Pachamama

pachamama1
Image source: Dauro Veras

This morning when I remembered it was Earth Day, I started thinking about the concept of “Mother Earth” or “Madre Tierra” – and this in turn reminded me of a word I have always loved – Pachamama. Since it’s Earth Day, this is actually an excellent day to learn, “What or Who, exactly, is Pachamama?”

First, what does “Pachamama” mean, and where does the word come from? Pachamama is an Aymara and Quechua word commonly translated to “Mother Earth” but there isn’t really an exact equivalent in English or Spanish. While “mama” means mother, in Aymara and Quechua, the word “pacha” means far more than “earth” – the word also encompasses the cosmos, universe, time, and space. (On a personal note: I find it interesting that the word “pacha” in Salvadoran slang, which typically comes from Pipil/Nahuat, means “baby bottle” – So it’s another sort of mothering/nurturing word. I wonder if they’re related?)

Pachamama is a goddess of the Inca people and is adored in various areas of Latin America – primarily in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, but also in parts of Chile and Argentina.

pachamama2
Image source: ImagenesDeOcasion

Here are a few quotes about Pachamama that I found interesting:

“It is often difficult for an outsider to understand the devotion of the indigenous people for Pachamama…the principal deity of Andean religion. Pachamama is earth itself, sustainer of all life. In the words of one of the villagers, ‘Pachamama gives us life, she nourishes us throughout our existence on this earth and when we die, we go back to our Pachamama from where we will rise again.’ Pachamama is powerful. She sustains life for animals and plants alike, but she can also kill with devasting earthquakes and allow lightening to strike. Pachamama and the god of thunder and lightening are considered compadres.” – Inge Bolin, Rituals of Respect: The Secret Survival in the High Peruvian Andes

shaman
Description: “Q’eros shaman, called a Paqo, in his ultra-bright traditional poncho and chullo (hat) calling the Apu mountain spirits to bless a mesa, a cloth-wrapped package of special found and collected power objects (like rocks and crystals from places you’ve done ceremony) that a person on the shamanic path carries for ceremonies.” // Image source: McKay Savage

“It is very common for the Pachamama to receive the first serving of beer at social gatherings since believers pour a few drops on the ground before they take their first sip. This is a way to thank and feed the Pachamama.” – Caserita.com

car-pachamama Description: “Decorated Landcruiser – All decorated in honor of Pachamama over the Carnival period. People were doing this all over the Andean countries today.” // Image source: Andy Hares

“According to Mario Rabey and Rodolfo Merlino, Argentine anthropologists who studied the Andean culture from the 1970s to the 1990s, ‘The most important ritual is the challaco. Challaco is a deformation of the Quechua words ‘ch’allay’ and ‘ch’allakuy’, that refer to the action to insistently sprinkle. In the current language of the campesinos of the southern Central Andes, the word challar is used in the sense of ‘to feed and to give drink to the land’. The challaco covers a complex series of ritual steps that begin in the family dwellings the night before. They cook a special food, the tijtincha. The ceremony culminates at a pond or stream, where the people offer a series of tributes to Pachamama, including ‘food, beverage, leaves of coca and cigars.’” – Wikipedia/Pachamama

pachamama-dance Description: “La juventud es parte fundamental del espiritú que aquí se vive, en conjunto. Yo junto a mi novia nos contagiamos del ritmo y la energía de un pueblo que le agradece a su tierra por lo entregado, un verdadero carnaval, donde no hay personas arrastrandose por demostrar su fe, al contrario hay gente saltando y bailando felices de saber que son ellos los hijos del Inti.” // Image source: Pablo Embry

In this quote, the person seems to be referring to the tradition of some Latin American Catholics to crawl on their knees to show their devotion and to thank God and or the Virgin for answered prayer, when he says “…no hay personas arrastrandose por demostrar su fe, al contrario hay gente saltando y bailando felices…” [Translation: "...there are no people crawling to prove their faith, on the contrary, there are people jumping and dancing happily..."] This quote draws a contrast between the two faiths and the way in which they worship, yet there are some who mix their beliefs.

