Showing posts from June, 2010

One Family's Return Trip: Bus Etiquette #3

On just about any bus, at any time of day, you may well see someone get on with a guitar, accordeón , or radio. Sometimes, a whole band will get on the bus. The performers will typically begin to play and sing, with the hope that you will give up some coins in return. These performers, often called CANTANTES (singers) or MUSICOS (musicians), not only perform on buses , but also on the street and in parks. For most, performing is their livelihood. It would be wise to keep a few coins in an easily accessible pocket to help support these performers. We plan on giving our boys some of their own coins so that they can decide which performers to share their money with. The CANTANTES perform all genres of music -- Rap, Vallenato , Rock, Folkloric, Salsa, even Opera. Here is a video collection of bus performers in Colombia. Rap Opera Vallenato Folkloric

One Family's Return Trip: Bus Etiquette #2

BUS ETIQUETTE #2 -- VENDEDORES (Salespeople) Riding in a Colombian bus is a cultural experience in an of itself. I think that you shouldn't leave Colombia without riding a bus somewhere at rush hour or lunch time. One of my favorite things is the VENDEDOR (salesperson). This person gets on the bus with a backpack full of something he wants to sell -- colored pencils, candy, books, magazines, miracle drugs, soaps, lotions, etc. He will hand out a number of the items to people sitting on the bus. If one is offered to you, YOU TAKE IT! Even if you do not plan to buy it! You hold it in your hands while he gives his speech about the product. Some vendedores are hilarious. Others try to appeal to your humanitarian instinct. One time, a lady got on to say, "I have lost my house and my child is in the hospital, my husband died a few months ago and I am dying of cancer, etc" I'm not always sure how much of what they is true. Anyway, they speak really fast so that they can ge

One Family's Return Trip: Bus Etiquette #1

I am starting a new series, based on taking our little Colombianito back to Colombia for the first time since his adoption. Home just days before he turned 2, he is now 5 1/2 years old. Our journey will be labeled: One Family's Return Trip . You can follow daily here, or click on the label to the right in August to catch all of the posts in the series. I am also looking forward to bringing you more information from Emily -- One Family's Journey (to the right) -- as she talks about issues like: "What it was like to come home?" and "What to expect once you return?" ************************************************************** In preparation for our return trip to Colombia, we have been discussing etiquette in our home. There have been the usual reminders for the boys -- "Remember to say Por favor and Gracias ." But, there have also been a few reminders about etiquette issues that bear mentioning here. Over the next few days, I want to review sev

Colombia Más Cerca

Colombian Caracol TV has been featuring a weekly 30 minute special about different events and places worth seeing in Colombia. If you are in Colombia, you can catch the program on Sunday nights at 9:30. If you aren't lucky enough to be in Colombia, then you can watch past episodes here: The programs are in Spanish, of course, but they are super!!! Even if you cannot understand all the words, in many of the spots the images are beautiful.

Salsa from Los Hermanos Lebrón

Yesterday's post about the phrase, "Qué Pena!", made me think of a song I have heard my husband play hundreds of times. It is actually called "Qué Pena!" It was written and performed by the Puerto Rican / Nuyorquino group known as LOS HERMANOS LEBRÓN -- (Pablo, María, José, Ángel, Carlos y Franky) but no Colombian's collection of salsa would be complete without the addition of this song. So, I thought I would share it with you. And "Que Pena" that they are not Colombian.

Qué Pena!

One of the first things that parents here in the US teach their toddlers is to say "Sorry!" We use the word all the time. A child spills his milk, "Sorry!" He bumps into someone, "Sorry!" He forgets to do something, "Sorry!" He rips a toy out of the hands of another, "Sorry!" Where would be be if after time out we didn't have an apology of "I'm Sorry!" We love Sorry so much, that there is even a game for kids called, what else, "SORRY!" Sorry, here in the Northern part of the New World, means to feel "sorrowful". It comes from a German word that meant "distressed or full of sorrow". When we say Sorry!, we are saying "Hey I feel really bad about what I just did !" It gives us personal accountability. Well, here is a cultural newsflash! Colombians do not tend to express their apology in the same way. This is not to mean that they are rude, on the contrary, they share your pain. T

The Arepa Magazine

True confession! When I was a kid, I loved watching the Muppet Movie . I think I had the whole thing memorized. For those of you who don't remember it as well as I do, here is a little plot reminder. Kermit leaves the swamp to seek after his dream of making millions of people happy. On his quest, he is spotted by Doc Hopper the owner of a chain of fast food stores that sell french fried frog legs. Doc Hopper wants Kermit to star in the commercials for his store. Kermit says no way and hooks up with the comedian Fozzie Bear. Then the two of them start a cross country odyssey to Hollywood, where they plan to break into show business. On the way, they run into Gonzo the Great. At some point Gonzo tells Fozzie and Kermit that his dream is to go to Bombay India and become a movie star. Fozzie responds, "You don't go to Bombay to become a movie star, you go where we're going -- Hollywood." Gonzo responds, "Sure if you want to do it the easy way." Okay, okay

New Wait List Published

The most recent Wait List was published by ICBF on June 18, 2010. Once again, there has been a lot of movement. Great news for adoptive parents!! Remember, 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 Oct 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 ------ Oct - 2006 Child 13 - 23 months ---- Oct -2006 Child 2 years ----------- Dec - 2005 Child 2 - 3 ye

And The Winner IS.....

