Tag Archives: Latin America

Part 3: Ten Ways that Parenting in Colombia is Different than in the U.S.

It’s a rule of lawyers and interior designers that you must have three elements in your argument or decorative arrangement, not two. If both lawyers and home stylists do it, there must be something to it! Okay, that makes no sense, but at least now I feel justified in having divided my top ten list of parental surprises into three parts.

Who's ready to party?!

Who’s ready to party?!

In this third and final installment, we’ll tackle that mother of all stress-inducing events — the event from which all other stress-inducing events are born — children’s birthday parties. Plus, we’ll take a look at language and transportation.

For those of you who missed the first posts (or who need a refresher because it’s been so long!), in Part 1, we explored sticky (ha!) food-related issues. In Part 2, I took you on some child care adventures and exposed my own cluelessness. As it turns out, my cluelessness is a good place to start for this current post. Continue reading

Advertisement

(Friday Fotos) Deliciousness: Colombia’s Eje Cafetero

If I try to describe my trip last weekend to the Eje Cafetero – Colombia’s “Coffee Axis” – using words like “enchanting” and “magical”, you’re going to groan.

Cocora Valley, as seen from just outside Salento.

Cocora Valley, as seen from Salento.

You’ll think that I’m just one of those tired travel writers who can’t be bothered to come up more descriptive words, or who wants you to believe that I am having amazing experiences no matter how mediocre the reality. Or worse, you may think I’m the realtor trying to entice you with a “charming and quaint” (read: terribly cramped and lacking any renovation since the turn of the century) apartment. Normally – my being a terrifically (read that adverb as you see fit) skeptical person – I would agree with you. But in this case, you’d be wrong. Continue reading

Colombia’s Calling, and BoB is On the Line!

I’m a radio addict. I love listening to a quality radio show while getting ready for the day or doing some chores around the house. And nowadays you don’t even need a radio to listen to the radio! Case in point: Colombia Calling with Richard McColl, which airs on OverSeasRadio.com. Whether you’re thinking of making the leap or are just interested in an on-the-ground take, the OverSeas Radio Network and Colombia Calling are for you.

I was a guest on Colombia Calling on July 15, 2013, and now the show’s available for free in both the OverSeas Radio Network “Colombia Calling” Archive (just scroll down to “Barranquilla or Bust”) and on iTunes (download the podcast to hear the whole show). Continue reading

Visualizing the Future in Puerto Colombia

Colombia has its skeptics.

On the one hand, most of the official news about Colombia these days – and for the past several years – is extraordinarily optimistic. Despite the worldwide recession, Colombia’s economy contracted only slightly at the end of 2008 before returning to modest gains. Last year’s 4% GDP growth exceeded the central bank’s forecast. In May of this year, Colombia ousted Mexico from its #3 position in the list of Latin American and Caribbean countries with the most foreign direct investment (Brazil is far and away number one, with Chile coming in second).  Last year, Medellín was named “Innovative City of the Year” in a global contest sponsored by the Wall Street Journal Magazine, Citi, and the Urban Land Institute. Just over a week ago, former President Álvaro Uribe – who, during his 2002 to 2010 time in office, led successful offensives against the FARC and ELN guerrilla groups – was voted “greatest Colombian in history” in a poll sponsored by the History Channel and the newspaper El Espectador.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But for every hopeful account of Colombia’s present condition, there are those who would beg to differ. Continue reading

Part 2: Ten Ways that Parenting in Colombia is Different than in the U.S.

When you and your munchkin explore a new way of life together, adventures in parenting can easily become adventure parenting — when you’re unsure not only how to handle a given situation, but also how to understand the context in which it’s occurring. When this happens, your notions of what it means to be a good parent can seem, or actually become, up for grabs.

Deer in headlights? Pig in headlights? No. Mom in headlights.

Deer in headlights? Pig in headlights?
No. Mom in headlights.

All parents at one point or another find themselves in the midst of “adventure parenting” — no international relocation necessary!

Moving to a different country is just one scenario that can make adventure parenting more likely or more frequent, at least until you figure out the rules of your newly adopted culture.

Part 1 of this series explored three food-related surprises that were in store for my son Marcello, my husband Gio, and me when we moved to Colombia. Here, we tackle that big bugaboo of parents everywhere: child care. Continue reading

A Sneak Peek into Tonight’s House Hunters International Episode

A few weeks ago, Gio and I received an email we’d been waiting for since last December — the message with the date and time that our House Hunters International (HHI) episode would be aired on HGTV. With apologies to those who have already heard via my Twitter and Facebook posts, our family will be featured tonight, Monday, June 10th, at 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. Eastern in an episode rightly entitled, “Reconnecting family ties in Barranquilla, Colombia.”

