Arepas and patacones

By Brae:

A while ago, my Grampa asked me to tell him exactly what arepas and patacones were. At first, we thought all arepas were deep fried with different things inside because this is what we ate all the time on the coast. A few times a week we got arepas for breakfast from a place on the street near our house. We saw the lady shaping the dough into circles and then a man fried it until it puffed up, and then another lady made a hole in it and put the egg or meat inside.

But when we travelled around Colombia, we learnt that asking what arepas were like was a bit like asking what is bread like? I mean by this that you can get brown bread, white bread, bread in sticks or rolls or loaves, bread with olives in, or raisin bread or even chocolate bread! So bread can come in all different shapes and flavours and so can arepas. Each region of Colombia has its own speciality for arepas and we tried a lot of them when we travelled around. Our favourite kinds were fried with meat, filled with egg and sweet aniseed ones. We also liked cheese ones.

Even though we ate arepas all the time, we didn’t know how to make them until we went to live with Diana for a week and she showed us. This is a video to show my Grampa but we thought you’d all like to see it (you can also hear me speaking a bit of Spanish in the middle bit).

Patacones are pretty much always the same, but we still didn’t know how to make them, but we do now. They are pretty easy.

Coffee

By Brae:

One of the things that Colombia is most famous for is coffee. When we went to the coffee region, we went to a coffee farm to learn about coffee (there’s a lot of coffee in this post already!!). The man there even spoke English and so he said if we wanted we could have our tour in English and we did. Before the tour we had some drinks and we were looking at the amazing view. It looked so bright green because we had not seen anything green for months because there is no rain in Santa Marta.

coffee-2On the hill you can see small coffee plants growing and in between them there are some rows of tall plantain trees which the workers pick for extra money because coffee isn’t a very well paid job, and the plantain also gives the coffee plants shade to make them grow a lot taller.

coffee-2-2On our tour, we went into a forest of coffee trees and our guide showed us that first the tree makes a flower, and then the flower falls off and a small berry starts to grow. It’s green at first and then it gets bigger and finally turns yellow and then red. He said that you could only pick them when they are red and that even if they fall on the ground you still have to pick it up in case an insect comes and lays eggs. He also said that there were some trees that only ever got yellow ones and that when they were yellow they were still ripe.

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The coffee grows all year round and you have to pick it every time there are lots of ripe berries. That happens every few weeks and the day we went we saw some people who lived nearby who had come to pick the coffee for their job.

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Next he took us into a little house-like coffee factory. Upstairs there was a metal bowl with lots of coffee beens in and there were some floating but most were at the bottom. He said that even if they were red if they were floating they were not good so he threw them away. The ones that sink were washed and put out for sorting.

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The next part of the sorting happens in a giant metal tray with no water in but with tons of coffee beans. At first there was a man there sorting them out but then he left and our guide said we could have a go so we did. We took out beans that were unripe or damaged and we quite enjoyed it.

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After they had been sorted they were put in machine to peel their skin off. Inside the red case are two pale coffee beans. When you first peel the skin off there is a kind of slime on the coffee beans so they are left in water until the slime washes off. Then they put the beans in a warm room in little trays to dry.

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When it has dried it still has a very rough cream coloured case around the beans inside. They use another machine to get the case off and you finally see the coffee bean inside and we were surprised that it was kind of grey-green. Last of all they roast it and it turns brown like the coffee that we are used to seeing. It smelled really nice when it had just been roasted so we wanted to try it. We all had some coffee and me and Oren didn’t like it but my mum and dad did. So now we know the story of a coffee bean and you do too.

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Before I finish this post, we think we should probably say now that we’re not really ‘EverettsinColombia’ any more because we’ve been back in the UK for almost a week! But we’re still writing the blog because we haven’t finished telling you about all the amazing things we did in our last few weeks in Colombia. Please keep reading because our final post is going to be something special. If you really don’t want to miss it, sign up for updates by putting your email address into our blog!

More tropical fruits

By Oren:

The first post on the blog was about pineapples so it seems like a good thing to do to write about them on my last day in Colombia. Before we came here we didn’t know how pineapples grew so we wanted to find out how. When we went to a kind of animal and farm park called Panaca we were surprised to see pineapples growing on little bushes because we never knew they grew like that. We saw some workers picking them. Here are some pictures of them:

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On the same day in Panaca we saw some small trees with big green things that looked like aguacates at first, but a sign it said that it was maracuyá. maracuya2We didn’t know maracuyás grew like this either so it was good to find out.

One of the things that my mum says she is going to miss a lot about Colombia is just walking around and noticing all the tropical fruits growing around us. There are mango, lime, papaya and tamarind trees, cocoa and aguacates and bananas. They grow in the jungle but they also grow in people’s gardens and in fields, all along the road, growing in the pavement, in parks. In fact, tropical fruit is growing everywhere you look!

