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Why we left Montana?

Montana for me is the most beautiful state in the USA that I’ve ever seen and that I’ve ever had the chance to live in, and at some point, we would like to go back there.

Montana has the most beautiful and stunning landscapes that you could ever imagine.

It’s also the perfect state to live in if you love the outdoors.

The number of outdoor activities that you can do there it’s insane.

Going from the most simple ones like hiking, to the wildest ones like hunting and skiing during the winter.

Rainbow Dam, Great Falls, MT. Photo By: @miriam_bade_photography
Rainbow Dam, Great Falls, MT. Photo By: @miriam_bade_photography

Montana was kind of our paradise but sadly for our little family, it didn’t have the job offer that we needed.

I was a Software Developer and Jon is an Air Force Veteran.

When I got pregnant, I knew I had to leave my job since I had to travel a lot for work.

Air photo of Bismarck, ND that I took on one of my flights back to Montana.
Air photo of Bismarck, ND that I took on one of my flights back to Montana.

Our decision of leaving Montana

After struggling for over a year, we decided that the amount of money that we were making wasn’t enough to cover all our expenses and most of the time, we had to ask for help.

As a result, we agreed that I would get a job and that Jon would stay at home taking care of our daughter while pursuing his career.

Finally, after a lot of interviews and a lot of work trying to refresh my programming knowledge, I was able to get a job in Omaha, NE.

We chose to move to Omaha,NE because Jon’s family is here.

Therefore, the change would help us not only to have a better life but also to keep us closer to his family.

I am sure, that one day we will be back in our loved Montana.

Peace and Love!!!

Is the word Gringo offensive??

As Mexicans, we tend to give nicknames to everyone and to pretty much anything. It’s part of our culture and our way of having fun.

But since I moved to the USA, I’ve noticed that some people can get offended if someone calls them gingo/gringa.

My main intention with this post is that I want to try to explain its roots since seems like no one really knows from where it came from.

Usually, in Mexico, the use of the word gringo indicates that the person or group of people that we are talking about was born in the USA without indicating, race, ethnicity or in a way to offend anyone.

POSTER PANCHO VILLA I WANT YOU GRINGO
POSTER PANCHO VILLA I WANT YOU GRINGO. Photo from: Worth Point

Possible origin

There’s no clear origin for the word gringo, but its believed that could have been one of the following situations:

Battle of The Alamo, Texas (1836).

During this battle, the Mexicans were shouting out to the US soldiers to leave by using the words: GREEN GO!!.

This came from the thought that American soldiers were wearing green uniforms when in fact they were wearing blue.

The word gringo remained as part of our language.

US-Mexico war (1845-1847) .

It said that the American soldiers were singing the song “Green Grow the Lilacs” and the word gringo was the result of the deformation of the language.

On the other hand, it was also during this war that the word gringo could’ve been born.

People say that the American battalions were identified by different color names, and when it was their turn to attack, their commander will say the color name plus the word go.

As a result, someone that might have been nearby and heard the order given to the green battalion could have been misinterpreted.

Therefore, they probably thought it was a way to name the American soldiers without knowing that in reality, the commander was just saying the battalion’s color.


Hey Gringo Poster. Photo from : Own Mexico

I guess what I am trying to say it’s: regardless of how the word was born (as I mentioned it before), it has no intention what so ever to insult or offend anyone in any way.

We Mexicans say it just because.

Peace and Love!!!

No writing for my blog

A few months ago when I decided to create this blog, I think I forgot to mention that I was a stay at home mom to a 1-year-old baby girl.

Also at that point, my husband, was the only working to provide for our little family.

Now, things have changed a lot!!.

I got a job in a new town and we moved from Great Falls, MT to my husband’s hometown, Omaha, NE. And of course, that’s a huge change for anyone.

Our Little Family in Omaha
Our Little Family in Omaha

So now, I am the one that goes to work every day, and Jon stays at home with our child.

Therefore, by the time that I make it back home, I just want to spend time with them and to try to relax before we start Astrid’s bedtime routine.

Thus, after the adjustment period, I will try to make the effort to start writing more content and I hope you like it!!.

Family: Our baby’s first Halloween and Day of the Dead.

