Traditional Breakfast Foods in Bolivia

While lunch may be the most important meal in your typical Bolivian’s day that is not to say that breakfast has not taken on a life and style of its own in this unique South American country.

Western breakfast traditions like milk and cereal are slowly seeping into the Bolivian culture but there are traditional breakfast foods in Bolivia that can still be tasted today.

Should you find yourself in Bolivia at any time of the year, you will begin to hear the calls of local street vendors at around seven in the morning.  This is the best time to sample some of the delicious traditional breakfast foods of Bolivia.

Traditional Breakfast Foods in Bolivia

Café con Leche

Of course, no Bolivian’s breakfast is complete without café con leche or as Anglos know it, coffee. Bolivian breakfast drinks are very important to a traditional Bolivian breakfast and coffee is just one of the beverages that you will see on the menu of a Bolivian café.

Bolivia makes some of the richest and sweetest coffee in the world and while many in the country drink it very strong and without milk, you can get traditional Bolivian coffee as thick and sweet as you can handle it.  If you are not a coffee person, fear not. Bolivian breakfast vendors will usually have a ready supply of tea or mate drink to stimulate your morning.

If you are really looking for a traditional experience, you can sample the Api that is said to have been created and passed down from the Incas so many centuries ago.

Api is a corn based drink and is spiced with cloves, orange rind and cinnamon.  The first thing you will notice is that it has a very thick consistency and depending on whether you try Api Morado or Api Blanco, it will have a purple or light tan coloring.  It is a sweet drink that often accompanies sweet Bolivian breakfast pastries.

Empanadas

Bread based foods make up most of traditional breakfast foods in Bolivia and empanadas reign supreme as the staple of the first meal of the day.

You may have tried an Empanada here in the states and it was probably sweetened and maybe even filled with some kind of meat. While this style of empanada is not unheard of in Bolivia, for breakfast they have a simpler version.  They eat an empanada which is essentially fried dough and sometimes puffed up to enormous proportions.

Traditional Breakfast Foods in Bolivia

Traditional Breakfast Foods in Bolivia

Other Bolivian Breakfast Foods

Something called buñuelos are also commonly served up for breakfast.  Buñuelos in Bolivia are somewhat different from Colombian buñuelos.

In Bolivia buñuelos are simple fried balls of dough and are sometimes topped with honey.  Buñuelos do not always come in ball-form.  In fact you can get them to look more like their American counterparts, donuts with just a bit of searching.

In case you haven’t noticed by now, Bolivian food (particularly Bolivian breakfast foods) are usually fried, carb-heavy dishes that can be sweetened to accompany your cup of coffee or preferred breakfast drink.  This is the signature of Bolivian breakfast and is demonstrated in the final breakfast food I will speak of here: Pan con queso.  Literally translated, this dish is bread with cheese and it is as simple as that.  A hearty roll of bread stuffed with a delightful piece of homemade cheese.

The Q’ero Mystics of Peru

There is a lot of mystery that surrounds the Q’ero mystics of Peru.  Some say they are direct descendants of Incan high priests. Some even purport that they live in the Andean mountains at altitudes where no normal human can survive.  Such claims may be hearsay but the fact remains that due to the high spiritual life that the Q’ero have become known for, there is a lot of wiggle room for people to weave fantastical stories in.

The Abode of the Q’ero

Another factor contributing to the mystery that surrounds the Q’ero is the place that they call home.  They live in an extremely remote region of the Peruvian Andes just outside the province of Paucartambo.

The elevation is indeed very high in this region but it is definitely not unfit for humans.  The region is mountainous and the trails that lead between the estimated six major Q’ero villages can be dangerous to trek.  Still, this is the abode of the Q’ero mystic of Peru and perhaps does more to shroud these people in secrecy than any other aspect.

The Q'ero Mystics of Peru

The Q’ero Mystics of Peru

What the Q’ero Mystics of Peru Believe

There is no dogma among the Q’ero like in most of the religions we practice in developed countries but the Q’ero most certainly have beliefs.

Their spiritual history, so to speak, is broken up into ages.  The first age brought the moon and the first men.  Within this age, the sun emerged and burned away the men of the moon.  The sun begat a son called Inkarri and he founded the city of Cusco and performed other miraculous deeds.

The Spanish came but the Q’ero claimed to have triumphed over them with the help of the mountain spirit or Apus as it is known to the Q’ero.  The Q’ero believe that a new age is approaching and will be marked by the return of Inkarri who will burn the wicked and cause the good to ascend to the heavens.

