Monday, November 30, 2009

November 2009 ICBF Wait List

The most recent Wait List was published by ICBF on November 23, 2009.

Once again, 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.

There also has been limited movement, 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 Jan 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 ------ Mar - 2006
Child 13 - 23 months ---- Mar -2006
Child 2 years ----------- Jul - 2005
Child 3 years ----------- Dec - 2005
Child 2 - 3 years -------- Apr - 2006
Child 3 - 4 years -------- Oct - 2005
Child 4 years ----------- Sep - 2005
Child 5 years ----------- June - 2006
Child 4 -5 years -------- Apr - 2006
Child 5 - 6 years ------- May - 2007
Child 6 years ----------- Nov - 2008
Child 7 years ----------- Jul - 2009

2 Siblings 0 - 4 years --- Mar-2007
2 Siblings 0 - 5 years --- Jul-2006
2 Siblings 0 - 6 years --- Aug-2007
2 Siblings 0 - 7 years --- Nov-2008
2 Siblings 0 - 8 years --- Jan - 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

La Voragine -- The Vortex

Two weeks ago, I received an e-mail from an adoptive mother with a great question. "My teenage son was adopted from Colombia. I would like for him to know more about Colombia and be able to relate to other Colombians his age. Could you tell me what books Colombians read during high school and if there are English translations for the books?"

I thought it was a great idea. So, here is the first suggestion -- which just happens to relate to yesterday's post.

In 1924, Jose Eustasio Rivera wrote a book called "La Voragine," in English -- The Vortex.

The story is about the rubber barons and their mistreatment of the Indigenous population of the Amazon.

It is written in the 1st person is almost an autobiographical way. It is the story of Arturo Cova and Alicia (his love interest) and how they elope from Bogota for the Eastern jungle. It relates their experiences with the rubber barons and the massacre of San Fernando.

I confess that this is not a book that I have read --- yet ;) But, my husband was required to read it in High School. He recalls it as being sad and violent.

The book has been translated into English, but you can read it online in Spanish:

It was also adapted into a television series by RCN in the early 1990's.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

How Rubber Destroyed the Indian Communities in Colombia

The story of the indigenous groups of the Amazon is one of both sadness and hope. Sadness because the rubber trade caused the loss of 80% of the Indigenous population of the Amazon region. Entire tribes were wiped out. People were uprooted and transplanted and much of the native life and culture were lost. However, there remains hope. This hope exists because many tribes, though greatly reduced in number, have survived. They have maintained their language and have recovered their culture and their traditions. Colombia recognizes the importance of saving these tribes. But rather than talk about the present, let's look at how rubber exploitation almost destroyed the Indians of the Amazon.

It all began in the late 1880's when the Peruvian, Julio Cesar Arana, started a rubber-collecting business known as Casa Arana -- later called the Peruvian Amazon Company. The company, with its main office in Iquitos, made him a multi-millionaire at the expense of the Indigenous population. (Think King Leopold and the Congo).

In order to collect rubber, Arana used the natives as virtual slaves. They were taken from their land and forced to work in deplorable conditions and forced to pay more than they made for the little food that they were given. Thus, they were always in debt to the company. If they produced too little, they were tortured. If they tried to escape, they were killed. Rape, torture, disease, and murder were commonplace. During the almost 40 years that the company existed, the native population in the area went from 50,000 to 10,000 -- 80% of the natives of the region had disappeared.

You can read the journal of Roger Casement, a British citizen that was sent to investigate allegations that had been made against the PAC and Arana -- who by 1907 had moved his family to England. The journal can be boring at times, but it paints a great picture of the true abuse suffered by the Indians at the hands of the company.

The Amazon Journal of Roger Casement

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bora Indians

The Boras of the Amazon live in Peru, Colombia and Brazil, with approximately 1000 Boras Indians living in Colombia. They have divided themselves into different clans, in which each clan represented by a different animal. Each clan paints the design of their clan on their face using huito dye. People are not allowed to marry within their clan.

The Bora live, like the Yagua, in large communal houses called Malocas. The Maloca is shaped as an octagon and has three openings. It is said to be the representation of the universe.

