Colombia Tierra Querida

Colombia is the country where I was born. It is time and time misrepresented in the eyes of the people that do no live there. I am not just talking about people in the United States, but all over the world people think that my country is just a hot spot for drugs and guns.

I have always ignored people’s ignorant remarks about drugs. I tend to react to it with humor of some sort, and then try to explain how I grew up a city that is just as cosmopolitan as a big US city like Chicago is. Cali and Chicago are similar in a lot of ways, they are both the 3rd most popular city in their respective countries. Chicago after New York and Los Angeles IMHO, and Cali after Bogota and Medellin. Chicago people are just as proud to be from there as people from Cali are. In the future I will devote a post completely to showcasing Cali for all that it is but for now I have something else in mind.

I want to change people’s perception of Colombia in a bigger way. I want to start educating people on how beautiful my country is, but it is a daunting task. I have beem thinking of opening up Proyecto Colombia (The Colombia Project), is not there yet but the more and more I think of the idea the more I like it The site is now there, but it is still under construction.

I had initially wanted to open a reconnection side for people that had been adopted from Colombia and did not have a resource to learn about their country. Colombia’s web presence it still in its infancy and well, resources in English are at times hard to come by or not easy to navigate. I want to go a little further though, I am tired of people thinking that Colombia is a country with towns where chickens run wild and pigs fly as passengers right next to you on the plane ride there. We can thank Hollywood for that. So do I have any volunteers?

Also, for all of my non Colombian readers, could you post what you think of when you hear the word Colombia… and maybe some questions about the country, don’t worry I won’t take anything personal I just think that if I build a site, an FAQ is a nice start. Thanks in advance.

Football vs Soccer

Version en Español abajo!

Ok, so yesterday I wanted to talk about soccer, a sport I love. Ever since I moved to the US I became interested on American Football. At first I was very confused by it, to the point that it was almost painful to watch because there are a lot of rules and so many player positions. It was hard to keep up with who does what, let alone figure out who was who. Then there is the whole NFL vs. College ball difference, not to mention the complexity of who plays who when it comes to college. Then I started to become a Chicago Bears fan, and little by little I began to understand the game. I love the game now and think is excellent. This is a by no means a lets put down American Football, however in a worldwide point of view, soccer is king. Therefore I can call Soccer the real football.

American Football has a lot of depth both from the strategy side and the physical aspect. At times it can be a game that requires a lot more knowledge of the rules to truly enjoy it. It makes it seem almost too complicated to pick up in one afternoon like you can do with other sports. I think this really taints the American audience and at times turns the game from sport to spectacle with all the stop and go and little to no flow. Comparing Soccer to Football at times seems unfair. It is like matching a kitten against a lion, they both have claws, they are both felines, but only one of them can kill you. To compare to soccer to football in an sports realm seems to me like comparing Tennis to Ping Pong(or table Tennis). I am sure this will be controversial to some people but hear me out.

Starting from the athlete side of things, I don’t care who the strongest football player in the NFL is, who fastest player might be, or even who the most talented or gifted for the game is; because in the end you will not be talking about the same player. Soccer however is a lot more straightforward when having a number one player, a lot of times who the person wearing that number 10 shirt might be. You could argue that the quarterback is all of that, but I would disagree, while during the history of football we have had players like Pele and Maradona that were brilliant at scoring goals, you also have Valderrama that while not a striker was the best player to come out of Colombia during my generation. Football has its idols too, and almost every position has someone that you can remember if you have followed the game, but show me if you can come up with one name that everyone in the world would agree was the greatest player ever (except for Argentineans of course). Ask that question to a soccer fan, and he will tell you Pele was the best player that ever lived.

While there are stars in the game of football, and most of the time they are quarterbacks there is no overall best player that encompasses the whole range of what the game entails. There might be a player that can play both offense and defense, even special teams, but not consistently. A lot of the players are conditioned according to their position and team and for example a lineman and a receiver can have two totally different body types. Soccer players have for the most part the same constitution and athleticism. Soccer players all posses the same basic skills that are fundamental to the game. Football in the other hand is opposite, a lineman might not even be capable of throwing the ball ten yards, while every single player in a soccer team will be able to make a long pass.

One of my biggest complains about Football is how it consumes its players. Partly because of the ferocity of the game, some players are injured for life. I also blame the NFL for not taking better care of their players’ health, the weight that a player gains during its career to me is alarming. While soccer is also a very physical game, it is not the norm to check for an injured list after every game like it is costume if you follow football. I am sad to hear a lot of times that many of the players from the NFL die young and of problems directly related to their weight gain, not to mention forgotten. I feel that the NFL should be more responsible for keeping people healthy after they have given the best years of their lives to the sport. Conditioning your body for soccer will not be detrimental to your health so this is another point that I think soccer has over football.

