Passport to Poconos – Street Food and Cultures

The good weather has awakened my senses to one of the things that I enjoy more in the US: discovering authentic food from around the world from street vendors. “I want a frankfurter.” This is the first thing my friend Cristina said when she arrived to New York last week. “Why would you want that?” I asked. “The typical thing I do when I arrive in the US is eat street food; a frankfurter and a slice of pizza.”. It’s what you see in the movies. “But it’s called hot dog here (perrito caliente in Spanish),” I told her. In Spain it’s called a frankfurter because the sausage came originally from Frankfurt, Germany.

In Spain there is no street food, you are supposed to eat in a restaurant or a bar or at home but never in the street: it is not considered polite. A restaurant is more formal. A bar is where you can get a coffee, a drink or a sandwich or a snack (like tapas), but that’s not “eating”. Eating is having a full meal in a restaurant or at home. If you have a sandwich for lunch, you didn’t eat. When we go to Spain, my husband insists in having his sandwich. “I can’t eat so many big meals,” he says.

The first time I had street food was a hot dog in New York when I was a tourist. I loved the freedom and informality of siting in the park while eating with my hands. This is one of the best things of being in the US, the freedom to do things like eating with your hands, in public, without being judged! I have discovered some of the best food from around the world is on street trucks in the US. When visiting friends in Los Angeles we found the best breakfast burritos on the trucks set up to serve Hispanic laborers and gardeners in Beverly Hills.

Our friends were appalled. Why do you want to eat that? We can take you to a great Mexican restaurant.” “These are the best burritos this side of the border,” my husband replied. The California Mexican food trucks have their own name in Spanglish. They are called “Loncheros,” because they serve lunch.

A few years ago we started a tradition with some friends of eating food of a different country whenever we met. There are a few rules: “It has to be authentic, cheap and we can’t repeat countries”. So far we have gone through sixteen countries without having had to travel beyond the perimeter of New York City. However In the Poconos is where I have discovered some of the best Hispanic foods. Not on trucks, but in restaurants and homes of friends. That is a story for another day!

Christina’s radio show, Tu Voz con Christina, is at 8 a.m. every Sunday on Pocono 96.7. Email:



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Passport to Poconos -The Subway Experience

After adjusting to living in the wide open spaces of the Poconos, surrounded by nature, going to the City and taking the subway is a whole new alien experience. What once was familiar in my life become strange.

I never gave subways a second thought until now, when I realize that subways have their own special subculture.

In Barcelona, my original hometown, it is modern and clean, with easy to follow routes and stops. When I first went to New York, I was surprised by the dirt and decaying stations as well as the rats running along the tracks. The signs in the New York City are confusing. If you don´t know about local and express trains you can stop on the wrong one and wind up in Harlem or the Bronx in just a few stops. Everybody jokes about the messages from the conductor. ¨ What did he say?¨. It suddenly seems like everyone in the car is hard of hearing.

In Barcelona it’s different. Last time I was riding the subway there, I heard a voice of the driver coming through the speakers, “Beware of the woman at the right front door of the first car, grip your hand bags.”  I was in shock.  I didn’t realize the driver could view cameras of the whole train and was telling us he had spotted a pickpocket.

As modern as the subway is in Barcelona, there is also an epidemic of pickpocketing that the police can´t seem to stop. I tell whoever goes, “It’s a beautiful town but keep an extra tight hold of your wallet if you want to have a good experience”

The offenders are rarely from Spain. The open borders of the European Union have made it difficult to control who is where.

In New York the subway is quite another experience. I’ve always felt safe there. It is a New York adventure. I’m fascinated how New Yorkers squeeze at rush hour to get in. And no matter how crowded, they are deep in thought or listening to their I Pods or reading their e-books. The tourists are in awe of everything and nothing seems to bother them. They always smile, chat animatedly with each other and consult their maps.

Then there are the beggars that come through looking for money or food. It makes me sad. I don’t know what to do. It’s not easy to beg and sometimes it’s about real poverty.  I carry $1 bills and help when I can. Last time I didn’t have cash but I had a snack to offer.  It was gratefully accepted.  There are also the musicians and singers who either make my journey more fun or make me want to scream for them to stop.Going back to the Poconos, I feel free again. My space and nature and fresh air!

