Mamá the Alien

MAMA_THE_ALIEN_cover

Some of you may remember I interviewed Salvadoran children’s author René Colato Laínez here before, and today I’m excited to not only share his newest book with you, but to offer you the opportunity to win a copy of it in the giveaway below!

Mamá the Alien/Mamá la extraterrestre by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Laura Lacámara is a bilingual book in both English and Spanish, which is something I always appreciated finding when my boys were little. I love owning books that I can read to them in either language and which are accessible to everyone in the house. I also found books like this to be an invaluable tool (for myself, and for the kids), to learn new vocabulary by comparing the two texts.

Mamá the Alien tells the story of a little girl named Sofia who discovers her mother’s “Resident Alien” card and then begins to wonder what sort of alien her mother is. Is her mother trilingual? Does she speak English, Spanish, and… Alien? The concept of this book is great because it really is a confusing concept for young children to hear this word “alien” in the media to refer to people who have come from other countries when their only frame of reference is the sci-fi outer space definition of the word.

alien-mama-page

The fun, colorful illustrations and the anticipation of wondering what Sofia will discover about her mother will be sure to keep kids interested while teaching them something new, and reassuring those who may be struggling with similar questions about a family member’s or his/her own identity.

Want to win a copy? Enter the giveaway below!

===GIVEAWAY CLOSED! CONGRATS TO Paola R!===

Giveaway Details

Prize description: One lucky winner will receive a copy of the book MAMA THE ALIEN by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Laura Lacámara.

How to enter: Just leave a comment below!

Official Rules: No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years of age or older to enter. You must be able to provide a U.S. address for prize shipment. Your name and address will only be shared with the person responsible for prize fulfillment for that purpose. Please no P.O. Boxes. One entry per household. Make sure that you enter a valid email address in the email address field so you can be contacted if you win. Winner will be selected at random. Winner has 24 hours to respond. If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected at random. Giveaway entries are being accepted between August 19th, 2016 through August 24th, 2016. Entries received after August 24th, 2016 at 11:59 pm EST, will not be considered. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. If you win, by accepting the prize, you are agreeing that Latinaish.com assumes no liability for damages of any kind. By entering your name below you are agreeing to these Official Rules. Void where prohibited by law.

Buena suerte / Good luck!

Ancestry DNA: Part 4

carlos-2016

In Part 1 and Part 2, I took you through the process and results of my own DNA test with Ancestry.com – Now it’s Carlos’s turn! Check out Part 3 for Carlos’s thoughts before taking the test. Part 4 (this final post) is Carlos’s results!

Carlos’s results are in! His took much longer to arrive, (40 days compared to the 22 days I waited.) Maybe the Ancestry DNA test has become more popular since I did mine. At first I thought maybe it was taking so long because we did it around Saint Patrick’s Day and you tend to see a lot of their commercials encouraging people to see if they have Irish ancestry around that time of year, but that can’t be it, because I also did mine around Saint Patrick’s Day last year. While we were waiting for the results, Carlos joked that it was taking so long because they discovered he’s el eslabón perdido (“the missing link”) and they were busy gathering researchers from around the world, which was a very Carlos-ish joke to make.

Anyway, I won’t keep you in more suspense than is necessary. Let’s get to the results!

When I asked Carlos if he had any predictions, he had answered, “Maybe that I’m mostly indigenous” – And it turns out he was correct! Carlos is 57% Native American. It’s just a shame that Ancestry DNA can’t go into more detail than that.

native

We can assume this is most likely Central American tribes descended from the Mayan and/or Aztec, but we really have no way of knowing for sure.

Carlos also got 27% Europe. Unsurprisingly the majority of that (16%) is from the Iberian Peninsula.

iberian-peninsula

What about the rest of that 27% though? That’s where we start getting some interesting results.

4% Italy/Greece
3% Great Britain
2% European Jewish
2% Ireland

This means Carlos and I have some ancestry in common! (It also means I can no longer pinch him on Saint Patrick’s Day for not being Irish.)

italy-greece

great-britain

European-Jewish

Ireland

We’ve got 16% left, any guesses before we go on?

