Showing posts from June, 2011

Baby Abandoned

Report from yesterday's newspaper "El Tiempo": "A hermaphrodite child was abandoned at a hospital in Chinchiná, Caldas. According to personnel from the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF) at the Risaralda regional office, the child was born a month and a half ago and suffers from multiple complications. She has already been operated on in order to define her gender, however, she is still receiving oxygen and is using a feeding tube. The ICBF psychologist in charge of the case stated that the child was registered with the name María José. Her mother was a sex worker in the area and has already manifested her desire to place the baby for adoption because she cannot take responsibility for the child. As a measure for the reestablishment of the child's rights, she in now under the care of a foster mother who has been receiving training as to how to care for the child when she leaves the hospital." Clearly, if María José eventually receives a declarati

Wednesdays Wonders: Helado de Paila

Here is an interesting little piece of trivia. The Pasto Indians have been enjoying ice cream (well more like sherbet) for centuries. The natives used ice from the Cerro Cumbal (see Monday's Myth) and mixed it with salt. Then they would place a paila (a container) made of copper in the ice. The paila was filled with small portions of the recipe below. Then, it would be constantly stirred until it hardened. Ingredients without milk: 1 quart of fruit pulp any kind you like -- mango, passion fruit, blackberry, etc. 1 cup sugar 2 egg whites Ingredients with milk: 1 1/2 cups sugar 3 large eggs 3 cups cream 1 1/4 cups fruit pulp If you don't have ice from a mountain or a copper pot, you can try an ice cream maker. Then, check out this video.


When speaking the words Salsa music , Fania , and Puerto Rico , the name of Hector Lavoe immediately comes to mind. We are about to move on from the Fania era of Salsa, but before we do, we have to dedicate one entry to " El Cantante ", The Singer. He was born in 1946 and his actual name was Hector Juan Perez Martinez . Why Lavoe , then? Well, I'm pretty sure the origin of Lavoe is this: Hector had a great voice, unique in the world of Salsa . His friends would call him Hector La Voz , Hector The Voice. Now, if you are from the Caribbean, there's no need to pronounce the " s " sound at the end of any word, (so La Voz turned into La Vo), and if you have a catchy nickname like that and you move to New York, you have to Anglicize it, hence, LaVoe, Lavoe. Soon after he moved to New York in 1967, Hector met Willie Colón and Fania . Over the next ten years, the three on them produced the albums that would solidify Salsa music as a genre. But Willie h

Myths for Monday -- The Pasto Version of Creation

One of the indigenous peoples of today's department, Nariño, will offer us their version of creation today. The indigenous group is the Pastos. Cumbe -- the First Father The stories that relate the creation of man tell how man came from the marriage of elements with opposite qualities -- up and down, inside and out, and the symmetrical and asymmetrical. This confluence of qualities occurred with the marriage of a hill called Cumbal and a lake called Bolsa. In the area that unites the hill and the lake called the Piedra de los Guacamullos, a container made of clay was found. In that container was found the first man and woman. The man was the Cacique Cumbe and his wife. It was from them that all men descended. When Cumbe died, he was returned to the Cumbal. It is from that hill that he continues to watch over his people. It is from that hill that he has promised to return.

Compensation for Victims

Recently, the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, signed a law that will provide compensation to those who have lost land in the Civil War. Publish Post

Wednesdays Wonders: Hallacas the Tamales of the Llano

Hallacas are the Tamales of the Llano. It is served during important holidays throughout the region. These are popular in Venezuela also, but every recipe that I have read has been very different from this one and from each other. If you do not like this version, just google another :) Ingredients 2 pounds of chicken 2 pounds of beef (preferably a pot roast) 2 pounds of pork5 eggs (boiled and sliced) 1 1/4 pounds of arepa flour The following are all finely chopped and some are doubled -- once for the marinade, and once again for the Sauce (Guiso). Some recipes include tomato, others do not. The woman that gave me this recipe did not use tomato. 1/2 head of garlic x 2 2 pounds of onion x 2 1/2 teaspoon oregano x 2 1/2 Tablespoon cumin x 2 1/2 teaspoon annatto (achiote) x 2 1/3 cup chopped cilantro x 2 Salt to taste 1/2 pound green peppers BANANA LEAVES -- these can be found frozen in many Latino Grocery stores. Makes 20 Tamales INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Marinate the meat in all of the c


