Our students love their Spanish courses in Colombia and we all love Valentine’s Day.

Together we chose these 3 songs for this Valentine’s Day 2013

1 Cabas, Bonita.

2. Siam, No existe

3. Mojito Lite, Amnesia

Hope you have a very Spanish Valentine’s Day!!

We are very proud of our very own Juanes. He recently won his first Anglo Grammy at the 55th annual Grammy Awards.

Juanes brought home the Best Latin Pop Album for his MTV Unplugged Juanes Album , which also won a Latin Grammy for Album of the Year in 2012.

Juanes performed his own version of Elton John’s Your Song in English and Spanish, during the 55th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles

Here are the lyrics, including the Spanish version.

It’s a little bit funny this feeling inside
I’m not one of those who can easily hide
I don’t have much money but boy if I did
I’d buy a big house where we both could live

…Y tú puedes decirle a todos
que esta es tu canción
y aunque suene un poco simple
lo que te digo hoy…
I hope you don’t mind
I hope you don’t mind that I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

Congrats Juanes!!!

Also check Juanes Acoustic performance at On Air with Ryan Seacrest

We started our Spanish + Cooking class like usual, reviewing and learning the new words.

This time the recipe was simple, “fried plantain bananas” and I promised the students to tell them the best kept-secret of the Colombian cuisine: How to cut perfect plantain banana chips.

Cutting perfect plantain banana chips is not a secret per se, it is just a big piece of knowledge I’m passing to our students; it is the way home chefs do it, and by home chefs I mean our moms. I learned it watching my mother and my grandmother cooking.

Plantains go through various stages of ripeness, evidenced by the color of their skin. They start green, then yellow with black patches and then, at the peak of their ripeness they become completely black.

The yellow ones with black patches or the black ones are the ones you need for this recipe.

What You Need
Plantain bananas
1/2 cup of vegetable oil

Make It

Start by cutting off the tips, and then make a small cut all down the center, just to get the skin cut. Then peel it with your hands, it will come out easily.

The key to perfect fried plantain bananas is how you cut them; you want to do it in a long angular shape. And this is the secret, cut them in your hands, no need for a cooking table, just take the plantain banana in your hands and start cutting them diagonally and every slice will be perfect.

In a large pan, heat about 1/2 cup of vegetable oil over medium-high heat, then add the plantain slices and cook about 2 minutes on each side. Use neutral tasting oil such as canola or vegetable oil for this.

Remove from pan and transfer the slices to a paper towel-lined plate and serve them warm.

What do you think? Do you think you can handle the heat?

This week in one of our Spanish classes we talked about what makes us happy and found a very clever Colombian saying.

“Barriga llena, Corazón contento” which translates as: full tummy, happy heart.

But what does that mean? Is it just about food? We certainly don’t think that way. We think “Barriga llena, Corazón contento” means everything looks different when you have fulfilled all your basic needs, like food, shelter, health and you feel O.K. about life and any problems you may have.

What do you think? Knowing you have food for you and you family makes you feel good about life? Please leave us your comments.

Check the pronunciation here:

“Dar papaya” literally “to give papaya”, is a Colombian saying meaning “don’t put yourself in a position where people can easily take advantage of you”.

You will think that because we passed December 31th the party is over. No way! We still have a lot to celebrate.

In January and February we have three major festivals we love!

First, from December 28 to January 7, the Blacks and Whites’ Carnival “Carnaval de Negros y Blancos” in Pasto, proclaimed by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Then, from January 4 to 11, The Manizales Fair, renowned nationally and internationally for its bullfighting season.

And last, but not least, from February 9 to 12, The Barranquilla’s Carnival, one of the biggest carnivals in the world that paralyzes an entire city.

As you can see, the party has just started. Take a look at our posts about these festivals and keep the party going!

Blacks and Whites’ Carnival “Carnaval de Negros y Blancos”

The Manizales Fair

The Barranquilla’s Carnival

The Barranquilla’s Carnival, one of the biggest carnivals in the world, has traditions that date back to the 19th century. It was declared by UNESCO as a World Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003.

During 4 days, The Barranquilla’s Carnival paralyzes and immerses the city in intense festivities, a repertory of dances and musical expressions for everybody to enjoy.

Its most characteristic activities are the Battle of the Flowers and The Great Parade.

The Battle of the Flowers, “Batalla de las Flores” is a parade with floats, dance groups, and the most colorful characters, it is led by the Carnival Queen and followed by folk dances, musicians and dance groups.

The Great Parade, “Desfile de la Gran Parada” considered a day of mask and disguises where thousands of people wear costumes and fancy dresses.

On the third day, Monday, there is “El Festival de Orquestas”, a marathon concert of Caribbean music.

The last day (Tuesday) is a four-hour parade through the city with figurative burial of Joselito Carnaval which symbolizes the end of the festivities.

There is so much to say about the Carnival, feel free to visit these resources.

Colombia Travel

Wikipedia

Carnaval de Barranquilla Official Site

We asked our students what was the best song to party to and what had they learned about Colombia or the Spanish language, and because we recently talked about Colombian music style “Vallenatos” and its modern fusion with pop and rock, we narrowed the list to 5 Vallenatos.

1. Fonseca – Eres Mi Sueño

2. Diego, Ay Diosito

3. Carlos Vives, Volví a nacer

4. Fonseca, Te mando Flores

5. Fanny Lu – No Te Pido Flores

Which one did you like the most? Leave us a comment or fb.me/ILikeSpanish

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Proclaimed in 2009 by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, the Blacks and Whites’ Carnival, “Carnaval de Negros y Blancos”, is the largest and most important celebration in southern Colombia.

Between December 28 and January 7, the City of Pasto attracts a large number of tourists who want to celebrate this cultural expression.

On January 6, the festivity starts with a magnificent float parade.

Take a look at last year’s parade.

If you want to know more about this magnificent festival, please visit

Colombia Travel

Wikipedia[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

From Colombia’s Caribbean region comes the “Vallenato”, a traditional music style that is enjoyed in almost every part of the country and played in almost every celebration.

Traditionally, three instruments make up a Vallenato band, one from Africa, other from the indigenous and the last one from Europe, a mix of cultures, races and sounds that just make this music unique.

The “Caja Vallenata”, a small drum held between the knees and played with bare hands. It was used by the African slaves brought by the Europeans.

The “Guacharaca”, a wooden, ribbed stick similar to a sugar cane, accompanied by a fork that when rubbed together emits a scraping sound, originally used by Colombian indigenous.

And the accordion of German origin usually modified just for the Vallenatos.

Every year, during the month of April, we celebrate the Vallenato Festival in Valledupar, Cesar, where the Vallenato comes from. For five days, the city just breath, dance and enjoy Vallenatos in a colorful display of parades, shows and musical contests. There is a King of the Festival, best interpreter of accordion, caja vallenata and guacharaca, as well as “piqueria” (battle of lyrics) and best song winners.

Here are some classic Vallenatos for you to enjoy!!! Also, take a look at our post about Vallenatos and pop fusion.

The Vallenato Festival

What do you think? Does it make you move?