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Open Sundays, 24-7 city of Reno

UntitledWalking along the streets of my city (Reno), specifically Wells Avenue, I noticed a sign that caught my eye. I couldn’t help but to stop and take a picture (left).

The sign reads: “Open Sundays” and underneath it, its Spanish translation: “Abierto los Domingos”.

At first sight, I thought the two different languages displayed in one sign is the reflection of the diverse business environment that Reno offers, particularly along Wells Avenue. That was the obvious part. However, after I got home and begun to write this post; I noticed something else.

“Open Sundays” reminded me of the big change I noticed when I first move to Reno. Growing up in a Catholic country; the majority of people do not work on Sundays. In fact, most of the business are closed on Sundays and holidays (religious and non religious, of course). That was the biggest little change I experience in the biggest little city. Reno is a 24-7 town. Reno doesn’t stop.

Being used to a different pace of life, when I came to Reno, I expected it to be the same. The only change I anticipated was the different language and the weather; however, I was mistaken. I disregarded the change of culture.

There have been several blogs and a lot of heat regarding Reno’s Culture and Reno’s Brand. Some people seem to believe that Reno doesn’t have a culture, but let me  tell you this, they are as wrong as I was.

Many people say that you don’t miss something unless you don’t have it anymore. People that live in Reno won’t miss Reno until they leave town and start living somewhere else, in a different culture, with different people.

Reno is a 24-7 city. Reno is full of diversity and open to diversity. In Reno you find signs in two or more languages. In Reno, you find delicious food and diverse restaurants. Reno is changing, Reno is being reborn . Reno wasn’t the same as it is right now (I am talking about 10 years ago). I have seen the growth and development of Reno. Do people notice it? I don’t know, all I know is that the majority of us do not like change, and when we see things change, we run and despair. I have seen that happened also.

Reno is changing, its people and its residents are changing as well. I am part of the change. I came form a different culture and a different country. I contributed (without noticing it and along with other immigrants and non-immigrants that landed to Reno in the last 10-15 years) to this new emerging culture in Reno.

Casinos are the perfect example of the 24-7 business model in Reno. It is a convenience because sometimes I get hungry in the middle of the night, and I can stop by a casino and get something to eat in one of its restaurants. When I go back to Perú, if I get hungry in the middle of the night, I am out of luck because there is nothing open at that time. At the beginning, when I first move to Reno; it bothered me that casinos and other businesses were open 24-7 and Sundays. Now, I am so used to it  that I miss it when I leave town.

Do you live in Reno? Have you ever been in Reno? If you have, then you know what I am talking about.

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La Morenita

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La Morenita music and wireless is one of the stores that is located along the “Boulevard of Dreams”: Wells Avenue in Reno, NV.

The store owner, Miguel Reyna, took the time of his busy day and was kind enough to talk to me about his story and his dreams.

It all started about 13 years ago, when Miguel and his wife moved to the “biggest little city” looking for a better life. They moved from California and started their own business. Miguel named his store in honor of his wife. “La Morenita” is a diminutive of dark woman in Spanish, of course.

Miguel is originally from Mexico, but in Reno, he has been able to attain the quality of life that he couldn’t in California. However, he has more dreams, he wants to continue his education. As an entrepreneur, he believes that in order to succeed, the business owner needs to “adapt” to the changes of the environment.

La Morenita offers a variety of CD’s and books and targets the Hispanic market in the Reno area; moreover, the store also offers affordable cellular phones and plans without a contract. Miguel also sponsors several soccer teams in town and he is planning some exciting changes and upgrades to the store. Next time, if you are close by Midtown in Reno, stop by La Morenita and check out some music and literature in Spanish.

Photo credit: La Morenita Music and Wireless Facebook

“Boulevard of Dreams”: Wells Avenue in Reno, NV

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Welcome to Wells Avenue, the “Boulevard of Dreams” in Reno, Nevada.

Wells Avenue is the “preferred” area where there is a cluster of businesses, especially Hispanic businesses. Wells Avenue is located in Midtown District in the “biggest little city in the world”.

Wells Avenue is a picturesque street in Reno. It is where two cultures fuse into one. It is where Spanish may be the main language, and English is spoken as the second language.

This area has been revamped and upgraded in the last few years by the City of Reno. Before, Wells Avenue wasn’t as walkable or appealing to any business or person. The addition of bike lanes and street lights has made Wells Avenue a new hub for small businesses in this area.

