Showing posts from March, 2011

Gold After Cocaine

As growing coca and producing cocaine becomes more difficult, rebels are turning to Gold Mines for money. The NY Times offers the following report.

Tagua -- The Ivory of Colombia

Put an end to ivory poaching! Switch to TAGUA! Tagua is a kind of plant based ivory which is derived from ivory palms in places like Colombia. It is a sustainable alternative to animal ivory because Tagua looks like animal ivory -- with a rich, creamy color. It also acts like ivory and can be carved and worked into just about anything that would traditionally be made from ivory. An additional bonus of Tagua is that when cultivated and harvested responsibly, it can also help preserve the rainforest. Tagua is actually the seed of the ivory palm, aka the Phytelephas aequatorialis. They are found throughout the rainforests of South America, particularly on the Pacific coast of Colombia. When, thinking of a souvenir purchase, support Tagua! For that matter, support stores in your home town that offer Tagua products -- especially if those products come fron Colombia! :)

TUNES FOR TUESDAY - From Polyrhythm to Salsa

If you were to dissect a Salsa song in search of its back bone, you would have to set aside several other rhythms, piled onto the core like layers of tissue. This is because, as we have been discussing, Salsa is made up of several rhythms, mostly of Cuban origin. As we also have learned, Cuban origin means African origin. In this dissection, eventually you would run into the simple sound made by two pieces of wood striking each other. It is a very distinctive pow, pow, pow, powpow -type rhythm, or three distinct hit-pause-hit-pause-hit pause, followed by two hit-hit impacts closer to each other, all this repeated over and over. " Cinco golpes en dos compases de música " (five notes in two music measures) is what those who understand this sort of thing call it. They also call this simple rhythmic progression a clave (a key). There are several claves , the most common are the Son , the Rumba , and the Samba , all Cuban descendants of African claves . When performing th

Myths for Monday -- The Paez Version of Creation

The PAEZ Indians of Colombia, also known as the NASA , are found in an area called Tierradentro in the Department of Cauca (today's department) and Huila. Based on their total population, they are the second largest indigenous group in Colombia with a little less than 140,000 people. In 1536, the Spanish conquistador, Sebastian del Belalcazar, tried to subdue the Paez Indians, but to no avail. Later, Belalcazar ordered the construction of a city -- San Vicente de Paez, right in the heart of Tierradentro. However, in short order, the Paez had destroyed the city. Belalcazar was reported to have said, "What we don't win with our weapons, we will win with our priests!" Indeed, the next weapon tried to pacify the Paez was the Catholic religion. However, this tactic was also unsuccessful. One priest reported, "The Paeces are the most barbarian of any people found in these new lands. They resist everything....They laugh out loud when they are taught (the catech

Profetas -- Make it to SXSW

While I do not want to take away from Colombian Daddy's Tunes for Tuesday -- I didn't want to miss the opportunity to introduce you to another Afrocolombian musical group-- PROFETAS. While they have been around since 1997, it has only been in the last 5-6 years that their music and name has been making the rounds in such places as Rolling Stone Magazine (2006) and now at SXSW. You can read more here: Catch their SXSW interview below and their song Baila below in a separate post.

Profetas - Baila (Video Oficial)


Places Tourists Are Not Welcome

While tourism in the Colombian Amazon is booming, there is one indigenous community that is rejecting the ideas of tourists in their community. Here, AFP reports on this community. However, they do not allow embedding, so you will have to click on the link below.

Restoring What's Lost

In Colombia, millions of people have lost their land during the course of the decades long Civil War. Currently, President Juan Manuel Santos has launched an initiative to restore the land to their rightful owners. To hear an audio report -- in English -- about this situation, how things got to be so bad, and why it is essential to fix it -- CLICK HERE:

TUNES FOR TUESDAY - Salsa Genome - Son Cubano

Last week I briefly mentioned Salsa's music genome. Before moving on, and not wanting to leave this topic as another lose end, I wanted to explore it a little more in today's post. So, as we travel through history, let's make our mandatory stop in Cuba. Why? Well, remember that Salsa builds upon aging Cuban rhythms. During the Spanish Colonization of the New World, Spanish immigrants brought to Cuba music and dances they had adopted from other places in Europe. Among these is the Contradanse , which had made its way to Spain from Versalles, and which arrived in the New World as la Contradanza . It is possible, however, that during the same period, French immigrants brought La Contradanse to Haiti, and that Haitian immigrants took care of moving it to La Habana. Either way, in Cuba, La Contradanza lost its collective nature and became a dance for couples as Cubans created their own version of La Contradanza by mixing the European music with the well established rhythms o

