31 January 2010

The House of Padre Miguel Hidalgo

One of my favorite activities is to photograph old buildings and street scenes and then compare my recent photos with photos that I find in old books or magazines to see how things have changed. Because of the fact that this year we celebrate the bicentennial of Mexico's fight for independence from Spain, I thought it would be interesting to show you some comparison photographs. The subject of the photos is the house where Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (Padre Hidalgo) lived when he gave the shout called "El Grito de Indpendencia" in the early morning hours of September 16th, 1810. The house was constructed in 1779 by a man named D. José Salvador Fajardo and it was the parish house when Miguel Hidalgo moved to the town of Dolores in 1803 to become the parish priest. He moved to Dolores from a town not too far away called San Felipe Torres Mochas where they also still preserve the house that he lived in. Both former houses of Padre Hidalgo are really worth a visit.

After Padre Hidalgo was captured and executed the house in Dolores was confiscated by Spanish authorities and used for various purposes until Mexico finally won the war and gained independence in 1821. The house then reverted to the control of the Catholic Church. In 1859 it fell under Benito Juárez's reform laws regarding the separation of church and state and in particular under a law called the "Law of Nationalization of Church Property". In June of 1863 President Juárez passed through Dolores on his way to San Luis Potosí and declared the house a national monument. From that time on it was called the "Casa de Hidalgo". Just a year later the new Emperor Maximilian passed through Dolores and on the 15th of September, 1864 he celebrated "El Grito" (The Shout) with a ceremony during which he gave a speech from one of the windows of the house. That was the last leader of the country to do so until president Lázaro Cárdenas celebrated "El Grito" on September 15, 1940 in Dolores. He initiated a tradition whereby each succeeding Mexican president, during the fifth year of his six year term in office. celebrates "El Grito" in the courtyard of the church called "Nuestra Señora de los Dolores". The "Casa de Hidalgo" was made into a museum in 1946.

The first photograph below was taken by a wonderful man named Harry A. Franck in 1916 and was taken from his book, "Tramping Through Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras — Being the Random Notes of an Incurable Vagabond". Harry Franck was a world traveler and a graduate of the University of Michigan where he majored in languages. He wrote over thirty books about his travels. If you would really like to know what life was like in Mexico about one hundred years ago I suggest that you read this book. You can find it at a used book dealer or on e-Bay or you can download it for free from Project Gutenberg.

The second photo was taken by me in 2004 while standing in the same spot that Harry did eighty-eight years earlier with a camera lens of a slightly different focal length. One of the things that you will notice is that the building appears to have been better cared for in 1916 that it was in 2004. It had been restored in 1968 in time for the Mexico Olympics but I don't think much had been done after that. I haven't gone back to see it in a few years and I plan to do so very soon to see what they have done to prepare it for the Bicentennial. I am guessing that it will probably look very nice. In Harry's photo you will see a corner piece at the top of the building that is not there in my photo. I believe that corner piece was put there by order of Maximilian and not removed until a few years after Harry took his photo. I have forgotten the details about this so if anyone knows them please remind me. The third thing of note is the big tree that has grown in the courtyard behind the building since Harry's visit. I never met Harry Franck. He died in 1962. However, he is a role model for me and his influence on me is probably one of the reasons why I write this blog. May he rest in peace.

30 January 2010

Something fishy...

It has been a heck of a week, my friends. A week ago Friday evening I came down with a bad case of the flu. For three days I stayed mostly in bed in the fetal position waiting patiently for the Lord to take me. Every bone in my body ached and my skin felt like permanent goose bumps,"la carne de gallina" or "la piel de gallina" in Spanish (the flesh or the skin of a chicken). My head hurt like it was being squeezed in a vice and I thought my brains were going to squirt out. On top of all that, what little sleep I had was plagued by nightmares. I had some very strange visions and one vision reoccurred several times, and in fact so often that I was able to make some notes about it as soon as I woke up in a little notebook that I keep at the side of my bed for just that purpose. You have to catch them right away before they fade. Based upon my notes and what I vaguely remember I made the sketch below. I still have some unanswered questions:

1.) What's with the fish? Does this mean that I had the "fish" flu?

2.) Does it mean that I should eat more fish or less fish?

3.) Does it mean that I smell like a fish? More than likely after three days with no shower.