As Mexican and Catholic, I was raised with the idea of Hallowing being a celebration that honors the evil and the darkness.

However, now that I am married and living in a country where Halloween it’s a huge celebration, I was happy with the idea of taking our baby to her first trick or treating and doing a family costume.

Is not that I was trying to forget or left behind my roots. I just didn’t want to focus on the “evil” that could happen on this day but rather I wanted to focus on giving my child a great Halloween that she might not remember but for me, it would be a memory that would live forever in my heart.

Furthermore, the fact that Jon didn’t want to do a spooky costume theme, i made me feel even better about it and even my mom was happy to hear that we all would be getting costumes for Halloween.

The theme that we chose was Alice in Wonderland and it turned out pretty good. 

Jon was the Mad Hatter, Astrid was Alice and I was the Queen of Hearts.

All dressed up as Alice in Wonderland
All dressed up as Alice in Wonderland

To be safe, we took Astrid to trick or treat to a nearby church that was having a trick or trunk for the kids.

She wasn’t sure at the begging and didn’t know how to react but when we went inside of the church to warm up a little bit, Astrid saw other kids around and she was having a blast.


Astrid’s first Day of the Dead

Additionally, it was Astrid’s first Day of the Dead as well, and even though she is still too small to know the meaning of that celebration, it’s a tradition that I want to pass to her  so she can keep doing it once I am gone and that she also can pass it to her family if she ever decides to have one.

For now, she only got to try the bread of the dead (pan de muerto) that I got from a Mexican grocery store online, and she wasn’t really sure about it but what she really loved was the Mexican hot chocolate.

Astrid eatting pan de muerto

After all, both holidays are something that we are going to keep celebrating and I am pretty sure that Astrid is gonna love them both because each of them represents a part of her roots and what she is.

Cultural differences and Marriage

The beginning of our relationship

When I first started dating my now husband, I didn’t think a lot about our cultural differences.

Sure some of them were pretty obvious, but nothing major.

But it wasn’t something that it wouldn’t let me sleep at night.

In fact, those little differences were something exciting because it was something new.

Also, as we met in Montana, it helped to hide those differences because the amount of Hispanic population is really low.

Our Wedding Day
Our Wedding Day

Life after marriage

So now, after being together for 4 years and having our first child, we’ve realized that our cultural differences have a certain impact on our marriage.

Is not necessarily a bad impact, but the two of us had to change or compromise for certain things that probably if we had married to someone from our same cultural backgro, we wouldn’t’ have done.

The first thing that we had to adapt to was food.

Everything related to the kind of food that we used to eat by ourselves and the time of the day that we used to do it has changed.

Things that have changed for us in our marriage

  • Our breakfast got heavier (not as heavy as brunch but we eat a good amount of food). In Mexico, I used to have a heavier breakfast and here in the USA, I noticed that people tend to skip it. So we found an amount of food that would work for the two of us without overeating or feel hungry after eating breakfast.
  • Dinner time starts later. In the USA, dinner time starts at 4 pm but again, we had to adjust because for me dinner was the lightest meal of the day and would start around 6 or 7 pm.  So we both had to compromise.
  • We celebrate more holidays. Mexico has about 16 statutory holidays (plus over 30 observances ) during the year, and the US has about 12 federal holidays.  When we got married, we agreed that we would try to keep as many traditions from both sides as possible.
  • Language barrier. My family and I are Spanish native speakers and my husband and his family only speak English. Therefore, it added a barrier to our families.
  • Relationship with our parents. The relationship that I have with my mom it’s pretty close, I talk to her every day over WhatsApp or Facebook and Jon talks to his parents as much as he considers it’s enough (about a couple times a month maybe).

After all, each relationship regardless of cultural differences needs love, comprehension, friendship,  complicity, and compromise if you really want it to work.

It won’t be easy, but it’s worth it.

Peace and Love!!

Growing up Mexican: Religion and my Abuela against Halloween.

When I was a kid back in Mexico I was raised as a Catholic.

I had to go to mass every Sunday and to Catholic school on Fridays.

I was also taught that celebrating Halloween was bad.

Also, in Mexico Halloween is considered a foreign tradition that it’s somehow rejected.