Myths for Monday -- El Silbón

The Silbón (or Whistler) is a common myth of the Llanos that connect Colombia and Venezuela, and it appears to date back to the 19th Century. It is the myth of choice for our department of the day -- Casanare. The Silbón is an otherworldly, ghostly type man. He is very tall (over 6 feet) and very skinny. In a sack on his back, he carries his father's bones as a curse for having killed him. I have read various accounts and it seems that the reason he killed his father varies in each of them. Most explanations are rather gruesome, so I'll avoid the gory details here. Now, here are some tips to help you avoid any problems with El Silbón. The Silbón wanders about, but at night, he stops to count the bones he has in his sack. Typically, he will do this on the doorstep of a home on the Llano. If the occupants do not listen to the clanking of the bones as he counts, it will bring them bad luck, and perhaps even a death will occur in the family. So, while visiting the Llano,

More Colombians Adopting From Colombia

The new report also shows some interesting trends in Colombians Adopting From Colombia. First, some history. Back in the early 1990's, very few Colombians were adopting, and most of them were very demanding about wanting "only and infant in perfect health". In 1991, 2,893 children were placed for adoption. This number included the 1,926 placed by ICBF and the 967 placed by the Casa Privadas. At that time, ICBF placed 529 with Colombian families and 1,397 with foreign families. The Casas Privadas placed 77 with Colombian Families and 890 with foreign families. 1991 = 28% of Adoptions by ICBF were to Colombian Families 1991 = 8% of Adoptions by Casas Privadas to Colombian Families 2003 = 35% of Adoptions by ICBF were to Colombians Families 2003 = 11 % of Adoptions by Casas Privadas to Colombian Families Later statistics combined the ICBF and Casa Privada Numbers in one single statistic. SO here are what the combined statistics look like. 1991 = 20% to Colombian Famili

Latest Adoption Statistics -- Special Needs

Recently, ICBF posted their report of the adoption statistics for 2010. I found them very interesting. Today and tomorrow, I will highlight some aspects of the report. In 2010, there were a total of 3,058 adoptions in Colombia. The surprising statistic is to see how many of those adoptions were of children with special needs -- 889. Keep in mind the definition of SPECIAL NEEDS ADOPTION in COLOMBIA: Children with disabilities (physical, mental or health issues), children over 8 years of age, and sibling groups of 3 or more. In 2003-2004, Colombia implemented their Hague compliant adoption program, with goals to increase adoptions of children with Special Needs. The cool thing is to see how their desire to meet their goals has actually brought about as increase in Special Needs Adoptions. Look at the statistics for children with Special Needs that found forever homes: In 2002, there were 349 -- 13% of all adoptions. In 2003, there were 392 -- 22% of all adoptions. In 2004, there were

Newest ICBF Wait List -- March 2011

This most recent Wait List was published by ICBF on March 14, 2011. Once again, there has been a lot of movement. Great news for adoptive parents and for Colombian Children!! 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. Several dates have advanced again this time!!! YEAH!!! The dates that have moved are in BLUE. Also, this list only reflects that there are no more dossiers at the national office prior to the date shown. Dossiers from before Jun 2007 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 waiting at the national office. Age of Child ------- Date of Application Approval by ICBF Child 0-12 months ------ Jul - 2007 Child 13 - 23 mo

TUNES FOR TUESDAY - Intro to Salsa History

Ok , back to Salsa. The link between Salsa Music and Colombia may be better understood from a historical perspective. One ironic fact of Macondian proportions is that Salsa Music may rightfully wear a label that reads MADE IN USA. This may surprise even Colombians. While Salsa wasn't really born in the US, it was definitely assembled here. Yet, the component elements came from various and diverse suppliers. During the musical "British Invasion" of the 1960s, as groups such as The Beatles were injecting new energy to the creative minds of Rock and Roll musicians, Caribbean immigrants in New York were witnessing the withering of the Cuban rhythms-- among them the Son, the Rumba, the Montuno , and the Charanga . But the new creative fever caught the eye - and ear- of the young immigrant generation in places like Spanish Harlem. They started to tweak the Afro - Cuban rhythms and created a new sound, Salsa . The genealogical music tree of Salsa is worth a separate dis

