Monday, January 31, 2011

Myths for Monday -- Bufeo Colorado

I really like writing series posts. There is so much information to cover, but it helps give me focus. So, here is to the new Series, Myths for Monday. I want to write a myth common in each Colombian Department. This week, I'll start with Amazonas.

The Bufeo Colorado


The Indigenous peoples of the Amazon region (in Colombia and other Amazon countries) have myth that surrounds the Pink Dolphins (Bufeo Colorado) of the Amazon river. There are several different versions of the story, but the basic premise remains the same.

According to the legend, the Bufeo Colorado can change into the shape of a handsome man. As a man, the Bufeo Colorado tries seduce beautiful young girls who live along the river. Typically, the girl is enchanted by the man and becomes his lover. She eventually becomes pregnant.

In some versions, the man disappears. In others, certain circumstances happen that convert him back into a dolphin on dry land and he is killed.

Either way, the girl eventually gives birth to a pink dolphin or a half human / half pink dolphin child.

The story is used by the people to warn girls not to be seduced by strange men.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Most Common Last Names in Colombia

According to the Registraduria Nacional del Estado Civil in Colombia, the most common last names in Colombia in 2010 were the following.

  1. Rodríguez
  2. Gómez
  3. González
  4. Martínez
  5. García
  6. López
  7. Hernández
  8. Sánchez
  9. Ramírez
  10. Pérez
  11. Días
  12. Muñoz
  13. Rojas
  14. Moreno
  15. Jiménez
While this is a list that covers all of Colombia, there are some regional differences. In Antioquia, the last names Restrepo, Zapata y Álvarez are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th most common names and Montoya 8th, while they are not even in the top 10 in Bogotá, Cali or Barranquilla. The last name Castro is the 10th most popular last name in Barranquilla, however, is it not in the top ten of any other major city's list. Additionally, in Cali, the last name Valencia is in 7th place, while it also does not appear on any other city's list.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nombre de Perro

So, almost ten years ago, when we called home with the joyous news that our first son was finally in our arms, the first question that we were asked was "What are you going to name him?"

After having agonized over the name selection for months, we had finally decided on Mateo. It is the Spanish name for Matthew. It means "Gift of God", and we certainly felt that is what he was. However, we were shocked by my brother-in-law's response. "Mateo. Es un nombre de perro." (It's a dog's name.) I admit that I felt a little offended, and for that matter, so did my mother-in-law who responded, "Es un nombre muy bueno. Es un nombre de un Apostol. Nadie debe poner un nombre de un Santo a un perro!" (It is a very good name. It is a name of an Apostle. No one should give a name of a Saint to a dog."

I appreciated my suegra's support for our name choice and ignored my cuñado's comment. I was happy to see that many other Colombia families like the name Mateo too, enough to make it # 7 on the list of most popular names. But I had to laugh when while in Colombia we saw the following flyer. Don't people know that you don't name a dog after a Apostle? :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Most Popular Male Baby Names in Colombia -- 2000 - 2010

Today, the most popular Male Baby Names from 2000 - 2010, according to the Registraduria Nacional.

Here are the names that are en vogue in Colombia for little boys.
  1. Santiago
  2. Sebastian
  3. Alejandro
  4. Nicolás
  5. Samuel
  6. Daniel
  7. Mateo
  8. Alexander
  9. Esteban
  10. David

Here are the top 10 combined names.

  1. Juan David
  2. Andrés Felipe
  3. Juan Sebastian
  4. Miguel Angel
  5. Juan Camilo
  6. Juan Pablo
  7. Juan José
  8. Juan Esteban
  9. Carlos Andrés
  10. Juan Diego

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Most Popular Female Baby Names in Colombia -- 2000-2010

For those of you expecting Colombian Daddy's Tunes for Tuesday, you'll have to wait another week. Colombian Daddy will be back next week with his pick #3 for Tunes Most Colombians Will Recognize. For now, enjoy the next entry in our Most Popular Names in Colombia Series. Today, the most popular Female Names from 2000 - 2010, according to the Registraduria Nacional.