Christina´s radio show with a Latin flavor is every Sunday morning at 8:00 AM on Pocono 96.7. Tu Voz con Christina. Email:

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Passport to Poconos – Motoristas Hispanos en los Poconos

Querido amigo,

Una de las mejores cosas acerca de la cultura latina es la cercanía de la gente. Siempre encontramos la forma de compartir algo y estar juntos. Aquí se encuentra uno de los grupos que trajeron y pensaron sobre su amor por las motocicletas.

Un sábado a la mañana mientras esperaba mi turno para ingresar a Perkins, vi gente con ropa de motociclistas: jeans, botas y chalecos negros con un montón de insignias bordadas e incluso la palabra LAMA, lo cual significa Asociación de Motocicletas Latinoamericana. En el momento que escuché ̈Latino ̈ en los Poconos, pensé que era la oportunidad para conocer a alguien relacionado con mi cultura y de habla hispana. Les comenté de mi programa de radio semanal a los motociclistas y se entusiasmaron para visitarme. Me enteré que su grupo organiza muchos eventos comunitarios pero que ninguno recibió una invitación a un show de radio.

“Soy un Nuyorikan” dijo Jay, conocido como “El Jefe”, el vicepresidente del grupo (refiriéndose a sus raíces portorriqueñas, nació y se crió en Nueva York). Así es como ellos se identifican. “Somos una asociación de motociclistas humanistas internacionales”, me dijo Roberto y le pregunté “Qué significa”. Siempre pensé que los motociclistas eran individuos difíciles que ha hacían rugir sus motores en las rutas y se negaban a dejarte pasar en la carretera.

Robert (Presidente) y Jay se refirieron a sus miembros como “hermanos” y “hermanas” y acentuaron sus valores de familia. Me contaron sobre los eventos que apoyan en la comunidad como así también sobre la beca para estudiantes. Les pregunté si uno tenía que ser latino para pertenecer al grupo y me respondieron que no era necesario. Roberto respondió: “Lo que necesitas es tener una moto de 650 cc y ser aceptado por el “Chapter” (es como ello les llaman a sus clubes) después del período de prueba. También hay mujeres a quienes les llamamos “Damas” y aceptamos todas las nacionalidades, raza, sexo, edad. Nuestra asociación recibe a todos los que comparten nuestros valores”.

Detrás del aspecto de motorista, encontré gente amable y encantadora dispuesta a compartir su amor por el motociclismo y el trabajo humanitario en la comunidad.

Les pregunté cómo se siente manejar una motocicleta de 650 cc y me respondió que no lo podía describir, pero que es lo mismo que siente un perro cuando pone su cabeza fuera de la ventana de un auto en movimiento.
Con toda la conversación sobre las buenas obras y becas, supongo que montar motocicletas siempre va a ser un sentimiento espectacular de libertad en la carretera. Las autopistas sinuosas de los Poconos son perfectas para los motociclistas, además de tener lugares de descanso para los motociclistas como el Minisink Hotel para que los motociclistas se aseguren de hidratarse bien.

Quiero sentir aquel viento. Me voy a poner mi ropa de cuero y unir al grupo. Me puedo visualizar como acompañante en una gran motocicleta y sentir la brisa del verano en mi cabello…

Más información sobre LAMA:
Show de radio de Christina con sabor latino todos los domingos a las 8:00 AM en Pocono 96.7. Tu Voz con Christina. Email:


Traducción: Celia Elizabelar:

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Passport to Poconos – Loving Mom Across Miles

I tell my mother in our weekly phone call, “I love you mother, with all my heart. You are constantly in my thoughts. I hear your laughter. I wear your perfume and the smell reminds me of you.” “Really?” she asks. Her thrill and laughter is contagious. I have reached her soul and we have finally connected. Since I moved to the States, I am continually worried about her: an aging widow with a progressive fragile mind.

I am grateful that my brother is devoted to her.  He is her constant caregiver. When I visit, I feel like a stranger intruding. When I first moved away, she was more lucid, opinionated and demanding.  She filled me with guilt for being so far away in her old age. She had always been there for us.

