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This is a very special site for me. I can express this way my perception of reality through these photo image creations and share them with you as if you were at my home.

Spanish scientists make an important discovery related to lung cancer
20 April 2019

      A group of scientists from the Cima (Center for Applied Medical Research) of the University of Navarra and the University Clinic of Navarra (CUN) have identified a group of proteins that predict the prognosis of patients with the two most common types of lung cancer: adenocarcinoma and carcinoma flaky lung. This detection could improve treatments, in these patients, to predict a relapse of this disease because until now, there is no marker, in practise, that indicates which patients are at higher risk of suffering from the disease over time, after having passed by operating rooms, according to Cima.

 Spanish scientists of the Cima

Cima

Clinica Universidad de Navarraa​​​​​​​

      In a study of 557 patients, the researchers analysed the tumor samples of 239 patients with adenocarcinoma and 318 with squamous cell carcinoma, from the Clínica Universidad de Navarra, MD Anderson in Houston (United States) and the multicenter series of the CIBER of Respiratory Diseases (CIBERES) and of the international clinical trial NATCH.

A scientist analysing carcinomas​​​​​​​

Adenocarcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma​​​​​​​

      According to the senior researcher of the Program of Solid Tumors of the University of Navarra and head of the CIBER group of Oncology (CIBERONC), Dr. Luis Montuenga, the objective of this study is "to detect those patients with lung cancer, who are at greater risk of relapse after surgery. For which, we have assessed the expression of two groups of proteins (three in adenocarcinoma and five in squamous carcinoma)".

Luis Montuenga​​​​​​​

      The results obtained confirm that when high amounts of these proteins are detected together, there is a worse prognosis of patients with lung cancer. "These data are especially useful to guide a personalised follow-up, so that clinical specialists can consider starting a treatment of complementary chemotherapy, after surgery, in surgical patients at higher risk, although they are in initial stages".

      Also, in adenocarcinoma samples, preliminary data suggest that these groups of proteins could predict the response of patients to chemotherapy. From now on, the researchers will confirm the results by applying this "molecular signature", in international multicenter series. These results have been published in two scientific journals of international reference in the field of respiratory medicine and pathology, in “Thorax” and “Journal of Pathology”, respectively.

       The method used, as a quantification system, is very simple, according to Cima, and could accelerate its clinical practise inplantation. According to Montuenga, "is based on immunolocalization of proteins, a technique that is carried out in virtually all pathology laboratories in the world. Our work now focuses on finding tools to optimize detection technology and start up systems automated analyses, that allow the robust quantification of these proteins".

      Lung cancer is the most common type of tumor, in the world. Specifically, each year around 30,000 new cases are detected, in Spain. However, less than 20% of patients, with lung cancer, are diagnosed in the early stages, when they can be treated by surgery. In addition, after surgery, a percentage of these patients, even those with the earliest stage, may relapse.

Lung cancer​​​​​​​

      Well, I hope that you will like this hopeful news.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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The Cherry Tree Festival in Western Spain
14 April 2019

      Every year, in Extremadura  --and specifically in the Valle del Jerte, located in the province of Cáceres--,  the "Fiesta de Cerezo en Flor" is celebrated. There are several villages that make up the Valle del Jerte and, every year, one of them is chosen for the inauguration of the Fiesta, that has a National Touristic Interest, since 2010.

A village of the Valle del Jerte

      Every year, the trees wait for these dates (end of March or beginning of April), to offer the colourful spectacle of the flowering, with a colour that goes from white to pink.

A white cherry tree

Another white cherry tree close up

Some flowers of white cherry tree

Another white flowers and a mountain with snow on the background​​​​​​​

A pink cherry tree​​​​​​​

Another view of the Valle del Jerte​​​​​​​

The same mountain close up​​​​​​​

      You can go by car on that road to the Valle del Jerte. Valle del Jerte is in the province of Cáceres, less than 3 hours from Madrid. If you want to go there, from Madrid, you can take the N-110 road, which goes down from Ávila and enters Extremadura through the Port of Tornavacas to cross the valley and reach the historic Plasencia.

A road to the Valle del Jerte​​​​​​​

The reservoir of Plasencia​​​​​​​

A map of the Valle del Jerte​​​​​​​

      But you can also walk between trees, after leaven your car:

Another path between trees​​​​​​​

And another path more

      In those weeks, since the end of March, you can enjoy the spectacle offered by that kind of "carpet of white flowers", which is formed by around a million and a half cherry trees, whose flowers are gradually opening, from the most low to the highest areas, on the mountains.

A mountain covered by a carpet of white flowers​​​​​​​

The road from Madrid to Plasencia​​​​​​​

      The other route from Madrid is by the N-5, and when you get to Navalmoral de la Mata you turn to Plasencia.

      Which date is better for you to see blossom cherry trees, in the Valle del Jerte?. Flowering usually occurs between the end of March and the beginning of April, but it depends on the weather  --for example, in 2016 and 2018, the flowering was delayed until the beginning of April--. This year, as the weather has been more benign, on March 12 some flowers began to open.

White flowers open​​​​​​​

      To the south, take the roads that run along both slopes of the valley passing through the villages of Valdastillas, Piornal, Barrado, Cabrero, Casas del Castañar, El Torno and Rebollar. This route will take you through the cherry plantations that extend along the slopes of the valley, between the different villages.

      In addition, in the villages of the valley and during these dates, the “Spring Festival and the Cherry Blossom” are celebrated, with various cultural, gastronomic and hiking activities. This year, the Inauguration of the “Spring and Cherry Blossom Festival” took place in the village Casas del Castañar and the Closing in the Torno, with various activities: traditions, sports, music, folklore, theater and gastronomy. And this is the poster, made by Mario Moreno Iglesias, of El Piornal.

The Poster of the Spring and cherry Blossom Festival 2019​​​​​​​

A general view of Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

Another view of Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

Plaza Mayor in Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

Some houses in Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

A rural house in Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

The church San Juan Bautista in Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

      As I said before, this year, the Closing of the Cherry Blossom Festival took place in El Torno.