Juan Manuel Santos will be the new President of Colombia.

Final Presidential Election

This Sunday, June 20th, is the final of the Presidential election. On Monday, we will know who the new president will be. I will be posting election results when I have them. However, here is an article that can teach you more about what is happening in Colombian politics.

Colombia -- a new kind of trafficking

Colombians have long been famous for their cocaine smuggling. Now, however, they are using their smuggling skills on a new product -- people. Read more here: Colombia becomes new hub for human smuggling into US -

Interesting Articles

Okay, I admit it! With the boys out of school for the summer, and with me preparing for a month long trip to visit my mother-in-law in COLOMBIA, I have been finding it hard to be Ms. Blogger. I try to be a few weeks ahead in my blogs, but I have gotten a bit behind and now I am writing a new blog every night -- and this is cutting into my beauty sleep :0 and heaven knows I need more of that. So, this week I'm cheating a bit. I have found a few interesting articles that are well worth a read, rather than summarizing -- I am just going to give you the link and let you have at it!! Here is an article about the growth of coffee, Juan Valdez and the economy of Colombia:

Friends of Colombian Orphans

Beginning TODAY, there is a huge contest that can help charities earn lots of cash prizes, and FRIENDS OF COLOMBIAN ORPHANS has registered for it. Unfortunately, they are listed as COLOMBIAN ORPHANAGES in Austin Texas 78703. The rewards for charities are huge: the smallest prize is $20,000 which would give FOCO a lot more time to make the knitting project self-sustaining. Friends on Facebook are eligible to take part in this month-long contest. We need to rally the troops. This is a big opportunity to help FOCO . If you remember, they won the ebay contest last year, thanks to all of you. So, if you can find it in your heart to spend time on this one, it would mean a lot to the girls at the orphanages in Colombia. Here is how you vote for Friends of Colombian Orphans and other worthy charities 1. You must have a Facebook account. 2. From Facebook , go to Chase Community Giving. Click on either "like" or "access." This is how you register to vote. 3. You have 20


If you caught the June 10th World Cup Concert, you were lucky to catch the performance of TWO Colombian music legends -- Shakira and Juanes. In the performance, Juanes launched his new single YERBATERO. If you missed it, here is the song for your enjoyment.

Very Be Careful

Bands that use Latin rhythms at their core are common -- especially here int he US. However, most try to blend those rhythms with – rock, pop, hip-pop, etc. It is a trend that started in the 1960's with performers like Santana. However, few US based groups try to stick to their musical roots. One such group that does is the LA based group Very Be Careful . The driving force behind the group are two US born sons of Colombian immigrant parents. These guys play vallenato -- a traditionally Caribbean based music from the coast of Colombia. Recently, the group was featured on PRI's The World. You can hear the report here: Or, learn more about the group from their website: They will be performing: SATURDAY JULY 24, 2010 PASADENA LEVITT PAVILION 30 North Raymond Avenue Pasadena, CA 91103-3996

Seaflower Biosphere Reserve

On the 9th of November, 2000, UNESCO declared the Archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina a new Natural Heritage site, naming it the SEAFLOWER BIOSPHERE RESERVE. As such it is one of 391 ecological zones of this type on the planet. There are three main purposes of the reserve: First, is to converse the landscape, ecosystem, species and the genetic variation of the area. Second, is to encourage sustainable economic and human development, while maintaining the sociocultural roots and ecological stability of the region. Finally, the reserve is to provide logistic support to demonstration projects and educational endeavors on islands with relation to conservation and sustainable development. Here is a government video about the Reserve in Spanish: Here is a tourist video in English: Learn more about the Colombian Agency assigned to oversee the Biosphere Reserve here: You can read a report evaluating the Reserve's first five year

A New Colombian Tarzan?!?!?

Several months ago, I wrote about KAPAX the legendary Colombian that swam the length of the Magadalena river (in 1976) in order to draw attention to the need to keep the river clean. Now, some 24 years later, another Colombian -- Honorio Muñoz Burbano -- a teacher of physical education, has accomplished the same feat. Profesor Muñoz started his swim in San Agustín , Huila , with a new Colombian flag tied to his back. Thirty three days later, he arrived in Barranquilla greeted by hoards of people clapping, the governor of the department of Atlántico , and the sounds of the Colombian national anthem playing in the background. During the 33 days that he was swimming the river , he would following the same schedule -- entering the river at 7 am and swimming until 1 pm without stopping. Then, he would get out of the river, eat lunch and take a 30 minute nap. After his nap, he would resume swimming until