The Q’ero pass all of this history down through generations through oral traditions and story-telling.  They believe in the Cosmic Mother which some have taken to mean the universe or nature.

The Q’ero do not have an organized religion, rather a set of traditions and loose beliefs that influence their daily lives and culture. For example, they pay great respect and homage to nature and try to do good among one another because they believe that doing good for others will eventually bring rewards to themselves.

The Wisdom of the Q’ero

Peru is a place filled with magical stories and peoples, some examples are the Nazca Lines of Peru and the Q’ero mystics of Peru  who have much wisdom to share with the modern world.

Unlike Evangelical religions, the Q’ero promote harmony with all living things and thinking nothing of a person’s religion. Balance to them is an individual virtue that must be maintained in order to live a good life.

The Q’ero mystics of Peru have survived all this time in a harsh terrain by living modest lives and finding their sustenance in the earth.  Their homes are small, often single-room huts and they raise llamas and alpacas and farm corn and potatoes.

There has been a great deal of interest in the Q’ero mystics of Peru and there is even a documentary about them in the works. Perhaps this interest stems from the fact that these people have survived for centuries in an unorthodox manner that boggles our modern minds and challenges the modern comforts we believe we cannot live without.

At any rate, they are a vital link to our collective history as humans and should be respected accordingly.

Top 6 Latin Music Genres

Latino music, just like Latino food is flavorful and evokes emotions of warmth and spice.  The Latin world has given us many different genres of music –some more popular than others.  Still, I found that there is something to appreciate and take away from all of the genres of music that I intend to share with you.  Here are the top 6 Latin music genres.

Salsa

Salsa music may very well be the most popularized and branded genre of Latino music in the world.  Whoever you are and wherever you live, you have probably heard at least a sampling Salsa music.

Salsa is an umbrella term that may in fact refer to other genres like Cha Cha, Mambo and Pachanga.  While all of these musical styles make up the body of Salsa, one must also recognize the infusion of Jazz and R&B in Salsa music. Celia Cruz is one of the pioneers of Salsa music and is an excellent starting point if you want to start delving into this genre.

Merengue

Merengue music is probably what most people think of when they think of Latin dance music.  It is a fast paced style of dance music (accompanied with its own style of dance) that is performed with traditional Dominican instruments like Tambora and Guira.

Modern Merengue incorporates elements of EDM as well but for a traditional taste of Merengue, check out Juan Luis Guerra or Chichi Peralta.

Bachata

This genre has an interesting history.  It is essentially distinguished as a music that tells a sad tale of heartbreak or sorrow.  It emerged from the Dominican country side with traditional Spanish guitar being the main instrumentation. Today however, Bachata music has been electrified and can blend easily into Latino pop.  Some Bachata artists of note are Aventura and Monchy & Alexandra.

Top 6 Latin Music Genres

Top 6 Latin Music Genres

Tango

If you can’t place Tango music in your head, here’s a hint: think about a woman in a flowing red dress, a man with a rose in his teeth and almost a military marching theme playing as they trade moves with one another in rhythm.

Tango originated in Argentine where artists like Astor Piazzolla and Carlos Gardel rose to prominence within the genre. Tango of course, yielded its own dance and is extremely popular all over the world with many different countries forming their own variations of the traditional dance.

Reggeaton

Reggeaton may as well be the official genre of Puerto Rico where it was cultivated.  I remember being in high school when reggeaton seemingly ruled the airwaves here in the states.  Acts like Pit Bull and Daddy Yankee soared to superstardom at that time, making the Reggaeton sound pop culture fodder.

Raggaeton blends Jamaican dance hall music with elements of Salsa and bomba.  It is probably the most electronic music of the ones I have listed thus far and can be rapped or sung over.

Latin Jazz

Last but most certainly not least, there is Latin Jazz.  This is most definitely my favorite genre of Latin music.  It swings with saxophone solos, sultry trombones, you can dance to it thanks to the consistent backbeat, you can sit and snap your fingers along with the cool electronic keys or simply sway your head to and from along with its almost macabre but certainly playful melodies.

It resembles Jazz as we know it, the main difference lying in the percussion.  Whereas Jazz uses a traditional drum kit, Latin Jazz relies on traditional percussion of the Caribbean and South America like the congas and many songs feature a prominent cowbell maintaining the beat.  Tito Puente is by far the most famous artist to emerge from this genre.

Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza Argentina

Have you heard of the Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza Argentina?  Argentina plays host to some of the most exciting and eclectic festivals in the world.

The German influence in Argentina has spawned the Oktoberfest Argentinians celebrate every year. People come from all over the world to take part in the festivities that Argentina has become so well-known for.   One of the biggest, brashest and most raucous is the Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza Argentina.