Here are the names that are en vogue in Colombia for little girls.
  1. Valentina
  2. Mariana
  3. Daniela
  4. Natalia
  5. Valeria
  6. Isabella
  7. Sofia
  8. Manuela
  9. Juliana
  10. Alejandra
Here are the top 10 combined names.
  1. Laura Valentina
  2. Maria Camila
  3. María José
  4. María Fernanda
  5. María Alejandra
  6. Paula Andrea
  7. Ana María
  8. Luisa Fernanda
  9. Laura Sofia
  10. María Paula

Monday, January 24, 2011

Corralejas de Sincelejo

This comes from my better late than never file. Last week, I forgot to post about an event that is considered an official part of Colombia's Cultural Heritage -- the Corralejas de Sincelejo.

For those of you who don't know, Sincelejo is the Capital of the Department of Sucre in the Caribbean region of Colombia. However, don't let the word Caribbean confuse you. Sincelejo is NOT on the Coast. It is located in the interior of the Department on the sweltering plains of Sucre. This part of Colombia is well-known for its cattle. Which leads us nicely, to the Corralejas.

The word Corraleja comes from the word Corral -- yep, the round fenced in place where you keep cattle. In this case, it is a round fenced in place with make shift bleachers for the crowd that is going to watch the main event. And what is that event, wait hold on a second, you need some more background.

In most of the Spanish speaking world, a Corrida de Toros (Bullfights) is held in a nice stadium with more classy surroundings. It is, after all, considered an art form. But, then again, anything can be considered art, and I recognize that not everyone is supportive of Bullfighting.

By contrast, a Corraleja is an improvised Bullfight. Rather than well trained, fancy clothed bullfighters, you will see just about anyone -- brave enough or drunk enough -- get into the bullring.

Here is a video so that you can see what transpires at the Festival. Please note, this is still a Bullfight and Animals are harmed in this video:




Friday, January 21, 2011

Strangest Colombian Names -- Part 3

I have, on previous occasions, written about the plethora of strange names that can be found in Colombia. This year there are 1,691,862 Colombianos (about 4 % of the entire population of the country) with names that are completely unique to them. Though, I am not sure that this is something to boast about. Here are some SUPER examples that come straight from the lists at the Registraduria Nacional:

Teotriste

Abalgamar

Hildari

Migleyxy

Leonerso

Mingris Mengris

To this list of unique names, you can also add the OFFICIALLY longest first names in Colombia.

Female: Adriana Clemencia del Corazón de Jesús y de la Santísima Trinidad

Male: Fabio Augusto Luis Felipe de Gonzaga y San Mauricio.

Unfortunately, these two have 2 additional names that aren't listed -- their last names. Try learning to write that in Kindergarten :)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What month were you born in?

Vacaciones -- the name given to the Christmas holiday season when children get out of school at the end of November and return in February. But, the season seems to spark more than just goodwill and Christmas spirit. According to statistics recently released by the Registraduría Nacional ... it also seems to be a great time to plan (or not plan as the case may be) your pregnancy. Apparently, September is the month when the most babies are always born.

There are 960,109 Colombianos who celebrate their birthdays in September, and another 933,264 in October. February is the month with the least births.

When I read this, I had to laugh. Long ago, we noticed that the overwhelming majority of people in my husband's family were born in September -- including Colombian Daddy himself.

Just an interesting statistic for your next game of Colombian Trivial Pursuit.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Footnotes on the Pollera Colorá and the Simpsons

It is hard to resist adding here the following two footnotes to yesterday’s entry about “La Pollera Colorá.” They were both cited in an article in Colombia’s weekly, Semana, back in August 2006.

(http://www.semana.com/noticias-enfoque/wilson-choperena-autor-pollera-colora/96576.aspx).