Well, here’s some more surprises. Carlos is 12% African.

The breakdown is:

North Africa 5%
Senegal 2%
Mali 2%
Ivory Coast/Ghana 2%
Africa Southeastern Bantu 1%

And here are the maps with more detailed information on those:

africa-north

senegal

mali

ivory-coast-ghana

africa-bantu

Now we have just 4% left, and that is broken down as:

Caucausus 3%
Middle East < 1%

caucasus

middle-east

That’s it! Here’s a picture of the full breakdown (including expanded trace regions) and the world map showing all his ancestral areas:

carlos-regions-expanded

carlos-dna-map

A few last questions with Carlos:

Tracy: Which result surprised you the most?
Carlos: Jewish and Irish.

Tracy: Has this changed anything for you? How you see yourself? How you see the world?
Carlos: I don’t know yet. I’m still kind of processing it.

Tracy: Was there anything you were disappointed not to see?
Carlos: Well, I’m not disappointed, but I’m surprised that I’m not East Asian at all. I was kind of expecting I would be because of the way my [paternal] grandmother looked. I also wish the technology was advanced enough to give me more detail about the Native American result.

Tracy: What is your advice to other people considering doing the Ancestry DNA test?
Carlos: I recommend it, they should do it.

Ancestry DNA: Part 3

Image source: Flickr user charamelody

Image source: Flickr user charamelody

In Part 1 and Part 2, I took you through the process and results of my own DNA test with Ancestry.com – Now it’s Carlos’s turn!

Around this time last year I asked Carlos if I could order the DNA test for my birthday present. Ever since then Carlos has been wanting to do his own DNA test, but has always balked at spending the money on it. I decided that since my birthday is coming up again, this year my present will be Carlos’s test. You may wonder how something for Carlos is a birthday gift for me, but I’m just as curious about his results as he is, and I can think of few things I want that would be this much fun. So we ordered the test today. Below is my interview with Carlos to see how he’s feeling and his thoughts on the topic. Because I already covered the “how to” of the DNA test in Part 1 when I did mine, we’ll skip discussing the technical aspect of Carlos’s test. Part 4 will be posted when we receive his results!

Tracy: How are you feeling about the DNA test? Nervous? Anxious? Excited?

Carlos: I’m not really nervous, more curious than anything else.

Tracy: What do you think you’ll find out? Any predictions?

Carlos: No, I’m not sure. No idea. Maybe that I’m mostly indigenous?

Tracy: Why do you say that? Did anyone in your family speak an indigenous language or anything?

Carlos: I don’t know, because of my skin color, I guess. No one in my family spoke Náhuat that I know of, I don’t know if older generations spoke it.

Tracy: What do you already know, or think you know, about your roots? What family stories, recipes, or traditions did you have growing up that offer clues to your ancestry?

Carlos: I don’t have any clues. My family didn’t pass down traditions the way people do here [in the United States]… I mean, my family’s traditions were like everyone’s traditions – just Salvadoran traditions, Salvadoran culture.

Tracy: Were both sides of your family Catholic?

Carlos: Yes, as far as I know.

Tracy: Who are the oldest relatives you remember, and what do you remember about them?

Carlos: My mom says some of her father’s side of the family was light-skinned, but for my dad I don’t really know anything. My dad looked more Japanese than anything, and his mother looked Asian too.

Tracy: Your mother’s side of the family, as far back as you know, was from Chalatenango and your father’s side was from Ilobasco, right?

Carlos: Right, as far as I know. I don’t know any family history farther than that.

Tracy: Wait, you told me a story once about one of your family members in Europe, didn’t you? Who was that? Was she born in Europe?

Carlos: Oh, that was one of my [maternal] grandfather’s grandmother’s sisters…I think. She was born in El Salvador but she learned French and went to be a nanny in France. During World War II they had to flee and the family got separated. She took the child up to the mountains and kept him safe. When the family was reunited they were so thankful that they took care of her the rest of her life.

Tracy: She stayed in France and died there?

Carlos: No, she came back to El Salvador but they sent her money the rest of her life… Something like that. I’m never sure about these stories.

