Showing posts from April, 2011

Cities are without Food and Water

Yesterday, I mentioned the flooding that much of Colombia is experiencing. However, I did not mention a situation that is beginning to get worse with the passage of time. This situation is very critical. Right now, many cities and towns have been isolated by the flooding with the roads leading to these towns having flooded. Many of these roads are still under water, others have been completely destroyed or buried by landslides. This is preventing food from reaching people in the cities. Store shelves are empty. Additionally, the flooding of the rivers Pamplonita and Zulia in Cucuta (the capital of the department of Norte Santander) has destroyed the city's water purification plant. Now, citizens are surrounded by water, but none of it is potable. There are 27 trucks trying to fill the water needs of 600,000 people, which is simply not enough. The citizens are greatly suffering in the near 90 degree humid climate. Even the hospitals are closed because there is no water. R

Flooding in Colombia

Throughout Colombia over the last few days there has been massive flooding caused by the start of the rainy season -- el invierno . So far, 93 have been reported dead. Major road ways have been destroyed, paralyzing the country's infrastructure. As many as 69,000 have been left homeless. This is on the heels of last year's deadly and destructive invierno.


Our walk down Salsa 's history lane will slow down to a crawl. This will allow for a closer look at each one of the Fania Stars. But let's begin with a look on the rear view mirror. One of the precursor rhythms to Salsa was something called Latin Boogaloo and the father of this rhythm was Gilberto Miguel Calderón . He was a Neuyorican, someone born in New York to Puerto Rican parents. By the end of 1950s, Calderón had become Tito Puente 's friend, had formed his own band (The Joe Cuba Sextet), and had changed his name to - well-- Joe Cuba . In 1964, a rising vocalist and future Fania star named Cheo Feliciano was given the charge to sing Joe Cuba's song Que Problema (What a Problem). Here it is: Que Problema by The Joe Cuba Sextet with Cheo Feliciano Fania re-wrote this song and popularized it in the voice of Hector Lavoe . They named it, Que Lio (another way of saying What a Problem!). I like the fact that the first word in this drum beat based jam is a we

Something for Colombianitos to Look Forward to

If you have little Colombianitos, you have probably seen your share of Elmo and Rosita. This week Colombian rock sensation JUANES filmed a segment for an upcoming episode of Sesame Street, set to air this fall. Word is that he will teach the kids the words -- Manos, Cabeza and Pies (hands, head and feet) -- via song. Definitely something to look forward to. See a picture of Juanes with Rosita here:

Documentary on Colombian Police

A friend made me aware of this recently uploaded documentary on the Colombian Police. Very Interesting! It comes in three parts of approximately 15 minutes each.

Short Documentary on the Ciclovia

Here is a great little documentary on the Sunday Ciclovía in Bogotá -- in Enlgish.


I grew up hearing of Fania as a musical institution. The history of Fania , the Record Label, and of Fania All Stars , the Band, could fill large tomes. That history has been explored by many, and can be easily found on the Internet. I highly recommend PBS's Latin Music USA documentary, which contains a chapter called Salsa Revolution . It is great, even though the story is told from an American perspective. As Jimmy Smits, the narrator, puts it, "by the end of the 70s, Fania had sold millions of records around the world. All the while, back in the US, most people barely noticed. So, this is the story of what they missed. . . . the birth of Salsa." The creation of Fania Records in 1968 is, in my opinion, that birthday. The label was created by an Italian, Jerry Masucci, and by a Dominican, Johnny Pacheco. By the time Fania All Stars performed their famous concert in Yankee Stadium in 1973, the label had signed up t

