Although Carnival, the traditional festivities celebrated by Christians around the world before Lent begins, has already come and gone, one country has the distinction of hosting the longest Carnival celebrations of any other nation.
The people of Uruguay, a South American country located on the Atlantic coast and nestled between Brazil and Argentina, celebrates Carnival for 40 days!
Although the Carnival celebrations in Brazil gain more attention, Uruguay’s Carnival has religious, cultural, social, and political meaning.
Like most countries, Uruguay hosts parades as part of their Carnival celebrations. The Desfile de Carnaval, which means the Carnival Parade, and the Desfile de Llamadas, the “Calls Parade”, which is a re-enactment of colonial times.
In addition, Uruguay has a strong musical and comedy tradition. Street performances, called murga, mix music, acting, and comedy and are used to amuse and entertain children while offering biting political satire for grown-ups.
Judges visit the murga in different neighborhoods and award prizes for the best.
Although Carnival in Uruguay ended on Ash Wednesday, there’s plenty of time to make plans to visit Uruguay for Carnival 2013!
Peru has earned a reputation for having one of the best cuisines in South America and this weekend I learned that for myself.
On the invitation of family members, I visited a lovely woman who lived in Lima, Peru with her husband and three small daughters for five years during the 1960s while her husband worked on a nutrition project. During her time in Peru, Mrs. Placko learned how to prepare many dishes that have come to be favorites in her family.
In this short clip, Mrs. Placko is assisted by a KidCulture chef in preparing lomo saltado, a beef stir fry that is eaten throughout Peru.
In addition, Mrs. Placko made delicious potatoes that accompany most Peruvian meals as well as a fantastic salad known as causa. Causa resembles the French salade nicoise but it is topped with an olive oil and onion dressing that is unlike anything I’d ever eaten. Causa is also well-loved for its mashed potato balls.
For dessert, we feasted on flan and alfajores (you might remember them from our Christmas Cookie extravaganza).
Here are some pictures to make your mouth water.
What is the longest river in South America?
In which country can you find the city of Agadir?
Who let the dogs out? Just kidding on this last one.
If you’re interested in geography, you want to show off for your friends, or you’re intensively cramming for your eventual appearance on a certain prestigious TV game show, you might want to explore National Geographic’s Kids website. Not only is it fun for parents (impress your kids with your encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s greatest mountain ranges) but it gets kids excited about other people and countries, too. There are interactive games, videos, and puzzles. Who knows? Maybe someday you’ll be able to say, “I’ll take little-known Pacific islands for $1,000, Alex.”