This is just because some people are trying to keep the Mexican traditions alive.

Mexican sugar skull kicking the foreign tradition
Mexican sugar skull kicking the foreign tradition

The influence of  Religion

During the month of October whenever we went to mass the priest used to say: “Halloween is a pagan satanic celebration where people not only perform Satanic rituals but also it’s a celebration that goes against the Catholic church believes because it promotes witchcraft and esotericism

As a result, we never celebrated it.

Halloween described by religion
Halloween described by religion

What it made it even worse was my Abuela.

I used to live with my grandparents from my mom’s side, my parents and my brother in the same house in Mexico.

My Abuela was the person that was always controlling the family and the only person that was always right.

My Abuela was the kind of Catholic that would go to mass every day and also, would try to rule your life based on what she thought was the best.

Therefore, every time that we wanted to dress up for Halloween or try to do anything related to it, we would be lectured about it and our religion.

As a result, I never had the chance to celebrate Halloween.

Religion after my abuela passed

Now that my Abuela has been gone for almost 7 years I no longer go to church.

I love her and I miss her but the fact that she forced me to go to mass for so long has made me more unwilling to go to Church now.

As a consequence, I don’t think that I would go back to church anymore.

How to write a Calaverita poem

A Calaverita Poem (better known just as Calaveritas) is the Mexican tradition of writing a satirical poem about friends, family and pretty much anyone in a verse in order to make fun of them and the death.

Additionally, this tradition is part of the Day of the Dead celebration and can be added as part of the Ofrenda.

Main Characteristics:

  • Written as verses.
  • Make fun of people.
  • The main character is described as it was dead or about to be.
  • Contains images of skulls.

How to write your Calaverita?

  1. Choose your subject. It can be family members, friends, public figures, etc.
  2. Think about something that you know that person does a lot and you want to make fun of it. ( for example, sleep all day, play all day with their phones, etc)
  3. Write about that action and how because of that now is dead or is going to be soon.
  4. Have fun!!

The main idea it’s to have fund and Calaveritas don’t have to be perfect.

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Mexican folklore: The Day of the Dead

“We are mortal because we are made out of time and history. But there are instant exits through the culture that are a poetic act, which dissolves time, to escape from history and death. – Octavio Paz.”

The Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead has recently become more popular after a couple of movies were released within the past 2 years.

Sadly, movies don’t tell the whole story behind the tradition and just showed us a little part of it.

First of all, the Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd and recently I’ve seen some posts that mention that the celebration starts even earlier and the rituals and meanings per day go as follows:

    • October 28th – On this day, a white candle is lit along with a white flower to welcome the souls that are alone.
    • October 29th – Another candle is lit along with a glass of water, to honor the forgotten souls.
    • October 30th – A new candle is lit beside a glass of water and white bread for those souls that died in an accident.
    • October 31st – A new candle is lit along with a glass of water, another white bread, and a fruit. This is for our ancestors.
    • November 1st – Better know as “All Saints Day” is the night when the soul of those kids that died come back to visit us. Here is when we put the food in the ofrenda.
    •  November 2nd – Day of the Dead. Is the day where the souls of our loved ones come to visit us.  The Copal is burnt and a path of Cempasuchil petals is left to guide the souls of our loved ones to the ofrenda.
  • November 3rd – The last white candle is lit along with more Copal to say goodbye to the souls of our loved ones and we can eat the food that we used in the ofrenda.

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After all, regardless of how long the celebrations last,  the most important thing is to remember our loved ones because without them, we wouldn’t be here.

If you want to know more about how to build your ofrenda, you can check my post about it here.

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How to build your own ofrenda for the Day of the Dead.

The day of the Dead is getting closer and probably you learned something about it last year thank you to Disney’s Pixar movie COCO. And if you haven’t seen the movie or you just want to learn more about it, you can read my post “Mexican folklore: The Day of the Dead

Now, you want to build your own ofrenda but you have the feeling that you don’t really know where to begin or what to buy?

My Little Ofrenda

Don worry!!.

Below is an easy list that can help you to find the perfect items for you.

