by Oscar Castillo

Laredo is well-known to be an ever-busy city. In the midst of the urban jungle, it is nice to find a sanctuary to remind us of home. Whether traveling in the Laredo area, or simply in the midst of a home transition, hotels are a welcome bed in which to let worries melt away. However, with so many options on the market, it can be hard to choose where to spend your nights (and hard-earned money). One of the leading providers in excellent hotel service is Red Roof Inn.

Scott Halket is general manager at the Calton Road location of Red Roof. Having prior worked at a Dallas location, he came to Laredo in March of 2016, helping provide quality service to guests at the hotel, and wise leadership for his team. “Laredo is an interesting market,” he states. “With the proximity to the border and the multicultural aspect, it’s an interesting and challenging market to work with.” The Red Roof Inn receives guests from all over Mexico and the US on a daily basis. He expresses that his team highly encompasses values such as hospitality skills, caring about people, putting others before themselves, intelligence, compassion, commitment, bilingualism, responsibility, and punctuality.

“Our success has to do with the team that we have, which provide seamless service,” he adds. “It is a synthesis of caring and sympathetic staff, rates that are affordable, taking care not to forget about local as well as our incoming populations and styles of guests, and providing them all with an excellent experience.” Of course, another great aspect of this particular Red Roof is, as Halket adequately stated, “Location, location, location.” Being right in the center of the most popular areas in town, it is a great option for any occasion whether it be shopping or exploring the city.

Of course, what sets this location high on our charts is its utmost dedication for customer service. “Customer service means treating guests like they’re in your own home,” he continues. “Not treating them like a customer, but treating them like a guest. Anticipating their needs, and providing a seamless service before they even think of it.” An incredible feature that Red Roof counts with is its pet-friendly nature, which allows one to bring along their furry friends on trips. It is a delight to be pampered in the spacious rooms, or even to take a dip in the hotel’s glistening pool. Certainly a great option for an escape.

“We love to provide great service,” Halket states. “You need a cab? You need a restaurant to go to? You need directions on how to get someplace? Let us know. We’re here to serve you and treat you like you are family.” Contending to be not only Laredo’s best but also the region, Red Roof on Calton is worth it.

by Ashley Salas

Let’s talk equality. Equality does not only refer to equal pay or equal political and social rights, but rather its a broader aspect that includes a representation for and of all human rights, whether you’re gay, straight, hispanic, black, blue, or green. We’re in the year 2018 and sexual equality is still one of the most controversial topics being discussed around the world. Whether you believe it’s religiously immoral or not or whether you believe you were genetically born with it or believe it’s a “nature vs. nurture” type of situation, the idea of homophobia is a thing. A real thing.

Earlier this month, an advertisement circulated around the city’s social media platforms, bringing up the question, “Can Homosexuals (LGBTQ) change?” A local church hosted a function that promised homosexuals a chance to “change” with “God’s love and power” by following a fourteen-step journey that ultimately leads to the cure: heterosexuality. Laredo’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, alongside Texas A&M International University’s Campus Ally Network and support programs such as Equality Texas, LULAC Council 12, Laredo BorderSlam Poetry and Laredo’s Sisters of Mercy counter-rallied and instead of resorting to protest in a violent way, they opted to love only to celebrate life. They took the opportunity to begin an open conversation, answer any doubts, and open their arms to anyone who just needed a big warm hug. The question is, “Why can’t people let other individuals be and embrace who they truly believe they are?” Who decided that the color blue, football, and cool cars were things that defined the male and the color pink, makeup, and barbies were things that defined the female. Maybe the reason why there’s denial of this group is because people are afraid or not a fan of any sort of change. People fear the “different” and “abnormality.” However, there’s a reality to accept: love is love and others’ mindsets have evolved. In fact, Laredo has evolved.

With a room full of about 100 attendees and mother monster Lady Gaga blasting from the speakers, from drag queens to Catholic sisters to politicians to poets, it was all bursting with love and acceptance, hoping the exchange of thoughts sparked a foundation of support for everyone. Testimonies floated out of people who took the stage, many of which have suffered loss of friends due to suicide, rejection because of their family’s strong morals, and discrimination by civilians. Tears of each kind were shed, each holding a dear memory of a story of a man who was beat to death in the 90s but was never on the news, or the sick dying man who believed he wouldn’t see his god because of his sexual preference, or the young man whose only wish was to save lives but was denied the opportunity to donate blood because he was gay. Nevertheless, the night ended with a room of nothing but positive energy and love, and rainbow colored feather scarves and a fabulous drag show. So here’s some food for thought, like some magical person in the audience said: “be whatever color you want to be because the world is not black and white.”