Tracy: Anyway, you said she was born in El Salvador, so that wouldn’t make you French.

Carlos: No.

Tracy: What if you get a really unexpected result? Do you think you’ll want to explore that culture and your roots a bit more?

Carlos: Yes, definitely.

Tracy: When I got my results I shared them with my sisters so they would know more about their heritage, but you don’t have any full-blooded brothers or sisters; all your siblings are half-siblings. Do you think you’ll share your results with any of them even though they won’t know what parts of your ancestry results are also theirs?

Carlos: No, it’s more for me to know, and for our boys to know the other half of their heritage.

Playlist: Paz

During the month of December, blogueras Romina of Mamá XXI and Laura of Mamá Especial Cuenta Conmigo are posting messages of peace on their blogs and social media channels as part of the #MamisPorLaPAZ initiative they created.

You can read more about it here but I decided to contribute at least one post to the cause by creating this playlist for peace.

What song or video that fits the theme of “paz” would you add to this list? Share in comments! (And feel free to join initiative on your own blogs and social media channels.)

Juanes – Odio Por Amor

Natalia LaFourcade – Un Derecho de Nacimiento

UNFPA El Salvador – Yo Decido Vivir en Paz

Espinoza Paz – Si Amas a Dios

Señor Tenga – Mensaje de Paz

Playing for Change – United

Julieta Venegas – Un Poco De Paz

Juanes – Paz, Paz, Paz

A few videos (not songs) worth watching:

Naciones Unidas El Salvador – También soy persona

Unsung Hero – TVC Thai Life Insurance

The Most Astounding Fact – Neil deGrasse Tyson

El sexo débil

el-sexo-debil

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!

Soy muy exigente con las telenovelas que miro. No he visto ninguna con lealtad desde Herederos del Monte, pero El Sexo Débil es una que creo que voy a ver hasta el final. Sólo he visto dos episodios hasta ahora, pero me encanta la trama y los personajes mujeres fuertes. He aquí una descripción de la serie:

Los hombres siempre han pensado que el machismo es sinónimo de respeto, liderazgo y valentía; que el ser macho es provocado por sentimientos que un hombre no debe revelar, o al menos, lo exige la sociedad. Eso ocurre con los Camacho, una familia de hombres dedicados a la medicina cuya característica principal es el ser machistas. Eso causa que, un día, cada una de las mujeres de los Camacho abandonen a sus parejas: Álvaro es abandonado por tener celos de su esposa, al ser ella más exitosa en lo profesional; a Dante lo deja su novia actual por un sueco que conoció en París; a Julián lo abandona su prometida por haberle sido infiel varias veces; y a Agustín, el patriarca, lo deja su esposa por no escucharla durante tres décadas de casados. Bruno, el menor de los Camacho y el único que queda con una relación estable, es homosexual.

Tras este acontecimiento, los Camacho tendrán que enfrentar sus miedos solos, coincidiendo con la llegada de Helena, una mujer que abandonó a su prometido el día de su boda y que cambiará la vida a todos los hombres de esta familia. Wikipedia

Si quieres ver la telenovela conmigo, puedes ver los episodios en la página web de NBC Universo, o en el canal NBC Universo lunes a jueves 7:00 pm ET/PT.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I’m very picky about the telenovelas I watch. I haven’t watched any Spanish-language soap operas with loyalty since Herederos del Monte, but El Sexo Débil is one I think I’ll watch through to the end. I’ve only seen two episodes so far, but I love the plot and strong female characters. Here’s a description of the series [my rough translation of the Spanish-language Wikipedia page]:

Men have always thought that machismo is synonymous with respect, leadership and courage; that the male shouldn’t reveal his feelings, or at least, that’s what society demands. That goes for the men of the Camacho family, men dedicated to medicine whose main characteristic is being macho. One day this leads to each of the women leaving their partners: Alvaro is abandoned by his wife for being jealous of her professional success; Dante’s girlfriend leaves him for a Swede she met in Paris; Julian is abandoned by his fiance for having been chronically unfaithful; and Augustine, the patriarch, his wife leaves him for not listening to her the entire three decades of their marriage. Bruno, who is gay and the youngest of the Camacho family, is the only one left with a stable relationship.