A general view of El Torno​​​​​​​

El Torno close up

The Town Hall and the church Nuestra Señora de la Piedad in El Torno​​​​​​​

Apartments Grandmother Pastora in El Torno​​​​​​​

A kitchen in the apartments​​​​​​​

A bedroom in the apartments​​​​​​​

      You can also sign up for other activities, that take place throughout the year, such as an exclusive 4x4 tour through the “Garganta de los Infiernos”, especially interesting when the forests show their autumn colours.

A bridge with walkers on the Garganta de los Infiernos​​​​​​​

Another walkers through the Garganta de los Infiernos​​​​​​​

A pool of the Garganta de los Infiernos​​​​​​​

Another part of the river Jerte​​​​​​​

A waterfall of the river​​​​​​​

      Later, in the months of June and July, the "Cherry Fair" is celebrated, with activities of the "Cerecera".

Preparing boxes with cherries to sell

Showing some cherries​​​​​​​

Cherries prepared to be sold​​​​​​​

A stand with boxes full of cherries

Another stand with people testing some cherries

      Do you know what is the difference among Cherry and Picota cherry ?. Well, Picota cherry is a variety of cherry, with a pointed, thicker, larger and without scut.

      But if you prefer to go to the Valle del Jerte, at another time of the year, I advise you to go in the fall, because it is very beautiful and it is when the "Otoñada" festivals are celebrated, during which you can sign up for various activities , like hiking trails that allow you to explore the forests of this area, among an autumnal landscape.

A beautiful forest in Autumn​​​​​​​

      Well, I hope that sometime you can go to the Valle del Jerte, during the “Festival of Cheery Blossom” or another moment. If you go, please tell me your experience.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Hope for Spain that comes from abroad
06 April 2019

      These days, in Spain, people are talking about depopulation. In Spain, many villages are left without children and without young people, due to a lack of work and services.

      But there is a hope that is coming from abroad: some foreigners are buying small villages (small villages), to live and probably to rent some houses. It is a good possibility of business and I think the idea is very good.

      Three Dutch families have bought an abandoned village in Spain.

      And the same thing has been done by an Englishman (Neil Christie), who has bought a small village, in Asturias (Arruñada) –close to Galice--.

Neil Christie

Arruñada

      Neil Christie spent 45,000 Euros, when he bought the tiny village of Arruñada, in Asturias in 2006. The properties of Neil extend by two hectares of green meadows, leafy forests and four constructions in ruins. This British, who is on his way to 65 years old, left everything more than a decade ago to radically change his lifestyle.

      "It was not premeditated, my wife is a Spanish and English teacher and has worked in several exchange programs in Spain, I took advantage of some of her trips to take vacations, we had never been to the northwest of Spain, and one weekend we came to take a look at Galicia and Asturias, we thought it was a beautiful place to spend a longer holiday", Christie recalls.

      In the end, after a couple of years of reflection, Neil accepted an early retirement offer and moved with his wife and two daughters to Llan, a village of 16 inhabitants, which is five minutes from Taramundi, the population with more inhabitants of the area  --hardly 700-- and capital of the Asturian council that bears the same name. Carlisle, the English city where this television producer lived until then, had 75,000 inhabitants.

Taramundi on the left side of the map

      If you want to visit that area, you can sleep at some small hotels like “Casa Petronila”, 6 kilometres from Arruñada.

Hotel-Restaurant Casa Petronila

​​​​​​

The main dining-room of the Restaurant

One bed-room​​​​​​​

Another view from the bed-room​​​​​​​

A view from the small balcony

These are some data of the Hotel:

      Address:  Plaza del Campo, s/n. Taramundi.

      Telephone numbers:  Spain: 901 988502. International: + 44 20 3320 2609

      The change, for Neil, was important. "I did not need to quit my job, but it was a unique opportunity, I was in my fifties and I wanted to do something different", Neil said. Shortly after moving to Llan, Neil discovered the bargain of Arruñada, a small village of four demolished houses, that is an hour from Taramundi by car, or what is the same, in the middle of nowhere. "The main problem is the lack of basic infrastructure, such as communications, which are scarce", he says of his new life in the Asturian mountains. "The advantages are much greater: a different lifestyle, the price-quality ratio, the least pollution, silence and weather, which is wonderful, it is five or six positive points against a negative one, it seems like a good deal".

      For 45,000 euros, it seems cheap and timely. "It is, but you must also consider the taxes, the costs of the reforms and all the little details that come up over time", clarifies Neil, a man who can say he lives in his own village. He himself  --with the help of his wife, Rosa, when she has a party at the academy-- has built one of the four houses in ruins keeping the rustic look and original stone construction of the village. "This year it will be 99% finished and it is already habitable".

​​​​​​

Neil reforming his house​​​​​​​

Neil walking before his house​​​​​​​

      Neil calculates he has spent more than 150,000 euros, on the first reform, and now he has started to reform the second house of the small village. The merit is that the manpower has been a matter for him. "Money is not a bottomless pit, much of it has been achieved through the sale of our residence, in the UK. We do not have a house there anymore, I hope it is not a big mistake with this Brexit", he jokes. The two daughters of the couple have returned to their country of origin, to study at the university and find good job opportunities, and they think they will not return soon.

The second house

      "It has been very good for them to have grown up in Spain, since they have almost native Spanish as well as English, I do not think they are following our steps, because this area is not for young people, there is no nightlife or leisure, in Taramundi there is nothing of this", Neil recognises. Of course, they have relatively close to a cider house and some rural restaurant, so at least they can still go for a drink. While we talk on the phone, the call is cut a couple of times. "Sorry, I have moved half a metre, and the good sign is only here". I imagine that he will have returned to the corner of the calls.

      Of course, in his small village, there is no television or Internet. For not having, there is no telephone cable and, when they arrived, there were no electricity poles or drinking water. With the help of the council of the area, they have managed to get them light, water and have improved the access road, which can now use cars beyond the all-terrain. "They are interested in people coming to live, because they are peoples who are part of the heritage of the territory and, if there were no one, they would literally be a pile of stones and the character and uniqueness of the area would be lost".

      At first, friends and family thought they were crazy, but now they enjoy the small village of Neil every summer. In the end, by plane it does not take more than an hour and a half. Of course, later you have to climb the mountain and find among the trees the remote village of Christie, Arruñada.