Laredo is definitely a melting pot of cultures. Within our city we can find many families, businesses, and entities from all over the world. Of course, being right on the border, we take great pride in both our American and Hispanic heritage. For this reason, events like the Sister Cities Festival are so important to the community and offer us a little taste of what we’re missing from our brothers and sisters from across.

Sister Cities is a celebration of Mexican culture as it brings together over 200 exhibitors and vendors representing across 60 cities from all over Mexico, all under one roof. From Tex-Mex, to authentic Mexican and Latin, there are literally hundreds of selections in terms of vendors all housed in the grand indoor mercado.

Join us in exploring through countless pieces including jewelry, clothes, toys, home decor, and even unique foods and ingredients, all authentic and made in Mexico. Sister Cities is a tour across the rich tapestry that is Mexican culture, bursting in color, personality, and crafted with dedication and love. However, it isn’t just Mexico this event brings together but also people from all over the world. It is an international expo that celebrates union and trust in one another as neighbors.

While Laredo is known as the “Gateway to Mexico,” its strategic location as the nation’s largest inland port makes it the “Gateway to the World.” Established under seven flags, Laredo now embraces a global culture with the influx of new nationalities, each with their own unique flavor. By creating this network not only with Mexico but with the world, we can learn from other cultures and share a bit of what makes each of us unique. It is a great privilege that Laredo lies at the center of this communion, and it is definitely quite the experience to just indulge in what the rest of the world has to offer. Whether you want a traditional new outfit or accessory, or whether you want to try some of that authentic Mexican cuisine, come on over to Sister Cities and show your support. The event is an entire weekend, spanning three days, July 13-15, at the Laredo Energy Arena. Admission is free. 

by Oscar Castillo

Photos By Misael Hernández, Model: Gaby Cadena, Makeup Artist: Guillermo Castilleja

Every day hides a special surprise for those willing to search for it.  With July tends to come time off from school or work. Though a lot of us prefer to use that time off for simple relaxation and dissociation, many others like to make the most of their free time. For this we have decided to include a celebration or two that occur each day in July. Some of these may range from National holidays to well-known celebrations to some that are just outright strange and unique.

We start, of course, with July 1, which is actually known as Canada Day in the land of the maple leaf, which is celebrated with local treats such as Poutine, Baklava, and “Beaver Tails” which are not what they sound like. For the lovers of the supernatural, July 2 is seen as World UFO Day, which is a great excuse to take a camping trip with telescopes in hand in wait of an amazing encounter. On the third,  it is National “Stay Out of the Sun Day” where we are reminded to always stay safe and protected while outside. The sun is good and all, but too much can be harmful. Be sure and wear lots of sunscreen and stay hydrated on these scorching hot days.

Celebrations in July range from National holidays to well-known celebrations to some that are just outright strange and unique, like Piña Colada Day; the 19th is National Hot Dog Day. July 16th is National Ice Cream Day.

On the fourth of July, nothing of interest really happens, of course, other than the biggest party across the entire United States. Get those grills firing and prepare for the fireworks show. The following day is National Bikini Day, so get out your favorite two-piece and hit the beach. The 6th  is both International Kissing Day and National Fried Chicken day, which is certainly a strange combo but why not do both and smooch on some good old fashioned chicken at your local joint? The 7th is National Strawberry Sundae Day, the 8th is National Video Game Day, and the 9th is National Sugar Cookie Day, so those days are perfect for getting your buddies together (or online), and duking it out in some co-op games, all the while snacking on some sweets. With how hot the days are, that honestly sounds like heaven.

