Archive for the ‘stuff’ Category

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

Let me tell you about Kiva (

Kiva is a non-profit that allows you to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur in the developing world.

You choose who to lend to – whether a baker in Afghanistan, a goat herder in Uganda, a farmer in Peru, a restaurateur in Cambodia, or a tailor in Iraq – and as they repay their loan, you get your money back. Its a powerful and sustainable way to empower someone right now to lift themselves out of poverty.

Now that I’ve been to South-America, it’s great to be able to help out some entrepeneurs who are just like the people I met when I was there. A Peruvian restaurant owner or market vendor, or an Ecuadorian shop owner..
I made some small loans last year. And after a couple of months, I started getting repayments, with which I was able to make new loans!

Some things worth paying attention to:
– read the information about each loan carefully, so you know what the entrepreneur does exactly.
– group loans help more people and are more likely to be paid back.
– pay attention to the pay back schedule. Some loans are as short as 4 months while some may be 18 months.
– pay attention to the Kiva Partner that is making the loans. Kiva shows how trustworthy they are, and how ‘good’ they are at paying back loans.

All in all, the most brilliant initiative that was made possible through the internet (besides Couchsurfing). Mad props to the creators!

Check it out or check my profile.

algunas canciones en español

Friday, August 14th, 2009

So now I need to keep up my Spanish.. though I want to, I haven’t gotten around to it much lately. But I guess it always helps to listen to some music with Spanish lyrics.
Here are two of my current favorites:

Joan Manuel Serrat – Mediterraneo

Calexico & Amparo Sanchez – Inspiraci�n

algunas películas en español

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

In order to improve my understanding of the Spanish language, I’ve been watching some Spanish and Latin American movies. I don’t know how much it actually helps, but it’s fun anyway.. ha.
And it’s a good way to discover some new movies that otherwise I probably never would have seen. I’ve come across some real gems so far.

lunesalsolLos lunes al sol (2002, Spain)
About a group of friends who used to work at the same company. They all got fired, can’t get a new job and are now spending most of their time at the local bar. Besides their unemployment, they all have their own issues.
It’s interesting to see how they all cope with their problems in a different way. I would say the overall ‘taste’ of the movie is bittersweet; it’s quite sad and melancholic at times, but somehow it’s still a feelgood movie. Some hilarious moments in there as well.

whiskyWhisky (2004, Uruguay)
This movie displays the daily rhythm of Jacobo; an old, single guy who owns a small sock factory with three employees. One day his hip and successful brother from Brazil comes to visit. To make at least a decent impression on him, he asks one of his employees to move in with him and pretend to be his wife.
Subtlety is the keyword for this one. The whole movie is kind of slow, and there doesn’t seem to happen a lot. The way Jacobo acts sometimes makes you want to scream, because he’s so incredibly stubborn and unwilling to open up a bit. Most of the conversations are either incredibly forced, cliche or end with awkward silences. All of that may not sound very appealing, but I thought the movie was actually rather brilliant in its own way. Especially if you have a feel for subtle humor, you should watch this. Made me laugh out loud a couple of times.

ultimotrenEl último tren (2002, Uruguay)
An old steam locomotive is bound to be sold to Hollywood in order to be used for a movie. A group of elderly men, who feel the train represents an important part of the country’s history, decide to do something about it. Three of them, along with a kid, hijack the locomotive and try to take it across the border to Brazil. The movie producer and the police then start chasing them in order to recapture it.
What you get are some really nice sights of the Uruguayan landscape. It also offers some funny and beautiful moments, in the conversations between the men and the kid, and other people who try to help them. And of course, who can’t appreciate three old guys and a kid rebelling against some big shot movie producer and the corrupt police?

laberintofaunoEl laberinto del fauno (2006, Spain)
A.k.a. Pan’s labyrinth, this is probably the best-known movie from this list. I actually saw this one a couple of months ago. Set during the Spanish civil war, it’s about a young girl called Ofelia who discovers a fantasy world.
What I loved most about this one is the contrast between the fantasy world and the tough reality of the war. It sure didn’t get a 8.5 rating on IMDB for nothing.


Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Jazz has been in high rotation lately. Here are two of my current favorites.

Bill Evans Trio – Someday My Prince Will Come

Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass – Stormy Weather

If you want more.. check out Randal Corsen, a pianist from Curaao, who blends jazz with influences from classical, Antillean and Latin American music. I saw part of his show at North Sea Jazz last summer, and here you can watch most of the concert online. Great stuff!