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Tamarind
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Cocoa
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Papaya
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Mangoes – we wish they were ripe!

Panela

By Oren:

In Colombia they use a different type of sugar to in England.

The first time we went to the supermarket we saw a big section in one of the panelaaisles of blocks of things called panela, but we didn’t know what what it was. We looked it up and found out it is a type of sugar and it is made out of sugar cane. Sugar cane looks a bit like green bamboo when it grows and then the stalks turn brown like sticks when they dry. panela-5To make the sugar cane into sugar, they just squeeze the sap out of the green canes and boil it until it gets thick and then it cools and sets into these blocks.
panela-2The sugar we have in England is made from sugar cane or sugar beet and it is made sort of the same way but after they get the juice they do a lot more things to it to make it really white and tiny.

When we went to the farm where Simón Bolívar died they had an old farm building where they used to make panela and we saw the machine that squeezed the liquid out of the cane. panela-6

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In Colombia, people make a lot of things with panela. They use panela in cooking instead of sugar. You can use a grater to get sugar from the big block. They also often make it into a drink called “agua de panela” (panela water) by mixing panela into water. They drink it hot (and serve it with cheese that you can put into the panela water!) or cold. IMG_8500They sometimes add lime into cold agua de panela which I think tastes a bit nicer, but I don’t really like agua de panela because I think it tastes a bit strange. They used to give us agua de panela at school and most children really like it.

 

Bocadillo

By Brae:

Today we were packing for the journey home and we have got more than five kilos of bocadillo! The bag is really, really heavy. So that shows how much we like it. I IMG_8514bet you are wondering what bocadillo is. In Spain bocadillo is a sandwich but in Colombia it is a sweet. Bocadillo is cube, light red and quite small. Here is a picture of bocadillo. It is a type of food that is made of a fruit called guayaba. They are green outside and sometimes round and sometimes the shape of a pear. Inside they are pink or red when they are ripe.guayaba
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Bocadillo is made with the inside of a guayaba and some sugar and is cooked slowly until it is thick enough to turn into a block when it cools down. Out of all the foods we have tried in Colombia this is the one that we think that a lot of our friends at school would like the most and maybe you can try it in the Colombian after school club that we are going to run in the summer term.

 

Maracuyá

By Oren:

The main reason I am writing this is because this morning we were discussing what things we are going to miss most when we go back to England and three out of four of us think that we are really going to miss a delicious fruit called maracuyá, and then we realised that we still haven’t told you about it yet. It is a bit like a passion fruit but it is bigger, yellow, much more tasty and very sour. When you buy it, it sometimes looks shiny, green or yellow and it is hard you can’t eat it then because it isn’t ripe. You have to wait until it looks all yucky and brown and wrinkly and that is when you can eat it. Here are a few photos of its stages:

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It is a very popular fruit in Colombia and you can get juices and ice creams made with maracuyá and you can also put one on your cereal, which my parents love! This is one of the main things that we are really, really going to miss when we go back to England because you can’t get it there .

Weird stuff update 4: Chocolate, cheese and cow hoof

By Brae:

In Bogotá we went up a mountain to a place called Monserrate with amazing views over the whole city.

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First I should tell you that Bogotá is already in the mountains. It’s in the Andes mountains and the city is 2,620 meters above sea level. That is nearly eight and a half London Shard skyscrapers on top of each other! Because it is so high, some people like Oren get altitude sickness just walking around. There isn’t as much oxygen in the air so high up and your heart beats faster. We’re lucky that no one else in the family gets it but Oren has had it which is a shame, but he still wanted to go up to the top of Monserrate which is 3, 152m. At the top we went to a cafe and had hot chocolate and cheese.You might think it was a bit weird but it is a thing that Colombians like so we wanted to try it. We broke up the cheese and put it in the hot chocolate and left it to get soft then we ate the chocolatey cheese with a spoon. It was a bit strange but we liked it. My dad did not really like it because he does not like sweet and savoury combinations.

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During our week in Bogotá we also went into a really nice town called Villa de Leyva and we saw a man who had some strange sticky white stuff and he was turning it round on a stick. choccheesehoofOur friend Luis Fernando told us it was made from sugar cane (panela) and cow hoof! At first we didn’t really like the sound of it but then our dad told us that lots of sweets in England are made with gelatine that comes from the skin and bones of pigs and cows (like jelly babies, haribo and marshmallows)! We decided to try some and at first we liked it but the more we had it the less we liked it.