The 10th is National Pina Colada Day, the 11th is National Slurpee Day, and the 12th is National “Eat Your Jello” Day, so feel free to treat yourself. You deserve it! Hot weather and cool treats go together like peanut butter and jelly. The 13th is National French Fry Day, The 14th is National Mac and Cheese Day as well as Bastille Day in France, and the 15th is National “Give Something Away” Day. Following the trend of yummy food, the 16th is both National Corn Fritter Day and National Ice Cream Day, the 17th is National Emoji Day (really?), and the 18th brings the International Nelson Mandela Day as well as the World Listening Day, which are adequately paired.

July is vacation time. It is summertime fun time. It is sun burn, sand in your pants, AC at full power, sleeping in, “why is the sun so evil” time. Just the mention of the word “July” evokes images of fun and relaxation (for most) and sunny outdoor activities. Summer is on full blast, and the heat is the highest ever. However, don’t let that stop you from making the most out of your summer vacation.”

We are all about our food, as evident, and the 19th is both National Daiquiri Day and National Hot Dog Day; something for both the kids and grown-ups. The 20th is National Lollipop Day as well as Moon Day, so why not visit the local planetarium? The 21st is National Junk Food Day (July sure likes to make us fat), and the following is National Hammock Day, which we will need after the junk food. However, the 22nd is also Parents’Day (yes, both of them) so be sure and celebrate your folks. The 23rd is National Gorgeous Grandma Day, so tell your Granny just how beautiful she still is. Following that is National Cousins Day, and the 24th is National Tequila Day, so why not do both and take your favorite party-crazed cousin out for some drinks? The 25th is National Hot Fudge Sundae Day, and the 26th is National Aunt and Uncle Day, so take this day to explain to your aunt and uncle all the partying you and your cousins did two nights prior. It’s also National Chili Dog Day so maybe offer a couple as a peace offering.

The 27th is National Scotch Day, The 28th is World Hepatitis Awareness Day, and the 29th brings both National Chicken Wing Day as well as National Lasagna Day, a yummy duo. The 30th is the International Day of Friendship as well as Cheesecake Day and Dance Day, so that just sounds like a good time overall. Finally, the 31st is National Mutt Day. There are many good dogs and cats at the shelter waiting for their forever home, and purebred or not, a pets’ love knows no limits.

In summary, there is lots of food to enjoy this July as in general it is National Ice Cream Month. Just like the cold treats keep us nice and cool in the summer and balance us out, it is important to always practice safety and moderation when going out of town. Always wear proper sun protection, and have a healthy time. After all, come August, it’s back to the grind for all of us. Have fun but remember to be prudent and smart. Happy summer!

 

LCC Named as the #1 Community College Nursing Program in Texas

 

Laredo Community College is honored to receive the stellar designation of being the number one community college nursing program in Texas.  Additionally, of the 116 nursing programs available in Texas to become a registered nurse, the LCC Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program has been selected by RegisteredNursing.org as the seventh-best nursing program in the state among colleges and universities.

RegisteredNursing.org is an online resource dedicated to informing future and currently registered nurses on educational pathways and career opportunities in nursing.

As they stated on their website, “We are firm believers in providing students with all the information possible to make the right choice when selecting a nursing school.”

The website ranked the top 50 nursing schools in Texas by analyzing current and previous National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rates. Programs reviewed include schools offering an Associate in Nursing (ADN/ASN), Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, or a direct-entry Master of Science degree in Nursing. The study analyzed examination pass rates for the past five years.

“The outstanding ranking is a direct result of the quality instruction offered through LCC’s ADN program”, explained LCC Nursing Programs Director Dr. Dianna Miller.

“The Associate Degree Nursing faculty have worked diligently to provide an excellent Nursing Program for Laredo. As noted in the rankings, our program is exceptional. Besides the excellent NCLEX Passage Rates, we believe our graduates are outstanding, compassionate nurses,” said Dr. Miller.

Individuals interested in pursuing a career in a healthcare related field should consider the advantages offered by LCC’s Nursing Programs. For those interested in a career in nursing, prospective students can explore three different options, including the nursing assistant or vocational nursing certificate, or an associate degree in nursing.

After completing the programs and passing the national licensing exam, LCC graduates can begin working in the healthcare field anywhere in the United States after one or two years of study.

For more information, contact the LCC Community and Media Relations Office at (956) 721-5140 or visit www.registerednursing.org/state/texas/#rankings

A twist on a classic….

by Fernanda Alvarado

Laredo’s spring temperatures are making their way into the city and they are finally here to stay! That means that sundresses, sunglasses, and all kinds of sandals are on call for everyday use. It also means that the city will be needing lots and lots of refreshing drinks to keep up with the warmer weather.