“When the Spanish invaded the Americas, they brought with them their Catholic religion, forcing it upon the indigenous people. But the people, devout to their own gods, resisted these advances…So the Spaniards had to adopt a different plan of attack. As Dr. Cajias says, ‘They then decided to mix Catholic beliefs and figures with native beliefs and figures.’ At the center of this syncretism are Pachamama and the Virgin Mary. Pachamama is an Aymara and Quechuan word loosely meaning ‘Mother Earth.’ The Andean people saw Pachamama as a mother who gave them food, water, and all of nature. She was considered a fertile mother because of the fertile land. And the Catholic figure most resembling a caring mother? The Virgin Mary.” – Source: Patrick Dowling, BolivianExpress

cruz-pachamama Description: “Ofrenda a Pachamama.” // Image source: Thiago Biá

Regardless of your religious beliefs, all of us living on the earth have a responsibility to care for it, and that’s what I take away from the belief in Pachamama. I find it difficult to live in harmony with nature in the modern world, balancing the wants and daily “needs” of American culture with a deeper and truer need to be in balance with everything outside my climate-controlled home which is filled with technology and other conveniences, but I try – and I want to try harder.

Happy Earth Day, Pachamama.

12 Greeting Cards For Latinos That Don’t Exist (But Should)

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I love greeting cards and will embrace any holiday, occasion, or event, to give them to friends and family. You know those “Just because” cards? Those were made for people like me, for those days we want to give cards but can’t think of any good reason to. If Carlos can’t find me in a store, he goes to the greeting card aisle – that’s usually where I am – just reading them for fun.

That being said, I’ve found that at times it’s difficult for me to find cards that say exactly what I need them to. As a bilingual, bicultural Latino-American family in the United States, we have our own unique culture, events, and language. The cards in English with Latin-flavor usually feature a donkey wearing a sombrero or some other tired theme. The cards in Spanish are limited, and usually only available for quinces and Día de las Madres. What’s a bicultural gringa to do? … Make my own cards, of course!

The cards I created below (which you should feel free to share in social media or print for personal use!) represent some real themes we’ve dealt with in our familia – maybe you’ll relate. Which greeting card have you needed that doesn’t exist?

imperfect-nuera-card-latinaish
(Not much that can be done about that, but at least a greeting card softens the blow?)

pan-dulce-apology-card-latinaish
(Kind of one of those “Sorry, not sorry” moments.)

difficult-time-card-latinaish
(Salvadorans, you know what I mean… At least we’ve got the playera team.)

sapo-verde-to-you-card-latinaish
(We don’t say “Happy birthday” in this house.)

buen-viaje-card-latinaish
(This would come in handy for all your encargo requests for traveling family members.)

belated-spanish-bday-card-latinaish
(A whole line of greeting cards with “Chavito del 8″ references would sell like pan caliente.)

felicidades-card-latinaish
(We’ve got some unique milestones that you don’t really find anywhere in the greeting card aisle!)

love-you-spanish-card-latinaish
(Cute enough for a kid, but could be exchanged between adults too.)

misunderstanding-card-latinaish
(We would probably need to exchange this card at least once a week.)

not-mexican-salvadoran-card-latinaish
(My kids are half Salvadoran and my older son in particular is constantly mistaken for Mexican. Thought I should explain that one!)

get-well-latino-card-latinaish
(Who needs a “Get Well” card when there’s Vicks?)

mothers-day-spanish-card-latinaish
(Día de las Madres was always a dangerous day for Carlos.)

Mi Cumple

felizcumple-note

Today is my birthday. Carlos whispered “Feliz cumpleaños, birthday girl,” to me before kissing me on the forehead and going to work. I smiled and went back to sleep. When I awoke, I found that little note you see above, and minutes later he texted me a video of Pedro Infante singing “Las Mañanitas.”

Honestly, I usually try to lay low on my birthday – the more quietly it passes, the better. Of course, my family and friends never let that happen. Upon opening my email this morning there were even more birthday wishes, and even my gringo family sends them in Spanish these days. My father sent me a birthday song from Dora the Explorer and my maternal grandmother sent me a mariachi e-greeting.

So, since it’s a losing battle, this year I’m choosing to embrace my birthday. After all, I’m 35 years old today, and it doesn’t feel half as bad as I thought it would. Turning thirty was semi-traumatic, so anything short of a complete emotional breakdown is progress worthy of being noted.

This time of year always comes with thoughts about what I haven’t yet achieved and the fact that I still don’t know for sure exactly where I’m going in life. Thirty-year-old-me freaked out about these exact thoughts, but thirty-five-year-old-me shrugs and says, “¿Y qué?” … It isn’t that I’m apathetic about my goals, but I’m more accepting of the fact that they won’t always happen on my timetable, and some of them won’t happen at all – That’s okay because there’s something else I discovered; in life you will achieve and experience things that you never even set out to achieve or experience in the first place, and more often than not, those are the things you’ll end up cherishing more than anything on your list of “things to accomplish.”

“Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.

Un descanso en el camino, una botella de vino,
Un suspiro, una mirada, una alegre carcajada,
Una cara en el espejo, un amigo, un buen consejo,
Un viaje en barco velero aunque no llegues rimero,
Un caballito cerrero que no corra por dinero,
Un palmar, un riachuelo, un pedacito de cielo.

Mira bien alrededor y verás las cosas buenas,
Que la vida es un amor, olvídate de tus penas.
Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.

Una playa, un cumpleaños,
Un buen recuerdo de antaño,
Un olor a yerbabuena, una conversación amena,
Un romance que ha nacido que te roba los sentidos,
Un parque lleno de niños, un bellísimo cariño,
Un lágrima, un momento que sea todo sentimiento,
Una música muy bella, un perfume, una estrella.

Mira bien alrededor y verás las cosas buenas,
Que la vida es un amor, olvídate de tus penas.

Oye abre tus ojos, mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida,
Abre tus ojos mira hacia arriba,
Disfruta las cosas buenas que tiene la vida.”

- “Oye Abre Tus Ojos” by Wilfrido Vargas

5 Meatless Salvadoran Meals

Vegetarian Salvadoran recipes for Lent

Carlos reminded me that yesterday was Ash Wednesday. Lent (“Cuaresma” in Spanish) is not something I grew up celebrating, but I know that many people do observe various traditions this time of year, such as eating meatless meals. I checked my recipe index and there are several options to choose from that fit this criteria, but I’ve chosen 5 of my favorites to recommend to you. Whether you’re celebrating La Cuaresma or just want to explore some vegetarian Salvadoran cuisine, these are some tasty meals to consider making and enjoying with your familia!

5 Meatless Salvadoran Recipes

casamiento1-302 Casamiento is a delicious marriage of beans and rice, best served with fried plantains and rich Salvadoran cream. Get the recipe here.











desayunouni1-302 Desayuno Universitario isn’t just for hungry university students on a budget. Beans spread on toasted french bread, topped with melted cheese and fresh salsa, make a satisfying and well-balanced meal for anyone. Get the recipe here.









latinaish_pupusas1-302 Pupusas are the national food of El Salvador and many varieties are completely vegetarian-friendly. Try pupusas de queso (cheese), pupusas de queso con frijoles (bean and cheese), or pupusas stuffed with cheese and shredded zucchini. Served with curtido, (the traditional pickled cabbage slaw), and a fresh salsa, even meat lovers will be begging for more. Get the recipe here.






platotipico-302 Plato típico is a traditional breakfast in El Salvador, but breakfast for dinner can be just as delicious. Fried sweet plantains, refried beans, scrambled eggs, Salvadoran cream, and warm, thick, corn tortillas fresh off the comal are perfect washed down with a cup of coffee. Get the recipe here.








rellenosdeejotes_latinaish3-302 Rellenos de Ejotes are a must for cheese lovers. Green beans are encased in slightly salty mozzarella, then dipped in a batter and fried to a golden brown. Serve with fresh salsa and rice and you’ve got yourself a complete meal, my friend. Get the recipe here.



Do you eat vegetarian meals once in awhile? What are your favorite meatless meals?

16 años

Tracy, Carlos y nuestro hijo mayor - 1999, La Playa Libertad, El Salvador

Tracy, Carlos y nuestro hijo mayor – 1999, La Playa Libertad, El Salvador

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation in italics!

Este fin de semana, Carlos y yo celebramos nuestro decimosexto aniversario. A veces no sé como hemos llegado a este punto juntos con todas las complicaciones de nuestro matrimonio, pero estoy super agradecida.

This weekend, Carlos and I celebrate our sixteenth anniversary. Sometimes I don’t know how we’ve reached this point together with all the complications of our marriage, but I’m super grateful.

Carlos y Tracy - San Salvador, El Salvador 2011

Carlos y Tracy – 2011, San Salvador, El Salvador

Días Importantes for Latinos in 2014

important holidays latin america

Feliz Año Nuevo! If you’re anything like Carlos, then you already have your 2014 calendar on display – If you’re anything like me, then you’re still waiting for Amazon to deliver your 2014 agenda which you ordered at the last minute. Either way, here are some dates to make note of which may not already be marked in your calendar or agenda. You don’t want to miss National Taco Day, now do you?