Building a Salsa collection yet? Well, here's a must have: El Menú by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico As you might have noticed, one of El Gran Combo 's defining characteristics is their ability to make fun Salsa songs. This one is naturally about food, but with a twist at the end of the song punctuated by a double play on the word Salsa . "I like my lamb with wine, and my fish with lemon juice; my pork with pepper and oregano, and my rice with ham and bacon . . ." he goes on to list a few more food items such as well sautéed green beans, avocados as big as melons, and bananas. But "at the end" or top of all that "que le pongan Salsa!," pour on some sauce, or salsa, or Salsa! Get it? Either add some great salsa to the food or just play some Salsa while we eat, or better yet, do both!

Myths for Monday -- La Bola De Fuego a Warning to Any Juan

Today's myth comes to us from the Llanos of Colombia (Arauca, Casanare, and today's department, Meta). It is called La Bola de Fuego or The Fireball. In a strange turn of events, I have 2 nephews, 1 niece, 1 grand niece and 1 grand nephew who live in the Llano. One of my nephews insists that he has seen the Bola de Fuego. You be the judge. La Bola De Fuego Some say that the Bola de Fuego is a fiery ball about 2 meters in diameter. This ball rolls about the countryside moving very quickly from one place to the other, going over hills and crossing crevices with ease. When the ball stops, sparks fly and it emits a sound similar to a gas lantern. Up until this point, one might think that this Fireball actually sounds like Ball Lightning, a strange atmospheric phenomenon. However, this is where things turn ugly. The story is told that this "ghost" of the plains came from a ranch on the plains whose owners were a young a couple. The wife was quick tempered, malevolen

La Lleva -- You're It

Colombian kids love to play "Tag" or "Touched You Last," just like kids here in the U.S. do. While we say, "Tag" or "You're It", Colombian kids will say, "La Lleva" (pronounced: Lah YEAH vah). It literally means YOU TAKE IT. While Colombianitos may not recognize the various versions of the game I have played (freeze, nerd, elbow, sticky, etc.). Many like to play the "Touched You Last" version. For those of you adopting preschoolers to older children, perhaps you might enjoy a good game of LA LLEVA. If you play, let me know how it goes.

Wednesday's Wonders: Dulce de Coco

I really enjoy having a daily theme. It helps me focus :). So, I going to try Recipes on Wednesdays for a while, under the title Wednesday's Wonders. I am planning on posting a recipe from the same department that the Myth for Monday comes from. That means that today's recipes comes from the Department of Magdalena (though it is probably eaten in other parts of the Caribbean Coast as well.) Dulce de coco (Coconut Sweets) -- From Magdalena Ingredients: 1 cup sugar 1/4 cup raisins 2-3 cups shredded coconut 1 cinnamon stick 2 cups water 1/2 teaspoon lime juice Instructions: 1. Put the sugar, coconut, raisins, cinnamon, and water in a pan on low to medium heat, stirring constantly. 2. When at a low boil, add lime juice. 3. Cook until it until it starts to thicken. Then, let cool and eat.

TUNES FOR TUESDAY -- El Jíbaro Listo

Let's hear another song by El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico : El Jíbaro Listo A Jíbaro is a rustic person, a country man. The Jíbaro in the song is also a smart ( listo ) person. Although the story transpires in Puerto Rico, this is a song about the American Dream. Having left the fields for the city, the Jíbaro arrives in San Juan de Puerto Rico on a Fourth of July (what a coincidence), finds work as a carpenter, and becomes successful. In the process he discovers that he has lost any desire to return to his lar nativo -- the native lair. As he puts it, the dark color of his skin turned out to be just stains from the banana plants which went away when he started using soap. He makes new friends and learns to write his name-- and last name--on a piece of paper. Voy a un sitio distinguido, llamado el Hotel La Concha, pues ya se me calló la roncha que del campo habia traído. "Now I go to a distinguished place called the La Concha Hotel, " and he is accepted there be