Myths for Monday -- Hojarasquín del Monte

a Woodcutters Beware! The HOJARASQUÍN DEL MONTE is on the loose! This forest dweller is the famous protector of the forests in the Eje Cafetero (Coffee Growing Region) in Colombia which includes the department of CALDAS the Department for today. The Hojarsquín del Monte is a man whose skin is of moss and lichens, whose hair is of fern fronds or leaves, and whose arms are branches. Some campesinos that report to have seen him say that he seems like a TREE MAN. Others say he is more like a giant monkey covered with moss and dried leaves. When people cut trees or destroy the forest, the Hojarasquín will appear as an old tree -- a perfect one for cutting. When the woodcutter prepares to swing the ax, the Hojarasquín jumps up and growls. Of course, this terrifies the woodcutting culprit who will get lost in the forest as they attempt to run away from the horrifying scene -- never to be heard from again. (In an alternate version, the Hojarasquín eats the woodcutter.) The Hojarasquín

Maiden Names in Colombia

When I got engaged to Colombian Daddy, one of our early discussions was about me changing my last name. Like most women -- almost 90% of married women in the USA -- I assumed that I would change my name. I clearly remember him saying, "Why do women change their names?" We talked about that being the tradition in most English speaking countries and that most men just assume that their wife will change her name. We talked about how people assume that if a woman keeps her name that she is trying to make some kind of feminist statement. His response, "And they think we are Machistas !" :) But seriously, in Colombia marriage has no impact on either person's surnames. This means that people keep their same surnames their entire life. If you were Lucía Reyes García before you were married, you will continue to be Lucía Reyes García after you are married. In the past, it was customary for a wife to use her husband's first surname (in social situations)

Required Reading for Cultural Understanding

Several years ago, I sat in the court room as my husband took the oath as a new American citizen. Just prior to taking that oath, he had been told that he could change his name to anything he wanted. There was mention of dropping one of his two last names. But, as he told me later, "I just kept thinking of my mom. How could I just eliminate her from my name?" So, the change he decided to make was to place a hyphen between his two surnames. With this in mind and fresh off yesterday's discussion, I have an assignment of "required reading" for my readers. While I do not intend to change any American tradition, I do think that it offers a valuable perspective for understanding the feeling that many Latinos have about their two last names. I recommend it for anyone wishing to better understand this unique tradition. The book itself is written by a man from El Salvador -- René Colato Laínez . The name of the book is René Has Two Last Names. In the book, you

In Colombia Kids Have Two Last Names

When I got engaged to Colombian Daddy, one thing that my parents -- born and raised in the good old USA -- wanted to know was why he had 2 last names and which one was his 'real' last name. Actually, in the Hispanic world, there is no such thing as a LAST name. In fact, if you were to directly translate the word LAST NAME into Spanish it would be ÚLTIMO NOMBRE. This phrase would be fairly meaningless in Spanish, and it is possible that you would even get the middle name of the person in response to a petition for a LAST NAME. The word used in Spanish in order to ask for what we call a LAST NAME is APELLIDO, which is more closely translated as SURNAME. In Colombia, as well as all Hispanic countries, most people will have 2 APELLIDOS -- called the FIRST and SECOND APELLIDOS. The person's first surname (apellido) is their father's first surname and the second surname (apellido) is the mother's first surname, what we call "the mother's maiden name in the

TUNES FOR TUESDAY -- Chicaquichá

Some readers may argue that the music here discussed thus far is old or outdated. There may be some truth to that. But just some. In reality, the fact that these songs have been around for so long, that younger generations still dance to them, and that they keep being remade prove that this music is timeless. Having said that and before we go on, what's new in Colombian music, then? A lot, it turns out. From the new albums of the well-known ( Juanes , Shakira ) to a recent release and today's feature: Chicaquichá by Andrés Villamil . Guitarist Andrés Villamil is a graduate of both the Music Conservatory at Universidad Nacional in Bogotá and the School of Music and Dance in Cologne, Germany ( Hochschule für Musik und Tanz , Köln ). He has received awards and recognition in both Colombia and Germany for his music. The song, Chicaquichá , is a great example of Villamil's ability to blend his training in classical guitar with the unmistakable sounds of tradition