4.) Who is the woman (?) and why the bow tie?

Anyway, I hope all of that is now "agua pasada" as we in Spanish or as we say in English, "water gone under the bridge". Thank God that I'm still alive and kicking.

24 January 2010

Flea, Fly, Flu

Oh, me, oh my, oh moo.
I have come down with the flu.
Whatever will I do?
Forget about the swine flu.
Methinks I have the elephant variety
So much for prayers and piety.
Perhaps I'm going to diety.

Sorry, I couldn't think of anything that rhymes with piety to finish it off. My apologies to Ogden Nash. Ohhhh, my head hurts :(

21 January 2010

The Stelae of Miguel Hidalgo

Recently my friend Benjamín Arredondo ("El Bable") asked me to locate the two "Cabezas de Águila" in Irapuato because he is preparing a blog on Mexico's Bicentenario which he will publish very soon. The cabezas de águila (eagles' heads) that he was referring to are markers called "estelas" in Spanish from the Latin "stelae" meaning "marker". Stelae are upright stone slabs or columns that mark roads or boundaries. In this case they mark the route of Padre Miguel Hidalgo, the Father of Mexican Independence from where the fight for Mexican Independence began in Dolores Hidalgo on September 16, 1810, to the place where Padre Hidalgo was executed in front of a Spanish firing squad in Chihuahua, Chihuahua on July 30, 1811. The estelas are made from a column of brick or stone and are topped by the sculpture of an eagle's head. The eagle has a banner streaming from his beak declaring "Libertad".

In the year 1960 the president of Mexico, Adolfo López Mateos, invited the populace to suggest an appropriate manner to mark the route of Padre Hidalgo in celebration of 150 years of Mexican independence from Spain. As a result, the estelas were adopted and the eagles heads were sculpted by Tomás y José Chávez Morado at the School of Fine Arts of the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City. Originally there were 260 of these estelas made and they were placed along the route in ten states. In addition to being topped by the head of an eagle the estelas are marked with a plaque that says "Ruta de Hidalgo 1810 -1811". Most of the estelas are still in place but some have been moved and some have been vandalized. Many have been lovingly cared for but others have been mostly ignored. Irapuato is honored to have two estelas because Padre Hidlago came here twice. Since I am into sketching right now I made a sketch of one of the Irapuato estelas which you can see below. This estela can be found on Avenue Guerrero near the Centro de Salud. I also included a map that shows the locations of both Irapuato estelas. It is interesting to note that when the estelas were placed they were at the very edge of town at the northern and southern terminus. The city has grown tremendously since then and so now they are more or less rather centrally located.

Note: I sign my sketches "BOGI" which is what my wife Gina calls me. She pronounces it BOH-jee. It stands for "Bob & Gina". (Click on images to enlarge)

16 January 2010

Thirty something...

If you're smart you will never ask a woman's age after her 30th birthday. In Mexico it is no different than in the United States. In fact, in Mexico it is considered quite rude. You can try asking a woman's age but more than likely you are not going to get a straight answer especially since people generally don't like to tell lies directly. To ask a woman her age straight out you can say, "¿Cuántos años tienes?" if you know her well, and if you don't you can say something like, "Disculpe señora. ¿Cuántos años tiene usted? ".

Here are some of the answers that you might get and the good thing for you ladies is that if you learn these answers in Spanish you can use them too:

Treinta y tantos
. ( TRAIN-tah ee TAHN-tohs)
Thirty something.

Ta y ocho (ta-ee-oh-choh) When spoken quickly it sounds like tai-OH-choh.
After the number twenty all the rest of the 10's in Spanish end in the letters "ta" as in treinta, cuarenta, cincuenta, sesenta, setenta, ochenta, y noventa. In effect what you are saying with "ta y ocho" is that your age could be 38, or 48, or 58 etcetera, all the way up to 98.

Treinta y meses. ( TRAIN-tah ee MESS-ess)
Thirty and months.

Apenas trienta y cinco. (ah-PEY-nahs TRAIN-tah ee SEENK-oh)
Barely thirty five.

Lo que represento.
The age that I look.

And...last but not least if you really want to sound indignant you can use the following put-down:

Los años son para vivirse y no para contarse.
The years are for living and not for counting.

¡ Buena suerte !
Good luck!