She was our shelter, giving us unconditional love and each day, after school, taking us for a ‘merienda’, an afternoon snack. We drank hot chocolate with whipped cream  (called Suizo in Spain) and ate croissants. These are some of the memories I cherish.

I never understood why she didn’t pursue her artistic talents or why she hid her true age. Being older than my father filled her with guilt. I found out about that by accident when I was ten years old. We were on a vacation. I was looking at her passport and found her age. I was convinced there was a mistake. But it wasn’t. Later in her life she admitted always felt ‘less’ for marrying a man six years her junior. It was then when I felt a I had missed a big part of who she really was.

She met my father in Germany where they were both learning the language. They married in Turkey, where her family was temporarily living, and settled in his home country, Spain. She never adjusted to life in Spain and never learned the language properly. She remained an outcast, attached to her old language and customs. After my father died it became more isolating. But she was a brave woman who wanted to marry for love and become a mother. She succeeded in both. My parents were always for each other, during the ups and downs of life.

I don’t try to puzzle anymore about all the questions that will remain unanswered about my mother. Though she hears me in our weekly conversations, she no longer can comprehend my questions or give me answers. I’m grateful to still have her although sometimes I wonder if she knows who I am.  When I show her my love and kindness on the phone, she’s happy and giggly. Happy Mother’s Day, mother, thank you for giving me the gift of life and shaping who I am. I´ll love you forever.


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Passport to Poconos – Descubriendo Nuevas Culturas Hispanas

Los Poconos tiene una nueva revista, Latino Espectacular. Nació en Allentown 15 años atrás a raíz de la energía y dedicación de Isa Pereyra, una mujer dominicana, quien sintió que todos los hispanos eran su gente, donde el español era su lengua madre y podría seguir una carrera en la televisión, radio y con una revista. Ella lleva a cabo estas tres actividades muy bien.
Latino Espectacular se puede encontrar aquí en el condado de Monroe, ya que Isa encontró a Sylvia Piserchio, una mujer de negocios exitosa de Ecuador, quien hace 25 años que vive en los Poconos. No hace mucho tiempo, junto a Gil Coronado conocí a ambas en Allentown. Gil es un amigo que preserva los orígenes mexicanos de sus padres y apoya la comunidad hispana, al mismo tiempo que trabaja conmigo en el programa de radio 96.7 FM. Gil es un empresario de CILA, su propia companía que apoya a artistas emergentes.

Isa nos llevó a todos a comer y bailar en un club dominicano en Allentown. Ahí es donde descubrí el alma de los dominicanos. Ellos se mueven al ritmo de la música y saben las canciones más populares de su país de memoria. ¨Esta gente bella, respiran la música que es parte de su alma y su cultura¨ (especialmente bachata y merengue, los más populares), pensé.
Aquella noche Isa me contó sobre su vida y sus tres hijos a quienes ella crió sola. ¨He actuado desde que era una niña, necesitaba crear arte y juntar a la gente¨, me dijo.

Isa y Sylvia se conocen hace mucho tiempo, pero hace sólo un mes Sylvia finalmente le dijo a Isa: ¨Llegó el momento de introducir nuestra revista a los Poconos. Definitivamente, hay un mercado para la revista¨.
En un mes, ellas la armaron y la edición de los Poconos se distribuyó por primera vez. Estas dos mujeres tuvieron una idea,la desarrollaron y un mes más tarde la hicieron realidad.

Los hispanos y su pasión por contribuir al entendimiento entre las diferentes nacionalidades de habla hispana es algo que sólo he visto en este país, especialmente en los Poconos. Isa y Sylvia, así como mis amigos de FLECHA aúnan sus esfuerzos para preservar una cultura en común.
Desde que mi show de radio en español comenzó hace dos años, primero en español con la radio WESS y ahora en inglés en la Pocono 96.7, he estado a disposición de la comunidad hispana en donde he escuchado un mensaje constante: ¨ No hay suficiente para nosotros aquí, queremos más¨. Bueno, ahora hay más: esta columna cada semana en el Pocono Record ( traducido al español en mi blog), Latino Spectacular Magazine y el programa de radio“Tu Voz con Christina”. La región de los Poconos posee una comunidad rica de diversas culturas que crecen mejor y florecen porque ellas comparten entre ellas.

