Latin America and Caribbean

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala

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What Cultural Norms Around Bare Feet Taught This Mother in Guatemala
Before my daughter was walking, I rarely put shoes or socks on her tiny feet. We live in Guatemala, where the temperature never drops below 60 nor rises above 80. I used to throw her in the stroller or plop her in the swings, barefoot. When we did errands around town, her bare feet would hang out on either side of the ergo. As a new mom, trying to get a small person and myself ready most mornings, baby shoes and socks were a nuisance more than anything else.       Until one day when a Guatemalan woman with dark hair and kind eyes and a baby tightly wrapped around her back, stopped me in the central square with a look of shock, “Anda descalza!”   “She’s barefoot?” It was more of a question, than a statement, as she gently held out my daughter’s foot for me to see, that yes in fact my daughter did not have socks or shoes on.  Read more »

6 Days in Nicaragua with Kids

We recently came back from six days in Nicaragua with five- and seven-year-old kids.  Read more »

The Perfect Place to Spend a Year with Kids: Mindo, Ecuador

A couple of weeks ago, we visited the cloud forest of Ecuador.  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in Guatemala: Russian, Spanish and English

Welcome Marina and Federico!   Where are you from?   Marina: I was born in the former USSR and immigrated to the U.  Read more »

From Workaholic City Girl to Housewife in the Mexican Desert. Come again?

Have you ever experienced a change that you just knew was right for some reason? Have you ever followed your heart with no guarantees?   I feel that I have done both of these things in the last six months and I now experience a transition phase that is forever shaping and reshaping me, as if I were a flexible and moldable clay statue. Living in New York for 12 years of my life definitely shaped me in a very specific way.  Read more »

One of the Best Ways to Teach Kids Tolerance is to Live It

Isabela, Sebastian and I arrived in Quito a couple of days ago. Oh, how I love looking at the majestic mountains surrounding the city and the feeling of thin air again. I ask the kids which mountain name they remember from last year.  I love having the kids see their relatives and friends of all ages coming over or going to their houses to visit.   Yesterday, we went to visit a house in the countryside up in the mountain of Pasochoa of an old friend of mine.  Read more »

Our Trip to Mexico: Drugs, Cartels and Violence?

I am standing in the middle of the dance floor at a glamorous wedding at a hacienda outside of Puebla, Mexico.     It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited with old architecture, lush grass, beautiful flowers and secret hideaways.            There is a large band on stage with entertainers; everyone is dancing, laughing and celebrating.  Read more »

Lessons from Ecuador on Raising Multicultural Kids

Every year I go on a two-month pilgrimage from San Francisco to Quito, Ecuador with my two kids, ages nine and five, so they can practice Spanish and get immersed back into my culture. I’m originally from Ecuador, but my husband is from North America. He grew up in Hannover, Massachusetts in a house located next to his dad’s veterinarian hospital.  Read more »

Traveling to Ecuador for Two Months of Immersion

I’m on the verge of traveling from San Francisco, where I reside with my family, to Ecuador where I grew up. Though I have most of my family there and have maintained contact with a lot of childhood friends, I’m nervous. Although I love to go, I don't feel completely settled when I’m there. I'm left with that feeling of not belonging anywhere anymore—you know how when you grow up in one place but live in another for many years, you stop belonging to a specific place and are never fully at home in either.  Read more »

Cross-Cultural Parenting in Guatemala: Rethinking Cultural Norms

In a few short months I will be a first time mom. So, like any U.S. mom-to-be, I have been doing my reading; bits of BabyWise and Attachment Parenting, WebMD and my favorite mommy blogs are always open on my browser. I mean what new mom doesn’t want to have the Happiest Baby on the Block? I am a firm believer that our U.S. culture convinces us if we read and plan ahead of time then we will be better parents.  Read more »

How Immersion Travel Helped My Kids Progress in Spanish

During our trip to Mexico, my children took to Spanish like a fish to water. They have been learning Spanish since September in afterschool time, initially for 20 hours per week and since November for five hours per week.   Our first stop in our 10-day trip was to Puebla for one of my best friend's wedding. My kids had so much fun playing with all the other kids, mostly nieces and cousins of my best friend’s family.  Read more »

How to Make Recycled Instruments to Celebrate the Earth

The first musical instruments on Earth were probably very simple but powerful creations made from natural materials.  They might have been a drum made from a hollow log, a rasp made from a carved piece of bone or wood or a few corn kernels or pebbles placed inside a gourd to create a rattle.  Early people were really inventive about making music with on-hand materials and we can do the same thing, in celebration of the Earth!   Since life is so different for modern people and we have so much more fabricated material, we can put two wonderful things together—recycling and creating instruments.  Read more »

Taking in the View of Tulum, Mexico

A perfect day in Tulum with my four and six year olds. Wish we were still there. .  Read more »

Learn Latin American Children’s Music Through Chocolate

Have you ever heard of a molinillo? A molinillo is a traditional Mexican wood whisk.   courtesy: Scott Phillips   It is primarily used in the preparation of hot beverages, like hot chocolate. The molinillo is held between the palms and rotated by rubbing the palms together, the rotation creates the froth in the drink.   courtesy: chroniclebooks   You might ask now what does a molinillo have to do with music.  Read more »

Is My Son Biracial if You Can’t Tell?

