Category Archives: Issues

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.

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?

Cicatrices (Scars)

vaccination-scar

I love scars because behind each scar there is often a story that when told, reveals something about the bearer of that scar; for that reason, Carlos’s scars were one of the things I asked him about early in our relationship when we were still getting to know each other. The differences in our scar stories and the number of scars we each had was pretty representative of the different lives we had led up to that point.

Scars on Carlos’ shin and thigh, the result of a careless delivery man dropping a crate of beer bottles onto him as he slept in a hammock in his mother’s liquor store. The scars on my knees? From the time I checked out too many library books and crashed my bicycle trying to ride home with them in my arms. The scar on his forehead is from the time his brother threw a rock at his face. Thin, lightly raised scars mark the outside of my wrists from the time I tried to hug my grandmother’s short-tempered cat, Charlie.

There is one scar on Carlos’s upper left arm; a roundish mark, pinker than the surrounding skin, and about the size of a small coin.

“What’s that one?” I asked, expecting him to say someone had burned him with a lit cigar because of its appearance.

“From a vaccination. Everyone has them,” he said.

In Carlos’s experience, everyone did have them, but that wasn’t the case in my experience. I don’t have one, my sisters don’t have one and none of my friends growing up had such a scar.

For years I just accepted that Salvadorans, (and many Latin Americans I met), have such a scar, without knowing why. Recently I did some research to satisfy my curiosity about which vaccination caused the mark and why I don’t have one.

Various sources, (websites as well as anecdotal stories from friends) have narrowed it down to various possibilities. Some say they’re certain which vaccination it was, others say they have no idea, and still others think it was a combination of shots they received. The vaccinations most frequently blamed for the scar include tuberculosis (also known as “TB”), polio, and smallpox.

The countries of the people I spoke with who have the scar include:
El Salvador, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Argentina, Japan, and The Dominican Republic.

Interestingly enough though, there were also a handful of people born in the United States who have the scar, but all of them were born before my birth year (1979), so it seems to me it’s a vaccine that wasn’t given after a certain year in the U.S. My mother says that both she and my father received the smallpox vaccine but that neither of them scarred and that they had stopped giving that by the time my sisters and I were born.

I managed to dig up my vaccination record and it says that when I was 3 months old I was vaccinated against polio, so, being that I don’t have a scar, perhaps we’ve narrowed it down to “TB” and/or smallpox – or it’s possible that like my parents, my skin doesn’t scar when it comes to vaccinations. A friend from Mexico further convinced me to eliminate polio as a possible source of the scar when she told me that the vaccination for polio, at least in her experience, is not a shot, but given orally along with sugar water. Obviously an oral vaccination wouldn’t cause a scar on the arm.

This website, Descubre Aprende (hat tip to my friend, Eliana!) says that these scars are caused by the TB vaccination which is called “BBG” – One of my Salvadoran friends stated that he was 100% certain that this was correct.

What do you think? Do you have a vaccination scar either on your upper arm or upper outer thigh? Do you know what it was from, in which country you received it and what year? Leave a comment!

Té de Miel y Limón

honey-lemon-tea

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. Scroll down for English translation!

Últimamente parece que cada día una amiga diferente me dice que está enferma. Creo que es un buen momento para compartir mi secreto para combatir el virus del resfriado. Hace muchos años Carlos insistió que tomará un “té” de miel y limón cuando tuviera un dolor de garganta; mucha gente en El Salvador beben esto cuando están enfermos. Yo era escéptica, pero con los años descubrí que ayuda y ahora, cada vez que siento los primeros síntomas de un resfriado, empiezo a beber este té varias veces al día hasta sentirme mejor. El limón proporciona Vitamina C y la miel es un antibiótico natural, además de que sabe bien y se siente bien beberlo. Salud!

Té de Miel y Limón

Necesitas:

una rodaja de limón
una taza de agua muy caliente
miel

Instrucciones:

Exprimir el limón en el agua caliente. Añadir una o dos cucharadas de miel y revuelva. Servir.

Opcional: Últimamente también he ido añadiendo una pizca de jengibre molido que añade sabor y también tiene beneficios médicos.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Lately it seems that each day a different friend tells me she’s sick. I think it’s a good time to share my secret for combating the cold virus. Many years ago Carlos insisted I drink a “tea” made ​​from honey and lemon when I had a sore throat; many people in El Salvador drink this when they’re sick. I was skeptical, but over the years I found that it helps and now, whenever I feel the first symptoms of a cold, I start drinking this tea several times a day until I feel better. The lemon provides Vitamin C and honey is a natural antibiotic, plus it tastes good and feels good drink. To your health!

Honey Lemon Tea

You need:

a slice of lemon
a cup of very hot water
honey

Directions:

Squeeze the lemon into the hot water. Add one or two tablespoons of honey and stir. Serve.

Optional: Lately I’ve also been adding a pinch of ground ginger which adds flavor and also has medical benefits.

Noticias en Caliche

mas-sv

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. Scroll down for English translation!

