We have all become fans of Paka Paka, a TV channel programmed by the Argentine Ministry of Education. Lou has memorized the phrase “de lunes a viernes, temprano en la mañana y despues de comer” (Monday through Friday, at 8am and at 1:45pm), and he has several favorite shows including: Cocoricó, with Muppet-style farm animals and people; a cartoon called Ema y Gui in which everything is drawn to look like it was made of fabric; a cartoon called Zapa Zapa, starring a pair of shoes; and Los Mundos de Uli. If I had to choose a favorite—and it’s not easy—I would pick Uli.
Uli is a real, six or seven year old boy who lives with his nine year old sister Amanda, his dad and extremely pregnant mom, and a teddy bear in Buenos Aires. In every episode, Uli and his bear, and sometimes Amanda too, change into cartoon characters as they step into a secret world of adventures. Yesterday, Amanda, Uli and the bear took a trip inside their mom’s cartoon belly where they floated around in amniotic fluid with their new brother.
Cartoons are interspersed with short episodes called Así soy yo (this is how I am), showing young children from different places around Argentina at the playground, at school, dancing, cooking with a parent, or building stuff.
Earlier I was dismissive of cartoons, but that’s when we were watching the Cartoon Network and Disney. Paka Paka was created to socialize Argentine kids and teach them language and culture, and now it’s teaching all three of us.