“Mamá, you and me are cream colored and Papá is brown,” observed my three-year-old this morning.  There’s nothing attached to that statement.  He also informs us of the color of every bus, chicken, fruit, poop…he doesn’t even have a favorite color yet—his favorite color is whichever one he happens to be looking at.   “Yes, we’re all beautiful colors,” I said.  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in the U.S.: Russian, Spanish and English

Welcome Lydia, Abigail and Max!   Where are you from?   Guatemala and Belize. I was born in Guatemala and raised in both countries during some of the worst years of civil war in Guatemala. My dad was Guatemalan and my mom Belizean.   Where do you currently live and what countries have you lived in?   I currently live in Berkeley, California.  Read more »

Language Resource Library for Raising Bilingual Kids

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Z        This page is a way for all of us to share resources for books, websites, music, apps, games and more for raising our bilingual children. These are reader recommendations on resources by language. Many of these products we have not looked into ourselves and therefore they are not endorsements.  Read more »

Why People Tell Me I’m Not Really Jamaican

The question of my origin is always inevitable. It is one of those 'getting to know you' questions, similar to “What do you do for a living?” Or “How old is your child?” However, I can never simply answer the question with a cursory response. I always feel the need to tell my story, in spite of its possible insignificance to the casual onlooker.  Read more »

Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos: November 1st

Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a well-known holiday that, despite its motif of death, is a celebration of the lives of loved ones who have passed away. Originally derived from Azetc rituals, the holiday became connected to All Soul's and All Saint's Day after Spanish conquest, as the Spaniards tried to put a Christian spin on it.  Read more »

Day of the Dead Craft: Papel Picado

Papel picado (perforated paper) is a popular Mexican folk art crafted out of tissue paper. This delicate and colorful art decorates home and streets during the Day of the Dead celebration. While many of the designs can be very intricate, with skeletons, birds, angels, words, the sun, flowers and more, you can make simple ones at home with your children in much the same way you would make snowflakes.  Read more »

7 Favorite Children’s Books on Going to School Around the World

Every summer my kids and I spend at least six weeks in Chennai, a metropolis in Southern India where I was born and raised.  Even though the chaos and noise of a hot, crowded city has grown on them over the years, there are certain things that continue to fascinate them. For instance, I’ve noticed how they stand on the verandah and catch the action on the street with undivided attention every morning.  Read more »

Children’s Favorites: Ice Cream around the World

What treat do children have in common in every country around the world? Ice cream! Ice cream! We all scream for ice cream! InCultureParent takes you from Indonesia to Ecuador to look at how ice cream worldwide is sold and enjoyed--from cart to mouth. See how other countries and kids enjoy this universal treat. 0 2 30 Little girl in Japan © Decellio - Fotolia.  Read more »

Carnival Recipe: Pao de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

The term Carnival is derived from the term “carnelavare,” which loosely translates to “remove meat.” The festivity is a time of indulgence before the austerity of lent. The celebration, held the 46th day before Easter, varies by country but is marked by dancing, singing and parades. Because my past few recipes have been carb heavy, I debated including this even though I learned it is a Carnival staple  Read more »

Three Kings Day Recipe: Rosca de Reyes

Rosca de Reyes is the traditional pastry bread eaten on Three Kings Day across Latin America and beyond. The best part for kids is a hidden surprise in the bread–a plastic baby (representing the Three Kings’ search for baby Jesus). Whoever finds it in their slice has good luck or some other obligation. For example, in Mexico traditionally, the person who found the baby had to host a party on February 2, known as Día de la Candelaria–this ritual is no longer as common though everywhere in Mexico today  Read more »

Three Kings Day: January 6

While many people are undergoing the Christmas let-down that happens after the 25th, others are just gearing up for their holiday season. Christmas is just one marker on the festive path through the holidays that culminates in Three Kings Day (El Dia de los Reyes Magos also known as Epiphany). Three Kings Day is celebrated in many Christian regions around the world, including Latin America, Spain and much of Eastern Europe, and by Christian populations in places like Turkey, Syria and others.  Read more »

Our Dia de los Muertos and Halloween Fun

This weekend we had a taste of all sorts of fall festivities and also celebrated Day of the Dead for the first time at a joint pumpkin carving/Day of the Dead celebration play date. (I must admit, these blended cultural celebrations are truly some of my favorites as they are the perfect reflection of how all the mixed families out there (and not solely multicultural families but also people who love incorporating diverse cultural elements into a celebration) create traditions.  Read more »

Preparing for the Day of the Dead

In Day of the Dead by Tony Johnston (author) and Jeannette Winter (illustrator), two children in Mexico wake up one morning to the sound of mama slapping empanada dough in the kitchen. Thus begins a day full of festive preparations for the Dia de los Muertos. In the orchard, uncles gather oranges and tejocotes (a fruit local to Mexico). Aunties spend the afternoon stirring a mole sauce of chocolate and chile over the stove.  Read more »