Background of the Grape Harvest Festival en Mendoza Argentina

The Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza Argentina is essentially a wine grape harvest and has its roots in more religious rites of the past.

Wine was mainly used in religious sacraments in olden days so it was very important for Argentines of old to bless the wine and offer fruit to the patron saint of Mendoza’s vineyards. Even then however, when the work was done, it was time to celebrate.

The Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza Argentina is as much a reward for the hard work that is put in all year long into cultivating these prized wine grapes, as it is a cultural manifestation as important as any to the nation.

If you are planning on Visiting Mendoza Argentina and want to catch the Mendoza wine harvest festival, you will want to aim for early to mid-March.  While preparations for the both the harvest and the festival begin as early as January, Early to mid-March is when things are kicked into high gear.

Mendoza itself is a Northern town in Argentina and is generally pretty quiet for the rest of the year. The Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza Argentina however is when the town is shook wide awake and brought to life.  Wine lovers, industry authorities and merry-makers from all over the world swamp the town during the festival which has much to offer even if you don’t particularly like wine.

Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza Argentina

Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza Argentina

The Queen of Vendimia

If you are not an appreciator of fine wine, maybe you will be more enticed by the Argentinian beauties that compete from the 18 provinces of Mendoza for the title of Queen of Vendimia.  This annual beauty pageant is held in the Frank Romero Day Amphitheater which gives the whole ordeal a vintage, Greek vibe.

The Argentine sirens parade through the downtown streets in the days leading up to the pageant and local vintners are eager to offer visitors and locals alike free samples of their wine.

Even if you are not a wine person, if you are in Mendoza during the grape harvest festival, keep in mind that Argentina produces some of the finest and most coveted wines in the world.

The 2016 Harvest

The Grape Harvest Festival is entering its 80th year and there is much on the agenda in 2016.  Absorb some Argentine culture by seeing the Carousel of Vendimia; a parade that features Gauchos in traditional outfits.

The central act is not to be missed as it is essentially the culmination of the entire celebration. It is a recitation of authentic Argentinian folklore tales by over 1,000 players. Finally, the Queen of Vendimia is crowned and the ceremony is lively, exciting and climaxes with an amazing fireworks display.

Of course, the streets flow with wine during the festival and there is no shortage of music, great cuisine and of course, delicious reds and whites to sample. There are only three rules when attending the Grape Harvest Festival in Mendoza Argentina: eat, drink and be merry.

Are Puerto Ricans Immigrants in the US

As I have done with other sensitive topics and points of contention on this blog in the past, allow me to answer the question ‘are Puerto Ricans immigrants in the US?  Definitively and right off the bat: no.

Puerto Ricans are not immigrants the United States.  There are a few very technical reasons for this but to put it simply, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated United States territory which entitles its natives to automatic US citizenship upon birth.

It can be a bit confusing when you don’t have the background on the subject because on every other front, it would seem like Puerto Rico is its own country entirely.  They have their own flag, Spanish is the main language spoken there, and they are not even part of the mainland United States.

In many rights, Puerto Rico is its own country; they maintain much independence from the U.S. and have their own very distinct Puerto Rican culture.

When it comes right down to it, if someone from Puerto Rico decides they want to move to the U.S. not only it is a much easier process for them when compared to natives of other Latin American and Caribbean countries, they most certainly are not to be considered immigrants.

Are Puerto Ricans Immigrants in the US?

Are Puerto Ricans Immigrants in the US?

What Makes the Difference

At this point you may be asking yourself what is the difference between Puerto Rico and other Caribbean or Latin American countries.

Firstly, Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the US all the way back in 1898 but that still didn’t make Puerto Ricans automatic citizens. That came with the outbreak of World War I when the Jones-Shafroth act was passed.  Although this act was passed most likely just so that Puerto Ricans to add to our fighting forces, it did and still does to this day, make all Puerto Rican born persons a United States citizen.

There are extenuating circumstances however (after all, we are talking about governmental matters) for Puerto Rican citizens. For example, Puerto Ricans cannot vote in US presidential elections right off the bat.  This right only comes after they have an established residence within the United States.  Other than that Puerto Ricans are as American as any other person born in the states.

Puerto Ricans in America

There are about 5 million Puerto Ricans living in the United States.  They make up 9% of the Hispanic population living within the United States and have contributed greatly to the Latin flavor that is so prevalent in our nation.

Most Puerto Ricans in the US are fluent in English and you can always count on Puerto Ricans to maintain strong ties to their home land even if they were actually born in America.