Myths for Monday -- The Real Legend of El Dorado

Few Legends have had a greater impact on the History of the America than that of EL DORADO!!! It's name stirs up Hollywood type images. But did you know that the Legend that started it all came from a small area in what is now the department of Cundinamarca -- today's source of our Myth for Monday? In a way it is hard to call today's story a myth, because in reality, it was not. The Legend of El Dorado was well rooted in an actual practice of the Muisca/Chibcha Indians of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense (what is today the departments of Boyacá and Cundinamarca). The myths that were spawned by this historical practice, however, are legendary. I now present to you the HISTORY that SPAWNED THE LEGEND: EL DORADO -- THE GOLDEN ONE Among the Musicas, the kingship was not passed from Father to Son as it was in Europe. Rather, it was passed from the king to his nephew -- the oldest son of his oldest sister. This occurred in an elaborate ceremony that took place at the lake in

2nd in the World -- UNfortunately

Colombians love to tell you that Colombia ranks 1st in this or 2nd in that among the nations of the world. Typically, they will mention their flora and fauna, but recently, they marked a sad 2nd place finish in the world. Colombia ranks 2nd, behind Afghanistan, in the number of landmines deployed within its borders . If you had been in Bogotá last week, you could have seen the following commemoration of this unfortunate 2nd place finish. See the "monument" here:


Do adopted children suffer from lower self-esteem? This is the question addressed by a Meta-Analysis of Studies done on Transracial, International, Domestic Adoptees by Femmie Juffer and Marinus H. van IJezdoorn. I recently came across this great study published in Psychology Bulletin in 2007. The hypothesis was that adopted children would suffer from lower self esteem. However, the analysis proved the opposite. Their conclusions: In a series of meta-analyses we investigated the self-esteem of adoptees in all age ranges, from childhood to adulthood. Surprisingly, across a comprehensive meta-analysis of 88 studies we found no difference in self-esteem between more than 10,000 adoptees and more than 33,000 non-adopted comparisons. We did not find evidence for moderating factors pointing to potential risks of low self-esteem in specific groups of adoptees. The absence of risk of low self-esteem was equally true for children adopted before and after their first birthday. We did not find

Your Referral Documents

When you get your child's (or children's) referral, you will find out a plethora of information about them. While each child's history is different, and some are happier than others, here are somethings that you will most likely see. Here is a list of documents you should get with your referral. Document #1 -- This is the actual letter from ICBF or the Ca sa Privada which states that on a specific day the Adoption Committee met and you were assigned a child. It will include the complete name of the child and his/her birthdate. Document #2 -- This document is called the FICHA BIOPSICOSOCIAL (in Spanish) and the translation is the BIOLOGICAL, SOCIAL & PS YCHOLOGICAL REPORT. This report will include the following sections: Identifying Information: Name, Birth Date, Birth Place (city, department), Age, Location of the Child, Date of Adoption Resolution (or Written Consent in the Case of Casas Privadas) Family Background: This typically includes an explanation of why

TUNES FOR TUESDAY -- pa' Colombia

"Less talk, more music" seemed to be the message that I got after my (lengthy) posts on the history of Salsa. The history tour really isn't over yet, however. Next, we will talk about Salsa Pioneers and Fania. But since last week we arrived at a place where we can make a short stop, I decided to take this opportunity to show that I listen to my readers' comments. Right away, here's more music: Pa' Colombia by Willie Colón and Hector Lavoe I was reminded about this song by a reader, after I posted the same artists singing La Murga a few weeks ago. More on Willie Colón 's silly Bad Guy image gimmick to come. For now, Willie Colón was in Colombia recently and lamented that it had taken him the same amount of time to fly from Miami to Bogotá, as it had taken him to travel from El Dorado International Airport to his Hotel. About four hours?! Well, he was gracious enough to blame the contractors who have destroyed and delayed the reconstruction of the ma

Myths for Monday -- El Gritón -- The Screamer

Put your earmuffs on because today's noisy myth comes from the department of Córdoba. El Gritón Deep in the jungles of the department of Córdoba, there once lived a lovely indigenous woman. Unfortunately, this poor woman committed some crime (unnamed) that caused her to be expelled from her tribe. Alone, she roamed the jungle. Then, one day she was shocked to run into someone else in the jungle. The person caused her to shake in fear as a feeling of horrible terror gripped her and she froze in place. The stranger, who proceeded to attack her, was the devil himself. The result of the attack was a child -- half human, half devil. His name is El Gritón -- The Screamer. He is so named because his horrific scream pulls the trees from their roots, makes the earth shake, and causes the rivers to heave beyond their boundaries. Anyone unfortunate enough to hear the scream will also freeze in place, often losing consciousness. Upon awaking, the Gritón is gone, but the fear remains.