Traducción por Celia Elizabelar (

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Passport to Poconos – Adjusting is Necessary


Speaking with my friend Mari, who moved to the Poconos from Spain over twenty years ago, I asked her what was the hardest thing to adjust to?  “Driving”, she said without doubt, “I came from a city where I could walk around the corner and buy what I needed. And now if I forget something on my shopping list, I have to drive all the way back.”

My friend Bea told me that the hardest thing for her was the change in measurements: “From Celsius to Fahrenheit for the weather. Let´s see, double it and subtract 32, or is it add 32? And when I go shopping,” she continues “I have to change from kilograms to pounds.”

Thinking about it, I would say “yes” to all the minor inconveniences, but there are things I love too. I love all the seasons. You can see how nature is transformed. In the spring it seems to happen minute by minute. Spain has no equivalent to the feeling of spring in the Northeast United States. And with spring comes the beginning of the growing season and of life.

When I moved to the Poconos I had never seen a vegetable outside the supermarket. Now I go to Josie Porter Farm, shop at the Stroudsburg Farmers Market and get my fresh eggs from Jeff the egg man. My summer sweet corn comes direct from the farmer in Cherry Valley, and I wait for fall to buy a peck of tomatoes for next to nothing to make marinara sauce for the year.

It´s funny that I always liked to cook but never had any curiosity about where the ingredients actually came from. Now I get in my car and go to find them. None of this came naturally. I refused to see the bounty that was around me for the first two years after I moved here. Then one day I touched bottom and I realized that nothing was going to happen if I didn’t do something about it. I had to embrace my environment and learn all the good things it could offer.

I had to accept that my car was now an essential part of my life. It could take me places and open up worlds. I started taking classes at ESU, got my degree and started my radio program. The best part has been meeting wonderful people along the way.

I still go into New York City and still love the pace and rhythm but I also realize that in the city, most things are given to us and we take them for granted.

The Poconos opened new doors for me and made me push myself from my comfort zone, and by the way, I’m still afraid of bears!

Christina´s radio show with a Latin flavor is every Sunday morning at 8:00 AM on Pocono 96.7. Tu Voz con Christina. Email:

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Passport to Poconos – Hispanic Cultures, a Hispanic Magazine in the Poconos


The Poconos have a new Latino magazine: Latino Espectacular.  It was born in Allentown fifteen years ago through the energy and dedication of   Isa Pereyra, a Dominican woman who felt all Hispanics were her people, that Spanish was her first language, and that she could make a career in TV, on radio, and with a magazine. She does all three spectacularly well.

Beginning this month, Latino Espectacular can be found here in Monroe County because Isa found a partner in Sylvia Piserchio, a successful business woman originally from Ecuador, who has been living in the Poconos for over twenty five years. Not very long ago, I met with both of them in Allentown, along with Gil Coronado, a friend who embraces his parents Mexican’s origins and supports the Hispanic community by working with me on my radio program on 96.7 FM.  Gil is an entrepreneur with CILA, his own management company that supports emerging artists.

Isa took us all out to eat and dance at a family oriented Dominican club in Allentown.  That is where I discovered the soul of the Dominicans. They move to the beat and know all of the most popular songs of their country by heart. “These beautiful people,” I thought, “breathe the music that is part of their soul and their culture.” (Especially bachata and merengue, their most popular forms).

That night, Isa told me about her life and about the three sons she brought up almost totally on her own. “I was performing since I was a child, “she told me. “ I needed to create art and bring people together”.

Sylvia and Isa had known each other for a long time, but just a month earlier Sylvia finally told Isa, “The time has come to bring our magazine to the Poconos.  There is a definitely market for it”

In a month they put it together and last week, the Pocono edition was distributed for the first time. These two women had an idea, saw it through, and a month later made it a reality.

Discovering these Hispanics and their passion for bringing a common understanding to different Spanish-speaking nationalities, is something I have only seen in this country, specifically in the Poconos.  Isa and Sylvia, like my friends in FLECHA, come together to preserve a common culture.  They find joy in celebrating with food, music, and laughter across boundaries.  In Spain, things are different, perhaps because Spanish is spoken everywhere and many cultural traditions are taken for granted.