Are Puerto Rican Immigrants?  Get it Straight

While you are not likely to be corrected in a rude way should you accidentally refer to Puerto Ricans living in the states as immigrants you are probably not likely to endear yourself to anyone else who considers themselves culturally sensitive by doing so.

The better we understand each other and the unique circumstances that follow us as a result of our different heritages, the more we will enjoy what there is to enjoy about such differences.  The next time you get asked the question: are Puerto Ricans immigrants?  hopefully, you will know exactly how to respond.

If you are interested in knowing more about Puerto Rican culture like their Christmas celebrations, foods and traditions check out Puerto Rican Pasteles, Puerto Rican Parrandas or What Is the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

Are Spanish and Latin the Same Thing

Are Spanish and Latin the same thing?  No.

Let’s just get that out of the way right now. You may be reading this because you want a simple answer to the question “are Spanish and Latin the same thing?” and if you are, you have your answer in plain English (and Spanish for that matter ), no.

If you want a more thorough explanation and an insight into my reasoning, please keep reading.

An Easy History Lesson

Did you know that the term Hispanic was introduced to America in the 70’s during the Nixon administration?  It’s true but if you were living in any Spanish speaking country after the 1930’s you are probably more familiar with the term Hispanidad.

Hispanidad was adopted by Spanish speaking countries in unison as a sort of umbrella term for those who were born in Spanish speaking countries.  In the 70’s America was kind enough to oblige its Hispanidad guests and citizens by coining a word that was meant to be the same but one that was easier for the Anglo to pronounce.  That is why today, we have the term Hispanic.

A Hispanic can be fluent in English or Spanish because it refers to both people who emigrated here and those born here of Latin descent.  In this way, Hispanic is the broadest term and Latin is more distinctive.

Basically, if anyone in your ancestry was born in a country where a Latin based language was the native language, you are Hispanic. Hispanics can live anywhere, speak any language as the term is more biologic in nature and refers strictly to ethnic background.

Are Spanish and Latin the Same Thing

Are Spanish and Latin the Same Thing

Are Spanish and Latin the Same?  First Let’s See Who Are Latins

To understand what the difference is between the terms Hispanic and Latin, you must realize that Hispanic is the more universal term.

There are no “Latins” in any other country besides America because Latinos are specifically people who were born in a Latin American country and came to the U.S.  While a Hispanic could have been born in the states and is very familiar with its culture and society, a Latin is one that comes from another country and who for the American culture is not their native culture.

Keep in mind that none of these terms are to be confused with “Latino.” A Latino is something of a combination of the two but a person who is altogether distinct from Hispanics and Latins. For example, I am a Hispanic and a Latino.

I am of Hispanic descent but I was born here in the states.  A Latino cannot have been born in Chile or Germany for that matter, come to the states and be a true Latino. English is probably the primary language of a Latino and is characterized by identifying as Americans while having ties to Hispanic culture.

Latino is also a cultural term and was used heavily in the 70’s to replace Chicano.  It is a term that the socially conscious and politically active first generation Hispanics coined to identify themselves as separate from Latins and Anglos.  They are something all their own.

This can be a bit confusing I know but an easy rule of thumb is that Hispanic is the baser and broader ranging term between the two.  So if someone asks you for example ‘are Spaniards Latins?’ you will know the answer is no because Latin refers to someone who has at some point immigrated to America.

5 Traditions Amongst Latino Moms

An interesting thing happened to my perception of different cultures when writing about 5 traditions amongst Latino moms and talking to people in my life who could give some insight on the topic.

Instead of finding ‘5 traditions amongst Latino moms’ that distinguish them from mothers of other ethnic backgrounds, I found that such differences were superficial to say the least.  In a way it is affirming for me as writer, a Hispanic and as a human to know that we are not as different as we, if not careful, tend to think we are.

Many of the practices and mannerisms that I remember my mother exhibiting, it turns out are not very different from those of the mothers of my non-Hispanic friends who were a valuable source of information and perspective.

Still, let us not forget that we are still talking about Hispanics so read the following list, remember fondly your own childhood, perhaps learn something new and most of all, let it be a reminder that we are all linked together by a stronger bond than we realize.

5 Traditions Amongst Latino Moms

Cariños

This tradition is probably the one that has left the largest impact on my life.  My life with my mother was so full of cariños (little affections) that I often do cariños in some form or another myself (mainly to dogs since I have no children of my own).  I would hear cariños directed at me and whenever my mother encountered a baby, small child, my nephews, or really, anything she found adorable.

