group known as the Guerrillas of Coromoro (approximately 40 people most of whom were her relatives that she herself had organized). The groups operations were designed to help Bolivar cross the Andes. Captain Pedro Agustín Vargas (of the Spanish army) arrived at El Hatillo and found Antonia Santos there with her 15 year old niece, Elena Santos. Together Antonia and Elna as well as their two slaves, Juan and Juana, were arrested and taken to Charalá on foot and imprisoned. She was sentenced to death by the Viceroy Juan Sámano and was executed on July 28, 1819. According

Consuelo Araújo Noguera

Consuelo Araujo Noguera was born in Valledupar, on August 1, 1940. She was the youngest of nine children and she had to leave school at the age of 14 to work and help pay for the education of her older brothers. She would later claim that this event actually helped her to develop and independent spirit and an ability to look beyond what was typically expected of women. For over 20 years, she wrote a regular column for the newspaper El Espectador. She also had a regular program on a Valledupar radio station. She was best known as a tireless promoter of local folklore, and particularly Vallenato. In 1968, Consuelo Araujo helped to found the Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata , which takes place in Valledupar every April. Her father, Santander Araujo, was a local leader of the Liberal Party, and her political connections eventually secured her the Colombian consulship in Sevilla, Spain from 1974-78, under the Liberal presidency of Alfonso Lopez Michelsen. She was also a prominent political

Ana María Martínez de Nisser

Last year, in the week proceeding Mother's Day, I did a special on famous women of Colombia. This year, I am adding a few more names to the list. You can read about all of the women I have highlighted by clicking on the WOMEN label to the left. For today, the spotlight falls on a heroine from Antioquia -- Ana María Martínez de Nisser . Ana María was born in Sonsón , Antioquia , on December 6, 1812. Her father was a teacher in Sanson. Her early years were spent in school where she was an excellent student. Those who knew her have written that she was very bright and quick, and was able to speak fluent French as well as English. She was married in 1831 to a man from Sweden -- Pedro Nisser . Nisser was a gold dealer and businessman. Events in Colombia from 1839-1841 were not pleasant, the country experienced the first on many civil wars. This war was know as the Guerra de los Supremos (or Guerra de los Conventos ). Here is a brief explanation: The war started over, what else

Workshops on Colombian Music and Dance

I just found out about these workshops. Sorry I missed the first two. These workshops on Colombian music and dance will be held in New York. If you live in the area, or plan to visit this spring/summer, you might want to put these actiities on your to do list. May 6th, 7-8:30pm, El Taller Latino Americano: Ronald Polo explores of the percussion sounds of the Atlantic coast; and Johanna Castañeda presents a music workshop for the musical instrument from the Llano -- the Cuatro. Suggested donation $5. May 13th, 7-8:30pm, El Taller Latino Americano: Rafael Gomez & Guillermo Penate explore the Vallenato sounds of Colombia's north coast; and Daniel Fetecua Soto presents dances from throughout Colombia. Suggested donation $5. June 16th, 7-8:30pm, Queens Museum of Art, Closing Event & Reception: Rafael Leal Ramirez demonstrates traditional Colombian rhythms for the drum set; and Andrés Garcia presents traditional Andean music for the tiple, flauta and bass. Fr