south and central america

PSA for my fellow gringos (or anyone else who didn’t know this)

Latino/Latina: originating from parts of the Caribbean, South or Central America. Gender neutral term (in English) is usually written as latinx.

  • Sentence: María was born in Ecuador, so she is Latina.

Hispanic: Spanish-speaking, or originating from a Spanish-speaking country. A term used in the US to classify people from a country that speaks Spanish. From what I’m aware of it ROUGHLY corresponds with the Spanish word “hispanohablante” although the two are not interchangeable in every circumstance.

  • Sentence: José was born in Brazil, so he is NOT Hispanic, since his country’s official language is Portugese, but he IS Latino.

Mexican: from the North American country named Mexico, NOT a language. NOTICE! not all Latinos in the US are from Mexico.

  • Sentence: Enrique was born in Mexico, so he is Mexican. Enrique speaks Spanish, since “Mexican” is not a language. 

Chicano/Chicana/Chicanx: a person of Mexican descent (usually born in the US)

  • Sentence: Anna’s parents were born in Mexico, so she identifies as Chicana. Her friend Miguel’s parents are from Colombia, so he identifies as Latino.

Spanish: a language spoken by many countries all over the world/ originating from the country Spain. NOTICE! not the only language spoken in Spain or South/Central America.

  • Sentence: Juan was born in Madrid, so he is Spanish. He only speaks Spanish, but has friends who speak other languages.

Quechua, Catalan, Nahuatl, Gallego, Euskera: other languages spoken in countries where Spanish is the ‘official’ language. Many Hispanics are bilingual and Spanish may not be their native language.

  • Sentence: Alba was born in a region of Spain called Catalonia. Even though she is considered Spanish, she speaks Catalan with her family and friends and considers herself Catalan.
  • Sentence #2: Sofia was born in Mexico and does not speak “Mexican,” but her family does speak Nahuatl, a native language originating in Mexico.


That is all.

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The Owl Butterfly are known for their huge eyespots, which resemble owls’ eyes. These fake eyes attract the predator to the less vulnerable spot of the butterfly and enables it to escape. They are found in the rainforests and secondary forests of Mexico, Central, and South America

In Mexico, as in other countries, we learned the following:

“The continent is called America. It is sub divided in South America, North America and Central America.

The United States is a republic founded on the continent of America, hence the derived long form name United States of America. The United States is of America, it is not America. And it is located in America’s subcontinental region, North America. Hence why it was also known as the United States of North America.

Americans include North AMERICANS, Central AMERICANS, South AMERICANS, Latin AMERICANS, etc.. Everyone from the American continent, irrespective of region or nationality, is an American.”

And yes, Mexico is part of North America.

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Fun Fact Friday!

If not for giant sloths, we might not have avocados to enjoy today.

Prehistoric ground sloths first appeared around 35 million years ago. Dozens of species lived across North, Central and South America, alongside other ancient creatures like mastodons and giant armadillos. Some ground sloths, like the megalonychid, were cat-sized, but many were massive. The Megalonyx weighed about a ton, and that was small compared to megatherium, which could reach six metric tons, as much as an elephant. They ambled through the forests and savannas using their strong arms and sharp claws to uproot plants and climb trees, grazing on grasses, leaves, and prehistoric avocados. Smaller animals couldn’t swallow the avocado’s huge seed, but the sloths could,and they spread avocado trees far and wide.

Can we get a ‘thank you giant sloths!’?

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why are sloths so slow? - Kenny Coogan

Animation by Anton Bogaty

Santa Catalina Arch - Antigua, Guatemala 

The Santa Catalina Arch is one of the most distinguishable buildings in Antigua. Built in the 17th century, the arch was originally built to connect the Santa Catalina convent, to a school, allowing the nuns to pass between the two buildings, without having to go down and cross the street below. The clock on top of the arch was added later, in the 1830′s. 

The design of the Guatemala Post Office Building was inspired by the Santa Catalina Arch. 

San Juan Del Sur - Nicaragua 

This once humble fishing village, turned tourist town, has plenty to offer for those who love the outdoors. The area boasts a large number of secluded beaches and inlets, some of which are internationally famous for their surfing, as well as fishing. Cycling tours are also very popular, as are the unique zipline tours, that take you through the jungle treetops, to see local spider monkeys. 

Across the road from the beach are a number of bars and restaurants as well as markets, all which attribute to a great nightlife scene. 

Why are sloths so slow?

Giant ground sloths flourished for millions of years, but around 10,000 years ago, they started disappearing along with the Western Hemisphere’s other megafauna. Researchers think that ground sloths could have been pushed out by an oncoming ice age, or competition with other species, maybe humans, who arrived in the region around the time most of the sloths went extinct. Some of the smaller sloths did survive and migrated to the treetops. Today, there are six species left living in the rainforest canopies of Central and South America. 

Hanging out in the trees is a good way to avoid predators, and there are plenty of leaves to eat. But this diet has its drawbacks. Animals extract energy from food and use that energy to move around, maintain their body temperature, keep their organs working, and all the other activities necessary for survival. But leaves don’t contain much energy, and that which they do have is tough to extract. Most herbivores supplement a leafy diet with higher energy foods like fruit and seeds. But sloths, especially three-toed sloths, rely on leaves almost exclusively. They’ve evolved finely tuned strategies for coping with this restricted diet. First, they extract as much energy from their food as possible. Sloths have a multi-chambered stomach that takes up a third of their body, and depending on the species, they can spend five to seven days, or even weeks, processing a meal.

The other piece of the puzzle is to use as little energy as possible. One way sloths do this is, of course, by not moving very much. They spend most of their time eating, resting, or sleeping. They descend from the canopy just once a week for a bathroom break. 

