Colombian Bullfights Thrive Despite Danger, Death

February 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

“At 2 p.m. sharp, thousands fill the rickety, wooden stands in Sincelejo, Colombia. When the brass bands begin to warm up, everyone knows the action is about to begin.

Suddenly, a 900-pound bull charges into a ring filled with men, and participants are gored and sometimes even killed. These bull festivals, known as Corralejas, take place in the first three months of the year. Although they are dangerous, Corralejas are embedded in Colombian culture and continue to live on. The men taunt the bull with capes, some wield sticks and others try to rope it. Twenty horsemen chase after the bull, stabbing it with long, wooden pikes. The bull fights back, sometimes killing horses.

The bull is quickly spent — bleeding and exhausted. It’s lassoed and led out. Some bulls die; others live to fight another day. Some of the men also leave the arena quite battered.” – NPR (more here, audio, too)

Hay Festival, Colombiatex, Festival de Música

January 29, 2011 § 1 Comment

Here’s a few recent videos from ProExport Colombia.

Ajiaco – Potato Soup

January 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Ajiaco is a Colombian potato soup. Although several regions of Colombia have their distinct recipe, the most famous is ajiaco santafereño, named after Santa Fé de Bogotá (the former name of Bogotá) capital of Colombia, where it is a cultural mainstay. It typically contains pieces of chicken, large chunks of corn on the cob, two or three kinds of native potatoes (tiny papas criollas that fall apart and thicken the soup, and give the soup its characteristic dark yellow color; the waxy sabanera and/or the soft pastusa), and guasca (Galinsoga parviflora), a weedy, aromatic herb common in all America that lends the dish part of its distinctive flavour.

The soup is typically served with heavy cream, capers and avocado all mixed in just before eating in the proportions each individual prefers. Ajiaco is so heavy that it is usually considered a full meal. In the highly regional Colombian cuisine, this is most representative dish of Bogotá.” – Wikipedia

Below is the video recipe for making ajiaco from the Tolima department.

Colombia Gold – Sunday Times

January 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Via Marcela’s Colombia Travel Blog, I heard about an article positively speaking of Cartagena and upon a search, I couldn’t locate a direct link, but I did find a PDF, which I’ll both upload (in case it disappears) and link to. What follows are the first three paragraphs…

“When I was 10, I worshipped Sir Francis Drake: buccaneer, explorer, scourge of the Spanish Armada — a man who could dance the pavane in a ruff and a codpiece without blushing. He seemed to have it all.

In the taxi in Cartagena, on the way to The Greatest Spanish Fortress in the New World, I made the mistake of mentioning Sir Francis to the driver. We almost drove into a ditch. According to Pedro, El Draque was a man of dubious parentage whose true calling was something in the septic-tank line.

“I will show you a hero,” Pedro said. “I will show you Blas de Lezo. Drake wasn’t worthy to be his cabin boy.” The fortress, the 17th-century Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, was the pride of the Spanish Main. It was said to be impregnable. It sits above the old walled city of Cartagena like a turtle shell, its slopes offering little to the cannon sights of approaching ships. Pedro was breathless about the cost — 254 tons of gold he kept repeating, swivelling in his seat to check that I was taking this in, as two children skipped out of danger a few yards ahead of us.” – Sunday Times (by Stanley Stewart)

Wall of the Museo del Caribe

January 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Just a picture I found, apparently this is one of the walls of the Museo del Caribe in Barranquilla. It’d make a nice shirt, I think.

Spanish documentary on Cali

January 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

As of the time of this posting, the video has almost double the dislikes than likes on Youtube. The main criticism seems to be that the Spanish crew didn’t search out enough of the good aspects of Cali. At the same time, after having watched the entire 50 minutes, I can say that if you know Colombia, Colombians and how outsiders tend to treat both subjects, it’s easy enough to find the documentary enjoyable by knowing how to filter it properly.

Colombian farmers find safety, success in growing alternatives to coca

January 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Jorge Elias Benjumea proudly inspects his plantain field. The 46-year-old father of three says he’s not only happy his crops are doing well, but also, for the first time in years, he can tell the world that what he’s growing is legal.

Benjumea, a resident of the Colombian province of Meta; used to grow coca, the plant from which cocaine is produced. “Everything is different now, more peaceful. I go to bed at night with no worries,” Benjumea says.

He used to make $2,800 a month growing coca. Now he makes about $840 with plantains. On the flip side, he doesn’t have to deal with guerrillas or drug traffickers anymore. The Colombian government has greatly increased its military presence in the area, improving security and giving farmers an alternative to growing coca.” – CNN (more here)

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