You can never go wrong with an Arnold Palmer, or as it is more commonly known, a half and half. Half sweet tea and half lemonade, this drink mixes all that is tart from a lemonade and all that is sweet from traditional Texas sweet tea making for an invigorating drink.

Chef Richard Mims specifically enjoys peach Arnold Palmers on hot Laredo days. It was this small pleasure in his life that inspired Trattoria Mia’s newest creation: a spiked Arnold Palmer. Of course, there are different variations of this drink but what makes this Arnold Palmer stand out is the fact that the drink itself contains nothing artificial.

Chef Mims shook limoncello, Tito’s vodka, peach simple syrup, and fresh squeezed lemon juice and poured it over ice. He then carefully layered the sweet iced tea over top to create the classic lemonade and sweet tea divide. This drink is perfect for a hot day spent with family and friends eating delicious food.

Something as decadent as the plates Trattoria Mia offers deserve to be accompanied with a drink specially selected from their new drink menu. Trattoria Mia now has several vodkas, whiskeys, bourbons, and most other liquors you’d expect to find. Plus, Chef Mims is always ready to create new and never before tried concoctions so stop by Trattoria Mia for a taste unlike anywhere else.

Visit Trattoria Mia at 3402 E. Del Mar Blvd., (956) 568-3536.

Make your tastebuds dance…

by Fernanda Alvarado

From kitchen to table, Chef Sabas Martinez makes sure that every dish that comes out of his kitchen is perfected before reaching his customers. For this piece, Chef Martinez created a stuffed trout on a bed of risotto and bacon wrapped asparagus.

Originally from Torreon, Coahuila, Chef Martinez grew up watching his grandmother cook food the way no one else could. He’s been in Laredo for years learning from every chef he’s worked with to learn new techniques and create his own touch. For this dish, his inspiration goes back to his roots: his grandmother. “Of course, it isn’t the same because she was better, but I try to make it similar,” Chef Martinez chuckled.

He starts off creating the risotto cooking it slowly over a medium heat with some chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Then he goes on to blanch the asparagus and immediately after shocks it in ice water. Three asparagus are rolled into one with a piece of bacon and roasted to brown the bacon. Lastly, Chef Martinez takes a special blend of paprika, chili powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper and spreads it over the butterflied trout. He then adds the crab to the spice mixture. He takes it to the oven at 450 degrees for about five to seven minutes. To add the finishing touch, as soon as the trout is out of the oven, Chef Martinez adds butter and sea salt and places it under the broiler so that the crispy skin can be the first bite you get. For an added flavor, he finishes it off with a lemon sauce with chopped garlic and butter over top.

Chef Martinez recommends patrons to eat the trout with the skin. Eating the skin of a fish might not sound appealing, but trout is one of the few fish where eating the skin is okay. Plus, with it being crispy, buttery, and sea-salty it is probably the best part of the dish…TRUST US!

Chef Martinez and his team at Border Foundry make sure that everyone that walks through the restaurant doors feels their visit has been the best they’ve had. Every dish is made with attention and to perfection.

Pay them a visit at 7718 McPherson Rd, you won’t regret it!

A Safe Haven For Bees

By Fernanda Alvarado

Honey has been a staple in many households for as long as anyone can remember. People have been using it to treat different conditions, sweeten teas, in baking, and even as an agent to repair damaged hair. But! The best way to enjoy honey is where you can eat it as is. It truly is a miracle product!

La Gorra Azul Ranch partners with many different local businesses that use their honey for different plates. Lolita’s Restaurant showcases honey from La Gorra Azul on their menu. There are caterers that only purchase honey from La Gorra Azul because customers only prefer their honey over anyone else’s. Even doctors have been purchasing their honey!

La Gorra Azul Ranch is a safe haven for bees. Owners George and Tracy Mapus keep bees safe and protected and doing what they do best, collecting nectar and making honey. What began as a family tradition quickly became a hobby and now a side business.