When sloths do move, it’s not very fast. It would take a sloth about five minutes to cross an average neighborhood street. This unhurried approach to life means that sloths don’t need very much muscle. In fact, they have about 30% less muscle mass than other animals their size. Sloths also use less energy to keep themselves warm because their body temperature can fluctuate by about five degrees Celsius, less than a cold-blooded reptile, but more than most mammals. These physical and behavioral adaptations minimize the sloth’s energy expenditure, or metabolic rate. Three-toed sloths have the slowest metabolism of any mammal. The giant panda is second slowest, and two-toed sloths come in third.

Moving slowly has allowed sloths to thrive in their treetop habitat. But it’s also made the sloths themselves a great habitat for other organisms, including algae, which provides a little extra camouflage, and maybe even a snack. Sloths may not be giant anymore, but that doesn’t make them any less remarkable.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Why are sloths so slow? - Kenny Coogan

Animation by Anton Bogaty

Bandai Namco Entertainment posted a press release, dated June 12, that announces the worldwide launch of a Dragon Ball Fighters “2.5D” fighting game on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam platforms in early 2018. According to the press release posted on Friday, Arc System Works (Guilty Gear, BlazBlue) is developing the game.

The game will feature 3 vs. 3 team battles. In the press release, producer Tomoko Hiroki says that unlike recent 3D Dragon Ball games, the new game’s 2.5D battles fuses 2D anime style with 3D camera angles and movements. With this, the game can recreate the motion of traditional animation in real time.

The press release states that the game will be available in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Neutral Spanish, Polish, Russian, and Korean in North, Central, and South America; Europe; Asia; and Japan. However, it will only be available on Steam outside Japan.

Foodie Friday: Chocolate Souffles!

Servings: 2-4

Ingredients:
-1/3 cup sugar, plus powdered sugar for dusting
-5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
-3 large egg yolks at room temperature
-6 large egg whites
-Pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (Fahrenheit). Generously butter a souffle dish and sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess.

2. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and stir in yolks (the batter will stiffen).

3. Beat whites with a pinch of salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until forming soft peaks. Add 1/3 cup sugar, a little at a time, continuing to beat at medium speed, then beat at a high speed until forming stiff peaks. Stir about 1 cup of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten, then add mixture to the remaining whites, folding gently and thoroughly.

4. Spoon into souffle dish and run the end of your thumb around the inside edge of the souffle dish (this will remove any sugar particles on the inner edge, allowing the souffle to rise evenly). Bake in middle of oven until puffed and crusted on top, but still giggly in the center, 24 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately, with a light dusting of powdered sugar.

Magical Ingredient

There’s no denying the power that chocolate has in our day-to-day lives. At work, my coworkers have often laughed as I’d turn down candy, but happily accept chocolate with the reminder that “chocolate is not candy, it is its own food group for which we have a separate stomach: the chocolate stomach.” From ice cream to cakes to souffles, just about anything sweet that can be flavored has a variant which includes chocolate, and it’s used in nearly every holiday celebration throughout the year in addition to its frequent appearance in romantic occasions and post-romantic occasions.

Kitchen witchcraft often conjures the image of a witch with a rolling pin, baking pies and cakes. So it should come as no surprise that chocolate - an ingredient frequently used in baking - would have its own place in such delectable witchery. And how could it not? There’s no denying the fact that chocolate can help ease depression and sadness, and that it can brighten anyone who isn’t allergic to it (and in the media, look no further than Harry Potter, in which chocolate is the immediate cure after having a run-in with a dementor - the manifestation of true depression).

Chocolate, of course, doesn’t immediately come as that creamy sweet bar that we can buy at the front of the grocery store or in a gas station. In its purest form, it is the cacao bean. Historically, cacao beans were used as currency in Central and South America in addition to being made into a frothy beverage. The fruit of the cacao tree was also consumed frequently, and when the Spanish arrived, the tree was being cultivated for its fruit and seeds.

Chocolate became a luxury item in Europe afterward, and its popularity (unsurprisingly) grew quite quickly. Today, most cacao is cultivated in West Africa for worldwide consumption.

In terms of magic, cocoa is easily linked to prosperity and luxury. Its use as money in Central and South America adds to this, and its popularity among the nobility both in the Americas and in Europe further reinforces this notion. But I would argue that chocolate goes beyond prosperity and money magic. Of course, there are sweetening spells, in which chocolate can easily be incorporated, as well as love and lust magic which can most definitely involve chocolate. I would say that chocolate can be used in health and healing magic.

There is, of course, the fact that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, but I’m specifically referring to spells pertaining to mental health. It’s excellent for calming nerves for those suffering from anxiety, lifting the mood for those suffering from depression (keep in mind that depression isn’t just feeling sad… it’s losing all feeling, to the point where you just can’t feel emotion), and bringing joy to those who need it. Even when feeling physically sick, a cup of hot cocoa can help bring a bit more life to someone who is unwell. (When I had the flu last week, what was my hot beverage request made of my boyfriend? Hot chocolate!)

Incorporating chocolate into magic is fairly easy. Add it to foods such as baked goods and candy, or even to some more savory foods (chocolate goes particularly well with chili’s and pairs excellently with red wines). As an offering to deities, chocolate works well for deities linked with love or strong emotion or wealth.

Play around with ways in which to incorporate chocolate. It doesn’t have to be the candy bar, either. In a spell for self love, consider using cocoa powder as an ingredient. In sweetening spells, powdered hot chocolate can be incorporated easily!

To to cap it all off, chocolate is a food whose origins are linked to royalty, money, and prosperity. It’s grown to become a food linked with love and romance, but can also be very helpful in spells for mental health. Consider different ways in which chocolate impacts your life, and see where it’s magic can take you!

And may all your meals be blessed! )O(