      The real estate agency “Abandoned Villages”, which has an extensive catalog of villages and small villages, was the one who managed the paperwork and the rest of the bureaucracy to Neil. "Seven out of ten buyers are foreigners, there are many French, Belgians, Swiss, Americans and Mexicans. The Spaniards are leaving their money, more and more, although they invest more in land, fields and vineyards", explains Elvira Fafián, Manager of AldeasAbandonadas .com.

Elvira Fafián​​​​​​​

      Why do villages cost as cheap as the Neil one, is there a trick?, "There are no tricks, no, there are owners who cede the village for a few years, so that people live and rehabilitate it; there are owners who sell the village at low prices, because they pay more to pay taxes to the tax office", says Fafián, who distinguishes three profiles of buyers: Spanish families seeking to escape the big city, entrepreneurs who want to do business with cheap land and foreigners who are attracted by the climate and social conditions of the country.

      Selling a village is not easy, and many have been with the "for sale" sign for years. There is everything: from small villages, that a municipality gives free in exchange for their rehabilitation, to villages of 75 houses that cost between 400,000 and 500,000 euros. "Where it is cheaper is in the area of Galicia, where there are several opportunities for 30,000 euros.The prices depend more on whether they are remote areas or relatively close to large population centres. If they want to sell, the owners can fall 20%. -25% prices", the real estate says. Teruel, Soria, Burgos, Asturias and Galicia are the areas of Spain with more abandoned villages for sale.

      Cristóbal and Milagros, two Andalusians tired of the heat and the beach of Malaga, decided to follow the same path than Neil, a couple of years ago. In their case, they plan to open a rural tourism complex in the village of Xudán, near A Pontenova, Lugo. The five hamlets and the 14 hectares of land cost them "only" 60,000 euros.

      "We watched a program, on the TV, where the village was coming out, and we were just vacationing in the area, we went to see the village and they were ready, I always liked Galicia, because it is so hot here ...", Milagros explains. he works in the banking sector. "Here is always the same, heat and beach, there is no mountain or healthy life, we want to change the food, the environment, nature, everything, we are tired of being here".

      They have just begun the reforms and hope to move in summer, when the children finish school. "There are aid from the Xunta (of Galice) and the European Union, to promote the repopulation of rural territory", says Mili, who knows firsthand that banks do not give many loans for this type of adventure. However, she confirms what they tell us from the real estate agency. "The municipality collaborates and gives you a hand with water, electricity and other basic services, they are the first interested in recovering the life of the area".

      You have to work hard and have it clear, but being able to have a village, why settle for a small apartment, in the centre of a big town?. Think about it.

      I have thought that the Government of Spain should think about the possibility of creating employment, in abandoned villages, helping foreigners, who want to invest in those villages, to hire unemployed people, who want to rehabilitate those villages, restoring houses and creating companies of carpentry, plumbing, supermarkets, pharmacy, etc.

      So, I would also like to advise you to think about that possibility of coming to Spain, to buy a village  --even if it is very small--. If you are interested in this idea, you can go to the web: https://www.aldeasabandonadas.com/venta-de-aldeas/46-venta-de-aldeas-resto-espana.html   ,to see in which village you are interested.

      Well, I hope that you will like this article.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Stewed meat in the southwest of Spain
30 March 2019

      Today I would like to show you the recipe for a very tasty dish: "Stew meat with potatoes and gurumelos".

      The gurumelo is a highly appreciated edible basidiomycete fungus species, that comes from the central and western Andalusia, especially in Huelva and southern Extremadura (Spain) and Alentejo (southern Portugal).

Gurumelos

Gurumelos close up

      We are going to a village (Zalamea la Real), in Huelva, where Aurora (the cook of “Casa Marsal”) is going to prepare a dish of "Stew meat with potatoes and gurumelos".

Zalamea la Real

Zalamea la Real close up​​​​​​​

Plaza de Andalucía​​​​​​​

Restaurant Casa Marsal​​​​​​​

      These are the Ingredients that Aurora will use: 1/2 kilo of gurumelos, 1/2 kilo of pork loin, a little olive oil, potatoes, 1 onion, 4 cloves of garlic, 1 tomato, 1 pepper , 2 leaves of bay, 1 pin of broth of meat, 1 small glass of white wine, pepper, salt and water.

The ingredients for the sauté​​​​​​​

Chopped tomato and onion​​​​​​​

      Now you have to put the ingredients in a pan, to make the sauté.

      And this must be the result of the sauté:

The sauté finished​​​​​​​

      Now you have to add the meat to the sauté and you have to wait 45 minutes, more or less, until the meat is tender.

      But now you also have to pour some black pepper and bay.

      When 45 minutes have passed, you have to add the wine, salt, water, potatoes and gurumelos, in another casserole pot, with more depth.

Stew in a casserole pot​​​​​​​

      Then, you have to wait 30 minutes, on low heat, and move the stew from time to time, until the potatoes are tender  --pinch some potato, from time to time, to know when they are tender-- .

      And, after 30 minutes, this should be the result:

Stew of meat with potatoes and gurumelos​​​​​​​

      Well, I hope that you will like the recipe and hope that you will try to cook it. If you do it, please tell it me.

      Untill my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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The curious case contrary to the Spanish depopulation
25 March 2019

      A few days ago, I watched on television a story related to a village, in the centre of Spain: Yebes (in the province of Guadalajara and belonging to the Autonomous Community of Castilla-La Mancha).

      This village is located in the region of La Alcarria, 879 metres above sea level.

The entrance to the village

The Town Hall of Yebes

      The municipality of Yebes is composed of 2 urban nuclei: one, the village of Yebes, and the other, the PAU (Program of Urban Development) of Valdeluz --where the Guadalajara-Yebes station is located, one of the stops included in the layout of the Madrid-Zaragoza-Barcelona-French border High-Speed line--.

A general view of Valdeluz

A general view of Valdeluz close up

Another view of Valdeluz​​​​​​​

The entrance to Valdeluz​​​​​​​

Valdeluz​​​​​​​

Some houses in Valdeluz​​​​​​​

      Here you can see another urbanizations in Valdeluz:

      Guadalajara is the most unpopulated province of Spain. However, it can also boast of having the largest population of people, in the last ten years: Yebes. A decade ago, there were only three hundred people living there, now there are almost 4,000 inhabitants –concretely 3,518 in 2018--.