Myths for Monday -- La Casa del Diablo

In the city of Cienaga, in the department of Magdalena (today's department), there is a fairly modern legend -- dating back to 1908 -- surrounding a man by the name of Manuel Varela. And now, La Casa del Diablo -- The House of the Devil Manuel Varela was a thin, brown, indigenous looking man, who arrived in Cienaga, Magdalena, around the middle of 1908. At the time, the town was an economic center on the Coast. This was because it was the headquarters for the multinational firm, the United Fruit Company. After his arrival, Varela quickly accumulated a great deal of wealth. This was inexplicable by the inhabitants of city, who wondered how the mysterious stranger had managed to accumulate so much wealth in such a short time. Soon, Varela's properties were so extensive that he built his own railway line to transport his bananas, something very surprising in those days. When he managed to build a mansion practically overnight, send his children to study Europe, and purchase h

Colombia -- A Grim #1 Ranking

The International Trade Union Confederation is a global organization that represents the "interests of working people worldwide." It was formed in 2006 by combining the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and the World Confederation of Labour (WCL) as well as other trade union organizations. Every year this organization publishes a Worldwide Survey that looks at Labor Union repression around the globe. This year, Colombia placed an unflattering 1st (out of 143 nations) on the list of most dangerous places to belong to or lead a labor union. In 2010 alone, 49 union activists were murdered in Colombia. This represents 55% of all union murders worldwide. There were an additional 20 attempted murders. The report states, "The legal system continues to be ineffective in solving these murders and bringing those responsible to justice. While the new government claims to take workers’ rights seriously, anti-union attitudes among employers remain stron

TUNES FOR TUESDAY -- El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico

Up to this point, and quite purposefully, I have avoided talking about Puerto Rico and its contributions to Salsa music. I simply wanted to dedicate some special entries to the Boricua artists who helped develop this genre. So here we go . . . We have to start with El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico or The Great Band from Puerto Rico , unassuming, I know. When Fania All Stars played their famous Yankee Stadium concert in 1973, El Gran Combo opened for them. They had been around since 1962 when Rafael Ithier organized the band. In 1963, El Gran Combo released its first album, Acángana (my Puerto Rican friends might have to correct me, but this is Puerto Rican onomatopoeia for the sound produced when hitting or running into something.) Acángana happened to be released two days before John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Texas. As a sign of mourning, the distribution of this party album in Puerto Rico was postponed. Instead, the album was distributed in other Latin American coun

Myths for Monday -- El Poira or El Mohán

Today's Myth for Monday comes from the department of Huila, but it is also a popular myth in Tolima. If you are in these areas and happen to see a parade, you will likely see someone dressed as El Poira (also knwon as El Mohán). And now, El Poira. The Poira is a short man with golden skin and long, blonde hair -- hair which can totally cover him. He often is seen wearing a hat with a broad rim. He has large hands and feet, both with long, sharp, claw-like nails. He lives in a large cave with an underwater entrance that is hidden by stagnant water. Inside his cave, he has a large stockpile of gold and treasure. He seduces young women and girls promising them the treasure (though some say he seduces them with his beautiful singing voice), either way, those who have gone with him, never return. Fisherman say he is responsible for messing up their nets and stealing the fish out of them. He also is accused of stealing the bait and scaring off the fish. (Looks like someone nee

Floods don't stop School

News about Impact of recent floods in one area.

Wayúu Culture Festival

Every year, on one weekend in the month of either May or June, the native Wayúu people in the department of La Guajira hold a celebration of their culture. This year the event will be held this upcoming weekend -- June 3, 4, 5. It is held mainly in Uribia -- the place that is home to the largest gathering of Wayúu in Colombia. The festival began in 1985, and in 2006 it was declared Cultural Heritage of Colombia. The event includes Wayúu: artesanías (handicrafts), food, plays, dances and competitions -- including a story telling competition.