A Little Bit of Juan Valdez in Every Can

Cartoon about Colombia

Coffee growers in Colombia are pissed off and are going to sue. The cartoonist in question is Mike Peters for his strip Mother Goose and Grimm, and even though I do not know much about him I have to say I enjoy his drawing style. I also want to say in his defense, before I start to state my opinion that he said “he loves Colombia, his strip is being taken out of context because it is part of a series, and he always means to be humorous and not offend.”

Zapiro, a very famous political cartoonist in South Africa, has been drawing Nelson Mandela for years. He was recently interviewed by the BBC, and one of the things that surprised him is that Mandela actually followed him even when he was very critical of him. Mandela was even upset when he changed newspapers because he could not follow him every day now and called Zapiro. Mandela told Zapiro that he would never be offended because being a counter voice was his job.

Peters used a joke that I have heard before. That was my first thought when I saw the cartoon, that it was a little unoriginal. I am not saying I have heard every Colombian joke, but I have heard plenty. As an Immigrant I have always wanted to hear those kinds of jokes because I think they make me informed and give me an opportunity to tell the truth about a stereotype of a misconception.

Peters also is not a political cartoonist, and in that context bringing up violence in Colombia would probably have worked as satire. For a country that is working very hard to change its image, has the fastest growing economy of Latin America and its doing everything it can to stabilize itself a cartoon like this can be damaging. Unless it opens up the doors to conversation.

I think the coffee growers of Colombia are taking this opportunity to create a little publicity. I don’t think Peters meant any harm, and I hope that at the end of the day everyone that comes across the story can at least say they know a little more about this beautiful country where I was born.

The best country in the world

All around me I have been experiencing the reactions some people have when faced with something they did not expect. They tend to pretend that everything is all right and do nothing to change the situation. Then they look at someone like me, and think that my positive thinking is the product of the same mentality. I am not a hippie that thinks everything is alright, man, just chill and wait for it to happen. (no offense to anyone that might take the word hippie as a derogatory term)

Action IS necessary, and the current government and party have failed me. I had to act by voting for someone that had a better agenda, at least in the open political arena than then status quo. Bush let the government get bigger, not the social justice way, but the earmarks kind of way. The republican party failed to distance themselves from that, and did not provide the best candidate for me, and in turn failed me as a republican that had began to lean independent.

I am an idealist and I do believe that life can be “perfect,” but just like happiness, it is a very hard thing not just to achieve, but maintain.

I never pretend in my head that nothing is wrong, but I strongly believe that everything is going to be alright. Even though a huge portion of my way of thinking for me comes from faith, a lot of it also comes from logic. Mixing feelings and logic is a very hard task; I believe that it is one of those opposites like Mars and Venus in some ways. However difficult it is, enough force can hold two magnets together. The physics of it is kind of cool and measurable, but in life, how do we measure the force that makes us interact with other humans that might be rejecting us with their magnetic field?

I call that love… family… friendship… bonds.

In my life I have tried to befriend almost everyone that has crossed my path. Some people from the get go did not want to have me be a friend, some others I have lost along the way for many reasons… it always goes sour when I realize that the other side is not as willing to compromise as I am, or just simply do not understand what the word compromise really means.

I was taken by surprise when some of the people that I still call friends took very harsh stances against me as soon as our new president was elected; even though I had humored their constant ridicule of a candidate I thought will not just change America, but could change the world. Not in one or two terms in office, but planting the seeds of unity and hard work that will be required to make America the BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD.

One of the most hurtful comments to me after the election is why didn’t I move back to Colombia and tried to fix my own (insert your word here) country. That hurt… I thought that someone that had seen me go to college, learn things there not just about computers, but life, the way the system works, the way relationships shape our live. It thought the way that I had affected their lives and they had mine, had given them an understanding of who I am and made me a part of their lives… not just a removable piece. Just like the remote that serves such a purpose when changing the channel but you want to chuck out the door the moment you sit on it and feels uncomfortable. I can only hope that they realize that I did serve a purpose in their lives and I am not something that should be discarded… in that case I honestly believe it would be their loss.

So let’s talk about it… is Colombia a worse country than this one is? The answer is so relative it will take not just a PhD in political science and Latin American Issues to truly understand everything about it. To me personally it is a little easier to answer. In many respects YES, Colombia TO ME, is a better country than the US. I lived a middle upper class life over there, have family and friends that even though I been here for half of my life still receive me with open arms… and now there is the new addition of my wife’s family that are nothing but some of the best people I have ever met. Is my country or origin riddled with problems? Absolutely, but I have NEVER voted for a presidential election there even though I can… why? BECAUSE I LIVE HERE! and THIS IS ALSO MY COUNTRY.

Listening to the radio yesterday people were asked if Obama being elected had already changed American society. To answer the radio show question, I believe that yes, America has shown that even by a small margin the majority of this country elected who they thought was better for the job and not the race, that is a big step in the right direction. In my little microcosms it also has changed my life, I have felt how harsh some people can be with their words… I can only wonder how harsh they are with their thoughts.

At the end of the day I still believe that my parents came to the best country in the world, and I live in a country that is now in many fronts falling behind as a super power. If someone has not checked the numbers in China’s military in recent years they are foolish. If someone has not checked the earning power of the Indian middle class they are just plain blind. To believe that we are the only ones in the world is just moronic, and to rest on our laurels still thinking that America is going the right direction and there is no other point of view than the republican point of view will get all of us nowhere. That is not why this REPUBLIC was formed, quit trying to turn this in to the REPUBLICAN DICTATORSHIP and don’t be such sore losers. Work together to make this country better and instead of trying to predict doom and how Obama will ruin everything, see what YOU can do at the local level to make sure that our country DOES become the best country in the world once again.