Their traditional clothing is made from tree bark and is course -- like burlap. Typically women do not wear anything on top.

The Boras are survivors. Despite their horrible treatment as slaves by rubber plantations in the early 1900's, they have managed to bounce back and are fervently trying to maintain their language and culture.

You can learn more about the enslavement of indigenous peoples of the Amazon in the book:

The Putumayo, the Devil's Paradise
by Walter E. Hardenburg and C. Reginald Enock

You can read it online or down load it at the following site:


Tuesday, November 24, 2009


The Yaguas indigenous group live in the Amazon regions of Colombia, Brazil and Peru. There are approximately 300 of them in Colombia, and they live on two reservations -- Santa Sofia and El Progreso. They do not call themselves Yaguas, but rather Nihamwo -- which means 'the people'.

The typical attire of the Yaguas is made of palm fiber and looks like a grass skirt. In fact, when the Spanish first came across the Yaguas, they saw people wearing grass skirts and carrying blowguns in the trees lining the Amazon river. Because they wore skirts, they assumed that they were women and named the river Amazon after the mythical Greek women warriors.

The Yaguas live in houses with large family groups (usually consisting of up to 10 families). The large home has 2 doors and a conical shaped roof covered in palm leaves. Inside, the home is sparse with many hammocks hung from the roof supports. In addition to the homes, villages will have several small huts that serve as kitchens.

In the 1930's, their population was decimated by a measles epidemic where as many at 1/3 of the population died.

The Yaguas are hunter gatherers. Their main weapon is the curare blowgun. This weapon has an interesting legend associated with it:

One day, a grandmother was in the forest weeding her garden. When she returned to her village, she found that enemy Indians had killed everyone and destroyed the village. As she wandered about the ruins, she found two small children, twins, still alive. She took them in and decided to raise them. Their names were Nandu and Mena.

The children grew up miraculously in a few days, and wanted to avenge their parents and the village. The grandmother taught them about the blowgun, and they made their own. Then, they stole the curare darts from their scorpion caretakers.

Once armed, they returned to their birthplace, where they were met by the spirit of their father who had returned to Earth. Their father was playing a flute that had amazing powers -- those who listened became paralyzed. The two stole the flute, and learned to play it without succumbing to its power.

With their new weapons in hand, the two united the Yaguas into clans and formed and army. The army then marched against the enemy Indians. Then, Nandu turned himself into a bird and flew into the village, thus attracting the attention of all the inhabitants. Once, they had gathered to observe the bird, Mena blew the flute paralyzing all of their enemies at once. Then, the clan warriors entered the village and killed off the helpless enemy.

The twins organize a party to celebrate their victory. Masato (a fermented drink made from yucca) is served. With the warriors all drunk, the twins' father's spirit returned to Earth and reclaimed his stolen flute.


Monday, November 23, 2009

KAPAX the Tarzan of Colombia

KAPAX, whose real name is Alberto Lesmes Rojas, is considered the Tarzán of Colombia. Anyone landing at the airport in Leticia will see a giant mural of him on the wall of the airport.

He became famous when in 1976, at the age of 28, he swam the length of the Magdalena river -- some 1700 kilometers. It took him about 5 weeks to accomplish this goal. Why did he do this? To help draw attention to the importance of keeping the rivers of Colombia clean -- a man before his time.

He started life in a small town, Puerto Leguizamo, in the department of Putumayo. At the age of 8, his father abandoned the family. As a result, he was left without the means to go to school.

Lonely and bored, he then spent many hours watching black and white Tarzan movies at the local movie theater. He was fascinated. After watching the movies, he would go out into the jungles surrounding the city and practice the moves that he had seen on the big screen -- earning the nickname --Tarzan of the Amazon.

For years, he has tried to teach about the importance of protecting the rivers and forest of the Amazon. Today, he lives in Leticia where he promotes ecotourism. You can actually get him to be your tour guide.

His famous quotes:

"The most dangerous animal is man."
"He who loves the river, protects it."