      The capital, Guadalajara, is 11,75 kilometres from Yebes.

      The future of Yebes changed with the Urban Plan of Valdeluz; and Valdeluz began to grow thanks to the AVE (High Spanish Speed) Station.

The AVE station​​​​​​​

      At the beginning, the train did not arrive; but the situation was reversed, with banks selling broken real estate houses, at a low price. But the train arrived and they began to attract people.

The AVE arriving to Yebes​​​​​​​

AVE stations with fewer daily passengers​​​​​​​

      These are some data of the Station:

Address:  Highway N-320 Sacedon-Cuenca, Km 6. Guadalajara.

Schedule of the Station:  Daily: 7 to 23:15 hour

Telephone contacts:

Station Information:  912 432 343

Renfe:  912 320 320

Information, reservation, sale, change and cancellation of tickets:  912 140 505

      The people who started arriving and staying, in Valdeluz, were young (35 years old, more or less) and had children. Work began to be created and there were more and more services.

      In September 2017, the public school, Jocelyn Bell, of Yebes and Valdeluz, opened its doors and each year has more students and more teachers.

The School “Jocelyn Bell” of Yebes and Valdeluz

A general view of the School​​​​​​​

      As a proof of the success Valdeluz was having, after the AVE Station was built, in 2014, it was said that 7,000 more houses had to be built.

Free land in Valdeluz​​​​​​​

      Although Valdeluz is separated from the village of Yebes, its economic strength reverberates in the traditional village.

      One of the important services offered by Yebes is its Sports Centre (Municipal Sports Centre"Valdeluz") --which was inaugurated on August 31, 2013-- .

Building the Sports Centre before summer 2012​​​​​​​

General view of the sports centre​​​​​​​

Sports centre of Valdeluz close up​​​​​​​

      Another service, offered by Yebes, is a Golf Course.

A general view of the Golf Course

Anothe view of the Golf Course​​​​​​​

Relatively close to the Golf Club​​​​​​​

The Golf Club close up​​​​​​​

      But in Yebes there is another important place: the Yebes Astronomical Centre, that is the largest and most important astronomical observatory of which the National Geographic Institute (IGN) counts, as well as being its instrumental development centre. It is on a plain at 980 masl, in which there is little annual rainfall and little wind.

General view of the Astronomical Observatory​​​​​​​

The Astronomical Observatory near

      Unlike Yebes, within the urban gravitational orbit, Villaseca de Henares does not stop being one of many municipalities that survive with great difficulty, in one of the territories with the greatest loss of inhabitants, in all of Spain. It is inside the hemicycle of high depopulation that surrounds Madrid and that includes the east of Castilla-La Mancha, the south of Aragón, Castilla y León and the east of Galicia. The comparison between the last municipal census and that of ten years ago leaves the village of the Alcarria as the municipality that has lost most population, in relative terms. They are 29 registered, 67% less.

Villaseca de Henares in the province of Guadalajara​​​​​​​

      Well, I hope that you will like this article.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Two young entrepreneurs export Spanish wines
16 March 2019

      Today I would like to talk to you about two Spaniards, who have been exporting Spanish wines for several years.

      The artificer of these wines is Alberto Orte Espejo, 43 years old, who, although he was born in Madrid, lives with his family in Puerto de Santa María (Cádiz, Costa de la Luz, Southwest Spain).

      In 1999, at the age of 24, he partnered with his friend Patrick Mata, from Málaga, and they created the company OLE IMPORTS LLC, in the United States, based in New York, --and today it is one of the main importers of Spanish quality wines from that country--.

Patrick Mata on the left and Alberto Orte on the right in a vineyard

The logo of Alberto and Patrick´s company

      He lodges in his portfolio more than 100 references of different denominations of Spanish origin and sells more than 100,000 boxes of wine from the peninsula per year. Alberto is in charge of the selection of wine and oenology in Spain and Patrick of the commercial and marketing part in the United States; thus both form a perfect business team.

      In 2003, Patrick and Alberto decided to found another company, which was directly dedicated to the production of wine, in different areas of Spain, and thus created "Compañía de Vinos del Atlantico", whose fundamental mission is to discover new production areas, unique soils and recover autochthonous varieties. One of their projects is to recover the Tintilla  --Tintilla de Rota is a Spanish wine, now almost forgotten, originally from the town of Rota (Cádiz, Costa de la Luz, Southern Spain). It is made from ripe grapes of the variety of the same name, synonymous with the known as Graciano--, through these two great wines: ATLANTIDA and VARA Y PULGAR. The Atlantic Wine Company sells its wines in more than 10 countries, with its main markets: the United States, Germany, Switzerland and Canada.

 

Wines ATLANTIDA and VARA Y PULGAR

      Alberto has a degree in Oenology and Viticulture, from the Polytechnic University, and a Law Degree from the Complutense University, both in Madrid, and has gained a lot of experience in his numerous trips around Spain, working closely with the different wineries, which he represents in U.S.

      Some of those wineries are those of the Osborne family, which make up the group of COMPAÑIA DE VIÑEDOS IBERIAN, whose main headquarters are also in El Puerto de Santa Maria. For this relationship of friendship and trust, IBERIAN is responsible for distributing his wines from the land of Cadiz, nationwide.

      The second vintage of dry red wine from Cadiz, ATLANTIDA 2012, has already come onto the market and, for the first time, his brother VARA Y PULGAR 2012, both made with 100% tintilla and produced by the Atlantic Wine Company, whose headquarters are in El Puerto de Santa María.

The red wine ATLANTIDA 2012​​​​​​​

      The first vintage of this wine, ATLANTIDA 2011, had only 66 bottles, for the exclusive US market, mainly New York, where it received excellent reviews, such as Josh Reynolds, from the professional wine magazine International WineCeller (IWC), who gave it a high score, in its first edition. In this vintage, and after the success obtained, 2.500 bottles of ATLANTIDA 2012 and 14.500 bottles of VARA Y PULGAR 2012 have been prepared, and will be destined for the Spanish market 480 and 1800 bottles, respectively.

