Macho Caballo Page
Las Aventuras De Macho Caballo
PART I: CHAPTER UNO
THE SPIRIT OF THE SPRING
A mockingbird called from the bushes. Ramón Caballo
Guiterrez, known to his friends as `Macho', unfolded from
his comfortable rest atop a dawn-lit boulder and hoisted the
courier pouch into place before resuming the trail. The
morning air remained chill as he swung along a lane worn
smooth by many feet, near the ravine and over the crest of
the next hill. Bracing the strap of his pouch, he leaned
down and picked up a rock to shy into the ravine. How many
rocks had he and his compadres chucked into the deep ditch?
No way to know.
But the ravine would never fill up, for the rains every
winter would wash the rocks away. Then the boys would chuck
some more. The supply was inexhaustible.
It was several miles to the village. Miles. That was one
of the words he had learned at the school, and he had
learned by pacing it off about how far it was. A yard was
so long, and a furlong was so long, and a mile was this many
furlongs. Papá had said he was too lazy or too impatient to
learn anything. Mamá had said - well, Mamá was going to be
proud of him whatever he did - Mamá had said he would be the
best student in the school.
In the distance, several rises away, he could see the
cultivated fields surrounding the village, and nearby a few
scrawny cattle foraging in the Spring grass. Mamá would
have breakfast ready, about now. Some tortillas and honey,
and eggs, if the hens were laying. She would give him an
extra helping, since he was just come home from school. And
maybe he could ask Papá why he had been called home so
Someone was on the trail ahead, coming toward him, and he
stopped to rest until they could pass. The person looked
familiar, somehow, but Ramón could not be sure.
Then the other spoke, half a hill away, "Hey, Macho! Que
pasa?" His best friend Gordo still had a baby face, but he
was taller than a year before, and more slender.
"Gordito? Is it you? Hey, hombre, you ain't fat no more!"
"Naw, I grew out of it. Except around my face," he mugged
for Ramón, "How about you? You still deserve your nickname?
You still Macho?"
"More and more worthy every day," grinned 'Macho'.
"Betcha got soft in that city school!" Gordito hunched down
in a mock attack, arms spread as if to grapple. Ramón slid
off his pouch and ran at him, and they tumbled across the
"How was the big city?" Gordito quizzed him, "Were there
plenty of chicas? Did they have the bull fights? Did you
get laid?" They wrestled laughing in the dust until Gordito
cried that he had had enough. "You still got it," he
laughed as he caught his breath. They sat on a hummock by
the trail, watching the sun climb the heavens and the birds
flit amongst the scarecrow trees.
"You are lucky, hombre," sighed Gordito.
"In what way?"
"Don Pedro likes you, he thinks you are some kind of nice
person. You get to go to the big school. You get to go
away from this place."
"The city and the school was just a place. Just like this
one. And I worked hard, cleaning the buildings and tending
"Ahhh... There's more to life than a place. There's food -
I oughta know that! There's girls. There's things to see,
the stores and markets and entertainment. And there's more
fun in the city. And better food. Did I mention food? All
we have here is corn. Fried corn. Boiled corn. Baked corn
at night. Ground corn for breakfast. I get sick of corn."
"You're old enough to leave. Go to the big city, get a
A strange look came over Gordito's face, and he seemed close
to tears as he looked away from Ramón. "Not me," he said,
"I'm never leaving this country." He climbed to his feet
and reached a hand to help Ramón up.
"Might as well come on," he said, "I was sent to take you to
"But I am going home!"
"Not yet. Your Papá has something he has to talk to you
"You can't tell me what he wants?"
"No," Gordito smiled in an attempt to soften the harsh
word, but he would not meet Ramón's eyes. As he started
away, he added, "Besides, you are really gonna like your
"Guide?" But there was no answer. He hurried to get his
pouch and follow Gordito as he marched toward the hills away
from the village.
THE SPIRIT OF THE SPRING:
There was nothing outstanding about the grotto. It was just
a cave, a dimly lit widening with a hot spring bubbling out
of a basin. There was a chill breeze that played tricks
with the ear, whistling about the deposits hanging from the
ceiling and chuckling over stones in the water.
He stopped on the promontory, a stone shelf which jutted out
into the basin and hesitated. Papá said to speak his name,
loudly, and ask for guidance. His throat was dry; Ramón had
to swallow a couple of times.
"Hello?" he said.
The water gurgled and chuckled in response. The wind made a
lonesome whistle through some hidden orifice. In the dim
light, mists floated above the bubbling water.