After this event, the Camacho men will have to face their fears alone, coinciding with the arrival of Helena, a woman who abandoned her fiance on their wedding day and who will change the lives of all the men in this family.

If you want to watch this telenovela with me, you can see full episodes at the NBC Universo website, or on the NBC Universo channel Monday to Thursday at 7:00 pm ET/PT.

Folklife Festival 2015: Peru

I think my favorite event in Washington, D.C. is the annual Folklife Festival which is held the last week of June and the first week of July. This year the featured country is Peru.

The festival is being held adjacent to the National Museum of the American Indian, and extends into the museum itself. Inside you can visit a new English-Spanish bilingual exhibit called The Great Inka Road (third floor), and buy Peruvian folkart, (in the atrium just inside the entrance.)

The most interesting fact I learned from the Inka exhibit, which will be in place until June 2018, is that the Andean people knew the bark of the quina tree (also known as “quinine”) cured malaria for thousands of years. Use of quinine in Europe occurred in the 1600’s after Catholic missionaries learned about it from the Andean people.

Peruvian flowers, folkart

The folk art available included traditional items, like these colorful tin flowers made in Ayacucho, Peru.

But the equally colorful more modern typography art called “chicha” was available as well. I love the quote on this signed print by artist Elliot Túpac. It says “La suerte cuesta trabajo” (luck requires work.)

Art by Elliot Tupac

Outside was an awesome mural in the same style which combines ancestral colors in modern street-style urban designs. I can’t say for sure whether that was the same artist working on it, as another artist by the name of Pedro “MONKY” Rojas, chicha pioneer and mentor to Túpac, was being prominently featured nearby.

Peruvian urban art

There was so much going on, I didn’t really know what to check out first, and as soon as I’d spot something interesting, something else would distract me. There were many different types of artisans weaving, working with clay, carving wood, and this guy who was lashing together reeds to make rafts called “caballitos de totora” which have been used by fishing families in Huanchaco for five thousand years.

Peruvian reed boats

I loved the embroidery on this woman’s blouse.

Peruvian woman weaving

I learned about different types of corn, (I was told the purple corn is used only for chicha morada and chicken feed because it never gets soft), I watched a cooking demonstration for lomo saltado, and I saw what quinoa plants look like.

There were also plenty of things I missed, like the Marinera dance with Peruvian Paso horses, (there was a huge crowd, so I went in the opposite direction to take advantage of everyone else being away from other exhibits), but here’s one of the performers and his horse afterward.

Peruvian horseman

Of course, all this walking around made us hungry, especially since the smell of Peruvian food was in the air.

Chicha morada and papa rellena

We had brought along a picnic lunch so we wouldn’t spend money, but I couldn’t resist a small snack. This is a papa rellena, which is a potato croquette filled with ground beef, hard-boiled egg, raisins, and spices. The green sauce is aji verde, and the drink is, of course, the ever popular chicha morada.

The most interesting part of our day occurred when I wandered over to a tent to investigate men who were dressed in very unique-looking costumes. One of the men turned around while I was staring at the embroidered design on his back and so I said to him in Spanish, “Su traje es bien bonito.” (Your suit/costume is really nice.) The man thanked me in Spanish and so I asked him if it was worn year-round or for a particular event. He explained that he was part of a Contradanza troupe and the costume is worn in a small town during the celebration called the “Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen de Paucartambo.”

I finished my conversation with the gentleman, thanking him for his time, and then turned around to look for Carlos. I found him and the boys standing a few yards away watching a man weave together rope. I realized that this must be one of the Quechua men who is working on recreating the rope bridge, (“Q’eswachaka”) which, when finished, will be suspended across the National Mall. When the festival is over, a section of the bridge will be put on display in the National Museum of the American Indian. This bridge is built and re-built by four Andean communities each year in Peru, a tradition that dates back six hundred years, and being tradition, as you’d imagine, there are many rituals and beliefs surrounding the creation of it.