First, this song is so well known around the Spanish speaking world that the producers of “The Simpsons” (the version dubbed in Spanish) had Bart sing it in an episode of the show. So here’s Bart singing La Pollera Colorá in Spanish:



The second is sadly ironic. Semana reported that during a 2006 concert in Bogotá featuring Cuban star Omara Portuondo and Colombian counterpart Carlos Vives, the audience was delighted when the duet interpreted La Pollera Colorá. When Wilson Choperena, who lives alone in a small room in the outskirts of the city, found out about it, he lamented that he hadn’t been invited. “But even with a free ticket” the article reads, “he still couldn’t have made it. He couldn’t afford the bus fare.” Apparently his only income is the $700 USD that he receives every six months as royalties for his work. “He survives thanks to charity” explains Semana and quotes Choperena as saying that he recently recorded a new album. He sells copies of it for 7 to 10 dollars to his friends and anyone who might want to buy it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tunes for Tuesday; Songs Most Colombians Will Recognize #2

While the ancient Greeks had their muses to inspire their artistic expressions, a clever Colombian composer was more concerned with what a particular muse was wearing: a red skirt. Thus was born the song which I have chosen for today’s Songs-Most-Colombians-Will-Recognize, an integral part of Colombian musical folklore:

La Pollera Colorá. By Wilson Choperena.

Turns out that a “pollera” is a ruffly colorful skirt. “Colorá” is the costeño way of saying the word “colorada” which means colorful or red. In singing about her skirt, he is really singing about Soledad, the girl who was wearing the skirt. The song is a traditional (some will say THE traditional) Colombian Cumbia, and dates back to the Golden Years of the genre, the 1940s to the 1960s.


The man mused by the skirt is Wilson Choperena, who was born in Plato, Magdalena on Christmas day, 1923. As with many other artistic masters, the place and timing of his birth seem premonitory of his future occupation. Plato is one of the small towns along the lower Magdalena River, which together with El Banco, Tamalameque, and the general area around Mompox (founded in 1537 by Conquistador Alonso de Heredia), claim to be the birth place of Cumbia. Also, it is just fitting that Wilson would be born on Christmas, party time in Colombia.


It seems to me that every musical group in Colombia has performed its own version or arrangement of this song. But here’s a great video of another Colombian institution, the Lucho Bermudez Band, interpreting the closest thing I’ve heard to the original Pollera Colorá:




Here’s a more updated version by





And this one that shows more of the culture surrounding the song:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

First 2011 ICBF Wait List

I got the new wait list Friday -- gracias Nina :).

This most recent Wait List was published by ICBF on January 13, 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.

Many 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 ------ Jun - 2007
Child 13 - 23 months ---- Jun - 2007
Child 2 years ----------- Apr - 2006
Child 2 - 3 years -------- Feb - 2007
Child 3 years ----------- Jun - 2006
Child 3 - 4 years -------- Nov - 2006
Child 4 years ----------- Dec - 2006
Child 4 -5 years -------- Aug - 2007
Child 5 years ----------- Aug - 2009
Child 5 - 6 years ------- Jul - 2008
Child 6 years ----------- NOT LISTED ON NEW FORM
Child 7 years ----------- Jul - 2010

2 Siblings 0 - 4 years --- Nov -2007
2 Siblings 0 - 5 years --- Nov -2007
2 Siblings 0 - 6 years --- Jan -2009
2 Siblings 0 - 7 years --- Oct-2009
2 Siblings 0 - 8 years --- Oct - 2010

