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Viola Canales Touches The Hearts of Young and Old

By Susan Neulist

This year’s Libros sin Fronteras (LsF) weekend was another grand success with Viola Canales, visiting author of El Gusano de Tequila. Thursday morning she made an appearance at the school at Las Clavallinas. Several of the LsF team carpooled to this community 45 minutes outside San Miguel, then to Estancia de San Antonio for an afternoon event. The students were well prepared with questions, and there was a wall display with artwork and reviews of the book. After each of the talks, Viola signed every child’s book, offering a few words of encouragement.

Thursday night was the Literary Sala talk, “Bridging Two Worlds as a Storyteller,” and here Canales touched the hearts of the expat community of San Miguel. She spoke about her books and their connection to the stories and Mexican rituals of her childhood, encouraging everyone to find their “don” (inner light or gift to share with their community and world). On Friday morning, Canales and the LsF team headed to the community of Cruz del Palmar, joined by students from La Palma and Los Ricos. Several mamás and abuelitas (grandmothers) attended and Canales often referred directly to them when talking about her life experiences and childhood memories.

Saturday morning was a well-attended event for the local community—mostly children. Transportation was provided to bring the rural communities of San Miguel Viejo (Ojalá Niños) and El Huizachal to San Miguel de Allende. After talking to the enthusiastic crowd, Canales invited Hortensia (Horte) to the microphone to share her success story and the success of LsF. Horte, from El Huitzachal, read Cajas de Cartón, last year’s LsF book, along with her children. Last year with the encouragement of some of the LsF team members, she finished her high school equivalency. With the help of LsF and Mujeres en Cambio, she received a four-year scholarship to the University Allende to study nursing. She shared how hard she works, how education and reading are important parts of her life, and how each person can go on to study as she has.

Sunday morning at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Miguel was the last event of the weekend. Canales once again had an overflow crowd to hear her talk, entitled “Living Life with Ritual, Sparking the Spiritual.” She shared stories of how she blends rituals of Mexican culture into her life and encouraged all, once again, to find their “don” or gift to the world.

This year LsF purchased 380 books which were disbursed to children in rural communities. We know we have touched the hearts of many children and adults, both Mexicans and foreigners. We thank all of you reading this for your support as volunteers and especially as financial donors. It is with your help that this project happens. Please stay in touch for news of next year’s author and book. For information contact Susan Neulist at


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