Myths for Monday -- Fura Tena and Emerald Tears

Today's myth comes from the now extinct indigenous group called the Muzos. They inhabited what is today the Western part of the department of Boyacá, near the city of Muzo. (This is the region most famous for its beautiful emeralds). Unlike their Chibcha speaking neighbors, the Muiscas, the Muzos were more closely related to the Caribes. They worked in agriculture and pottery, but their favorite activity was war and their favorite victims were the Muiscas. They would often assault Muisca villages in order to get the supplies that they needed. It took the Spanish over 20 years to conquer the Muzos, while is took just a few short months to conquer the Muiscas. And now, the legend of Fura Tena and the Emerald Tears. In the land of the Carare (Magdalena) River, the Muzo creator God, ARE, swept over the area creating the mountains and valleys. On the shores of the sacred river, now called Minero, he formed two figures -- one male (Tena) and one female (Fura) -- and threw them i

Carnaval de los Indigenas -- Sibundoy, Putumayo

This weekend there is a special celebration to be held in Sibundoy, Putumayo, one that will be declared part of Colombia's national cultural heritage this next year. It is known as the Carnaval del Perdon (Indigenous Carnaval of Forgiveness). The Carnaval includes a parade where the leaders of the tribe are dressed in the traditional poncho called the kusma (or cusma), black pants (traditional) or jeans (modern) and a crown of feathers. The women are dressed in a skirt and blouse made of linen, dyed with a seed called the curiguasca . The blouse is tied at the waist with a large band of colors. All of these clothing items are hand woven by the Kamsá. They, both the men and the women, will also wear numerous necklaces of bright vibrant colors, called chaquiras . Some will also paint their faces with red dots or lines. The parade will also include music made from traditional pan flutes and other instruments, as well as sightings of some of the famous wooden masks made in th

Kamsá Indigenous People

In the valley of Sibundoy (located between 10,000 and 11,000 ft above sea level), in the Northwestern department of Putumayo, live the indigenous group known as the Kamsá --(or Kamenstá, Sibundoy). The language spoken by this group is also known as Kamsá, and is known as an language isolate -- meaning that it is unrelated to any other known language. In 1980, it was estimated that the population was around 4,700 people. The Kamsá engage in trade and training with several Indian tribes from the lower, jungle regions of Putumayo -- Kofán, Coreguaje & Inga. The training consists of the training of their shaman (religious/medical leaders), who learn to use medicinal plants and religious ceremonial plants like the hallucinogenic plant yagé. They cultivate corn, beans, potatoes, and peas. See a picture of the Kamsá here: Online I found the following list of Kamsá words: English/Français/Español.......... Kamsá One/Un/Uno .........

Alt. Latino Goes to Colombia

Sunday morning, while preparing breakfast and listening to NPR, I heard music to my ears. Could it be? Were they really talking about one of my favorite topics? Yes, indeed! Colombian Music :) Alt.Latino is NPR's new show and blog about Latin Alternative music and Rock in Spanish, and they recently made a trip to COLOMBIA to check out the amazing music of my favorite foreign land. Here is a link to the radio show broadcast: The Alt. Latino crowd went with the PBS show Music Voyager to Colombia. You can link to their report here -- but scroll down to the bottom to see Colombia Part 1 and Part 2. You can find out when the show will be aired on your local PBS station on the same site. You can also purchase the music you hear on the show from a link they have: Below is a bonus post to give you a taste of the show which will air on PBS in the coming

Aterciopelados live in La Candelaria, Bogotá, Colombia


TUNES FOR TUESDAY - Colombian Conexion

With today's song, I want to briefly introduce a decidedly Colombian rock band. Eclectic in style, irreverent in their lyrics, daring in their song's themes, from Medellin here's Aterciopelados . C olombian Conexion by Aterciopelados Anyone familiar with Colombia's traditions and modern history will be able to understand the connection offered in the song. It starts right where a traditional Colombian folkloric song ends, the " oh, how proud I feel to be a Colombian . . . " riddle, and ends with " but here goodness germinates " a phrase borrowed from our national anthem. In between, sprinkled with irony and some sarcasm, Aterciopelados names a series of people, places, and events that indeed connect all Colombians. Taken literally, Aterciopelados would mean The Velvety Ones (Terciopelo = Velvet). But since this is Colombia I think that there has to be more to it. Well, don't forget that in Colombia a Kid is a "pelado." Just sa