Day of the Dead Recipe: Pan de Muerto

By Gabriela from Gabriela’s Kitchen Since November 1st and 2nd are believed to be the easiest days for mis muertos queridos (my departed loved ones) to visit and take pleasure in earthly delights, I will light candles and set out fragrant marigolds to guide their way, bake delicious pan de muerto to satisfy their stomachs and set out a glass of water to quench their thirst  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in Guatemala: Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese and English

Welcome Susan and Shlomo! Where are you from? Susan: I was born in Connecticut but I grew up in Guatemala City, Guatemala. Shlomo: Near Tel Aviv, Israel. Where do you currently live? Guatemala City, Guatemala How did you meet? Susan: We met in New York—we were introduced by a mutual friend. It was a blind date. Shlomo: I was in the Israeli air force and working on a project for the air force in an American company, supervising the purchase of equipment for Israel.  Read more »

Peruvian craft: Make a Mask

A mask is a must for celebrating the Virgen del Carmen. Make your own fun mask out of a plastic milk jug and other items you have around the house already. Crafts that use recycled materials get an A++ in our book.   Materials: Plastic milk or water jug Yarn or string Masking tape Paints, permanent marker, feathers, etc. to decorate Paint brush Scissors   Instructions: Carefully cut off the handle section of the plastic jug.  Read more »

The Festival of the Virgin of Carmen: July 16

Nestled in the Andean highlands, quiet Peruvian villages become teeming centers of dance, music, and merrymaking every year on July 16th that lasts for three days.   The festival offers a blend of religious devotion and Incan tradition, with regional dance troupes decked out in ornate costumes and vibrant masks. The dancers retell battle stories and the traditional folklore of the Inca, while the masks commemorate those used for protection when vanquished Incan peoples danced in rebellion against Spanish rule.  Read more »

Peruvian Recipe: Lomo Saltado

A lot of typical Andean foods are comfort foods for me. I know comfort foods are usually something that reminds you of your childhood, but comfort foods for me are related to places and times when I felt everything about life was good, much like the time I spent living in Ecuador. This is a Peruvian recipe for lomo saltado (Ecuadorians make it too) from Fighting Windmills that is simple and so tasty  Read more »

Stories from the Peruvian Andes

A little boy, Kusikiy, on the island of Taquile in Lake Titicaca Peru has a concern. “I am worried the birds are not singing and the trees are sad” because it has not rained. The rainy season starts when the Llama Constellation travels above Taquile Island so Kusikiy endeavors to find a way to help the Llama Constellation find its way back to Taquile’s sky.  Read more »

10 Healthy Kid Snacks From Around the World

Tired of crackers, cheerios and raisins? Try one of our snack suggestions from countries like Palestine, Brazil and Morocco for some new ideas to jazz up your snack repertoire.   1. Mexican Paletas (popsicles)   With flavors like coconut pineapple, cucumber chili and banana milk, these blow your average popsicle out of the water.  Read more »

What Color is Latina?

Although I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico to Cuban parents and am unconditionally of 100 percent Cuban descent, I have often felt somewhat disconnected from being a true Latina due to the color of my skin. From an early age, I never felt like I fit into the mold of what a Latina should look like. In school, when I played the coveted lead role of Maria in West Side Story, it was strongly suggested that I dye my hair a darker color even though I was from the same place (Puerto Rico) as the real Maria.  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in the U.S.: Arabic, Spanish and English

Welcome Selene and Jad!   Where are you from?   Selene: Guadalajara, Mexico   Jad: Rachaya El Wadi, Lebanon   Where do you currently live?   Grand Rapids, Michigan   Selene: We have only ever lived in Michigan together.   How did you meet?   Selene: We met in school (university) in Michigan when he was a junior and I was a sophomore and ended up working at the same office—a study abroad office—in college.  Read more »

Si­, Yes: Raising Bilingual Twins

While viewing a new exhibition at the art museum with my twin daughters, who are three and a half years old, we stopped in front of a painting that caught their attention. I asked them, "Que ven en esta obra?" (What do you see in this picture?) Emma jumped and said, "Nieve y Arboles" (snow and trees). Hannah, with a concerned face, answered, "Es buy scary" (it is very scary).  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in the U.S.: Portuguese, Romanian and English

Welcome Ingrid and Leo!   Where are you from? Leo: Brazil   Ingrid: Romania   Where do you currently live? Berkeley, CA. (The each hold a PhD from the University of Berkeley).   How did you meet? Leo: At a birthday party of a friend in common.   Ingrid: It's a much longer story than that. He was visiting from Brazil.  Read more »

Real Intercultural Family in Thailand: Portuguese, Cantonese, Thai and Japanese

Welcome Simone and Ewan! Where are you from? Simone: I was born in Brazil and my parents are Japanese. Ewan: I was born in Los Angeles, CA to Chinese parents and we moved to Hong Kong when I was three. We came back to the U.S. when I was a freshman in high school. I went to high school and college in the U.S. then went to Japan after college.  Read more »
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