Friday, November 20, 2009

El Pirarucu de Oro -- International Folk Music Festival

Every year for three days at the end of November, the El Pirarucu de Oro festival is held in Leticia, Amazonas, Colombia. The festival takes its name, Pirarucu, from a fish found in the region that can weigh up to 150 pounds and grow over six feet long. The fish is an endangered species which has lead Colombia, Brazil and Peru to declare a ban on the catching or killing of the fish from November-March of every year. The festival takes place during the ban as a tribute not only to the music of the area, but to the fish so closely associated with sustenance in the Amazon.

This year the festival is celebrating its 22nd consecutive year. There are several categories of competition:

1- Murgas Leticianas -- People of any age can participate in this category, but the songs must reflect the music of the area of Leticia and the surrounding region.

2- Cantantes Aficionados -- In this impromptu contest, participants must sing about an assigned topic (they cannot receive help from the audience) and are accompanied by a musical group that plays the different rhythms of the region.

3- Montaje Musical Dancistico -- These are coreographed dances which display through dance the daily life of the people of the region.

4- Composititor /Autor -- A theme is given prior to the event and composers write songs that are then judged with a prize awarded

There are also prizes for:
5- Best Musical group
6- Best Artist
7- Best Amazonian Song of the year

One of the greats of the music of the Amazon is Pedro Bernal. He won the best all around performer at the 8th Piracuru festival. This year, he was selected to represent the department of Amazonas in the recent GRAN CONCIERTO NACIONAL 2009 which was held in Bogota recently. You can see his performance at the National Concert here:

EVEN BETTER -- see him sing the National Anthem accompanied by a singing group of Ticuna Indians that sing the anthem in their native language.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yurupari -- Sacred Flute

According to Javier Ocampo López, Yuruparí is the god of the indigenous Tucano peoples of Vaupés. He is the product of a pregnancy that occurred when his mother Secuy ate the forbidden fruit of pihycán. After his birth, she hid him in a hollow tree where she would go and breastfeed him several times a day. Eventually, Yuruparí grew and left the tree to seek out his mother.

Apparently, he had been blessed with magical powers. His first magical act was to change all curious women into rocks. Even his mother fell victim to this as he caught her spying on the men of the village while they were in a meeting.

In an attempt to obtain dominance over all the women, Yuruparí started a new religion where women were not allowed to participate. He used a flute to symbolize membership in the cult. The flute also represented the voice of God and the bones of the mythic hero of his people -- Ualri.

Then, Yuruparí was burned up and left nothing but ashes -- from which grew the PACHUBA palm tree. It was from this tree that the people then made the flutes of their religion and the sound of the flutes was said to be the sound of the voice of Yuruparí.

Today, the Yuruparí flute is still a prevalent feature in many Amazonian communities. It is made with the leaves of the Pachuba palm tree, then is is covered in tree bark and tied with vines. The mouthpiece is made of wood from the palm tree.

I have seen other versions of the story of Yuruparí -- though the story of his origins change -- the part about being burned up, the growth of the Pachuba tree and the creation of the flutes all remain the same.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ancas de Rana o Pollo

I have to admit that trying to find a recipe from the Amazons that was possible to actually make outside of the Amazon has been difficult -- since access to Boas, Monkeys, Manatees, Frogs, Snails, and Turtles isn't exactly an easy task.

My mother suggested that I give you the frog recipe -- and since frog tastes a lot like chicken -- you might substitute frog legs for chicken legs.

The recipe:

Step #1

Clean the legs and rub them with lime juice.

Step #2

Fry them in oil without salt, until golden brown.

Step #3

Place on a paper towel, let drain and serve.

Simple, but worth a try.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Unusual Fruit -- NOT TO MISS CUISINE

Long before I met my husband, I spent 18 months living in Toronto, Canada. Most of the people I lived and worked with were from Latin America. I remember that one of the families I knew was from Colombia. On their wall was a large poster of the many different fruits of Colombia. Dozens of fruits that seemed completely unfamiliar. I remember thinking that it would be great to try all of them. And now, having tried many of them, I must recommend that you try some too. The fruits are definitely one of the NOT TO MISS CUISINE items of Colombia.