A view of a vineyard of VARA Y PULGAR​​​​​​​

      Currently, there are 3 hectares of Tintilla grapes from Rota, that the Bodega Luís Pérez has planted in its Vista Hermosa farm in Jerez. A project for which they have been fighting for years. In a first stage, recovering the red wines of the province and, in this second stage, focusing on the native varieties of the area. Guillermo Pérez Vega, oenologist, is very excited and recognises that "In the coming years, Cádiz should look for its identity and do it through the tintilla grape. It is easy because of its character --he thinks--. There is a lot of interest in tintilla, nationally and internationally”. The recovery of the Tintilla, a variety cultivated in the environment of Jerez since the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, has not been an easy task, because it was practically extinct. Its recovery has gone through a selection, in the field, of the most suitable strains, to get all the quality that this native variety is capable of giving.

The Luis Perez winery on the Vista Hermosa farm​​​​​​​

      The philosophy of Winery Luís Pérez "is that the wines speak, not influence the process and let the plant be the one that expresses itself ". The tintilla is a plant that gives a production of 4500- 5000 kilos, per hectare, so the grape-leaf balance is very good. Guillermo Pérez, "Willy", recognises that "the plant is very acclimatised to the area and its acidity is high to be in a warm climate. The Berry is very concentrated, with a lot of colour and tannin”.  The specific grape, with which "Tintilla 2012" has been produced, comes from an old vineyard of Tintilla of Rota, called "Calderín del Obispo", located on the Rota-Jerez road.

Guillermo Pérez Vega - Willy- with a bottle of Tintilla 2012​​​​​​​

      The sale of this new red, which can already be found in specialised shops, coincides with that of other versions launched by other wineries. There are 4 wineries and winemakers that, at the moment, are working with a character of author wine, without mass production and dry vinification of the tintilla. Ramiro Ibáñez and his "Arroyo Alquitón 2012", Miguel Lucas with "Mahara 2011", Alberto Orte "Atlántida 2012" and this one by Luis Pérez. Guillermo highlights that among all these wineries "there is a great twinning and a lot of enthusiasm for the tintilla". To these works we must unite that of Jose Antonio Rodríguez Muñoz, "Peque", sommelier from Rota, who has also produced "Clérigo 2011". Two other wineries are also working on the sweet version of Tintilla, El Gato de Rota and González Byass, which has also released a version of this wine.

Guillermo Pérez and Alberto Orte​​​​​​​

      Winery Luís Pérez have been fighting for red wines, in the province of Cádiz, for 10 years and, from the beginning, they were interested in the native varieties of the area. In 2002, Graciano grapes were planted, since genetically they were the same as Tintilla. From 2002 to 2006, they continued the tests with the Graciano grape, but did not give the expected result and they set aside the project. At that moment, they began to work with Paco Guerrero, farmer and viticulturist, and in 2011, 500 litres of Tintilla were extracted to make a small vinification and check the results. Both were very happy and decided that one part would be left for Garum Submarino (Winery Luís Pérez) and the other for Atlántida 2011 (prepared by Alberto Orte, with the collaboration of Winery Luis Pérez, for the Atlantic Wine Company).

Tintilla Atlantida 2011 by Alberto Orte​​​​​​​

      The vintage of the tintilla has been carried out at night and manually. The boxes of grapes collected do not exceed 15 kgs and the selection is made both in the vineyard and in the selection table, in the winery. Vinification is by gravity, 6 months in French oak barrels of 1 year of use and 12 months in barrels of 4-5 years, in this way the varietal character of the wine is respected since the Tintilla is made quickly with aroma of wood. The clusters are totally despalillados –“despalillar” is to separate the grape from its herbaceous structure--. A pre-fermentation maceration is carried out at 5°C and then a controlled temperature fermentation at intervals from 15°C to 28°C with the maceration lasting 20 days. The lees are separated from the fermentation and the most appropriate are selected by tasting. The wine is not clarified.

Oak barrels in the Luis Perez wine cellar​​​​​​​

      In the tasting, "Tintilla 2012" is characterized by a medium-high garnet colour. In nose, it is intense and frank, with hints of laurel, fresh red fruit, spices and white chocolate. It is characterised by a sweet tannin that makes it silky but powerful, with a roasted and coffee aftertaste. The ideal temperature to serve it is 16º. On the label of the bottle, it is traditional to see the logo of the winery and starring a beautiful dog of the Jack Russell breed and, in "Tintilla", it is next to a strain, "a return to the origin". In its marriage, harmonises with dishes with vegetables, nuts, roasted vegetables; meats, light stews, rice, semi-hard cheeses. As dessert, with quinces or chocolate.

A Jack Russell dog with a strain on a bottle of red wine Tintilla by Luis Perez​​​​​​​

      On July 28, 2014, the "Tintilla 2012" wine was presented at the "Vista Hermosa" farm, where the Luis Pérez Winery is located.

Vista Hermosa farm and Luis Perez Winery on the background​​​​​​​

The winery close up​​​​​​​

Outside of the wine cellar​​​​​​​

The wine Tintilla 2012-Winery Luis Perez​​​​​​​

      Another variety of Atlántida wine is Atlantida Blanco 2016, prepared by Alberto Orte; this is their first variety of white vijiriega (vine grape little extended, this grape has a vigorous and resistant strain, which produces few bunches of medium size, little tight and thick grapes. This grape, almost round and greenish-white, It was famous as a table grapes formerly. Its juice is rich in sugars and acidity, being especially apt for the production of natural sparkling wine) and the first to be made within the framework of Jerez. This variety, which was very precious and was planted throughout the countryside of Jerez, disappeared from Cádiz with phylloxera (an insect similar to the aphid, but smaller and yellowish, that attacks the leaves and filaments of the roots of the vine; it multiplies rapidly and forms pests that can destroy large areas of vineyards in a short time; It is native to North America. There was a plague at the end of the 19th century) and was present only in some area of Granada, Catalonia and the Canary Islands. Now Vinos del Atlántico has brought it back, has vinified it and has brought to the market an unique wine.    

 

Several bunches of vijiriega grapes​​​​​​​

White-wine Atlantida 2016​​​​​​​

      Atlántida Blanco 2016 has been aged, for 12 months, in demimuds (French oak barrels) of 600 litres and, subsequently, 6 months in a stainless steel tank. It is made by hand, stepped on foot, with indigenous yeasts and without temperature control.