Friday, January 14, 2011

Where to stay? Colombian Mommy's Experience

When we completed our adoption, over 4 years ago now, we weren't sure where to stay. We had the advantage of being in Colombia, where family and friends were plentiful. We also knew that our budget couldn't take 8 weeks in a hotel. We began by asking our agency what they recommended. We were told by our Social Worker that because we were adopting a toddler and not an infant, that we should not plan to stay with family. We were given a list of reasons why. I'll share them here:
#1 The child would be grieving his foster parents and previous surroundings. He would be looking for someone to cling to and ideally that would be us. If we were in a place with a lot of other adults around, he might become confused about who his caregiver should be. He may have actually rejected us in favor of another adult, particularly those that seemed more familiar )ie. a Colombian aunt or grandma and not a tall blondish gringa).
#2 We would be unable to establish our own rules and routines because we would be restricted by the rules and routines established by family.
#3 It would be hard to tell family that we were to be the only ones that could feed, clothe, console, hug, hold and attend to the needs of the new child. She warned us that family might have a difficult time accepting our rules and this could cause problems with our child during the vital first few weeks of developing a healthy attachment.
Her recommendation was to spend time alone and begin the process of attachment with just our immediate family -- Mommy, Daddy, and Brother.
We looked into adoption hotels and were concerned with the price. At the time the cost was around $80 a night and most included only 2 meals a day. I remember being told that meals were served at certain times and I knew right away that we wouldn't always be able to make the meal times because we had big sightseeing plans. Therefore, the hotel idea felt very restrictive.
Thus, we began our search for an apartment. We found one through some friends in Bogotá. A nice 2 bedroom flat across the street from a park and not too far from Carrefour and Makro in the Parque Largartos area, the the Northern part of the city. It came furnished. It had a washer, but no dryer. It was comfortable, not luxurious, but really suited our needs. We paid $25 a night. There was no maid, so we cooked and cleaned for ourselves. However, it really wasn't a problem for us. We ordered take out -- delivered to our door -- on many occasions. This cost about $8-10 each time. We stayed well within our budget.
About 2 1/2 weeks into our stay, we realized our son wasn't showing any real attachment issues. So, we headed to Boyacá where we spent 5 weeks with Abuelita Carmen and Abuelito José P. Happily, everyone was very respectful of our rules. It ended up being amazing as Abuelita helped me learn to cook things that our little guy would eat -- Thank Heaven for Changua! We also were able to borrow a car and travel all over Boyacá.
Things went very well and when we returned to Bogotá to complete our adoption, we were able to stay in the same apartment.
My Recommendation for Colombian Ex-pat Families:
I know that not everyone has family, but for those that do I really recommend that you spend some time bonding with your child before heading to stay with them. If your child(ren) is/are having a hard time, then don't ever stay with family. Just do what is best for all of you in establishing a good base for your new relationship.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Where to stay in Bogotá? Part 2

When my husband and I received the referral for our son in May of 2010, we considered staying at Zuetana again, but ultimately decided to rent a private apartment for several reasons. The first reason was that we knew we were probably looking at a long stay and we wanted to be as comfortable as possible -- with our daughter we ended up in Bogotá for 9 weeks, and with our son we were there for 7 weeks.

For us, this meant that the kids needed to have separate rooms so as not to disturb each other during naps and at night. My husband needed an office since he was going to be working during our stay in Colombia, and it also allowed us to have a "family room" where my husband and I could hang out at night, watch TV, talk on the phone, etc... and not worry about waking the kids.

The second reason was that we knew renting an apartment would give us a little more privacy. We could walk out into the hall wearing our PJ's (or less!) and not have to worry about it, and we wouldn't have to put up with a lot of noise and hubub.

The third reason was that after doing some research and comparing prices, we found the apartment to be much more affordable than the adoption hotel. Plus, it came with great amenities such as a Vonage phone line that allowed us to make free unlimited calls to the U.S., a computer with free dedicated Internet access, and the best part- a maid who came every day except Sunday and cooked, cleaned, did laundry, and even grocery shopped for us!!

To be fair, the downside of renting an apartment is that it is a little more isolated. If you are a really social person, you might like the aspect of having other families around at the adoption hotel to talk to and do activities with. On the other hand, though, I think there is something to be said for having some quiet, private family bonding time during those initial weeks of becoming a new family, especially if you are adopting older kids or sibling groups.

I want to also mention that we felt very safe in the apartment. It was located in a very good neighborhood, and it was guarded by private security 24/7.