This week, with the focus on the Amazon regions of Colombia, I thought I would spotlight some of the amazing fruits of the region.

Seje -- found in the Amazon and Pacific Coast regions. This fruit is most similar to a date and is the size of a marble. It is cooked before serving. Unfortunately, I could not find a picture of this fruit.

Copoazu -- (Theobroma grandiflorum) -- This fruit is a relative of the cacao and its seeds can also produce chocolate. The plup is used to make marmalade.

Anon -- (Annona squamosa) -- You eat the fleshy segments and spit out the hard seeds -- think watermelon. It is so delicious that it is well worth the trouble. It is never cooked.

Why not give some of this fruit a try while in Colombia?


Monday, November 16, 2009

Amazonas -- Colombia's Amazon Region

In actuality the Amazon region of Colombia makes up 42% of Colombian territory, but it is the area with the lowest actual population. There are six departments that make up this region of the country: Amazonas, Caquetá, Guainía, Guaviare, Putumayo and Vaupés. However, small parts of the departments of Narino, Cauca and Meta are included in the Amazon region as well.

This region unfortunately includes some of the most dangerous parts of Colombia and is infested with FARC and other rebel groups. It was in this region that Ingrid Betancourt was held captive for so many years.

It is also the region where the native indigenous cultures have been best preserved.

In addition to the native populations, the large cities include 'colonists' from Colombia's interior as well as from Brasil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. According to the latest national census, conducted by the DANE, the Amazonian region's city of Florencia has the largest population (121, 898), followed by San Jose de Guaviare, (34,863), San Vicente de Caguán (31,011), Puerto Asis (27,609), Mocoa (25,751), and Leticia (23,811).

Because of the sparse population in these areas, few children are referred for adoption from these areas. However, every year several foreign families travel to Florencia and even fewer travel to the other areas like Leticia. For families that do get the thrill of seeing the Amazon region of Colombia, remember that hot weather clothing rules apply -- no suits for men no pantyhose for women. Dress nicely and modestly -- especially for your ICBF and Court appointments. Just because it is hot does not mean beach type attire or shorts are appropriate for these activities.

Also, if you are one of the lucky families that has travelled to this region, I would appreciate some free use pictures :) Thanks!


Friday, November 13, 2009

Cumbia -- Folkloric

Monument to Cumbia in El Banco, Magdalena, Colombia

CUMBIA is yet another purely Colombian musical invention. Many people are familiar with modern cumbia. Fewer are familiar with the classic folkloric Cumbia, from which modern Cumbia is derived.

The classic cumbia is played using the gaita hembra, gaita macho, the maraca, and drums. Classic cumbia is a Zambo (Indigenous and African mix) invention. In fact the word Cumbia comes from the African word Cumbe which meant Fiesta or Party.

Cumbia can trace its start to the beginning of the 1800s -- about the time of Bolivar. The city of El Banco, Magdalena, considers itself the birthplace of Cumbia, but Barranquilla made it famous.

The Cumbia is based on a 2/2 or 2/4 time signature. Initially, the cumbia was purely instrumental. But, over time lyrics were added.

In the traditional cumbia dance, the women wear long flowing skirts or dresses. The blouse has 3/4 sleeves and the bodice is tightly fit to the waist. The cloth is usually cotton with floral or gingham checked pattern. They wear necklaces, flowers, and special shoes called babuchas -- worn without socks.

Men wear white pants with a round-neck white shirt. The always carry a bag, a handkerchief, and a hat. Many also carry machetes, ropes, candles and other props.

Cumbia Colombiana is a national symbol. Even Shakira features it in her video -- Hips Don't Lie.

Here is a short clip showing traditional Cumbia.

Today, the most recognized song is the "Pollera Colora". It was one of the 20 most beautiful songs of Colombia. My husband says, "When any Colombian in the world hears that song, there will be some sort of reaction."

Listen to it here:

Also, if you can read Spanish, the following book is available through Interlibrary loan.

Kumbia, legado cultural de los indígenas del Caribe colombiano, by Gerardo Pombo Hernandez.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Gaita Colombiana

Gaitas are an indigenous flute of Colombia, commonly used by the Kogi, Zenu and Kuna Indians located on the Atlantic coast of Colombia.