La Gorra Azul produces 4 to 5 distinct honeys depending on the different blooms: Chaparro Prieto, Mesquite Honey, Mastranso, Quebradora, and Wildflower Honey

Each of these categories have their own distinct flavor and smell. The most popular one has to be the Mesquite Honey, but if you like something a bit more spicy with an herbal scent that overtakes your palette then a Mastranso honey is right up your alley. The Quebradora honey comes from the white brush that blooms and it is really good. Everyone has their favorites. Whatever the taste may be, nothing beats the benefits of unprocessed, raw honey.

According to George, the bees eat whatever is on the land. They are not given anything that they don’t make. What is sold is what is harvested; 100% pure raw honey.

Bewitching Legends

by Jorge Santana

In the tours that I host for my historical neighborhood of San Pedro, there is a place that calls my attention in particular. It’s a small, round, a very strangely shaped hut. It is a tour of myths, a tour of terror; not one of historical accuracy, although legends tend to become history for better or for worse. The legend (like many myths), hides a background of “objective” reality far away. I like that contrast, sometimes I think I’ve managed to survive solely because I can live in that middle point of twilight, between legend and reality, between fantasy and the dull truth. Well, when I walk past the house, with megaphone in hand and a line of people behind me, I begin to tell the legend. “In that round house, they say, an African witch lived, in the mid-1800s when the black soldiers called the “Buffalo Soldiers” arrived at Fort McIntosh (now the Laredo Community College) were a cavalry that came to this border to defend the gringos from the Indians. It is said that this woman practiced black magic in that little hut, from draining the blood of goats and chickens, to performing macabre potions with the hair or breeches of the white soldiers, oppressors of the Afro soldiers.” People get excited with the story, except for the owner of the house, who once chased us off her sidewalk with the spray of her hose. It is understandable: the woman rents that little house, and if the tenants knew they were sleeping on an old river of haunted blood, they would want to move from there. The point of all this is that I like to think about what will happen to us when we are dead. What will they say about us, about our lives, what legends are we forming without knowing, and about how many legends are we being part of? I can already imagine: “In that house they say, lived a man who wrote poems and whatnot. They say that he killed himself because he was never able to live off his writing.” Well, that’s what they would say, when in fact I died because they hit me with a car, or due to some disease, or perhaps by spontaneous human combustion, or gods only know what exactly will happen to me. Someday, someone will rent my house and the new owner will run them off with “manguerazos” for walking by saying that under the orchid tree hung the previous owner (me) for ingesting poorly prepared toloache. I do not know if that witch lived there, if it really happened what they say happened, but when I walk down that sidewalk, I do it just a little bit faster, dear reader.

 

Sculpt perfection into your skin

by Oscar Castillo

Laser technology has advanced tremendously over the past decade. Lasers can not only be used for security purposes, but also as valuable tools for everyday life. They can be as strong as to cut through diamond, or gentle enough to treat one’s skin. In Laredo, Skintology prides itself in keeping up with the new and growing demands. Added to the many items on their repertoire, laser skin care can be checked off, coming in the shape of Skin Resurfacing.

Resurfacing is the process of removing imperfections from the skin with the use of laser treatment. Some of these imperfections include, sun damage, acne marks, blotches, wrinkles, scars, and even age lines. This involves an outpatient procedure, meaning it will not require overnight stay or lengthy recovery time. It is a simple, non-invasive surgery that can have almost immediate results. The process works by the laser beams heating the deep layers of the skin. This, accompanied by pulses, touch on any unwanted pigmentation and blood vessels, smoothening or eliminating them altogether.

Regarding results, these usually include smoother, softer, clearer, and more vibrant skin. Although results can be seen soon after the procedure, it is usually best to follow up with a couple more sessions to ensure that the effects are more effective and lasting. Although it is usually implemented on facial skin, it can be applied to other parts of the skin as well.

Due to so many benefits, it is almost too good not to try this procedure. However, for better results, and for more detailed information on the procedure, it is always better to make an appointment with a physician or dermatologist beforehand. At Skintology, they can help guide patrons to ensure that every safety precaution is taken, and that the procedure is right for them. The best part is that this treatment is all offered locally, so there is no need to travel outside the city to get treated like royalty.

Skintology Spa is located at  3402 E. Del Mar Blvd. Suite. #200, (956) 727-0950, www.skintologyspa.com