I was at physical therapy last week and on the TV there I saw an Anthony Bourdain special on Cartagena. If you are in Colombia, think about taking a side trip to Cartagena. Here is a sample to get you excited:

Found Alive

Here is a story that is too close to my heart! Once again, a child has been found in a garbage dumpster in Bogotá. While it was originally thought that he had not survived, he was still breathing. Now, baby José Gonzálo is in ICBF care awaiting a permanent home. Perhaps one of my readers will be the lucky person chosen to parent baby José Gonzálo.

Colombia Indoor Soccer World Champions

Last week Colombia won the Indoor Soccer World Cup in a stunning victory 8-2 over the former World Champions -- Paraguay. Celebrate with the Colombians :)!!

Tunes for Tuesday -- A defector from Oriente and Her Contribution to Salsa Music

OK. We are almost to where all this background turns into Salsa. But, what does all of it have to do with Colombia? Well, for starters, Colombia has its own version of the Charanga . The original Cuban Charanga was played with timbales, güiro, conga, piano, volin, and flute. Colombians threw in . . . the accordion! But this isn't today's topic either. We can't end our visit to Cuba without mentioning a few more details, relevant to the development of Salsa music. During the second half of the 19th Century, as Cuba became an independent island nation, the new country was divided along both geographic and socio-economic lines. Geographically, there were the provinces of Oriente (East) and Occidente (West). In Oriente, the main city was Santiago de Cuba , a place of intense economic activity which, years earlier, the Spanish Conquistadores had turned it into a main port for the trade of African Slaves. The natives of Santiago de Cuba , the Taino and Siboney Indians

Myths for Monday -- La Sirena Hurtado

Here is a myth, just in time for the upcoming Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week). It comes to us via today's department, CESAR. La Sirena Hurtado Once, there was a beautiful, yet obstinate little girl. Born in Valledupar, she was spoiled and accustomed to always getting her way. She never listened to her parents and was rebellious and disobedient. One afternoon, she decided to go swimming in the Guatapurí river in a spot called the POZO DE HURTADO. When her mother realized what she was planning on doing, she forbid it -- after all it was JUEVES SANTO (Maundy Thrusday) and swimming would be disrespectful to the Lord, Jesus Christ. However, in her usual fashion, the girl ignored her mother and snuck out the door. When she arrived at the Pozo de Hurtado, she took off her clothing and jumped into the water from the very highest rock. When she hit the water, the sunny afternoon sky turned dark. Then, when she tried to surface, she could not. Her legs became heavier and heavier a


You can do your part in saving Colombian native arts. Watch this: Here are the 10 techniques you can vote for: #1. los Peyones (Weavings) of the Indigenous Wayuú from La Guajira #2. los Tejidos de Algodón (Textiles) from Charalá, Santander #3. la Alfarería (Ceramics) from Ráquira, Boyacá #4. la Sombrerería (Hat making) from Ancuyá, Nariño #5. la Marimba (Marimba) from Guapi, Cauca #6. las Alpargatas (Sandals) from Guacamayas, Boyacá #7. la Talla en Madera (Wood working) from the Amazons #8. la Cestería (Basketmaking) from Tinjacá, Boyacá #9. la Cestería (Basketmaking) from Indigenous Peoples of Nariño & Cauca #10. la Filigrana (Knitting with Gold and Silver) from Chocó You wanna know how I'm going to vote? See this past post: Now you go vote,