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Mirador by James A. Jennings

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Sarah and Nate Hunter become embroiled in more than they bargained for when they volunteer to help restore a crumbling church in Mirador, Chiapas. Unbeknownst to them, el Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) has big plans to use Nate’s internet savvy in order to make public their War Against Oblivion. Then the unthinkable happens. 

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I have to say that Mirador by James A. Jennings was a great read. The Zapatistas (EZLN) have been in the news lately as they continue this struggle against oblivion begun in 1994. The pivotal events in the story occur just months before the Zapatista battle cry ¡YA BASTA! was heard on January 1, the day NAFTA was signed into effect. 

The characters were well-developed and believable. The locations were described in exquisite detail. The political situation was explained in the introduction and then again in a historical note at the end, bringing the events up to the present. 

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What this book really needed, however, was a Mexican consultant for the Spanish phrases included in the book. These lacked the proper cadence and rhythm found in Mexican Spanish that just can’t be duplicated by a non-native speaker. 

For example, although “Mi hijo” is grammatically correct, no one says that, mijo. It was to the point that I was reading the Spanish text as if a gringo were speaking, not a Mexican. There were also grammar errors. When speaking of the native people of the area, the correct term is “los indígenas” not “las indígenas” even though the word ends in the feminine “a.” Another incident was that a young man would NEVER use the informal “” tense when speaking to a woman he revered as a grandmother which occurred in the book. There were sentences that were totally incomprehensible in Spanish, as if the author tried to translate directly from English. “Ser grave” should have been “Se serio” and so on. 

While I understand that the book was meant for English speakers, these glaring oversights detracted from my enjoyment of the story to some extent. Although to be authentic, most of the characters would have been speaking in one of the nearly 70 indigenous languages found in Mexico. 

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On the other hand, I took immense pleasure imagining life among the Zapatistas, something I probably will never experience. I was delighted to learn just a little more about el lek’il kuxlejal which roughly translates as buen vivir (living well) that is at the heart of the indigenous resistance movement in Mexico. 

I believe you will enjoy Mirador by James A. Jennings as much as I did!

I received an ARC from the publisher to review this book.

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International Women’s Friendship Month

September is International Women’s Friendship Month. So how do these international friendships typically pan out? Sometimes not so well, sadly.

Living in rural Mexico often means isolation for women who have chosen to come with their husbands to the lands of their ancestors. Friendships with other women are slow in developing, if ever. And yet, women need the support of a tribe of their own, not just the husband’s sister or aunt or cousin. 

Studies have shown that deep, abiding friendship between women can counteract stress–and moving to a new culture is certainly rift with that. Women have an innate drive to communicate, which moving to an area where a new language is spoken can inhibit. Friendships occur over shared experiences, beliefs and values–things that are not found in the new environment these women have settled in. 

Friendship can help women combat loneliness, improve their chances of surviving breast cancer, and generally help create a satisfying quality of life, no matter where a person lives. 

So why is it so hard to foster friendship in a new country?

Unfortunately, we have an inherent bias built into our perceptions that takes deliberate effort to overcome. We tend to choose friends who look like us, have a similar background, and social values. When we are faced with making connections with people who neither look like us nor have a shared history, we need to work more at finding commonality than we would otherwise. And while we immigrants to Mexico may be driven to find connections, the women that live in our village with long-time established friendships, are not. 

So where does that leave us? Depressed, lonely, and ill. Online friendships sometimes help with the worst of this, but virtual buddies can’t ever replace an actual friend. 

In June, I was able to visit my hometown for the first time in 10 years. I stayed in the home of my best friend since third grade. I thought that it was just me, who had been living in relative isolation for so long, that most enjoyed our time together. So I was surprised when my friend said that she really missed the company of women, both her girls were grown now. 

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We talked about the growing Amish community in the area and whether they had a better support system than most women. After all, they have shared values, a common background, activities, and history. Since that society of women is closed to non-Amish for the most part, we weren’t able to do more than speculate.

Bringing these thoughts back with me to Mexico, I started to feel less resentful of the women who refused to befriend me. The closed society of women here is no different than the Amish community in Pennsylvania. Which of course, makes it difficult for interlopers like myself to establish deep and abiding friendships. 

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So where does that leave me? I will continue to enjoy my virtual interactions in the various Facebook groups I am in, including two that I help manage SOTB Bloggers and Women Surviving Rural Mexico, which I invite you to join if you live in Mexico. I will keep trying to be supportive of the women as they struggle with their online presence and daily interactions in Mexico. I will try to remember that I have an internal bias as do the women I come in contact with, so I mustn’t hold it against them. And I will continue to cherish the friends that I have no matter the distance between us. 

How have you made and maintained your friendships with other women?

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A Horse of Many Colors

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Cookie waited until we had left for the U.S. last month to have her anxiously awaited baby. My husband was over the moon that it was a boy and promptly named him Red, although I’m not sure the name quite fits him. He’s a mahogany color if anything, with yellow socks and a black muzzle with what looks like mascara rings around his eyes. Horsey people say that the color the hairs around the mouth are will determine what the final coat color the horse will be. So I guess we’ll just wait and see with little Red.

He’s friendly and smart and thinks he’s a dog. This angered Puppy so much that he ran away for a few days right after Red arrived. Puppy wasn’t interested in yet another new friend. He got over it and came back though he has made his new hideyhole where the food is kept because Red can’t get in there. 

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Cookie is an excellent mama, if maybe a little too protective of her son. One day the little Chivita (one of the triplets) managed to get into the stall with Cookie and Red, only mama wasn’t having any of that. She bit Chivita’s tail clean off. Needless to say, Chivita isn’t as curious about the new arrival as she was before. Her tail healed up just fine as well.

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About a week after our return, we had our one and only baby goat of the year. I think she was premature because she was just so small and wasn’t up and around as soon as most of our little ones. She’s doing fine now though, so it’s all good. We haven’t come up with a name though. Suggestions?

Some of our goats are in heat now and our hunka hunka burning love macho goat can’t seem to handle all the hormones in the air. He’s become aggressive. He’s butted the door until it has come off its hinges. He’s butted the wall between the goats and Lady until it fell over. If this keeps up too much longer, it might be time to trade for a new macho.

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Making Herbal Preparation Free Course Herbal Academy

Free Making Herbal Preparations 101 Course

From Monday, July 22 to Wednesday, July 31 Herbal Academy is offering Making Herbal Preparations 101 Mini-Course for FREE! You know how much I love these courses!

In this one, we’ll learn about the way that herbs are used and prepared for everyday use and begin making our own herbal recipes at home. In the seven lessons, we’ll cover:

  • 4 basic categories of herbal preparations
  • 12 everyday safe herbs to use at home
  • 33 DIY herbal recipes, from teas and tinctures to salves and oils with chickweed, dandelion, lamb’s quarters, nettle, violet, burdock, hawthorn, oat, raspberry leaf, and red clover.

Laminated recipe and tutorial guides for the course are available as an upgrade.

I’ve already signed up and am anxiously awaiting August 1, when the class opens. Won’t you join me?

Free Making Herbal Preparations 101 Course

Herbal Academy has stated that this course will be re-released in 2020 however it won’t be FREE! So why not take advantage of this amazing offer today?

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