What was he doing here? Papá was adamant - he had to
present himself to the 'spirits of the spring', to prepare
himself for the next step of his manhood.
This was just like Papá, however. The boys of the Azuma
village were given a week-long ceremony when they became
men. "Papá gives me a short lecture on 'being mature' and
makes me stand in a dumb cave for my 'trial of manhood'.
Next he'll probably tell me I'm supposed to spend the night
on the desert without food to prove I can stand
"I'll just stay here a little while longer. That should
satisfy him." Echoes of his voice filled the grotto
briefly, then quiet returned. Somewhere, perhaps outside,
he heard the faint cry of a hawk calling its mate. When he
shifted his feet the clatter of misplaced stones filled the
Gradually, he became accustomed to the rustle and murmur and
all sound seemed to fade away. He was alone in the silence.
It seemed he heard, not the wind, but a human voice singing
sadly beyond the farthrest depths. "Is someone there?" he
called softly. Then he did hear a voice, behind him,
someone calling for help. Glad for an excuse to quit his
vigil, he turned to go.
"Stop," the gurgle and mutter of the spring seemed to say.
Yes, he assured himself, the spring had spoken. Or perhaps
the mists had spoken. Ramón hesitated for a moment.
"Stay," said the voice - a hissing, whistling, chuckling
"That sounded like the person who guided me in here, calling
for help," said Ramón.
"What do you want?" The spirit of the mist demanded,
ignoring his statement.
"My father has sent me here to ask..."
"We did not ask why you were here, impertinent child,"
whispered another misty voice, "What do you want?"
"My father has told me to ask for a blessing," faltered
There was a shifting murmur to the bubbling waters, as
though the spirits were muttering to themselves. He started
to believe that the voices were in his ears, tricked by the
gurgle and splash of the springs.
"I am to tell you my name and ask for guidance," his voice
echoed damply in the chamber. Silence was his answer, a
murmuring hissing silence where he thought he heard voices.
He listened with all his might, and far off there seemed to
be someone calling. Someone asking for help. "I am wasting
my time, here," he said, "I have to go find who that is and
"Wait," hissed the voice, "You dare to turn your back on
"I have to go," he insisted.
"You are impertinent. Who are you to disobey us?"
Ramón drew himself up to his full sixteen years of maturity,
"I am Ramón Caballo Guiterez, my friends call me 'Macho',
and I am no puny girl to be frightened by wind and noise,"
he said, and the mists swirled about him.
COYOTE, THE TRICKSTER (1):
It's not nice to fool Mother Nature... or even one of the
spirits at the hot springs. Especially not one of the
spirits at the sacred hot springs.
Ramón struggled to keep on his feet. He had not eaten since
the morning when he had met Gordito, and he felt dizzy with
hunger. The pines seemed different, somehow, more
forbidding, as he searched for the trail which led out of
the canyon. Long shadows filled the sheltered crevasses
beneath the huddled trees, and he was sure he had seen
movement out of the corner of his eye more than once.
His guide had vanished, perhaps finding another way out,
perhaps even now waiting for him at the cave entrance. At
least he hoped that this had happened. The alternative was
too ghastly to consider. Perhaps the sight of his guide
also being dragged into the pool was an illusion. No matter
what, he was not returning to the scene of his humiliation
to find out.
"I will not admit that I am frightened!" he swore softly, "I
must be `un hombre', as my name says. I must be brave."
Easier said than done, since the white mist had risen and
choked him as he mocked the sacred rites at the hot spring,
and he was flung into the water. Perhaps Coyote was
watching, or had heard his joke and decided to do him one
better. Perhaps it was First Woman, and the hot springs
were indeed sacred and not merely haunted. Either way, he
had made a grievous error and would have to find someone
with strong medicine to correct it. Assuming he could find
his way back to his father's village.
He felt ill, his head spun, and he staggered as he hurried
along the trail. He lost his balance and fell again. His
vision cleared for a moment and the trail swam into view,
leading through a thicket and into the cave.
"Why do I fall?" he wondered, "What has happened to my
balance? Has Coyote stolen my skills as well as my vision?"
He splashed through a stream warm from the springs, heedless
of the noise, hurrying for the mouth of the cave and
freedom. The inside of the cavern was cool and damp, but
not entirely dark. There was movement ahead, where the
other end opened onto the side of the mountain. Someone was
there? "Hello?" he called, hoping, "Papá? Anyone?" But
The opening was a narrow crack, making it necessary to slip
through sideways, barely wide enough for his slim hips when
he had entered earlier that day. Now, for some reason, he
seemed to stick partway through. His chest and his buttocks
scraped, and he finally fell through on the outside feeling
much abraded. He had laughed at his companion earlier, now
this. Dusting off his bottom and his chest, he felt
something odd, and stopped in rigid terror. His chest.