14 January 2010

Street Food Smarts

I have a good friend named Benjamín Arredondo who lives in Salamanca, Guanajuato which is just a little way down the the Panamerica Highway from Irapuato...about ten miles in fact. "Benja", as I call him for short, has two blogs at present. One of them is called "El Señor del Hospital" after a famous shrine in Salamanca and it is dedicated to the history of that city. The other blog is called "El Bable". At first glance you might think that the term "El Bable" refers to some language or to the "Tower of Babel" but it actually refers to the rancho where his father was born not far from Salamanca. The name of the rancho is "Rancho el Baule" but over the years the local people have corrupted the word "baule" into the word "bable". A "baul" or a "baule" is an old fashioned steamer type trunk with a rounded lid. There was a big stone building on the Rancho (now in ruins) that resembled a "baule". Benjamín (Ben-hah-MEEN) uses this blog to document his explorations to every part of the State of Guanajuato as well as other places in Mexico. He is a dedicated historian and he is capturing things that are quickly fading away. I am eagerly anticipating a third blog of his that will be dedicated to history relating to Mexico's Bicentennial. For all of you who can read Spanish or for all of you who would like to practice reading Spanish you could do no wrong by following the blogs of Benjamín. He speaks and writes English very fluently as well so if you have any questions you can write to him in either English or Spanish.

When Benja travels he travels lightly and most of the time by bus. He carries his things in a knapsack or "mochila" (moh-CHEE-luh) and mostly he eats local food from street vendors to learn about the local foods and also to "chat up" the locals. With all of this eating of street foods you might think that he either has to have a cast iron stomach or else that he has been very lucky to avoid getting sick. Neither one are the case. He is simply very careful. Recently he wrote some tips for eating safely on the street and with his permission I will repeat them here, first in Spanish, just as he wrote them, and then in English.

Y… ¿a qué vamos al mercado además de ver y oler lo que allí hay? Claro es: a comer. Luego de años y años de andar con mochila al hombro se forma una especie de habilidad para saber cual es el bueno. Cuál es el lugar en donde de seguro la comida estará de primera. Normalmente no falla, por si no sabes la técnica, es fácil. ¿Esta limpio y ordenado el lugar? ¿La cocinera es amable y te invita a pasar? ¿Tiene las uñas recortadas y otra persona es la que cobra? ¿Está vestida normalmente y nada de folclorismos? Algo importantísimo (para mí) ¿venden cerveza? (ahora con lo del virus debemos incluir una pregunta en la evaluación ¿hay lavamanos o tienen alcohol en gel?) si las respuestas fueron todas sí: has llegado al lugar correcto.

And...why do we go to the market other than to see and to smell what they have there? It is to eat, of course. Over years and years of traveling with a knapsack over the shoulder one gets a certain knack for knowing what is good. Which place serves the safest food will be the first priority. Normally it never fails and in case you don't know the technique it is easy. Is the place clean and orderly? Is the cook friendly and does she invite you to stop by? Does she have trimmed fingernails and is there another person who handles the money? Is she dressed in normal clothing and not in folklore type clothing? Something of extreme importance (for me)...do they sell beer? (Now with the virus we must include a question in the evaluation...Is there a wash basin or do they have alcohol gel sanitizer? If all of the answers were yes then you have arrived at the right place.

Looking back over my own experience I have had the runs on several occasions but each time it was because I did something stupid. By the way, to say "I have the runs" you can say, "Tengo chorrillo" (TANG-oh choh-REE-yoh). The word "chorrillo" actually means "a steady trickle". Be careful that you don't say "chorrillos" with an "s" on the end because "Chorrillos" is a famous city in Peru. Gringos tend to take the "s" from "runs" because it is plural and transfer it over to "chorrillo" but that is not correct. Actually, I don't think I have ever gotten sick from from street food from a local, well established vendor. Nobody wants their customers to be sick especially if their customers are also their friends and neighbors. The time that you will get sick is usually the time when you are thinking that something doesn't look right but your "friend" says something like "Come over here, you gotta try some of this stuff" and goads you into it. Most generally this will happen at a fair of some kind. Be careful. After all it is your body. If your friend wants to sit on the stool with stomach cramps all night then let him. You just follow Benjamín's advice and you will be okay.