Cariños are basically little nonsense sayings usually spoken in a baby voice to infants and small children when a mother is so filled with love and warmness; there is simply no other way to express it.

Vicks

If you are a Latino, then you probably know what I am talking about right off the bat.  Latin moms use Vicks VapoRub as a cure-all when their child is sick.

5 Traditions Amongst Latino Moms

5 Traditions Amongst Latino Moms

For me personally, I believe the healing powers of Vicks is firmly limited but more than anything, it was the ritual of my mother gently rubbing it on my chest when I had a cold that was so therapeutic. It is a loving connection between mother and child and love is always healing.

Folk Tales

Telling spooky tales can be fun and Latino mothers often share the satires and morals of our Hispanic heritage with their children.  Tales like El Coco and La Llorona are some of the most common, the former of which is one I heard personally as a child.

Teaching Spanish

My mother never formally taught me Spanish but I can’t count the number of times that she off-handedly let me know what my grandmother would call certain people or household items.  She loved to tell me the little home-spun phrases of our grandmother and what they meant.

Many Latino moms do take time to make sure their children are fluent in Spanish which acts as a cultural and maternal link. Read here about Marcela Hede’s son and how to Plan Your Spanish Language Immersion.

Quinciañeras

Possibly the most well-known Latino tradition, the Quincienera celebrates a girl becoming a woman.  This is an important time for a Latino mother and daughter to bond.

There are versions of these traditions present in cultures around the world but there is a definite Hispanic flare in the ones I have described here.

Some of the most interesting traditions are in the way Latino moms name their children because Hispanic baby names mean a lot to them.  Hopefully this has interested you in finding your own correlations between your respective culture and that of the Hispanic culture.

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos

While the matters of the heart can never be quantified (the heart wants what the heart wants) the increasing number of Latinas opting to marry gringos is a very interesting phenomenon that invites much speculation and pondering.

If you don’t know what a ‘gringo’ is, take this opportunity to educate yourself by reading this article

Why do Latinas love gringos so much?  I don’t believe that this is warrants a general answer.  It’s not that Latinas love gringos just because they are gringos.

I think for the most part Latina women are drawn to Caucasian men because they represent the antithesis of Latino bravado.  Not that all Latin men are so stereotypically haughty, but such characteristics have for better or worse become inexorably associated with Latin men.

Caucasian men seem to be more mild-mannered by and large, although there are always exceptions to the rule.  Imagine this: you are a young Latina who grew up in a house of boisterous Latino men.  You will more than likely react to this upbringing in one of two ways.

The first; you will seek out and value what there is to be admired about the confidence, strength and surety that exists in the characters of the Latino men you were raised by and grew up with.

The second response may be that you are repelled by such characteristics so that in your adult life, you will seek out the exact opposite in your significant other.  If you are of the latter ilk, and you live in America, guess what, you are probably going to be attracted to and even marry a gringo!

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos?  Simple Cultural Differences

I have talked to many Latina women who have either dated or are married to Caucasian men and a common theme that comes up is the differing cultures.

At first glance, you would think that deep cultural differences would only serve to drive a wedge in a marriage but I have found quite the opposite when talking to these women.

In fact, they say that the differences in their cultures are what bring them closer together with their spouses.  Those Latinas who have made it last with their gringo partners say that the prominent aspects of Latino and gringo characters actually complement each other.

For example, I know a Latina, a Chilean to be exact who (I will say this as gently as I can) has a tendency to make a small matter into a big one.  She recognizes that about herself and says that her gringo husband is excellent at calming her down and getting her to see situations in a milder manner.

She swears that if she ended up with a Chilean man, tempers would go unchecked and there would be explosions of monumental proportions in their marriage.

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos

Why Do Latinas Marry Gringos

Another reason that I have observed and may serve to explain why more Latinas are marrying gringos today than ever before is a more modern level of equality in the home.

Latino culture is such that the men are the bread-winners and don’t do housework and other domestic activities.

For better or worse, it seems that Latinas are shying away from this dynamic and gringos are much more likely to be amenable to this household role.

Successful Latinas may also be drawn to gringos who are more likely to be supportive of a career that could outshine their own as well.

All of this may be reading too deep into things that may not even be there and the answer could be much simpler in reality.  After all, we live in America and a Latina growing up in America may value a partner who could be something of an usher to her in this American life.

It makes me happy to see Latina/Caucasian marriages work because I believe it can be a benefit for all parties involved.  On a purely biological level, species thrive when they intermingle as it brings the favorable characteristics of both to the surface and phases out that which is detrimental.  So it goes with Latina/Caucasian marriages.