Best Colombian Restaurants 2010

Are you interested in gourmet Colombian food? Well, I have some options for you! Last month, the Premios (Awards) La Barra, were handed out for the best restaurants in Colombia. Four restaurants from different regions of the country were recipients of the awards -- they include: Platillos Voladores -- in Cali, Valle del Cauca What to order? Chorizos picantes cocinados en guarapo con calamares fritos -- Chorizo with fried squid Address: calle 14 norte No. 9 - 32, en el famoso barrio Granada El Mezón Español -- in Pereira, Risalda What to order? Paella -- Spanish rice and seafood dish Address: calle 14 con carrera 26 La Provincia -- Medellín, Antioquia What to order? Gallina rellena con arroz de yerbas -- Chicken stuffed with herbed rice. Address: la Milla de Oro, calle 4 sur No. 48ª-179, barrio El Poblado. Londeros Sur -- Cúcuta, Norte Santander What to order? Carne a la parilla -- Colombian BBQ chicken Address: la Avenida Libertadores, sobre el malecón que da al río Pamplonita M

Biblioburro -- Children's Book

Whenever I come across a Colombia based children's book, I am all over it. They are, after all. pretty rare. I have placed other suggestions on this blog and you can see them all by clicking on the Book Suggestions tab to the right. Today, I am going to highlight a book that is based on a true story that I saw on TV several months ago on CNN (see it here ). It is the story of Luis Soriano , a teacher who decided to start a travelling library. He carries his books by burro to remote villages and farms in Colombia. Here is a YouTube video of a report similar to the one I saw a while back: Here is the update from the first video: Based on Luis' story, Jeanette Winter has written a children's book that is available for advance purchase from Amazon. The official release date is coming up on June 8, 2010. It looks like it will be a great addition to our growing Colombia related library. Here is a link to Amazon w

A Special Needs Adoption Option

Yesterday's post on Special Needs adoption made me think of a conversation I had recently with and adoptive mother named Jill. She called me to talk about adoptions from Colombia. She was very specific in her desires to adopt a child that was HIV positive. I was kind of curious about this and I made a whole new discovery. There is an entire adoptive community for HIV positive kids -- and before you out click -- give me a chance. Jill told me of her HIV positive daughter, adopted from Guatemala a few years ago. She told me that of many of the Special Needs out there, she considers HIV one of the most doable. Most children are perfectly normal in every way except for their blood. They learn, grow, walk, run, read, write, play, take gymnastics, swim, play soccer, etc. like any other child. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions (based on info found at the following web site: : Q. How long will my child be likely to live? A. With prope

Adoption Statistics -- Special Needs

As of March 31, 2009, there were 7,937 children and adolescents that have official declarations of abandonment and belong to the category SPECIAL NEEDS. This number is down from October's report of 8,211. Special Needs in Colombia is defined as children with disabilities, children over 8 years of age, and sibling groups of 3 or more. On the report by ICBF, from which I obtained these statistics, it states: These children are available immediately and families requesting children in this category will receive PRIORITY and PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT . Here is the breakdown of the 7,937 adoptable children in the Special Needs Category: 1,063 ---- children in good health younger than 7 that belong to large sibling groups down from 1,319 in October 543 ---- children younger than 7 with a physical or mental disability up from 504 in October 2,359 -- children between 8-17, some belong to sibling groups down from 2,843 in October 1,869 -- children between 8-17 with a physical or mental disabi

Adoption Statistics -- Wait List

With their latest statistical report ICBF also shed some light on the number of families that are currently waiting for a referral. It is not particularly helpful as there is no break down as to how many families wait in each age group, however, you will note that there are a lot of potential adoptive families waiting with you. As of April 31, 2010, there are: 217 --- Colombian families waiting for a referral 3,350 - Foreign families waiting for a referral Total: 3, 567 families waiting The following information helps you to see how long the wait can be. Remember, the wait starts from the time your application to ICBF is APPROVED and NOT the day you submitted it to ICBF for approval. There are many families waiting for referrals. Approved in Year: 2005 -----21 families still waiting for a referral 2006 -----298 families still waiting for a referral 2007 -----749 families still waiting for a referral 2008 -----1,036 families still waiting for a referral 2009 -----968 families still

New Adoption Statistics -- Placements

ICBF recently posted an update of their adoption statistics. Below is a summary of those statistics which were current as of April 30, 2010. But first, for comparison, here are the final stats for 2009 : 2,753 children of all ages placed for adoption 1,153 were placed with Colombian families 1,600 were placed with Foreign families Here is what we can learn from these statistics: #1 -- the number of children being placed for adoption seems to be stablizing around 2700 per year. 2008........... 2009............ As of April 30, 2010 2,542..............2,753......................895 #2 -- the number of Colombian families adopting children also appears to be stablizing around to between 1,000-1,100 per year. 2008...........2009.............As of April 30, 2010 1,019..............1,153......................363 -- with only 217 on the waiting list Of the 895 children placed for adoption in the first quarter of 2010, 128 were placed by Casas Privadas de Adopción. If this trend continues, the C