  1. First of all, you need photos of your loved ones. Those to whom you want to honor and remember with your ofrenda.
  2. Frames for the photos.  I like using black frames so the photo of my loved ones look better but you can choose anything that you want.
  3. Water. It helps to quench the thirst of the traveler souls.
  4. Candles. The fire provides them with light and hope for their journey.
  5. Copal Incense. It’s used to clean the environment and to get rid of evil spirits.
  6. Cempasuchil. Also known as Mexican Marigold, is the flower used to guide the souls.  (if you can’t buy natural flowers, you can replace them with artificial marigold).
  7. Wallflower and Baby’s breath. They are more used to honor the souls of children.
  8. Cross. It goes at the top of the ofrenda and usually is made out of Marigolds.
  9. Arch. It’s also made out of Marigolds and fruits and represents the entrance to the underworld.
  10. Day of the dead bread. It represents fraternity and it’s delicious!!
  11. Food. Usually, you put plates of food that you loved ones used to like.
  12. Sugar Skulls. They represent and honor the dead. If you can’t find the ones made of sugar, you can replace them with plastic ones.
  13. Salt. It’s used to purify the souls on their travel.
  14. Papel Picado.  In Mexico, Papel picado is made out of tissue paper but here in the US is really hard to find (at least where I live). Hence, you can make your own papel (as I did) or you can buy it online.

How to set your ofrenda?

The traditional ofrenda usually has a lot of elements and levels as described in the image above, but if you don’t have that much room to set up your ofrenda, you can try to put the most important elements of the list that is at the beginning of this post and try to be creative the most important thing is that you are trying to create something beautiful to remember the loved ones that have passed away.

In my case, I have a very little shelf that Jon decided to get for me and I just have the photos of my loved ones, tissue paper, some plastic skulls, and artificial flowers. (My ofrenda is the one at the top of the post).

So, it doesn’t matter how big or small is your ofrenda and even if you are not Mexican, I am ok with others taking our traditions and honoring them. The most important thing for me is to remember the loved ones that are no longer with us.

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Mexican folklore: La Leyenda de la Llorona.

Now that Hollywood has decided to release a trailer for a movie based on the Legend of the Weeping woman better known in Hispanic culture as La Llorona, made me realize that not a lot of “foreign” people know about it and that probably Hollywood might ruin it for everyone. At least what I saw on the first trailer is not making me wait fretfully for it to be released.

In addition to that, I asked my American husband if he had ever heard about it and as I suspected, he said “No”, so I tried to tell him a little bit more about of what I know of the legend and that’s what pushed me to write this post.

In Mexico I grew up with  2 versions of the legend, one of them told by my Grandma on my mom’s side and the other one told by everyone else as part of our folklore.

It’s also worth mentioning that this legend has several versions that change the story a little bit accordingly to the region where is told and that no one really knows the real origin of it.

colonial-newspain

Some people say that the legend was born during the time of the Viceroyalty of New Spain in Mexico (from 1521 to 1810) and that version tells the story of a woman (an indigenous woman or native of Mexico) who fell in love with a Spaniard with whom she had a hidden relationship with. From that relationship, 3 kids were born and when the woman asked the Spaniard to marry her, he said no because he was marrying another woman, someone from his own class and wealth.

After hearing that, the woman went crazy and on that night, she killed her children. Once she had realized what she did, she committed suicide by drowning herself in the river.

Since then, it’s told that her spirit wanders around on the streets and that you can hear her in the middle of the night crying out painfully “Aaaaaayyy my children!!!”.

la llorona 2

There’s also an older version recorded by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún in the General History of the Things of New Spain (also known as the Florentine Codex ) where it says that la Llorona is the Aztec Goddess Chihuacóatl, whom since before the arrival of the Spaniards, bemoaned the imminent Conquest. Her cries warned the Mexica about the tragedy looming ahead of them.¹

1 omen

As I said before, there are different variants of this legend, including the ones told in Central America, but I think that the main essence of the legend has a lot more of depth and tradition that what it could be told as part of a Hollywood movie.

In conclusion, with this post, I do not intend to criticize the movie because it hasn’t even been released but I just want to share a little bit of what I know about it so you could make your own conclusions if you ever decide to watch the movie.

1. This paragraph was taken from  Horror Stories: The Legend of La Llorona.

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