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Aguacate

By Oren:

In Colombia, what the people that live there think of as an “aguacate” (avocado) is different to what you think it is…

When we first arrived here, whenever we went to the supermarket we always looked at the fruit section because the fruits there were new to us. Once we saw what looked like a melon in one of the boxes and we couldn’t believe that it was an avocado. Here is my dad’s expression when we got our first giant aguacate:IMG_7953

Another thing about avocados in Colombia is that the stall holders aren’t the quietest of people. They walk past the apartment blocks and houses pushing their wheelbarrows and shouting, sometimes through a megaphone, trying to get people to come and buy their fruit and vegetables. They talk really quick, telling you all the things they are selling and it sounds quite funny.

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This man has persuaded someone in their house to buy some of his fruits off his cart and he’s just passing them through their window. If you look closely you can see on the handle of his cart a megaphone which he had been shouting into: ‘Sandia, Papaya, Aguacate, Tomate…’  If you are walking past they stop and try persuade you to buy things and say “es muy barato”  (its very cheap). Here’s a clip of what they sound like:

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In case you don’t already know avocados grow on trees and we walk past them very often. You can tell that we have got used to them because when we went to Don Diego, Brae and I used some to play catch because we didn’t have a ball!

The story of a coconut update

By Oren:

In my last post about a coconut, I told you that we managed to open one in Palomino by smashing it with a stick. It took me, my dad and Brae about 30 minutes to get it open. But this weekend, in Parque Tayrona, we found out the real way to open coconuts.

We were walking along the jungle path after a swim, when we saw a man hacking skillfully at a coconut case with a machete by the side of the jungle path. He saw us watching him and my mum told him the story about how we opened a coconut with a stick, and she said we were pleased to see what the real way to open a coconut was. We think he was going to drink the coconut milk because he was thirsty. It was a really hot day and he was doing hard work fixing a fence and he didn’t have anything else to drink. But because we were watching him he asked if we wanted the coconut he’d just opened, to drink it ourselves! We tried the milk and it was delicious and refreshing. We tried to offer him some but he said we could have it all. After we had drunk it he chopped the case up some more and gave each of us a quarter and let us eat it! My Mum also took a video of him chopping.

It was really nice of him to give it to us, but we weren’t as surprised as we would have been in England as we have found that Colombian people are really nice and kind.

To see the previous post of story of a coconut see here.

More Minca

By Brae:

Even though we’ve already explained to you about some great things we did in Minca, we have not told you about all of it yet. There was too much fun stuff to tell you in only one go, so here are a few other things we did there that we haven’t mentioned yet.

In Colombia, it is so hot that you can grow things that you can’t grow in England, like chocolate! more minca-7When we were in Minca we went to have lunch one day. It was kind of a restaurant but it was really just two small tables in the garden of someone’s house in the middle of nowhere. We had some yummy food that the family who lived there made and we bought a necklace, to give to our little cousin, that the daughter of the family had made out of clay. For pudding we had some fresh chocolate and the lady showed us that it grew from her cocoa tree in the back garden. The case of the chocolate (called a cocoa pod) is green instead of brown like I imagined it. Here is a picture of one if you do not believe me. The chocolate tree had bags over the pods so the squirrels did not eat them.

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Another thing I remember from Minca is when we were finishing one of our tours Niall said he knew a nice place for lunch and our minds changed to a nice air conditioned room with walls to escape the boiling temperature. more minca-5We were all taken by a big surprise when we arrived.
We were staring at a little shelter with no walls. There were four wooden tables with wooden benches, and one of the tables had huge chunks of ribs laid across it. There was no proper bathroom as it was just a bucket of water for washing your hands. Also, there was a little oven made of bricks with all sorts of meat being cooked. The floor was just made of mud and lots of stray chickens, dogs and cats were wandering around all over the place. more minca-4The owner was really nice and he started to cut up the cooked ribs and said we were allowed to try some for free! It was really tasty so I had some ribs just like that for lunch as I liked it so much. As you can see, restaurants in Colombia are very different to ones in England! But we had a really nice meal with Niall and our new friends Sarah, John, Karen and Darren and they had beer and fizzy drinks too so everyone was happy.more minca

When we got back to Niall’s house,
we were looking out of our balcony and in the distance my mum and dad were quite surprised to see Oren wielding a machete around, cutting off a bunch of bananas. Most grown ups don’t give you a massive machete and ask you to chop through the jungle but Niall isn’t like a normal boring grown up! Of course I thought it looked fun so I ran out there to have a go too!

 

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So you can tell how many amazing memories we have of Minca, so you might not be surprised that before we go back to England, we would really like to go back there and do another tour with Niall where you cover yourself in mud and wash it off in a waterfall. So this might not be last you hear about Minca so stand by!

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