One more thing. If you would like to wash your hands before you eat (and you should) most good street food vendors will have a pail of clean water for that purpose. Don't do the typical gringo thing, however, and plunge your hands into the pail of water and contaminate it for everyone else. Believe me that you will look inconsiderate and stupid. Just take a plastic cup or spoon and splash a little out of the pail onto your other hand and then rub your hands together. You are really just trying to get the dust and grime off of them and not take a bath. A follow up with some sanitation gel will do you just fine. If there is no plastic utensil available it is permissible to use just the tips of your fingers to splash some water out of the pail. Oh, and whether or not you follow Benja's advice, you better tuck some toilet paper into your pocket or purse before you leave home. You never know when you might need it!

13 January 2010

Why do I blog?

There are many good reasons for blogging,
And one just entered my head.
If a person can't blog while they're living,
Then how the heck can they blog when they're dead?

09 January 2010

The Common Denominator

I am very fond of humor and I enjoy a play on words in any language. When I was a kid we used to tell riddles and recite little poems that twisted words about to make them humorous. One of the earliest that I can remember goes:

That's life!
What's life?
A magazine.
How much?
Five cents.
Too much!
That's Life!

My father was also fond of words. He used to recite little nonsense poems that sounded like he was talking in another language and you had to guess the meaning. One of my favorites went:

Saville, derdaygo,
Tousen buses inarow.
Nojo, demis trucks,
Summit cowsin, summit ducks.

Say Billy, there they go,
A thousand buses in a row.
No, Joe, those are trucks,
Some with cows and some with ducks.

Mexican people do the same kind of word play in Spanish and it is very funny in Spanish but when you try to translate it into English you end up with a lot of explaining to do, not only because of language differences but also differences in culture. Here is an example that I received from our shop superintendent, "El Machete", the other day. There is quite a play on words here. Take note that the word "araña" means "spider" as a noun but the verb "arañar" means to scratch or claw something. Also note that "gatillo" means "trigger" but it also means "little cat" (kitten). The word "tuerto" means "blind in one eye" and I discovered that there is no one word for that in English even though there is one word for it in Latin, "luscus", for "blind in one eye".

¿Por qué un tuerto no va a la guerra?
Porque un tuerto es un ser.
Sears es la marca de una pistola.
La pistola tiene un gatillo.
El gatillo araña.
La araña teje un hilo.
El hilo se cose con una aguja.
La aguja tiene un ojo.
El que tiene un ojo es un tuerto.
Un tuerto no va a la guerra.

Why won't a "one eye" go to war?
Because a "one eye" is a being.
Sears is the brand of a pistol.
The pistol has a trigger.
The kitten reaches out its claws.
The spider spins a thread.
A thread is sown with a needle.
The needle has an eye.
One who has one eye is a "one eye".
A "one eye" doesn't go to war.

Now, I know what you are thinking. It may sound cute in Spanish but it falls very flat in English. That's the whole point. Once your ability in Spanish reaches the level where you and "get" the jokes you will really start to appreciate the humor of the Mexican people. Run this one by one of your Mexican friends or neighbors and see what they think. I'll bet that you at least get a grin if not a chuckle.

Here is another one that I call "The Common Denominator". It is a little "off-color" but more in the way of being scatological than being prurient. I guess you would call it a Mexican limerick.

En este mundo de matraca,
De cagar nadie escapa,
Caga el cura,
Y caga el papa,
Y hasta la mujer más guapa,
Deja su montón de caca.

In his world of nuisance and bother,

Nobody escapes the need to defecate.
The priest defecates,
And the Pope defecates,
And even the most gorgeous woman
Leaves her pile of "crap".

07 January 2010

Alley who?

I have a friend at work named Alejandro (ah-ley-HAHN-droh) but most people call him by his "hipocoristico" or "pet name", Ale (AH-ley). However, he reminds me so much of the character "Alley Oop" in the "funny papers" that I have begun to call him Alley Oop. The cave man character Alley Oop was invented by an artist named V.T. Hamlin back in 1932 (the V.T. stands for Vincent Trout). Alley Oop has been published as a syndicated comic strip ever since that time even though Mr. Hamlin died in 1993 at the age of ninety-three. His work was carried on by Dave Graue until he died and by Jack Bender and his wife Carole up to the present time. I have fond memories of Alley Oop. In 1960 there was a number one song on the radio about Alley Ooop that was written by Dallas Frazier and produced by Gary Paxton under the name "The Hollywood Argyles". The lead singer was Norm Davis. The Alley Oop song has been recorded by a number of artists since that time and the song always conjures up the image of a swinging cave man.