Recientemente Carlos me introdujo a un sitio salvadoreño de noticias que se llama MAS.SV. La ventaja de leer MAS.SV no es sólo saber de eventos actuales en El Salvador y en todo el mundo – también es aprender vocabulario salvadoreño porque el sitio está escrito en “caliche” (el dialecto de El Salvador.) Son bien divertidos los titulares:

• Roban cel y luego se toman fotos cuando estaban haciendo picardías
• Conocé a Chantel Jeffries, la chica que iba con Justin Bieber cuando lo enchucharon
• Abunda la cochinada

También hay artículos chistosos y interesantes como, Pueblos españoles con nombres graciosos y Didga, el gato skater que causa furor en la web. Chécalo y diviértete!

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Carlos recently introduced me to a Salvadoran news website called MAS.SV. The advantage of reading it is not just knowing current events in El Salvador and around the world, but learning Salvadoran vocabulary because the site is written in “caliche” (Salvadoran slang.) The headlines are really funny:

[I'll try my best to translate the Salvadoran slang words.]

• Roban cel y luego se toman fotos cuando estaban haciendo picardías
(They stole a cellphone then took photos when they were “messing around” (sexual connotation.)

• Conocé a Chantel Jeffries, la chica que iba con Justin Bieber cuando lo enchucharon
(Meet Chantel Jeffries, the girl who was with Justin Bieber when they “got him/arrested him/put him in handcuffs.”)

• Abunda la cochinada
(“Dirtiness” abounds)

There are also humorous and interesting articles like Spanish towns with funny names and Didga, the skater cat causing excitement on the web. Check it out and enjoy!

Burrito Box – The World’s First Automated Burrito Kiosk

burritobox

I’ve never really wanted to live in Los Angeles… until now. Los Angeles is home to the Burrito Box, which is the first automated burrito kiosk. For $3 plus tax you can use the touchscreen vending machine to get one of the following 5 varieties at a Mobil gas station on Santa Monica Boulevard:

Chorizo sausage with cage-free eggs and cheese
Uncured bacon with egg and cheese
Roasted potato with egg and cheese
Free-range chicken with beans and rice
Shredded beef and cheese

If you want sour cream, hot sauce or guacamole, they cost a little bit extra. Pay with your credit card and then wait. (It takes about a minute to a minute and 30 seconds.)

Unfortunately, reviews from people who have actually tried the burritos seem to be much less enthusiastic than those who want to try the burritos. Since I’m on the east coast and don’t have access to a burrito vending machine I guess I will have to continue to make my own, but if anyone invents a pupusa vending machine, DC Metro area has dibs on it.

Giving Tuesday & Visiting Perritos

chico_givingtuesday1

Have you heard of Giving Tuesday? Giving Tuesday, (celebrated December 3rd this year) is a national day of giving, a movement that was created last year to encourage people to take part in charitable activities and to support non-profits. I wanted to do my part to spread the word and hopefully inspire others by sharing my family’s Giving Tuesday story.

You see that cute pup who looks ready to tackle the Christmas tree in the photo above? For those who don’t know, that’s Chico. We adopted Chico from our local Humane Society last year. For Giving Tuesday, we decided we wanted to donate supplies to them so they can continue to do what they do – find homes for deserving cats and dogs.

supplies_givingtuesday2

Since I’m a Lowe’s blog ambassador and receive gift cards to complete my monthly projects, I decided to make use of one of the gift cards that had leftover money on it by buying most of the supplies at Lowe’s. If you want to donate to your local Humane Society, call or visit their website to find out what they need and accept. Our Humane Society listed specific cleaning and pet supplies. Besides these items from Lowe’s, (plus some cute Christmas stockings I couldn’t resist) we bought a couple bags of kitty litter and cat food, too.

boysbox_givingtues

My boys carried the supplies to the car and we went as a family to the Humane Society to drop them off, (well, drop them off and visit the animals for a little while.)

cutedog_givingtuesday

There were over a dozen dogs awaiting homes and it was hard to walk away from them. We stayed and talked to each one for a couple minutes. I don’t know if they understood me, but I told each one they would be adopted soon and to hang in there. I got a little choked up doing this. Also, you’re not supposed to stick your fingers through the bars, but after letting each dog sniff my closed fist and reading its body language, I did pet most of them. Some of them were so hungry for love that they’d lean against the bars trying to get closer to me.

After visiting with the dogs, we visited with the cats. Our Humane Society allows some of the cats free roam of a closed room full of toys and everything they could possibly need. Carlos kept complaining that he didn’t want to go to the cat room because he doesn’t like cats but after a few minutes, I caught him like this.

carlos_cat_givingtues

Hmmm, does that look like someone who doesn’t like cats to you?

Leaving was bittersweet but it was literally closing time and we had to go. I think we all felt happy that we were able to give a little something but sad that we weren’t able to do more, so this is my attempt at doing more by spreading the word.

If you didn’t know about Giving Tuesday, or hadn’t planned to participate, I hope you’ll consider it. You can support any organization or cause you feel passionate about, but if you’re an animal lover and have room in your home, I hope you’ll consider adoption. There are plenty of sweet dogs and cats waiting for you to make them part of your family.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. This post was in no way encouraged by The Humane Society, Lowe’s, or any of the product brands shown.