Since my Spanish radio show started two years ago this week, first in Spanish with WESS Radio and now in English at Pocono 96.7, I’ve kept my ears open to the Hispanic community where I keep hearing a constant message, “There is not yet enough for us here, we want more”. Well now there is more: This column every week in the Pocono Record (translated into Spanish on my blog), Latino Spectacular Magazine and “Tu Voz con Christina” Radio Show. The Poconos possess a rich community of diverse cultures that grow better and blossom because they share with each other.

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Passport to Poconos – Food and Cultures


Dear friend,

Last week was my first experience with a new kind of eating place –at least new to me. My husband tells me they are usually out on the highway, away from the towns, and typically serve cocktails and limited menus. So they´re called “roadhouses.” In Spain we don´t have anything like them. Restaurants and bars are usually near the center of town. Nothing like those welcoming lights you see here in the darkness along winding highways. Their signs sometimes flash with little moving light bulbs and their windows always look bright but mysterious. These places are well-known to locals, but strangers rarely stop.


In Spain I remember seeing them in American movies. They are the places where Humphrey Bogart meets the girl, or where Marlon Brando parks his Harley.


“We have to go to”, our friend Karen kept saying.” “It has great pizza and cheap drinks.” I checked it on line and I realized that we would have to go to dinner early, at a non-Spanish time, to get there in time to eat before the closing time.


The place looked exactly like a rustic pioneer cabin from frontier days, and it was very lively. There were two people playing live music from the 60’s and there was a board at the end of a room where you had to write your name and number of people for a reservation. Our party managed to squeeze in at the bar and listen to the music while waiting for our names to be called.


Finally somebody yelled our name on top of the music and we were seated. The atmosphere was so upbeat in the bar with the music everyone chatting with each other that I wasn’t sure I wanted to move into the dining room. It was decorated with Christmas lights that stayed up all year, was quiet enough to talk, and was even more cozy and friendly than the bar.


Our waitress came over with a friendly, familiar attitude, as she had known us for years. “Pizza is the specialty” she said, “And for $1 you can get the bigger size.” On top of the table´s paper cloth she put plastic plates that had been used so long the designs had faded. We distributed our plates choosing which ‘faded pattern’ we preferred. That was part of the fun. When the pizza arrived, we cut it ourselves and ate it with our hands.


I think it tasted better like that. or maybe it was the spontaneity of the whole experience. This is something I had never had in Spain or New York City. It was a fun, casual experience, with good pizza and friendly people. I can’t wait to take my friends from Spain when they come to visit. I’m sure they will feel this is a real American experience. The roadhouse–Made in the USA!


Christina´s radio show with a Latin flavor is every Sunday morning at 8:00 AM on Pocono 96.7. Tu Voz con Christina. Email:

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Passport to Poconos – Celebrando Nuestras Culturas


Querida amiga,


Estoy de regreso de Barcelona, España. Cada vez que viajo a mi casa en los Poconos siento un poco de culpa.


Me alejo del mundo que conocí la mayor parte de mi vida, a pesar de que siento que no es el lugar donde quiero vivir, de igual modo extraño mis amigos y nuestra rutina social. España no es como en los Estados Unidos donde tienes que planear con anticipación si quieres ver a alguien. Uno de los amigos de mi esposo nos invita con meses de antelación, a lo cual yo le comento “Quién sabe dónde estaré para ese entonces”.


En España, si quiero conversar con mi amiga Cristina, la llamo a su oficina y le pregunto si tiene tiempo para tomar un café. Mi amiga Rosa, quien es una coordinadora de la sala de emergencias tiene turnos de 12 horas; Ella se pone feliz si nos encontramos para cenar después del trabajo porque como ella dice: “Tengo que comer aunque esté cansada”.  Me alegra mucho ir a cenar con una amiga luego del trabajo. Nada tiene que ser caro, el objetivo es la amistad.


También me gusta como la gente disfruta de la vida con menos dinero en España. A menudo, la gente se encuentra en el parque, va a caminar o se encuentra para almorzar algo económico. Hay muchos sitios para reunirse y tomar un café o un trago. Un tiempo atrás, viví en Segovia, una ciudad hermosa en las llanuras de España cerca de Madrid donde tenía la posibilidad de ver otras mujeres solteras que vivían allí y nos juntábamos para tomar un vino o una gaseosa después del trabajo.