I have a lot more to say about this subject. I really don’t want to elaborate on the obvious points beyond just mentioning that soccer is global. Also that anyone can play soccer, while playing football requires money. Sure you could say that you can pick up a football and just play with a group of friends outside, but in reality without the protective gear required if you play tackle football you will get hurt. I cannot wait to hear your ideas on why I am so wrong :)

Para la version en Spanish Read more Football vs Soccer

Por Que Somos Colombianos?

You are Colombian if…

Version en Spanish abajo :)

I got this as an e-mail joke from my family, it is pretty funny for anyone that is Colombian but what I am going to try and do is translate and explain the humor behind it. Some of the stuff might see super weird but is part of our culture and idiosyncrasies as Colombians, some of it might be something you also do, and maybe we are not all that different after all.

The following are some reasons why Colombians ARE Colombians.

– In your house you have Spaghetti with white Rice as a meal.
This is so true, we mix two base carb foods together, it is mostly because we eat rice every day but we might go as far as having even bread with the meal.
– You clap when a plane lands.
Not sure if any other group of people does this but when a plane lands in Colombia we just break into applause, is kind of funny.

– In your house you have Postobon bottle crates.
This is somewhat universal where everyone in the world just keeps stuff like maybe milk crates here.
– When you are hung over you eat Tamal.
This one is probably pure Colombian since the Colombian tamal is different from the Mexican or Puerto Rican, and it is a yummy meal if you are hung over.
– You drink water directly from the faucet.
Even though I do drink from a glass most of the time, I do however once in a while drink directly from the faucet by cupping my hand. Also not sure if just a Colombian thing but I am sure most Colombians do this for some reason.
-Suck on chicken bones.
Not a fan but I have done it.
– You shave with soap.
I do, even thought there is a little upgrade, liquid soap.
– In your house there are magazines from the 70’s
Well, not really but Cielo does have some old Rolling Stones
– You call your clients pet names, like “love” or “hunny”.
Not professional, I am to serious at work for that… but people in Colombia in professional settings still do that.
– You always take home cake from the birthday party wrapped in Aluminum paper
Yes, this does still happen.
– Your Mom used to push you to get more times at Piñata time at birthday parties
Nope, but this does bring memories.
– You have something from this brands Pat Primo, Caribu o Luis M. Sarmiento & Mireya Fashion.
Not anymore since it has been 11 years since I lived in Colombia, but I can relate.
– In your neighborhood there are kites stuck to power lines.
No, but I do miss kites.
– You still call women “chicks”
Kinda, during conversation… it was the closest translation that I found of a word commonly used in Colombia but the literal translation would be Sardine.
– You eat leftovers or soup for breakfast.
I am still very Colombian for this, still eat leftovers for breakfast!
– You go to the store on flip-flops.
Done it, but its not a habit.
– You have a tiger pattern comforter.
Nope, this used to be quite popular I think. Cannot remember.
– You buy milk in a bag.
Ah this one is hard to explain… In Colombia milk is distributed in sealed bags, not sure what to compare it to… if I find a picture I will post a link, I do miss that.
– You have a calendar with a religious icon in your wallet.
Nope but I do have a Virgin Mary little card with a prayer in the background that is always in my car.
– You have a pimped out Renault 4-6-10.
Renault is a popular brand of car in Colombia, some people might not even heard about it here in the U.S.
– You have a steering wheel cover.
Nope. :)
– You take the extra arepa from breakfast to the office.
I have a post on Arepas coming up, keep look forward to it… but no, I don’t think I would do that here.
– You have a toilet paper cover made out of crochet or wool.
Nope and now that seems somewhat unsanitary.
– You have been to a Jorge Barón concert.
I have no idea who that is.
– You make a ball of soap with the remainder of all bar soap.
My family has done that. I don’t think I have… I do try to keep the little piece and kind of attach it to the next bar.
– You have traveled with boxes sealed up using rope.
I honestly cannot remember doing that.
– You break pieces of bread and put the in your coffee.
I have been looked at like I am an alien for this one, but it is totally a Colombian thing and it tastes good.
– You use the free toothbrushes that sometimes come free with the toothpaste.
– You have a fried or relative living illegally in the US.
No family but I do think a friend.
– You get your car fixed at the local mechanic and not the dealer
Hey thanks to Cielo I am more Colombian… I use Cielo’s mechanic now.
– You stand in line at the free sample places.
– There is arroz con pollo at family gatherings.
– Put your old batteries in the freezer to get more life out of them.
I wonder how true that is.
– Your women gives you a haircut.
Again Cielo is making me more Colombian.
You call “Papi” your boyfriend or husband.
Cielo does :)
– You blow your nose in the shower.
I am not the only one… wow did not know this was a Colombian thing… it grosses Cielo out so I have cut down.