There are actually 2 different kinds of gaitas -- the male (macho) and female (hembra). The female has five openings and is responsible for the melody. The male gaita has only 2 openings and plays harmony. Often the person playing the male gaita will have a maraca in the other hand.

The flute is made from a corazon de cardon ( a plant that is hollow when dry), beeswax, and duck feathers.

Originally, the gaita was used in indigenous religious celebrations where the sound of the gaita imitated the sounds of the birds. But, with the cultural mixing of both the Spanish -- and particularly the African peoples, the sounds of the gaita have become an integral part of the culture of the Colombian Caribbean. The gaita plays a critical role in several musical genres including CUMBIA (see tomorrow's post).

Watch a Gaita performance:

Guess what? You and/or your little one can learn to play the gaita. There is a FREE virtual music teaching program available for download -- online.

You can also buy a gaita online -- if you didn't pick one up while in Colombia:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Independence of Cartagena

On November 11, 1811, the city of Cartagena de Indias, declared itself independent from Spain. It was the first city, in what is today Colombia, to do so. It was the second city in South America (Caracas was first).

The city remained independent until Spain sent Pablo Morillo to retake the city in 1815. Morillo surrounded the city and used a naval blockade to prevent supplies from entering the city. After 3 months, the patriots deserted the city without surrendering. The plan was to seek foreign help and then return to retake the city. Unfortunately, the patriots boarded ships captained by traitors to their cause. Most were taken prisoner and eventually died. Some did escape and joined Bolívar in Haiti and went on to help him commence the liberation of Venezuela.

When Morillo finally entered the city, he started a reign of terror. He wanted to teach the rebellious city a lesson. Many of the people of Bocachica were assassinated without trial. There were also mass executions in the Plaza de la Merced, while others were sent to jail.

On February 19, 1816, 9 men were sentenced to die for their participation in the rebellion --Manuel del Castillo y Rada, Martín Amador, Pantaleón Germán Ribón, Santiago Stuart, Antonio José de Ayos, José María García de Toledo and Miguel Díaz Granados, Don Manuel Anguiano, and finally José María Portocarrero. On February 24, 1816, the sentence was carried out and the what are now known and the Nine Martyrs were buried in a common grave in Manga cemetery.

On the spot where the 9 were executed, there is now a monument known as the Paseo or Camellón de los Mártires.

It was because of this incident that Cartagena became known as the CIUDAD HERÓICA (the Heroic City).

On October 10, 1821, Cartagena was again conquered -- only this time by patriot forces. Never again would Spain have power over Cartagena.

In honor of what occurred in Cartagena, November 11, today, is a national holiday.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Miss Colombia -- Afrocolombiana

Yesterday, I got an question about whether or no there has ever been an Afrocolombian Miss Colombia. I am proud to say that YES there has been!

Her name is Vanessa Alexandra Mendoza Bustos. She was Miss Choco and won Miss Colombia 2001. She represented Colombia at the Miss Universe pageant and won the award for best native costume. You can see her in her costume in this video.

Born in the small village of Ungia as one of 16 children. Her father died when she was young and she was raised by her mother.

Before becoming Miss Choco and then Miss Colombia, Mendoza was a model.


Monday, November 09, 2009

Reinado de Belleza National -- Miss Colombia

I want to thank my husband for the following post:

One of the defining characteristics of mainstream Colombians is that we want to be recognized as being NOT a 3rd World Country. Part of our interpretation of being a developed country is being part of something important and recognized globally. We feel that our participation in the Olympics, the World Cup or the Miss Universe Pageant for example, shows that we have earned a spot on the global stage.

In the case of the Miss Universe or Miss World pageants, we feel that we are watching with the entire world. We assume that because the WORLD is represented in the pageant, that everyone around the world is as interested and consumed as we are by the event. This helps explain why our National Beauty Pageant is so important. It is about choosing the one person who will win it all at the global level -- bringing glory to the country.