      Another type of wine, from the Vinos del Atlantico Company, is "Gordo"; this red wine is born in Yecla (Murcia).

Yecla​​​​​​​

      Gordo is the story of Alberto Orte and Patrick Mata or, rather, the history of their families, who have been making wines in Spain, since 1820. It is made, by Alberto, in the region of Yecla and the name is dedicated to the Patrick Mata´s father, founding partner with Alberto from the company Vinos del Atlántico.

Red wine Gordo 2012​​​​​​​

A cup of wine Gordo​​​​​​​

      What makes this wine unique?. On the one hand, the name, Gordo (Patrick talks to his father in a loving tone), without complexes. On the other, the image, a 'revival' of the labels that the family traded four generations ago.

Label of Gordo

      But, above all, the vineyards from which it was born: in the Denominacion de Origen (D.O.) (Appellation of origin) Yecla, in the subzone of Campo Arriba at an average altitude of 713 metres above sea level. This altitude produces more balanced, fresh and elegant wines. The soils are very poor, limy and sandy (something magnificent for the quality of the wine). The Monastrell variety is also planted in this case in free standing, a luxury.

Yecla Campo Arriba​​​​​​​

Vineyard of Gordo​​​​​​​

      This red wine has been collecting loas (Expressions with which the qualities of this wine are praised), for years in the United States (Parker's demanding Wine Advocate has given it 91 points) and now it returns to Spain.

      These are the characteristics of the red wine "Gordo 2012":

            Type of grape: 70% Monastrell, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.

             Bottle: Burgundy of 75 cl.

             Elaboration and aging: 3 months in French oak barrels.

             Degree: 14%

      These are some tasting´s notes:

              View: Cherry red color

              Nose: The smoked and spicy notes stand out.

              Mouth: Very expressive and tasty. Broad and meaty

               Service temperature: 16ºC.

      Well, I hope that you will like this article.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Woman and Science in Spain
16 February 2019

      Last Monday the International Day of women and girls before Science was celebrated.

Poster of the International Day of women and girls before Science

      But what are the data on the participation of Spanish women in Science and how was that day celebrated?.

      In Spain, 47.7% of scientific and engineering positions are held by women, according to the latest data, published by the European statistical agency (Eurostat), on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. In a sector traditionally dominated by men, such as science and engineering, this datum places our country above the average of the European Union, where women represent 41% of these positions, in this sector.

      Despite this positive data regarding Europe, in Spain, of the almost 1.4 million engineers and scientists, 52.3% (729,000) are men compared to 47.7% of women (665,600).

      At European level, of the almost 18 million people, who worked in this sector in 2017, 59% were men (10.5 million) and the rest were women (7.1 million). Only in five Member States, there was a majority of women engineers and scientists: Lithuania (57%), Bulgaria and Latvia (both 53%), Portugal (51%) and Denmark (slightly above 50%). However, less than a third of the engineers and scientists were women in Hungary and Luxembourg, (25%), Finland (29%) and Germany (33%).

      Regarding the proportion of women, who dedicate themselves to research in Spain, they only represent 39%. A figure that has remained unchanged since the last 10 years. Thus, the Secretary of State for Universities and R + D + i, Ángeles Heras, has presented it during the presentation of the conclusions of the biennial report "Women Scientific in Figures 2017", according to the agency Servimedia.

Angeles Heras

      The Secretary of State of Universities has also recognised that, in the research career, "gender influences". In the fifth edition of this study, these results "are far from being desirable for science, in Spain, and to consider that full equality has been achieved".

      The "glass ceiling" is also present in our country, a phenomenon that means that few women can reach high positions in the scientific world. Heras has denounced that only 21% of the positions of professors of public universities are women and considers that this figure represents a "clear evidence of vertical segregation of gender". Therefore, the "greatest gender gap", in the universities, continues to be registered in the vice-chancellorships.

      In the last four years, the rector women, in public universities, have gone from 2% to 8%. In the group of universities, the proportion has risen from 10 to 15%. Where there is a certain "balanced" presence of women, it is 48% of the Governing Councils and 48% of the faculty and school governments.

      In the international area, the figures are not much better. According to UNESCO, 28% of the scientific researchers, in the world, are women. In terms of female students worldwide, the enrollment of female students, in information technology and telecommunications, is 3%; in natural sciences, mathematics and statistics they register 5%; and 8% decide to study engineering or studies related to the construction or manufacturing.

      The stereotypes and the lack of historical reference of women scientists are behind the few feminine scientific vocations. Recently, a 2017 study, published in the journal “Science”, shows how gender stereotypes, in science, are acquired at an early age and have an effect on interests, since childhood. The results of this study conclude that, at five years, the youngest did not observe differences, but after six years, the probability that girls perceived a person of their sex as intelligent diminished.

      As for the feminine scientific referents, only 17 women have won the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology and Medicine, in front of the 599 men who have obtained it. A phenomenon denounced by CSIC research teacher in Science, Technology and Gender, Eulalia Perez Sedeño, who affirms that "there is a lack of presence of women in the histories of science, that not throughout History, because there have been many less than men, because they have agreed to education. Later, in the textbooks, references do not usually appear".

Eulalia Perez Sedeño

      To solve this silence and this unequal distribution, between men and women, several initiatives have been launched this year. On the one hand, during this last week the CSIC has organised more than 200 activities, in their centers in different autonomous communities, between exhibitions, workshops and talks by researchers, in educational centers, not only on genetics or nanotechnologies, but also will explain to younger how they were motivated to become scientists.

Some girls in a science workshop​​​​​​​

      Other initiatives such as the blog "Mujeres con ciencia" (“Women with science”), also aim to disseminate, through the internet, the work of women who have dedicated or devote themselves to science.

      Well, I believe that governments have to push more the work of women before Science.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Another rich rich dish by a master of the cuisine in Spain
09 February 2019

      Today I would like to talk to you about a dish, which I have not tasted, but which looks very good and maybe you want to try cooking it: "Fideuá (noodles) with vegetables and turkey" —Fideuá is like a paella, but instead of rice, with noodles--, by the Spanish great master , Karlos Arguiñano .