For anybody that may be traveling to Bogotá to adopt in the near future, here are some links to check out for some apartments that can be rented. Hopefully this information will prove to be useful and help you make the best decision for lodging accommodations for you and your new child/children!



http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p266996
http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p247092
http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p247091
http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p330608

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Where to stay in Bogotá?

A two-part guest post from adoptive mom Ruth. Thanks Ruth :):

When adopting from Colombia, one of the biggest decisions you will face is where to stay. Out of the many options available, the two that I can speak to personally are the "adoption guesthouses" and renting a private apartment. Keep in mind that my experience is in the city of Bogotá only. My husband and I completed our first Colombian adoption in 2008 and brought home the most beautiful baby girl! Our adoption agency recommended that we stay at a hotel called "Zuetana" in Bogotá, which is sort of a Bed and Breakfast that caters to adoptive families. (Some names of similar adoption hotels in Bogotá are the Halifax, Hotel Paris, Betty's Place, Las Palmas, and El Refugio. In Cali, there is Pensión Stein.).

Since we had never traveled to Colombia before and were adopting for the first time, we went ahead with our agency's recommendation. We had a mostly good experience there, but as with anything in life, there are pros and cons.

The pros of staying in an "adoption guesthouse" are as follows:

1) There are other families there from all over the world who are also adopting and it is neat to share that common experience with them and make new friends.

2) There are many "baby-friendly" items available to use. This means you do not have to pack such items as a crib, high chair, bottle sterilizer, etc...

3) You are provided with 3 meals per day and a maid to clean your room each day.

The cons of staying in an "adoption guesthouse" are as follows:

1) They can be quite expensive. (In 2008, I think we paid about $1,000 per week).

2) The quarters can start to feel cramped after a few weeks as a whole family will share just one small room, and sometimes all of the noise and chaos due to all of the other families coming in and out can be a little overstimulating for parents and kids. [This can be particularly hard for families adopting children that are not infants, where issues with over-stimulation and confusion about new parents can be very difficult.]

Here are some links to adoption hotels:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tunes for Tuesday: Songs Most Colombians Will Recognize #1

One thing has to be clear: there isn't a single type of music which represents ALL of Colombia. The country is divided into 5 or 6 geographical regions ("las Regiones Naturales"-- we call them), each one with a very distinct culture and, therefore, music.

However, there is no doubt that the music from the Caribbean region with its African and Cuban influences plays a prominent role in unifying the musical taste in Colombia. Also because these Caribbean rhythms have been around for so long, their influence spans several generations and allows for some generalizations about what old and young might recognize as Colombian, as you will see.

Now, and not a moment too soon, here's my pick for today's Tuesday Tunes: Subcategory -- Songs Most Colombians Will Recognize:

El Preso. By Fruko y Sus Tesos.


The song was released in 1975 during what I consider to be the Golden Years of Salsa in Colombia and the World. Fruko is the artistic name of the band’s founder Ernesto Estrada. “Tesos” is Costeno for “tieso”, which taken literally would mean “hard” or “tough”. Taken in the context of Colombian Caribbean culture though, the tesos would be guys who are really good at what they do. (BTW, people from the interior i.e. Bogota, who consider themselves better spoken, will say “duro” instead of “tieso”. Hence, in Bogota someone good at something is “un duro”) Anyway, these guys are really good.

El Preso is sung by Wilson Saoko Manyoma. I am pretty sure the guy’s name really is Wilson, but either Saoko or Manyoma has got to be a nickname.

Representative of Fruko's brand of Salsa, El Preso means “The Prisoner”. I guess at some point during the Seventies, Colombian trend setters made it cool to say they'd been in prison. And you thought this was unique among modern gangsta rappers. Now before you start thinking that Colombians started prison life glorification, the song really wasn't about being prison-grade bad. It has more to do with the most pervasive of feelings among Colombians: melancholy. The guy's broke, alone, tired, in prison, and who does he miss? His mommy, of course.