Nos quedábamos en el bar para comer un “montadito” (un sándwich pequeño) gratis con cada trago. Te da la bienvenida y es sabroso. El “montadito” enfatizaba la calidez de estos encuentros sociales y de paso comíamos algo por el precio de un trago barato. Entre tragos y “montaditos” tuve la oportunidad de conocer a muchas personas y algunas de ellas se convirtieron en mis amigos para siempre. Ojalá los bares estadounidenses se contagiaran de esta modalidad.


Ahora me reúno con mis amigos de aquellos años de los “montaditos”, con sus esposos e hijos.  Aquellas amistades no tienen precio y siento que es uno de los regalos que mi cultura latina tiene para ofrecer. Sin embargo, cuando alguien me pregunta si volvería a España, le respondo: “Me gusta visitar y extraño algunas cosas, pero mi hogar está en los Poconos ahora, donde tengo gatos, mis nuevos amigos, mi nueva casa, mi nuevo programa de radio “Tu Voz con Christina” (“Your Voice with Christina”) en la radio Pocono 96.7, mi columna semanal y mi blog. Tengo muchas bendiciones para contar pero mientras que sigo agregando nuevos capítulos en mi vida en los Poconos.

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Passport to Poconos – Inicio de la Primavera con Sabor Agridulce

Después de vivir 5 años en los Poconos, y luego de pasar un invierno duro, me emociona ver que la nieve se esté derritiendo y la naturaleza renaciendo. Sin embargo, Marzo es un mes confuso para mí. Los recuerdos que tengo de este mes son agridulces. En España y otros países europeos, Bolivia y Honduras en América del Sur se festeja el día del padre, ya que el 19 de marzo se celebra el día de San José, el padre de Jesús.

Se trata del mes en el que falleció mi padre, justo unos días después del día del padre.

Mi padre y yo nunca nos llevamos bien completamente, ya que ambos teníamos personalidades fuertes. El no podía entender que su única hija se pareciera más a él que a sus propios hijos varones. En su mente, sus hijos tenían que tener el impulso y la hija mujer tenía que ser obediente. Ese era el patrón tradicional en las familias españolas. Y esa fue la razón por lo que peleábamos y peleábamos. Siempre fui la rebelde y busqué su apoyo y consejo.

Pero las reglas de mi padre eran rígidas. Nunca dejó que mi madre aprendiera a manejar porque como el decía ” vas a matar a alguien” (cuando le cuento la historia sobre su suegra a mi esposo, él siempre está de acuerdo con mi padre).

Me parecía tanto a él, pero de igual manera nunca pudo brindarme su confianza. Cuando se sometió a una cirugía de corazón por tercera vez, sabía que no iba a sobrevivir y estuve de duelo semanas antes del procedimiento. Mi hermano estaba enojado conmigo por inquietar a mi madre. “Pero yo sabía que él no iba a sobrevivir”, todo el tiempo decía “yo lo sé”, y eso fue lo que pasó.

Se acercaba el día del padre y mi padre se recuperaba de la cirugía. “Qué le daría” pensé “Se que él se está por morir”. Finalmente, en una tarjeta expresé mi amor por él y toda la bondad, lo que realmente importaba.

Acepté y aprecié que él hizo lo mejor por nosotros. Le di mi tarjeta, mi último regalo, pero él estaba muy débil para leerla. Entonces se la leí y me respondió “estoy tan feliz, cuando eras pequeña, tu siempre fuiste la rebelde y has crecido para convertirte en una flor que floreció”.

Aquellas fueron las últimas palabras que me dijo, las que voy a conservar toda mi vida. Sé que el estaría muy orgulloso de lo que lo que soy y de donde encontré mi lugar. Finalmente estamos en paz. Extraño a mi padre aunque siento su apoyo y protección todos los días.

Marzo significa algo diferente para cada uno de nosotros porque es la muerte del invierno y el nacimiento de la primavera. Todos tenemos recuerdos de este momento de transición en el año. Para mí, va a ser siempre para ti “papi”.

El programa de radio con el sabor latino de Cristina se transmite todos los domingos a las 8:00 de la mañana por Pocono 96.7. Tu Voz con Christina
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