It all begins with the selection of the regional contestants. In every department, there are numerous beauty contests -- these are truly about beauty -- not necessarily talent or intellect.
On occasion, the winner of the Bambuco, Cana, Local Feria, etc. etc. is selected to represent her department. Most frequently, however, the local queen is hand picked by someone with the right influence and connections.

The National Beauty Contest is held in Cartagena in November each year. A prominent part of the pageant is the bikini contest, where the contestants attempt to prove that they meet or exceed the required measurements --90cm 60cm 90 cm. We actually post these numbers right on the TV screen and in the newspaper for the entire country to read and judge.

The contestants accumulate points toward the crown for not only the swimsuit competition, but the traditional costume competition, and the evening gown competition, among others. At least one or two judges are typically foreigners that will have the right "eye" for choosing the girl that will best capture the interest of the foreign audience. I guess that we don't trust our own concept of beauty.

The coronation of Miss Colombia is broadcast live on TV with just about the entire nation glued to their TV sets. The winner will represent Colombia at the Miss Universe pageant and the runner up at the Miss World competition. This TV audience is only rivaled by the one watching the Miss Universe Pageant.

And here is where we fail to realize that with the exception of maybeVenezuela, we are the only country in the world that stays up until midnight or 2 in the morning to find out if we made it to the top five. Most of the time, we go to bed tired and disappointed but ready to try again next year to find the girl that will make the world notice what we have always known -- Colombianas are beautiful!!!

Check out some of the candidates for this year's competition here -- scroll down to vote for your favorite:

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Zenú (or Sinú) Indians

There are 2 different histories to the Zenú Indians. The first is the pre-hispanic history, which lasted from 300 B.C. to 1500 A.D. Then, there is the modern history and culture of the Zenú. Today, I wish to focus on the modern Zenú, a group of about 52,000 Indians, which lives in the department of Córdoba, along the Sinú river, on a Reservation known as San Andrés de Sotavento.

The history of the Reservation is an interesting one. It was created during the 1700's and in 1773 it was officially recognized by the King of Spain. However, in 1905, the National Constitutional Assembly dissolved it. In 1969, the Zenues began the fight to reestablish the reservation. In 1990, the Reservation was reestablished and then a few years later it was expanded. This, however, did not happen without the deaths of many Zenú leaders.

Now, with the reestablishment of the Reservations, the Zenues are struggling to recapture their native culture despite the loss of their native language about 200 years ago. They have established CABILDOS to rule the reservation.

They have turned to their artisans and most of the economy is based on their famed SOMBRERO VUELTIAO and other similar crafts made with caña flecha. Unfortunately, the over exploitation of the caña flecha is leaving many areas without the needed plant to increase the production of the artesanías.

Additionally, there is an agricultural base to their economy. With agricultural playing such an important roll, in October of 2005, the Zenú declared that their Reservation (where corn and cotton are grown) will be free of any genetically modified seeds. Their hope is maintain 27 species of native corn.

Here are a few videos about the Zenú and their artesanías (in Spanish) but you can see their homes and the countryside:

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Sombrero Vueltiao

Internationally, perhaps one of the most widely recognized symbols of Colombia is the SOMBRERO VUELTIAO. It was also declared a National Symbol of Colombia by an act of Congress (Ley 908 of September 8, 2004).

This beautiful piece of wearable art comes from the Caribbean coast -- specifically the departments of Sucre (capital = Sincelejo) and Córdoba (capital = Montería).

With its origins in the Zenú Indian culture, this hat is made from the leaves of the palm tree called caña flecha. This palm tree grows on the edges of the rivers and swamps on the Atlantic coast. The leaves are dried in the sun -- a process that changes them from green to a light tan color -- and some even change to a near white color. Fibers from the plant are then sorted according to color. The darkest ones are then soaked in a black mud.

Once the fibers are ready, they are braided together using a Zenú technique that dates back more than 1,000 years and originally was used to represent the Zenú beliefs about the universe.

So, you want to buy a sombrero vuelitao, how do you decide which one?

There are different qualities of sombreros vueltiaos. The cheapest and most commonly available hat is the QUINCIANO or the 15. This hat is also considered of the lowest quality. It takes only 3 days to make these hats and they are loosely woven with only 15 double strands of caña flecha.