Lyrics aside, what makes this a remarkable song is Manyoma’s awesome voice over the piano driven percussion background. This became Fruko’s signature rhythm. A formula that was used to concoct several hits which, in turn, would propel them to stardom in Colombia and abroad (i.e. immigrants who liked Salsa abroad).

The video link above is great for getting to know the song and the singer. Not great for learning how to dance to it. He reminds me of myself trying to dance. This is a fast song that requires practice or at least some Zumba lessons before attempting it at the club in front of people.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday Movie -- El Paseo

Our family loves to see movies. Thanksgiving found us seeing Tangled and for Christmas Daddy took our older son to see TRON. This year while Tron and Gulliver's Travels were battling it out for the top box office seller here in the US, in Colombia, both were eclipsed by ticket sales for a new Colombian film:

El Paseo by Dago García

I, of course, have not seen the film -- wish I could have been in Colombia over Christmas, but I wasn't. Here is the trailer -- and BTW -- there are no movie ratings in Colombia so it is hard to know the content before you see the film unless it is obvious in the trailer.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Hacer el Oso -- A Language Lesson


On Monday, I mentioned that my husband does not like to HACER EL OSO. I was surprised when I got a few e-mails asking me what this means. Here is a brief lesson in Colombian Spanish.



HACER EL OSO -- literally means to MAKE THE BEAR. So right away you can guess that this is an idiomatic expression that means something else. In Colombia, it means to EMBARRASS YOURSELF or to MAKE YOURSELF LOOK RIDICULOUS.



You can often hear people saying things like, "Uy! Que Oso!" This means, "Wow! You just really embarrassed yourself."
clip art:

http://classroomclipart.com/cgi-bin/kids/imageFolio.cgi?action=view&link=Clipart/Animals/Bear_Clipart&image=bear_179.jpg&img=12&tt=

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Friends of Colombian Orphans

Here is another opportunity to help Friends of Colombian Orphans. If you are not familiar with FOCO, please see their website here:

http://friendsofcolombianorphans.org/#site/mission


If you are long time readers of my blog, you wil recognize the name and want to help Jane and her cause. The readers of this blog have helped FOCO get grants in the past, so please help. You can do so today! Also, feel free to post this information on your own personal blogs as well.

Here is the message I got from Jane:

Hi all, Another opportunity for big money. Can you go here and just "love" the video our friend Kim made for this contest?? The video is only a part of the application....keep your fingers crossed for us, please. Takes one minute. Thank you all, and happy new year. Jane

http://tinyurl.com/25cmvu9

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Colombian Fulbright Scholars

I was intrigued when I heard that Colombia ranks fourth in the number students that come to the United States on Fulbright scholarships. According to a report by the 'The Chronicle of Higher Education', only Germany (with 199 students), Pakistan (with 130 students) and Chile (with 105 students) send more students to the US than Colombia (with 72 students).

On the Fulbright website it states, "The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” "

In Colombia, the Fulbright program was established in January of 1957. Since that time more than 2,200 Colombians have had an opportunity to come to the US and research or teach at the post-graduate level.

During that same time period, more than 1,100 Americans have taught and researched in Colombia as Fulbright scholars.


The good news is that there may be a Colombian at a University near you :).


http://www.fulbright.edu.co/


Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Tunes for Tuesday -- Colombian Daddy

My wife has been twisting my arm for quite some time in an attempt to get me to do this: Write about Colombian music. Of course she knows that I am no authority on the subject. But, how many other people does she know who lived the first 26 years of their lives in Colombia (and married an honorary Colombian who writes a blog)? OK, so having established my credentials, all 26 of them, here we go. . . .

Let's first talk about Colombian party music:

Every time the two of us attend a "party" in the USA, I try really hard to stay focused on keeping up with the conversations about sports and other trivialities while emptying the corn chip platter. She is in charge of the actual socializing. But after a while I always end up asking her the same question: "So, when is this party going to get started?" She laughs and says, "No. They aren't going to push the chairs against the walls and start dancing!"

