Tag Archives: language

“We are Wayuu, we are the sons of the earth and the rain” // “somos Wayuu, somos hijos de la tierra y la lluvia”

Author’s note: I met David Caceres through a mutual friend at a poetry event. He cut a striking figure, his traditional indigenous ensemble contrasting with the Coca-cola in his hand and Ray Bans covering his eyes.

David turns out to be the official representative of the Wayuu community, a young leader with a strong passion for his people. This is the first part of his story. 

“First, I wanted to greet you in my native tongue, my mother tongue. I am the voice of a million people who are called the Wayuu; we are people of the desert.

We are an Amerindian group that has inhabited the Guajira peninsula for 4,000 years, according to anthropologists. We have dual nationality because our people live in the border region of Colombia and Venezuela…but our identity is one, unique: we are indigenous, we are Wayuu, we are the sons of the earth and the rain.

The Wayuu can’t be defined as a particular group but rather as something heterogenous, because not all Wayuu are fishermen, miners, farmers, shepherds or hunters and gatherers.

I myself am a specialist, a man of the desert, and I live in a peninsula at the edge of the sea, so my role is to be a fisherman, or a man of the sea. In wayuunaiki, we are called “aparanch.”

Our concept of time is spiral, and the spiral of time is simply related with the spiral of the universe, which is what we observe every night in the sky. There is where we focus and learn. All our ancestors are all the stars in the universe, so the Wayuu people will never cease to exist (laughs), because we carry on in the stars.”

[ This is a post in the series titled “#carasdecolombia,” a collection of stories and photos portraying the diversity and beauty of the Colombian lives around me.  Please feel free to add to the collection with your own pictures and stories!]


En Espanol:

Primero, queria saludarte en mi lengua nativa, mi lengua natal. Yo soy, en este momento, la voz de un millon de personas que existimos entre colombia y venezuela y nos llaman desde hace miles de anos como Wayuu. Somos un grupo Amerindio que habitamos la penisula de la Guajira desde hace 4,000 anios y somos gente del desierto.

Nosotros los Wayuu tenemos un carácter binacional por estar en una zona fronteriza, pero…La identidad es una, unica: somos indigena, somos Wayuu, somos hijos de la tierra y la lluvia.

 Los Wayuu no se puede definir como un grupo particular sino mas bien como algo heterogenio, porque no todos los Wayuu son pescadores, no todos los Wayuu son mineros, no todos los Wayuu son agricultores, no todos los Wayuu son pastores, no todos los Wayuu son recolectores.

 

Yo, por lo menos, soy especialista y hombre del desierto, y estoy en una peninsula y el orilla del mar, entonces mi condicion es ser un pescador, o ser un hombre del mar que, en wayuunaiki, se nos llaman “aparanch.”

Nuestra linea del tiempo es espiral, y la espiralidad del tiempo es simplemente relacionada con la espiralidad del universo, que es lo que observamos todas las noches. Y ahi enfocamos y transmitimos y conocemos. Todos los ancestros son todas las estrellas que son en el universo, entonces pues, nunca van a dejar a existir los Wayuu (rie) porque sigamos en las estrellas.

 

 

 

Spanglish: A Poem about Identity

Last weekend, I was invited to recite a poem at two different events: the first was a Peace Corps poetry jam hosted by the Oiste volunteer magazine team; the second was the annual poetry and music exhibition in Pradomar, commemorating Julio Flórez, a famous local poet.

I wrote a poem about my experience with language acquisition, in which I have reached a point where the two syntaxes, cultures and, ultimately, identities meet, in a single, confusing mindset called Spanglish.

My brain speaks Spanglish–half and half, whatever comes out first. And that’s kind of how my concept of self has become–no longer wholly a single culture or perspective, but a mix of two.

I hope you enjoy!

Spanglish video

Transcript:

Spanglish

Yo tengo this thing, sabes

My lips, teeth, tongue

boca, garganta, lungs

They’re all vueltia’o

Running over, under, in and out

And quedan abusa’os

todos agota’os

All combined to one

One tongue

One mixed up, de todita lengua

that no one understands

no one but maybe tu

On one hand, hay

words, ideas,

quid pro quo

Irony, analisis, wit and GO!

Al otro lado, pues

rhythm, rrriccccoooo beats

Sensual, sexy, sweet

cogele suave, amor

One tongue

One mixed up, de todita lengua

not pa’alla ni aca

It’s Spanglish, this vaina!

It’s a viva thing

Two identities a la vez

Dos mundos, one fluidez

Jodaaaa, now what?

Aja, so here we are

que hay que hacer?

metamorphosis

Welcome to el nuevo ser
One tongue

One mixed up, de todita lengua

Integracion

not here, not there

But somehow, everywhere

neighborly exchange 

3/12 
“Stop! You’re under arrest!” says Andres, the valet boy who works nights at the pizzeria in front of my house.  
I hop off my bike to peer up through the shadows at him, perched there on the abandoned ledge across from the restaurant. 
“What’s my crime?” I ask. 
“Stealing my heart,” he says gallantly for the benefit of his friend beside him. 
“What’s the fine?” I say, making the costeno hand toss to show my inquiry.
“Um…” He hesitates, then beams. “Just a kiss!” His friend chuckles in the dark. 
“That’s too expensive,” I laugh. “Besides, what would my (fictitious) 

boyfriend say?” 


“I’ll steal you from him!” He triumphantly proclaims. 
“No!” 
“Yes!” 
“No!” I laugh all the way into my house. 

To Flush or Not to Flush: 5 Indicators You’re Entering the Cultural Transition Zone

One of the most baffling truths of modern transportation is that in the space of a couple of hours (more precisely, two cat naps and one plane-bathroom break), one can take-off in one culture and climate and land in a completely different one. Breakfast in 90-degree Colombia, lunch in 20-degree America.  Let’s call this the “cultural transition zone.” 

#1.    What’s the very first sign of the “cultural transition zone?” The toilet paper. During your pre-boarding pee break, you don’t even blink when you have to perch on a porcelain bowl and throw the paper in the trash can. You’ve done it for like, 500 days already. Continue reading To Flush or Not to Flush: 5 Indicators You’re Entering the Cultural Transition Zone