Well, the man who was working on it, stood up and addressed the crowd in Spanish. “Necesitamos ayuda. ¿Quién puede ayudarnos?” he asked, (We need help. Who can help us?)

I wasn’t sure exactly what he needed help with. Judging from the faces of others who had gathered to watch, nobody else knew either, or perhaps they just didn’t speak Spanish, and maybe for that reason, no one volunteered.

I pushed past my shyness and raised my hand.

I stood only feet away, and yet the man somehow didn’t see me as he repeated his question – “We need help, who will help us?” – Still, no one else volunteered. I waved my hand a little higher. The man explained in more detail that they needed to stretch out the rope that had been woven together by pulling on it from opposite ends. Pull on a rope? I can do that. This time I spoke up with confidence.

“Yo. Yo puedo ayudar,” I said aloud, prepared to hand my purse over to Carlos.

The man shook his head and finally looked me briefly in the eyes, “Sólo hombres.”

Men only.

I felt my cheeks go hot, a mix of humiliation and indignation stirred inside me. I grew up playing tackle football with the neighborhood boys, climbing trees, swimming laps all summer long. I used to fight grown men in martial arts class. Maybe this man just didn’t know I was capable. Maybe he thought I’d get hurt. I’m no stranger to machismo, so I didn’t shrink away quietly. Instead I pulled up my shirt sleeve and flexed my bicep.

“Pero soy fuerte!” I called out loudly – But I’m strong!

Yet the man ignored me as finally a few volunteers of the male persuasion started to come forward.

Carlos rubbed my shoulder, “Did he hurt your feelings?”

“Just go ahead, you help, you guys help,” I said to Carlos and the boys.

Peruvian rope bridge

Two men from the Contradanza troupe smiled at me kindly while trying to comfort me. “It’s not personal,” they said, “It’s just tradition. It would be bad luck for a woman to participate.” I nodded my head, watched the two groups of laughing, grunting men play tug-of-war. I tried to act like I totally understood, but to be honest, it caused me to feel and think a lot of things – Things I won’t delve into here because the festival is meant to celebrate the beautiful and diverse culture of Peru and it just wouldn’t be in the spirit of the event to chase that rabbit today, but I did want to mention it because culture clashes and the questions that arise from them are so very interesting, aren’t they?

So to conclude, if you want to visit the 2015 Folklife Festival, (which I recommend!), you still have July 1st through the 5th. The festival hours are 11 am to 5:30 pm, with special events such as concerts taking place most evenings beginning at 7 pm. Details available at the website. Unable to attend in person? The website has plenty of great information, photos, and videos.

Gracias a los policías colombianos

policia-colombia-perro-rescate

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!

A veces es difícil tener fe en la humanidad. Hay tantas cosas malas pasando en el mundo y tanta gente eligiendo hacer daño a sus hermanos en vez de ayudarles. Pero lo hermoso es que toma sólo un pequeño acto de amor y bondad por llenar mi corazón.

Hoy el acto que tocó mi corazón hasta el punto de llorar venía de estos valientes hombres – policías colombianos que arriesgaron sus vidas para salvar a un perro siendo arrastrado por las aguas de la inundación.

Son increíbles y sólo quiero agradecerles públicamente. No hay palabras suficientes para expresar lo que siento, pero policías colombianos, si ustedes están leyendo esto, yo les mando un fuerte abrazo de los Estados Unidos y les deseo un millón de bendiciones. Gracias por todo lo que hacen por proteger vidas – grandes y pequeñas.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Sometimes it’s difficult to have faith in humanity. There are so many bad things happening in the world and so many choosing to harm their brothers rather than help them. But the beautiful thing is that it takes only one small act of love and kindness to fill my heart.

Today the thing that touched my heart to the point of tears was these brave men – Colombian policemen who risked their lives to save a dog being swept away in flood waters.

They’re amazing and I just want to thank them publicly. There aren’t words to sufficiently express how I feel, but Colombian policemen, if you guys are reading this, I send you a big hug from the United States and I wish you all a million blessings. Thank you for all you do to protect lives – both big and small.