And here I will quote from a Literature Nobel Price Laureate, Colombian pride Gabriel García Márquez: "Every gathering of more than two Colombians will undoubtedly turn into a dance."

Now before you think that I am a Colombian-party monster, there is a reason why I was exiled to the USA: I never really learned how to dance. This is a serious confession because in Colombia not knowing how to dance means that you will never socialize with the opposite sex, or for that matter have any friends of the same sex. I actually played a game of chess once with the other nerd in the group while the rest of the group danced away and actually got to meet the girls. I have to tell you, it is hard to think about your next chess move when salsa music is blaring in the background.

Because the connections between my cerebellum and my feet where decidedly faulty, I compensated with other abilities: the ability to stay sober, the ability to stare, and the ability to pay a lot of attention to the music. And soon I discovered that my favorite was Salsa music. I found it impossible to dance to, yet intricately rich.

Ok, hold that thought because there is one more observation that I have made over all these years of staring blankly during parties: There are certain songs that will strike a chord with any Colombian. You could even experiment with them. Suppose that you are in a crowded place outside Colombia, and you really want to know if there are any Colombians near by. You play one of these songs and there they are, easy to spot. The guy who stopped walking, the other guy whose jaw dropped, the lady who started dancing with a baby, the teens dancing like they belong to a dance company, the ones in the corner screaming "juepajé", oh yeah, and that guy dancing on top of the table. They are all Colombians. The people who seemed annoyed, or kept walking, or made some comment that included the words "oh it sounds like the cha-cha" are not Colombians.

So over the next few Tuesdays I will share with you some of those songs. The ones that most Colombians would recognize within four notes. For now, I'm afraid you will just have to keep reading this blog until I reveal the first one next Tuesday. And for any Colombians out there, I'd love to hear your picks.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Our Colombian Holiday Successes

On a Personal Note

I really don't get too personal with this blog very often. But, this year, I wanted to share some pictures from our holiday celebration -- mostly so that you know we actually DO practice what I preach. In our house, we are trying to teach the boys to be proud of both their Colombian and American roots. There is a healthy mixing of many holiday traditions. But, since this is not a blog about American traditions, I'll leave those out of today's discussion. Instead, I wanted to recap our Colombian successes.

Noche de Velitas:
This year we hosted a Noche de Velitas Open House. Over 70 people came to make their own Farolito and enjoy Colombian Hot Chocolate and American Cookies. The kids from my Homeschool Coop Spanish class sang a Christmas Carol in Spanish. We listened to SALSA and my husband and I even gave a brief Salsa demonstration (very brief as HE can't stand to Hacer el Oso!). I had called it an Open House because I knew that we couldn't fit 70 people in our house at once. However, nearly everyone came early and stayed late (a surprisingly non-Gringo kind of thing to do). Thankfully, our normally horrible weather was cooperative -- 60 degrees and NO RAIN -- my own Christmas Miracle -- so the kids ran around outside enjoying the night and the Farolitos. The parents were inside enjoying Chocolate and conversation. It was an amazing success!


Our Año Viejo:

This year the boys wanted to use their clothes for the Año Viejo. This was fine because we seem to have a plethora of jeans with holes in the knees, white t-shirts with stains, and socks with holes. The boys -- with a little help from Dad while Mom took pictures -- put the guy together. They filled it with paper and cardboard (the arms were wrapping paper rolls left over from Christmas). The head was a giant fountain firework with drawings of faces the boys made (one on each side so that they wouldn't fight over who got to draw the head) taped to the outside.

Because we recently moved into the country, this year we were able to actually BURN our Año Viejo -- in the rain. Thank you lighter fluid! :) Each of us wrote down something that we wanted to leave behind in the 2010 and placed the paper inside. It was tremendously therapeutic to watch mistakes from this past year go up in smoke! Even the persistent drizzle did not dampen the glow of the Año Viejo's final moments. The boys agreed that they ALWAYS want to have the Año Viejo tradition. Yeah!! Here are some pictures!