Best Food in KC

Everyone loves comfort food, warm handmade tortillas, cornmeal, sweet potato. My comfort foot favorite meal is called Bandeja Paisa. This dish coming from the mountains of Colombia like our coffee is a common theme on most authentic restaurants all over this country. I have had it in Chicago and Miami and now the best on can be had right here in KC.

Downtown Kansas City, Kansas there is a little Colombian restaurant called El Rincon Colombiano. It was were I had my first meal as a Kansas City resident and I still have the friends I made that first day… actually thanks to them I have met many more. The restaurant has been newly renovated under a new owner. He was actually somewhat of the star of the piece the Pitch wrote some years back.

The Bandeja Paisa is the equivalent of what many Americans think of when they see a plate with turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce and stuffing. While in the US we only get that dish combination once a year, imagine getting that kind of comfort food every time you go to a restaurant in a distant land.

Aldemar who was the waiter mentioned in the 2005 pitch review of the restaurant, greeted us now wearing the hat of owner operator. In the kitchen there was now a new cook and I was exited but cautious with my expectations. This is the only Colombian restaurant here and if they changed things too much I was going to be disappointed. To my surprise, the Bandeja Paisa was the best one I have had since I was probably back in Colombia.

There was enough meat on my plate to induce a food coma, I kind of feel like I am still recuperating from the meat intake. My only complaint about the place before was that the steak always lacked a little bit of juiciness, and I would ask to get my bandeja with pork instead of beef. This time I actually got a bandeja and none of the things that make it up needed to be substituted. Every single piece was delicious.

A bandeja paisa is composed of rice an beans as a base, the red beans are cooked with Colombian flavor and rice that is plain white but has a flavor that is hard to describe. The meal than start climbing in calories and mouth watered with the delicious arepa , fried plantain and avocado. However the star of the meal is all the protein, a fried egg, a nice and crispy chicharron, a very lean piece of steak and a Colombian sausage. To round the meal up you can order a tropical fruit juice.

This not a meal for the calorie counter but for one that wants to try a little taste of Colombia. I can tell you that you will not regret trying this meal. I seriously think that the 10-15 bucks you spend at this little place will give you a better meal than any of the big fancy chains all over the city. If you are ever downtown KCK, go down a couple of blocks south on Minnesota on 6th street and you will find one of KC’s hidden great eateries.

La Calle – The Street

English Version.

Tengo un nuevo amigo por Internet. Es un Colombiano de Medallo! y conversando vía e-mail nos prometimos hacer un articulo de lo mismo pero desde las dos perspectivas, Medellin, Colombia y Overland Park, Kansas.

Aunque desde mi punto de vista tengo algo de ventaja, yo se que es una calle en Colombia por haber crecido en Cali, nunca he estado en Medellin así que será un poco interesante. El primer detalle del que quiero hablar es que en general la gente acá en los Estados Unidos no camina a ninguna parte. En parte por las distancias, nomas para comprar un galón de leche, acá no venden bolsas, se tiene que manejar a veces unos 5 o 10 minutos. Me acuerdo tanto que después de haber vivido en un apartamento en Chicago como tres anos, me di cuenta que nunca había cruzado la calle… pasado en carro, muchas veces pero nunca cruzado la calle. Tener carro acá no tiene nada que ver con estatus social, es casi una necesidad. Digo casi porque en las grandes ciudades hay transporte publico, pero apenas sales de una de las mayores ciudades así sea la población inmensa no hay transporte publico.

La palabra calle tiene dos significados muy distinto entre los dos países. La Calle en Colombia a veces se utiliza solamente para indicar que uno va a salir afuera de la casa. En algunos sentidos cualquier lugar afuera de donde uno vive es considerado la calle. En los Estados Unidos el termino La Calle tiene que ver mas con el lugar donde vives. El termino es usado negativamente hasta el punto que decir “street walker” que literalmente significa persona que camina en la calle significa prostituta. Cuando uno le dice a alguien callejero en Colombia significa solo que a la persona le encanta salir de la casa, pero acá seria alguien que esta como en malos pasos o en malos negocios en la calle.

Cuando salgo de mi casa veo los apartamentos de mis vecinos y al lado la oficina del conjunto. De donde vivo ahora si he caminado a comprarme una gaseosa hasta le estación de gasolina que queda a unos 200 pasos de la casa y he también salido a tomarme una cerveza al bar que queda casi a la misma distancia de la gasolinera pero hacie el otro lado. También he caminado hasta el parque que queda como a una cuadra a jugar fútbol y también solo a caminar por ejercicio con mi mujer.

La calle que recorro todos los días es la 87, trabajo y vivo prácticamente sobre esa calle. Me demoraría unos 20 minutos en caminar hasta el trabajo, pero la costumbre ya es de manejar hasta la oficina todos los días. Todo acá es cuestión de tiempo. Es cuestión de no gastar mas tiempo de lo que uno tiene y caminar parece una perdida de tiempo… aunque yo se que seria mas saludable y si no fuera por los cambios extremos del clima de acá depronto hasta me animaría a caminar hasta la oficina de vez en cuando.

Read more…

Go to top