Latin American and Latino-American Holidays 2014

January

New Year’s Day/ Año Nuevo – 1st
Desfile de las Rosas – 1st
Independence Day, Cuba – 1st
Día de los Reyes – 6th

February

Día de la Candelaria – 2nd
Día de San Valentín/ Día del Amor y la Amistad, USA – 14th
National Margarita Day, USA – 22nd
Independence Day, Dominican Republic – 27th

March

Ash Wednesday/ El Miércoles de Ceniza – 5th

April

April Fools’ Day, USA – 1st
National Empanada Day, USA – 8th
Domingo de Ramos – 13th
Jueves Santo – 17th
Viernes Santo – 18th
Domingo de Resurrección – 20th
Día de los Niños, US and Mexico – 30th

May

Cinco de Mayo, USA and part of Mexico – 5th
Mother’s Day – 11th for US and most of Latin America, 10th for El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico
Independence Day, Paraguay – 15th

June

The beginning of FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil – 13th
Father’s Day – 15th for US and most of Latin America, 17th for El Salvador and Guatemala
El Día E (Spanish language appreciation day) – 22nd

July

Independence Day, USA and Puerto Rico – 4th
Independence Day, Venezuela – 5th
Independence Day, Argentina – 9th
Independence Day, Colombia – 20th
Día del Amigo, Argentina – 20th
Día Internacional del Perro Callejero – 27th
Independence Day, Peru -28th

August

Fiestas Agostinas, El Salvador – 5th to 11th
Salvadoran American Day, USA – 6th
Independence Day, Bolivia – 6th
Independence Day, Ecuador – 10th
Independence Day, Uruguay – 25th

September

Independence Day, Brazil – 7th
Independence Day, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua – 15th
Hispanic Heritage Month – 15th (to October 15th)
Independence Day, Mexico – 15th & 16th
Independence Day, Chile – 18th

October

National Taco Day, USA – 4th
Halloween, USA – 31st

November

Día de Todos los Santos – 1st
Día de los Muertos/Difuntos – 2nd
Independence Day, Panama – 3rd
National Pupusa Day, El Salvador – 9th
Universal Children’s Day – 20th (Countries throughout Latin America celebrate it different days)
Thanksgiving, USA – 27th

December

Giving Tuesday (donate to charity) – 2nd
Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe – 12th
Las Posadas (to Nochebuenda) – 16th
Nochebuena – 24th
Navidad – 25th
Día de los Inocentes, Latin America – 28th

Did I miss an awesome holiday celebrated in Latin America or by Latinos in other parts of the world? Leave a comment so we can celebrate, too!

Biscochitos

biscochitos

Today we’re getting ready for the annual “galletada” with my mother, sisters and all the kids (my sons, my nephew and my niece.) We always make decorated sugar cookies but sometimes we each bring already prepared cookies of other varieties to share. This morning I decided to make biscochitos.

Biscochitos (often misspelled “bizcochitos”) are a holiday tradition passed generation to generation for many families in New Mexico where my older sister lived for a few years. One of the souvenirs she sent me back while living there were these anise seed cookies with a unique licorice-like flavor I really liked, so I looked up recipes and made them myself many times over the years even though Carlos isn’t that fond of them. (He says that anise is used as a home remedy in El Salvador so they taste medicinal to him.)

Anyway, if you want to give them a try, my recipe is below. Unlike traditional biscochitos, I use butter, even though New Mexicans will insist that to be authentic, you must use lard. My older sister is vegetarian which is why I usually use butter, but please feel free to sub lard for butter in the recipe. It will give it a slightly different texture, (which many much prefer!)

biscochitos3

Biscochitos (New Mexican Anise Seed Cookies

You need:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened (you can use lard)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons anise seed
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (you can use rum)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

For topping:

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method:

1. Cream together the butter and 1 cup sugar in a large bowl. Next beat in the egg, anise seed and vanilla extract.

2. In a separate medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the dry mixture into the wet mixture little by little until combined. Do not over mix.

3. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Once chilled, roll out on a floured surface. The thinner you make them, the crunchier they’ll be, so if you’d like them to be a little softer, roll them out thicker. Use a drinking glass dusted with flour or a cookie cutter to cut the dough into circles or desired shape. Carefully move the cookies to a foil-lined greased cookie sheet.

4. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ½ cup sugar with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Set aside.

5. Bake the cookies at 350 F until they’re starting to brown at the edges. Sprinkle the cookies with the cinnamon sugar mixture while still hot. Allow to cool and serve.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

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