In the summer of 1960 I was a twelve year old Boy Scout trying to earn a medal honoring the famous chief of the Sauk Indian Tribe, Chief Blackhawk, or "Makataimeshekiakiak" as he was called by his people. In those days the Boy Scouts were really heavy into "Indian lore". I am not sure that this is politically correct anymore so I am begging the pardon of any native Americans who may read this. At the age of twelve back in those days we were just innocent kids following our "leaders". To get my medal I had to read three books about Chief Blackhawk and do a book report on each one of them and then walk a twenty mile trail at the Chief Blackhawk monument in Lowden State Park near Oregon, Illinois. A number of other scouts did this with me and we walked that twenty miles singing the Alley Oop song to keep the pace and pass the time. We had a lot of fun making up new verses as we went along. It is something that I will never forget and I cling to memories like this. I think it is important for all children to have good experiences while they are still young so that they can have fine memories when get old because in the end the good memories are all that we have left that's worth keeping.

The name Alley Oop itself is very interesting. The phrase "Allez Hop" is generally recognized as a French interjection used to get someone to leap into action. The word "Hop" sounds like a cross between the English words "up" and "hoop" and so therefore in English we tend to say "Oop". Some people say that the term "Allez Hop" is the cry of a French circus acrobat about to leap into his act while others say it is the command used in the circus to get lions and tigers to jump through a hoop. There is no doubt that the first part is French and that "Allez" is the third person imperative form of the verb "Aller"... to go. It is the second part, "Hop", that is a bit controversial. Some people say that is a corruption of the English word "up" and other people say that that it may come from the middle eastern "hopla" meaning "to jump" or even from the Greek "Oooopa !" when they throw the dishes. There is quite a bit of evidence, however, that indicates it may have actually come from an old German word "hoppen" meaning to jump and is sometimes used in the form "hoppla" to mean "whoops" as in the English "woopsy-daisy". To complicate things even further the name Alley Oop has been given to a basketball play in which a pass is lobbed above the basket by one player and another player jumps up and attempts to catch the ball and make a basket before his feet come back down to the floor.

There is also an Alley Oop connection to Mexico. In the 1980's there was a "historieta" or "comic book" about Alley Oop published in Mexico but the name of Alley Oop was changed to "Trucutú". The name "Trucutú" is the name of a Latin salsa drum beat and the word "trucu-tú", when repeated over and over, imitates the rhythm of the beat. There is a picture of a "Trucutú" comic book cover below. There is also a picture of my friend Alejandro, the V.T. Hamlin version of Alley Oop, and my version of what Alejandro looks like as Alley Oop.

There's a man in the funny papers we all know
(Alley Oop, oop, oop, oop-oop)
He lived 'way back a long time ago
(Alley Oop, oop, oop, oop-oop)
He don't eat nothin' but a bear cat stew
(Alley Oop, oop, oop, oop-oop)
Well, this cat's name is-a Alley Oop
(Alley Oop, oop, oop, oop-oop)

(Alley Oop) He's the toughest man there is alive
(Alley Oop) Wearin' clothes from a wildcat's hide
(Alley Oop) He's the king of the jungle jive
(Look at that cave man go!!) (SCREAM)

05 January 2010

2009 ¡A la Fregada!