Té de Canela

TedeCanela

Cinnamon is believed to have a lot of health benefits – from boosting the immune system, aiding digestion, and lowering blood sugar to relieving arthritis, fighting bacterial infections and promoting brain function. I’m not a doctor and can’t say for sure if any of this is true, but it’s an easy and refreshing drink when chilled and served over ice.

Té de Canela

Ingredients:

2 cinnamon sticks
2 cups of water
3 tablespoons white table sugar

Directions:

Bring ingredients to a boil then lower to a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour through a sieve and serve over ice. Makes two to three glasses.

Note: Cinnamon has been shown to cause medical problems for some people. Talk to your doctor before self-medicating or consuming cinnamon in large quantities or for an extended period of time.

Tribal Wives

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. Scroll down for English translation!

Image source: Link TV

Image source: Link TV

No miro mucha televisión pero de vez en cuando descubro un programa que me encanta. Eso es lo que pasó con el programa, “Tribal Wives” en Link TV.

El primer episodio que vi fue sobre una mujer de Inglaterra que se llama Sass y ella fue a vivir con el tribu Kuna de Panamá. Me gustó ver las interacciones entre ella y los miembros del tribu, en particular con la figura materna, Ana Lida. El show, “Tribal Wives”, realmente tocó mi corazón y me hizo pensar.

Después de ver este episodio y otro, fui a buscar más información en línea sobre el programa. Encontré mucho comentario inteligente pero opinones muy diferentes. Había gente que cree que el show está explotando los indígenas y no están de acuerdo con él.

Entiendo la perspectiva y tal vez haya un grano de verdad en esta opinión, pero también me alegra ver gente de culturas diferentes aprendiendo unos de otros y teniendo amistades.

¿Has visto el programa? ¿Qué piensas tú? ¿Es ético grabar un “reality show” así?

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I don’t watch a lot of television but once in awhile I discover a program I love. This is what happened with the program “Tribal Wives” on Link TV.

The first episode I saw was about an English woman named Sass and she went to live with the Kuna tribe in Panama. I liked to watch the interactions between her and the tribe, particularly with the mother figure, Ana Lida. The show, “Tribal Wives,” really touched my heart and made me think.

After watching this episode and another, I went online to find more information about the program. I found a lot of intelligent commentary but really different opinions. There were people who felt the show exploits indigenous people and they didn’t agree with it.

I understand the perspective and maybe there is a grain of truth in that opinion, but it also makes me happy to see people of different cultures learn from each other and make friendships.

Have you seen the program? What do you think? Is it ethical to film a “reality show” like this?

Onions and Unintentional Racism

The onion I wanted to throw at a clueless woman's head.

The onion I wanted to throw at a clueless woman’s head.

I know, it’s a strange title, but I wasn’t sure how else to sum up our visit to the grocery store today.

Carlos and I walked through the produce section as I checked my list.

“I need onions,” I said.

Carlos steered the cart and followed me to the onions.

“Whoa!” I said, when I came to the onions, because they were the biggest onions I’d ever seen.

“Those are huge,” Carlos said.

“Do you think they’re like, genetically modified onions or something?” I joked, picking one up.

“I don’t know. One onion is enough for a whole week.”

“Hey, quick, take a picture of it,” I said, holding it up.

Carlos obliged without question because he’s become accustomed to my odd photo requests over the years. Carlos snapped the photo and then that’s when everything went downhill.

A middle-aged blond woman standing nearby smiled at us. Her blond child sat in the cart and several more stood behind her.

“Where are you from?” the woman asked, turning her attention to Carlos, still smiling.

I glared at her while setting the onion down. Carlos shuffled uncomfortably as he put his cellphone back in his pocket.

“El Salvador,” he answered.

“You must not have onions that big there, huh?” the woman said in a voice that reminded me of a Kindergarten teacher speaking to one of her 5 year old students. She wasn’t trying to be insulting… She wasn’t trying to be.

“Um, no, not really,” Carlos said, shifting his eyes to make eye contact with me ever so briefly. Carlos and I didn’t need words, didn’t need to speak, to know we were thinking the same thing.

I bit my tongue, resisted the urge to ask the woman where she was from. I wanted to tell her that Carlos had lived in the United States for 15 years now, that he’s an American Citizen, not some onion-photographing foreign tourist. I wanted to lob one of the onions at her head but she was oblivious to her white privilege, her unintentional racism, how she had made Carlos feel “other” … She didn’t realize that if another white person had been taking a photo in the grocery store she would not have asked or even wondered where they are from.

“We just went to Thailand. We love anything international!” the woman exclaimed.

The awkwardness was unbearable.

I wondered in my head how she would have reacted if I blurted out something equally as random. “Tea and crumpets are amazing!” is what I wanted to say. I bit my tongue harder.

“That’s nice?” Carlos said, unsure, as was I, what she expected us to respond.

I looped my arm through Carlos’s, forced myself to smile at the woman and we walked away. I kept quiet because I still don’t know how to explain white privilege to other white people.

What would you have done? How would you have responded?

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