Photo credit: Milena Thinkan.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Gio summed up our feelings about the HHI experience best in a recent Facebook status update: “It’s funny where life leads us. As some of you know, it led my family and me to Barranquilla, Colombia. It has been a challenging yet rewarding experience, and as improbable as it seems, part of the experience was being cast on HGTV’s House Hunters International.” Continue reading

Ten Ways that Parenting in Colombia is Different than in the U.S. (Part 1)

On a Colombian adventure.

On a Colombian adventure.

A recent email exchange with a friend made me think a lot about the decision my husband and I made to relocate to Colombia even though our son was only one year old at the time. (Marcello turned two just a few days ago; we have been in Barranquilla about 10 months now.) My friend paid me the wonderful compliment of telling me that I have a sense of adventure and flexibility that she feels is too often missing in today’s parenting. She also said that the most important thing is that our children feel (and are) loved and safe, and that my blog reminds her that it’s great to expose your child to new experiences even if the initial days are a hassle and a lot of things are different.

I agree with my friend – the most important thing is that my son is loved and safe – and I also firmly believe that the benefits of our family’s move to Colombia greatly outweigh the downsides. That being said, I would be totally disingenuous if I pretended that our transition to Colombia doesn’t occasionally bring some of those, “Oh, this is not good…” parenting moments.

In the interest of those with young ‘uns who might be considering an international move or other leap of faith – and perhaps in the interest of clearing my own conscious (Guilty Mama, as the Runaway Mama would say) – I write to share with you a few of the downsides, a few of the upsides, and why I believe the latter win out overall. Continue reading

Big Guys with Big Guns: My Take (What’s Yours?)

To be fair, these guys are outside a small military installation (I'm told it's a colonel's home) a couple of blocks from our house. They were very friendly.

To be fair, these guys are outside a small military installation (I’m told it’s a colonel’s home) a couple of blocks from our house. They were very friendly.

Last week, my husband and I and our friend Scott took our usual Friday night trip to the movies at Barranquilla’s swanky Buenavista Mall. As is my routine, I stopped in the bathroom before the show. Coming out, I nearly ran slap into a big guy holding a really big gun – some kind of military-style assault rifle or semi-automatic type thing. (Can you tell how much I know about guns? It’s not much.) I jumped back, since this was not really what I expected in the middle of a nice multiplex movie theater in a very large, ultra-posh North American-style mall. I quickly realized that the movie theater offices were located near that particular bathroom, and that the guy with the gun was in the hallway probably because he and his partner were picking up or delivering a bunch of cash, á la Brinks in the U.S.

This was nothing I hadn’t seen before in Colombia.  Continue reading

Speaking of Coffee and Salsa Dancing… Thoughts on CNN’s “10 Things to Know Before Visiting Colombia”

I haven’t yet had a chance to see the Colombia special that aired yesterday on CNN as part of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. I did, however, read the partial coverage provided by the CNN article, 10 Things to know before visiting Colombia, by Justin Calderon. I liked the article very much, but found that as a Barranquillera (however new I may be!), coffee lover, and salsa dancer, a few things need to be clarified.

While I’m definitely in my comfort zone in talking about coffee and salsa, I can’t speak to the cultures of any city in Colombia other than Barranquilla, and even then I still have a lot to learn. As the author rightly points out, Colombia’s climates vary wildly – and I would add that so do the cultures of this vast and diverse country. With that caveat, below are a few things that came to mind from the Barranquilla perspective after reading the CNN article. Continue reading

Life, Liberty, and the Boston Marathon: Why Road Races Matter in the Pursuit of Happiness

Hearts around the world ached upon hearing the news of the lives lost or forever changed by the bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The assaults were an attack on our humanity, an affront to our collective conscience. To hurt for the victims and to feel revulsion for the killers required neither U.S. citizenship nor personal experience with terrorism, and it certainly didn’t require one to be a marathon runner. And yet, for me, the fact that the bombings occurred so close to the finish line of such a revered and enduring road race – one that I’ve aspired to run one day – made the tragedy feel awfully close to home.

I’m a lifelong runner and have finished three marathons – far fewer than many people I know. Yet each of those three 26.2 mile / 40 kilometer events has been a point of extreme happiness in my life. Continue reading