The artist J.C. Leyendecker is credited with inventing the tradition of depicting the New Year as a baby with his Saturday Evening Post cover of December 28th, 1907 , a little over one hundred years ago. Before this 2010 New Year Baby has taken a few steps I decided that it was time to send the ghost of the old year "a la fregada" or "the hell out of here" in order to make room for the new one. Yesterday I was watching some talking heads on the telly and they were discussing different ways to leave the emotional baggage of 2009 behind. There were a number of steps involved and it seemed a bit complicated. I have found a much easier way to erase the slate and I have been practicing it for a number of years. Sunday, Gina and I went to our favorite place to bathe in hot spring water at "Los Baños de Aguas Buenas" which is about halfway up Mount Cubilete near Silao. There is nothing like a hot soak in a big tub to wash away your troubles and wipe the slate clean. We brought along a big pink bar of "Zote" soap and had a good scrub down. We emptied and filled the big tub three times and each time we lathered up with mountains of suds until we looked like the NewYear Baby (only in my case it was an enormous baby). We scrubbed and scrubbed until every bit of 2009 was gone. When we were done our skin was so clean that when we rubbed it we got the same "ee-oo, ee-oo" sound that you get when rubbing a window pane with warm water, vinegar, and a paper towel. When we finished our bath we sallied forth like new people and we felt so light that we walked with a small bounce to each step like the astronauts did when they walked on the moon. Right outside the front gate there was a lady selling "elotes" (corn on the cob) that had been steamed over a mesquite fire so we each bought one for lunch. They were covered with the traditional mayonnaise, chile powder and grated cheese and the smell of the elote combined with the smell of the burning mesquite was like special incense made in Heaven. The taste was heavenly too.

While we were relaxing in our new found squeaky cleanness I did a sketch of the of old ex-hacienda chapel there which you can see below. I decided that this year I am going to learn how to make sketch drawings. I have always wanted to do that and sketches are so much less intrusive than taking pictures with a camera. It isn't as easy as I thought, however. It is like learning a new language. At first one must take small steps and learn the rules and in this case there is a lot to learn about perspective as you can see from my very humble beginning. As time goes on I will present more sketches in this blog as a record of my progress. It looks like I have a long way to go, doesn't it?. That's okay, as long as I'm having fun. I challenge all my blogger friends to do the same. Buy yourself a new box of crayolas and let's get some action going here!

01 January 2010

It's diet time again...

This morning when I got up I looked in the bathroom mirror and standing behind me to one side was the Devil with a silly grin on his ugly face and on the other side was my beautiful Guardian Angel shaking her head and with a sad face she began to sing...

Oh, it's diet time again, you're gonna grieve me
I can see that faraway look in your eyes

I can tell by the way your pants fit darling,

That it won't be long before it's diet time time.

Now they say that weight loss makes the heart work better
And that ugly fat is stressful to behold

Without exercise you won't be 'round much longer,

Don't you want to be one hundred years old?

Oh, it's diet time again, you're gonna grieve me
I can see that faraway look in your eyes

I can tell by the way your pants fit darling,

That it won't be long before it's diet time.

Now you say you've found a diet you like better
That's the way it's happened every time before

But if you don't stick right with it this time

It will be crying time when they roll you out the door.

Oh, it's diet time again, you're gonna grieve me
I can see that faraway look in your eyes

I can tell by the way your pants fit darling,

That it won't be long before it's diet time.

(My apologies to Buck Owens who wrote the original song "Crying Time" in 1966.)

Well, my Guardian Angel is right...I better do something. The other day I was watching a program about health and one of the participants was a doctor named Dean Ornish who is president and founder of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, California, as well as Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. He talked about a diet plan that is very simple and yet has proven the greatest results in lowering cholesterol and body fat and he said that it can change your life in just three months if you stick to it. Surprisingly, I found that there are a lot of respected doctors who back his claim and that is probably because it is nothing more than a common sense diet. He divides foods into five basic food groups:

1.) Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy products, nonfat dairy, and egg whites in their natural forms, as well as some good fats that contain omega 3 fatty acids.

2.) Avocados, seeds, nuts.

3.) Low fat dairy products, margarines free of trans fatty acids, sweeteners containing high fructose corn syrup, and higher sodium.

4.) Poultry, fish, milk/dairy products, margarine, mayonnaise, doughnuts, fried rice, pastries, cakes, cookies, and pies.

5.) Red meat in its various forms, egg yolks, fried poultry, fried fish, hot dogs, organ meats, butter, cream, and tropical oils.

The above is just a general outline. You can find out a lot more about his program on his website: http://www.pmri.org/index.html

The way it works is that if you want to live a long and healthy life, lose weight, and lower cholesterol you need to stick as close to group number foods one as you can. The good thing about group number one is that you can eat as much of it as you like as long as you promise to walk for one half hour per day and no cheating.

Well, what have I got to lose except a lot of pounds? I am going to try it. I will report my progress from time to time and if it works I will show you before and after pictures. If it doesn't work...well...let's just hope that it works.

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About Me

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.