      These are the Ingredients (for 4 people): 400 grams of turkey breast. 300 grams of thick noodles. 1 spring onion. 3 garlic cloves. 10 green beans. 1 Carrot. 1 green pepper. 1 leek. 1 eggplant. Extra virgin olive oil. Salt. Pepper. Parsley.

      For the preparation of this dish, first you have to add salt and pepper to the turkey, cut it into not very large cubes and skip it, in the paella pan, with a little bit of oil. Pass them, to a ceramic pot, with water and a pinch of salt. Stir them, for 15 minutes. Reserve the turkey and the broth separately.

      Toast the noodles, in the paellera (paella pan). It is important to remove them from time to time so that they do not burn. When they are browned, remove them and reserve them on a plate.

      Then, clean and cut the vegetables (garlic, onion, pepper, carrot, leek, beans, eggplant), in small pieces, and poach them, over medium heat, for 5 minutes, in the same paella pan, where you have fried the noodles. Then, put salt.

      Add the noodles to the paella of the vegetables, pour 700 milliliters of broth and cook them for 10 to 12 minutes. When 2 minutes are missing, insert the turkey dice to heat them.

      Put salt and pepper. Turn off the heat, cover the paella pan with a cloth and let rest a few minutes. Finally, serve the result and decorate with a small sprig of parsley.

      Note:  White meat provides less iron than red meat, but also less fat; so that, for a balanced nutrition, it is interesting to combine both meats in our diet.

      And  this must be the result of the dish:

      Well, I hope that you will like this recipe and hope that you can try to cook it; if you do it, please tell me it.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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The calm and the tenderness of an octogenarian Spanish painter
02 February 2019

      In the middle of last December, I watched on television a story about a Spanish painter; and this was a curious news, because it said that this lady, octogenarian, was already famous in social networks. So, I started investigating this case and I would like to share it with you.

      Concha García Zaera is 88 years old and she began to draw, in Paint, because her children gave her a computer, to overcome boredom, and she has become one of the most followed Instagram artists. She sweeps social networks and more than 178,000 followers enjoy their works of art. Such is her success that Disney commissioned, a little over a month ago, a drawing to promote its new film, "Mary Poppins returns".

Concha García Zaera

      Concha, of course, fulfilled and painted in Paint a portrait of the protagonist of the film, Emily Blunt. The result is so amazing that the company itself has shared it on Twitter: "On the occasion of the premiere of “Mary Poppins returns”, the beloved artist, Concha García Zaera, pays homage in her Instagram profile, with her particular version of the poster made in Paint. A work of art practically perfect in everything!. If you liked, December 21 in cinemas", the tweeted.

Version of the poster of Mary Poppins returns

      "She is a character that I have always loved", this digital artist assured, and she says that the company's proposal was a real "challenge", because she had never drawn faces.

      For several weeks she retouched the famous nurse's drawing, until she was "satisfied", with special difficulty in the character's hat and hair.

      The digital artist, delighted with the recognition, thanked Disney for the trust they have placed in her: "It was a great honor that Disney wanted to have me to communicate the premiere (...) I am looking forward to watching it, I have always loved it", she said, on Instagram, before the applause and praise from her fans, whose number grows every day.

      In addition to being a great artist, the Valencian artist is humble and recognises: "I have no imagination", she confesses, although she is very good at copying and inspiration comes from anywhere, a pharmacy bag or any shop, a box in a shop window, a postcard (of which her husband sent her on her work trips), a box of a game or drawings of a magazine.

A painting based on a postcard sent to her by her husband

      She recognises that she is "hunting" and "stealing" images, because when she sees something that she likes, she takes a photo and then prints it, she draws a grid and copies it on her computer.

      This facility for copying has allowed her to draw birds, deer, fish or cats, but also lighthouses, the Valencian beach of El Saler, the Greek island of Santorini or Andalusian nooks, of China or of her hometown, such as the Trinity Bridge, the Central Market, the Lonja (Market, a warehouse for keeping fish) or the Cathedral.

A small deer

A lighthouse on the background

The Greek island of Santorini​​​​​​​

An Andalusian nook

A nook of China​​​​​​​

The Trinity Bridge in Valencia​​​​​​​

The Cathedral of Valencia in the background​​​​​​​

      She has special affection to some drawings that show the image of her grandmother's village, Vall de Almonacid, in the Sierra de Espadán (Castellón, east of Spain), where she has spent all her summers and some of which skims the 54,000 "like".

Vall de Almonacid​​​​​​​

      She remembers how "expensive" is which she has called "Lisboon" and that she copies a postcard that her daughter brought her from the Portuguese capital with the tram and with "many small balconies, houses and pots".

The tram of Lisboon​​​​​​​

      Her fondness for drawing is "lifelong", but in general she always did it with pens in a pad; but more than a decade ago, she started going to the Popular University of Valencia and became interested in painting in oil, until her husband fell ill and she left it to take care of him   --because her husband was bothered by the smell of oil-- .

      "At home, I was sovereign bored and, as I complained, my children bought me a computer", she recalls, although she emphasises that it was not for drawing but that she used it to write her memoirs, keep the housekeeping accounts and for her studies of General Culture.

      But one day, she says, to draw a small house and some clouds occurred to her, "a nonsense", that attracted her a lot and, the next day, she improved it with other details and dedicated time and became interested: "And until today".

      She argues that to draw, in Paint, you need "patience, a lot of love and enjoy doing it" and she adds: "And I keep it very often because sometimes, after days with a drawing, it has been erased".

      She detracts from what she does, because It is something that she enjoys and likes, but the insistence of her granddaughters, to share them, led her to create an account on Instagram, that exceeds 178,000 followers and that she herself manages, uploading her drawings and answering all those who praise her creations.

      She explains that she was "very scared" when her account began to rise unchecked and every day she received "thousands of messages", but now she says she knows almost all her followers by her username and that she tries to answer everyone.

      The last June-2018, the Popular University of Valencia, on the occasion of the Cultural Week of the end of the course, exhibited the works of Concha, who was a student of the Center of Nou Moles, of this University, 15 years ago.

Concha in her Exhibition​​​​​​​

      Concha has been defined, by her teachers of drawing and painting, as a naive artist and also an example of overcoming, in the adversity.