In my opinion, Wells Avenue is where many entrepreneurial dreams become reality, especially for Hispanic businesses. Perhaps, what makes Wells Avenue so attractive to small business owners, it is its central location, affordable rent and space availability.

Many Wells Avenue business owners have gotten together and form the Wells Avenue Merchants which is the “Reno’s Biggest Little Businesses” Association.

From retail to travel agencies, car wash, appliances repair, real estate and even medical offices; Wells Avenue offers a diverse array of services. Although, most of these businesses are from Hispanic owners, we do not discriminate and we welcome any entrepreneur that needs a place to start doing business.

Every year (since 2008), Wells Avenue celebrates  the International Fiesta on wells-avenueWells Avenue, which is an annual spring event celebrating the neighborhood’s cultural diversity.

The all-day fiesta is a family event complete with a parade, live entertainment, vendors, craftsmen, and food booths.

Spring has sprung already in the Northern Nevada are, yet I have not heard when this “fiesta” event is going to happen. I hope it is soon because I am eager to enjoy some great food and to promote local businesses in this area. Also, I would like to mingle with some small business owners/entrepreneurs with big dreams.

Photo credit: International Fiesta on Wells Ave, Reno Travel Blog

Born in East L.A.

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With the vision :”To develop and deliver beneficial projects, to have a customer focus, to work cooperatively with other state, local and federal agencies and to be open and transparent with the public and those charged with oversight of the Department”, Rodolfo “Rudy” Malfabon leads the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) as its “First Hispanic Director”.

Born in East Los Angeles, Rudy grew up in Northern Nevada and attended the University of Nevada, Reno where he graduated with a bachelor in Civil Engineering.

Rudy is a second generation Latino with Mexican heritage. He confesses that he is not fluent in Spanish; however, he understands some conversations. He told me that his parents spoke Spanish to each other but not to him and his siblings.

He grew up with several hispanic traditions; he states: “Family is very important in our culture, so I remember family events such as vacations and celebrations for birthdays (piñatas!). I remember traveling to Texas to visit my grandparents and cousins. We were raised in the Catholic Church and I recall all the important religious holidays and the importance of caring for others less well off than me”.

He also transmitted those family values and unity to his own children who now are very close to each other and continue to maintain strong ties regardless the geographic distance among them.

Rudy’s dream of becoming NDOT‘s Director didn’t start when he first begun working for the Department in 1984. He had to leave due to another professional opportunity and when he came back to work for NDOT again in 2003, the dream of one day becoming NDOT Director was born.

After his appointment as NDOT Director in 2012, Rudy’s dream became a reality. Although he feels very proud of being a successful hispanic and the first hispanic director of NDOT, Rudy has other dreams: “to accomplish my goal of transforming the Department in order to gain more support from our Transportation Board, the Legislature, and the public.”

Certainly, the state of Nevada is facing some challenges, specially financially. Nevada is grown and NDOT had to adapt to the changes and the challenges in order to continue providing its services with a reduced budget.

I think Rudy is doing a good job as NDOT Director. I didn’t know he was Hispanic until few months ago. I am honored to work for him, humbled that he took time in his busy schedule to talk to me, and I am confident he will accomplish his vision for NDOT.

For those who live/drive in Nevada:

  • Do you notice the difference on the smoothness of the roads when you drive to other states?
  • Do you benefit from the services that NDOT provides? (FSP – the van that drives around and assist vehicles that pulled on the side of the road, DMS – the interactive signs that advice drivers of the conditions of the road ahead, 511/website – provides information of the roads)

Interstate and State routes are built and maintained by NDOT. For the latest information on Nevada roads, follow NDOT @NevadaDOT or NevadaDOT Facebook, you may also contact them via NDOT Website

Photo credit: @Julie Duewel Nevada Department of Transportation

Picturing The Dream

 

Diana ClydesdaleHow did I meet Diana Clydesdale?

 

It was the spring of 2002, she wasn’t Diana Clydesdale the photographer, nor I was Maria Maness the engineer. We were two young latinas with big dreams working at The Eldorado casino in Reno, NV.

Although, following our dreams, took us to different paths; we remained living in our beloved Reno. Years later, we reconnected via Facebook.

The biggest little city must be pretty big for two friends living in the same town to have not seen each other for years. However; Diana and I were able to arrange some time together to “catch up”, we saw each other, and it was like time never passed. I heard that good friends could go years without talking or having contact with each other, and as soon as they see each other again, it is just like they never were apart. I believe that it is true, good friendships last forever.