Those are all the ones I found amusing, informative or that could be translated… I hope you had at least a smile and see how weird us Colombians can be.

Aqui esta el Post en Spanish :) Read more Por Que Somos Colombianos?

Contacto Humano – Human Contact

English version below

Las diferencias culturales entre regiones geográficas son enormes. He encontrado muchas diferencias entre la ciudad de Chicago en Illinois y Midland Michigan. Se pueden imaginar como serán de distintos dos países. Una de las diferencias que más me a afectado personalmente es el contacto personal.

Es costumbre en algunas familias latinas de saludarse de beso en la mejilla. Hasta entre hombres es muy normal un beso, o por lo menos un caluroso abrazo. Mi Papa y yo tuvimos un tiempo que estábamos trabajando el uno cerca del otro. De vez en cuando nos encontrábamos para almorzar juntos en restaurantes en el área. Un día llegamos ambos casi al mismo tiempo y parqueamos los carros uno al lado del otro. Cuando cerramos las puertas y nos dirigíamos hacia la entrada del restaurante como siempre nos dimos un abrazo y un beso en la mejilla. Algo normal en un saludo de padre a hijo, bueno o por lo menos los dos pensábamos eso.

Nos sentamos, charlamos y comimos. Cuando salíamos note a mi Papa un poco consternado. Le pregunte que le pasaba, y le note en la mirada duda. Cuando me empecé a preocupar me dijo, “un tipo en el restaurante no hacia sino mirarnos y hasta me pico el ojo.” Yo en ese momento me cague de la risa. En ese momento me acorde de que cuando llegamos nos saludamos de beso y bueno, a una persona de acá de los estados unidos le debió haber parecido ese comportamiento algo “gay.” Aunque me parece casi imposible que alguien que vea mi Papa y a mi juntos no nos haga familia, si entiendo la deducción que esa personal hizo. Porque, bueno porque acá en los Estados Unidos el contacto humano es mínimo, y con personas que nos son familiares es casi no existente.

Otro ejemplo es ir a cine con amigos. Si uno se sienta en la silla directamente al lado de otro hombre automáticamente es considerado homosexual. Es algo que me parece triste porque acá las personas tienen mínimo contacto personal, hasta el punto que usted puede pasar un día entero sin tocar a otro humano. Darle la mano por lo menos a su jefe puede que solo pase una vez en su vida, el día que lo entrevistaron. Esto lo he experimentado en carne propia.

En Colombia uno esta acostumbrado a saludar a las amigas de beso, y a los amigos de mano. La mayoría de las veces que usted va a interactuar con otro humano, usted los toca. En esta sociedad eso en realidad no pasa, he conocido gente a la cual nunca le he ni siquiera dado la mano. En las familias americanas he observado que entre ellos mismos solo las parejas se muestran afección, un beso o un abrazo a los hijos que por ejemplo ya no viven en la casa nunca pasa.

Siempre me ha parecido la gente en los Estados Unidos mucho más fría que la gente en Colombia. ¿Será la causa de esto que les hace falta el contacto humano?

English Version Read more Contacto Humano – Human Contact

“Paisas” and Koreans?

I love all kinds of ethnic food, my favorite being of course Colombian. I have to say that Oriental food also ranks up there with Hispanic food. I love Mexican and Spanish dishes, but some Korean and Chinese dishes are just out of this world. Yesterday on a night out to dinner, I encountered a food similarity that I thought was only a Colombian thing, and more specifically a “Paisa” thing. “Paisas” is what we call the people that live in the Antioquia region of Colombia. One of the famous dishes from this region is called “Bandeja Paisa” which consists of beans, steak, chicharron, arepa and rice. It is topped with a fried egg on the rice. Something I had never seen another culture do until I had Bi Bim Bap yesterday.

I have had Korean food before, I love KimChi and Jajang Myun is one of my favorite dishes in the world, but I had never had Bi Bim Bap until yesterday. And guess what, they also put a fried egg on top of their meal. Interesting… isn’t it. I have also found similarities of Colombian food with other far away places like Poland and some dishes being very similar despite the distance.

So, do you guys have a favorite ethnic dish?