If you wish to purchase a higher quality hat, you an buy a 19, 21, 23, or 27. However, the hat that is considered of the highest daily use quality is the 21. It can be folded up and will quickly return to its original shape. This is the true test of quality. If you wish to purchase this higher quality hat, you will ask for a VEINTIUNO.

Learn how to make one on this video -- the process starts at about 3 minutes into the video:

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

La Familia López's Arroz con Coco

One of the first Colombian dishes I ever tried was Arroz con Coco. I actually tried this dish while living in Toronto, Canada -- five years before I even met my husband. I met a family from Cartagena and they invited me to dinner -- on the menu -- Arroz con Coco. I liked it so much I asked for the recipe. I will now share it with you.


2 cups of long grain white rice

1 cup of raisins

4 Tablespoons sugar

1 cup butter

Sal to taste

3 cups of coconut milk from a can

2 more cups coconut milk which should be from fresh coconuts that you grate, add a little water, and squeeze out the milk yourself through a strainer . This is called the PRIMERA LECHE.

Step #1

In a pot, put the PRIMERA LECHE and cook until it boils down and turns golden.

Step #2

Add raisins, sugar and a little butter. Mix and add the coconut milk.

Step #3

Bring to a boil and add rice and a pinch of salt. Let the mixture boil down until the grains of rice are just starting to be visible.

Step #4

Turn the heat to its lowest setting, add the rest of the butter to the top, and cover. In about 20 minutes, the rice will be ready. It may be sooner -- just look for it to be dry.

Step #5

EAT!!! YUM!!!

I found a great video showing the process:

* Photo

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Chicha Caribeña -- Not to Miss Cuisine

While on the Altiplano Cuniboyacense Chicha is a fermented drink, in Cartagena CHICHA is any fruit drink that is NOT fermented. These are like the Liquados of Mexico.

These drinks are available throughout the city and are made with any number of fresh fruits, which are blended with water and sugar. Here is a short list of some of the CHICHA you can try while in Cartagena.

Cerezas - Cherries
Corozo - a nut from a palm tree
Guyaba - Guava
Mamón or Mamóncillo
Piña - Pineapple
Tamarindo -- which is considered the best
Uvita de Playa -- Beach grapes
And more

Many of the fruits of Colombia are virtually unknown in the rest of the world, and they are truly delicious. Giving them a whirl is well worth the money and you could try a new one every day!

Monday, November 02, 2009

El Caribe -- The Caribbean Coast

The Atlantic or Caribbean coast of Colombia is called the Caribe region of Colombia. It consists of the following departments: Atlantico, Bolivar, Cesar, Cordoba, Guajira, Magdalena, Sucre, and a small part of the departments of Choco and Antioquia.

The Caribbean is Tierra Caliente at its best. If you can't remember the post about Tierra Fria vs Tierra Caliente -- click here

Most of the stereotypes apply. The Costeños -- as they are called -- are just another word for happy, friendly, party-going people.

The Caribe is very hot and very humid. When picking up your child in this area -- no SUITS or PANTYHOSE are needed. Nice cotton -- docker -type pants and collared shirt for men, summer (modest -- don't wear strapless or spaghetti straps) dresses for women.

If you are in Barranquilla, there is a sight you will not want to miss -- the brand new PARQUE CULTURAL DEL CARIBE, which was inaugurated a little less than a year ago in December 2008 -- there are still phases to be built. Museo del Caribe

The idea for a park that celebrates the culture of Colombia's Atlantic coast was proposed by a few famous Colombians -- including the nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez -- in 1998. The complex was designed to revitalize the historic part of Barranquilla. It includes the culture museum (Museo del Caribe), a children's library, a library dedicated to the works of Garica Marquez (Biblioteca Mediteca Macondo), and a public plaza (Plaza Mario Santo Domingo).

The Plaza Mario Santo Domingo has a wonderful play area for children -- perfect for adoptive families!! There are also mist sprayers to help beat the heat.

Eventually, after phase 2 is complete, there will be an art museum and a theater.