      The experience has revealed, in the words of her teachers, "a pure naive artist". In it, we find "the most genuine and well understood naif", says her Drawing and Painting teacher, Lalo Kubala. "The naif has bad press, because there is a lot of bad naive, but the work of Concha is quality naif, vital works, with a magnificent light, a look and a personal framing, that identifies them, as her works in oil had it".

      I want to emphasise the simplicity and tenderness of this lady, that together with her art, make anyone fall in love with her, in social networks.

      Congratulations to all the elderly people, who do not let themselves be intimidated by the passage of time, and have challenges to life.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Spanish solidarity made life expectancy
24 January 2019

      Once again, I would like to tell you about the magnificent work that the National Transplant Organization (ONT) of Spain, since it started, in 1989.

      The ONT turns 30 years old with an unbeatable state of health. Spain returns to lead the world ranking of donations and transplants one more year, and there are 27 consecutive. A success that, according to the General Director of the organization, Beatriz Domínguez-Gil, is due to the combination of three elements: the solidarity of citizens, the Spanish health system and a well-designed protocol for action.

Beatriz Domínguez-Gil

      Domínguez-Gil has explained that solidarity and the health system are essential, but by themselves they do not justify the success of the system, which comes hand in hand with what is known internationally as the Spanish model of transplants. "Basically, it is a management model, an organizational model that has defined very well which professional, in what unit, how and according to what protocols it has to act to make donation possible", Beatriz emphasises.

      The data presented by the Ministry of Health, on last Monday 7, show an increase in donations of 37%, in the last five years, which means that there are 48 donors per million people, and is very close to the goal of reaching 50 donors per million people, in 2022, framed in the '50x22 Plan'. It should be noted that the index of the next country on the list of donors, the United States, is 31.7 donors per million people.

Index of donors in Spain

      The ONT estimates that of the people, who die in a hospital, only between 1% and 2% do so in conditions of being donors. "The key to the Spanish model is that it is designed to transform those opportunities into real donations", says Domínguez-Gil.

       A work that falls on the figure of the transplant coordinator, usually an intensivist  --a doctor specializing in the care of critically ill patients--  who "systematically identifies these donation options and approaches the family in a moment of mourning, in a way that highly professionalised".

      As a result of this work, nearly 85% of the families gave their consent to the donation of organs from their dead relative. From the ONT point out that it is because, above all, from the outset help families who have lost their loved person, usually suddenly and unexpectedly, in that moment of mourning. That is why Domínguez-Gil emphasises that there is a combination of factors: "We talked about solidarity, but it is also true that the system works in an equitable and transparent manner, and that makes citizens trust the system".

      These factors have made Spain a reference in this health field. The ONT collaborates with various international organizations, through which it has transferred the keys to Spanish success to many countries; there are already several, who have replicated the model, totally or partially, and have experienced improvements.

      The person in charge of the organism stands out, as a paradigmatic case, Croatia, that "copied all the elements of the Spanish model". They have also incorporated, elements of this system, United Kingdom and Portugal and even Canada or Australia. However, from the ONT, they feel particularly proud of the Latin American Network, where they have doubled their donation activity, since 2005, the year in which they began to collaborate.          

The list of transplanted pacients and their countries

      Just below, on the left, you can see a graph with the rate of transplanted patients per million inhabitants  --Mexico is at the top with 16.1 per million people--  and below, on the right, with Argentina  (14) and Brazil (more than 12) at the head of cadaveric organ donation.

      Some data on which the ONT brings out the best in itsself: "We can proudly say that we have saved more lives outside our borders than within Spain, through international cooperation programs", says its Director.

      Therefore, one of the lines of work of the organization is to advance in international crossed renal transplants. The crossed kidney transplant emerges, as an initiative, in 2009 in Spain, to perform transplants by exchanging donors or kidneys, between donor and recipient couples, that are incompatible with each other. And, in August of last year, it was held, for the first time internationally, among patients from Italy and Spain.

      One more step, that expands the possibilities of patients by increasing couples and genetic heterogeneity. From the ONT, they emphasise that "it is not going to bring its fruit in the form of very striking numbers, but it will bring options to patients who have special difficulties to be transplanted".

      International cooperation is also positive to avoid sanitary tourism of transplants, since, according to Dominguez-Gil, "helping other countries, to offer as many transplant options as those offered in Spain, will prevent what happens or what may happen , which is the transfer of that problem to another country".

      A transfer that, if it occurs, will increase the waiting lists, which vary depending on the type of organ and characteristics of the patients. The ONT indicates that there are patients whose characteristics make it more difficult to transplant than others; on average, the waiting time for a kidney transplant is between one year and a year and a half, while for the transplant of other types of organs it ranges between three and six months.

Organs waiting for some people​​​​​​​

      "Obviously, this calculation includes patients who, due to their characteristics, have more difficulties in transplanting, but they are very reasonable times and we can say, in addition, that most patients, who need a transplant, receive it on time", insists Domínguez-Gil.

      Therefore, the ONT calls to avoid campaigns aimed at solving a particular case: "We understand that people, who promote this type of campaign, do so from their desperation and with the intention of helping, but it is important to say that they are not campaigns necessary and can be counterproductive".

      In fact, our legislation does not allow campaigns directed to a specific person. In the area of marrow donation, this type of campaign is carried out most frequently, which the ONT emphasises is unnecessary because "the system is prepared to respond to the transplant needs of patients, who need it".

      When a bone marrow donor needs to be found, outside of the family environment, it is done in the Spanish registry that is connected to other registries in the world, giving access to the 33 million people, who are registered as potential marrow donors, what you have to add 750,000 units of umbilical cord blood.

      Domínguez-Gil asserts that a donor has never been found for the person for whom it was requested and invites the families, who want to collaborate to do so in cooperation with the health professionals in charge of the case or the regional transplants coordinators, the Josep Carreras Foundation, or the National Transplant Organization. "In such a way that those willingness to help, that energy, that initiative is transformed into a campaign that is adequate in form and substance, and that is much more effective and more appropriate to what is needed".

      Well, I hope that you will like this article. If you know some experience about donations, please tell me as soon as possible.

      Untill soon, kind regards,

Luis.

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