It was no surprise to me that she was now, doing her dream: photography. I remember Diana was always taking pictures. Any event, any occasion, Diana was there with her camera capturing as many moments as she could. I also remember that she was famous (at work) for giving away (as a farewell gift) a collage of all the best pictures she was able to take of each person.

I am so proud of her. She does such an awesome work because it is her passion. She is also “living the dream”. I was able to experience her professionalism and her work when she did a photo session of my family.

Diana is currently collaborating as a photographer for the Miss Cinco de Mayo Reno pageant.

I highly recommend her. Check out her work @DianaClydesdalePhotography.com.

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Photo credit: Diana Clydesdale Photography

 

Who is the Nevada Governor?

Brian SandovalWho is Brian Sandoval?

The son of Mexican immigrants, a lawyer with Hispanic roots, a University of Nevada, Reno graduate and a long time Reno resident.

Moreover; he is the first Hispanic candidate elected to statewide office in Nevada and current Nevada Governor that will be remember in history for passing the “online gambling bill” few weeks ago.

He represents the dream come true from many of us immigrants that crossed the US border to get a better life for ourselves and our future generations. He is also the inspiration for many of us that are in our way to making our dreams come true.

I remember when I had the privilege to meet him in person, and I didn’t. It was just another morning and I was walking into the building to start my workday when I saw three men dressed up in suits trying to open the doors to get into the building. The doors were locked (of course, for security purposes) and they can only be opened from the inside or from the outside with an employee ID badge.

From the distance, I couldn’t see who these three men were; however, I assumed that they were people who were invited for a meeting and they needed to get in. As I got  closer, I didn’t bother to look at them because I was more focused on getting my ID from  my purse and open the door for them. After making a funny remark about how secure our building was and how lucky they were that I was just there at the right time, I opened the doors and I finally looked at their faces…surprised! It was the Nevada Governor…It was the first Hispanic Governor…It was Brian Sandoval!

I was in shock because I didn’t expect it to be him, so I went on quiet mode. He held the door for me to get in the building first (like a good gentleman) and he thanked me  for letting him in. I couldn’t say a word! I hope I was able to say “you are welcome”, but the truth is that I don’t remember. I wish I could have said how well he is doing for himself and for the Hispanic community in the USA; I wish I could have told him that he is becoming the dream of many immigrants and that he is an inspiration for many of us too. I wish I could have told him not to forget his Latino heritage….I wish I could have talked!

I am positive he is aware of everything I wanted to tell him and I couldn’t. What did I learn from this experience? Many things; first, that I gotta be ready for the unexpected. Second, that I have to be more confident and be able to take advantage of the opportunities that life presents to me; and third, that Brian Sandoval is a gentleman and a very approachable person.

Do you have any stories (like my story with the Governor) that you would like to share? What did you learn from them?

 

Photo credit: Brian Sandoval.com

Please Don’t Ask Where I’m From

Home is where the heart belong, right? My heart belong to 2 places and where I am from used to be a question I didn’t want people to ask me.

I was born and raised in Chiclayo, Peru. I was there for the first 18 years of my life; however, I can say that I grew up in Reno, NV where I have been for almost 15 years.

How do I answer to that question now? Very simple: I am from both places. I am from Reno and Chiclayo.  I am from here and there. How could that be possible?

I am lucky enough to have experienced the best of 2 worlds. Two worlds that on the surface seem to be very different just like the 2 languages I speak (Spanish and English); however, just like those 2 languages, my 2 worlds have a lot in common.

Reno is the “biggest little city in the world” with dry weather and well defined seasons. On the other hand, Chiclayo is 6 times the size of the area of Reno and about 3 times its population. Furthermore, Chiclayo is only 89 ft above sea level with a very warm and dry desert climate.

Consequently, I was born and grew up as a spoiled teenager in a small town where everybody knew everybody else and their family, enjoying the beach every summer on Christmas and complaining about a little breeze during winter. Now, I live in a small town, where almost everybody knows everybody and we enjoy a white cold Christmas during winter while we complaint that it is hot like an oven in the summer.

I believe that where you are from matters, but what matters more is where you are and where you are going. Next time, before asking somebody where they are from, take a pause, answer the following questions first and then ask them: “Are you where you want to be?” and then follow up with: “Where are you going?”

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