Felt. Odd. Unusual. Like...
And the cave entrance looked higher, as though he were a
child looking up, or... as if he were about two hands
shorter than he had been when he went in. His cheeks. No
downy hairs... the faint trace of a moustache he had prized
was not on his upper lip, and his chest. Felt... odd ....
"Madre de Dios," he breathed.
And he fled as in fear for his very existence.
Father, who should have been waiting, was nowhere to be
found. Ramón would have to find the village, and his
mother, and try to piece together what had happened.
"I must face my mother, and tell her that I..." he had run
as far as he could, and had fallen to the grass and lay in
still despair for hours, and nothing had come to make sense.
"Tell her that I..."
Earlier that day, he had returned to the village when his
father had sent word that he must attend to an `obligation'.
His mother had not seen him for a year, and his father,
instead of taking him home, had taken him to ... this...
"I must go to her and tell her..." His breath came in great
gasps, and he realized that tears were coursing down his
face and his mouth was silently forming the bawl of a calf.
"What am I saying?"
And he huddled unto himself, gathered his arms about his
knees, and enclosed himself in silence and sobs. Even so,
he was conscious of little things; the looseness of his
pants about his waist, yet tight around his hips, and how
his blouse was loose in the sleeves and tight around the
chest. And the place where he was smooth when he shouldn't
be. Which made him sob all the harder.
Eventually, the tears stopped, and he went... home...
(1) Among certain tribes, Coyote was considered to be a
mischievous god, forever pulling pranks and practical jokes
on people. You might compare him to Loki, of Norse
It was not the homecoming he had expected. It had been a
year since he had left to go to the school Don Pedro had
arranged. It was a rare honor. What had his mother and
father been like? He remembered strong warmth from his Mamá
and a bluff, severe patience from Papá. Now, he was back
from the city, and he was almost grown, but he feared to
face his mother. He had changed. His father had changed,
and perhaps not for the better.
"Mamá?" he called at the entrance to the adobe house.
"I am not your mother, little one," said a warm, strong
voice, but it was indeed his mother who emerged from the
door, "Have you become lost from your family?"
Despair crowded Ramón's heart, as he realized that Mamá did
not recognize him. "I have become twisted and ruined," he
mourned, "And there is no hope for me in this world. Why
would Coyote the trickster do such a horrible thing to me?"
"I do not know," said his mother, and Ramón realised he had
been speaking aloud, "But that is one name we do not speak
in this house. Especially if we do not wish to see him."
"Lo siento," apologized Ramón, remembering the many times
Mamá had argued with Papá about his choice of religion. "I
would not wish to bring him into this place by calling his
"I understand," his mother said, "You are upset, is this not
true? And what terrible thing has happened to upset such a
[Boy, am I EVER upset!] thought Ramón.
"I have come home to see my family, and now I don't know
what to do," said Ramón, "And strange things have happened.
I do not know where to go."
"Then you will stay here," said Mamá, "Until you find your
family, you are welcome. You will be as one of the family,
along with my daughter. Her name is Lucita but we call her
'Gentle Rain'. And we must do something about those
clothes. They are not suitable for a girl to wear."
Ramón eventually became aware of the other person in the
room. She sat quietly in the shadows at the end of the
lodge, a fragile flower of youth, brown eyes as observant as
the gaze of a fawn, a lock of pitch black hair straying
rebelliously across her brow.
He had no sister. Why would his mother claim this girl?
Her name was Lucita. Gentle Rain, Ramón remembered, was a
pet name his friends from father's village had given her.
And the last time he had seen her was at a neighbor's house.
She had been in blankets at her mother's breast.
Now she watched him with the wariness of a small deer as
Ramón huddled by the doorway and considered his options.
Mamá did not recognize him... not as her son.
Papá was not here. Would he explain? Ramón debated this.
Papá would not endanger himself. Papá valued his life too
much to stand before Mamá and tell her the truth.
Better to pretend to be a stranger, live a lie until he
could find some answer to the puzzle. That meant he would
have to learn to live as a... a... He could not complete
He became aware of a presence close by, and looked up to see
Lucita standing beside him, peering closely at him as though
to penetrate his falsehood.
Mamá returned with garments; to Ramón's dismay they were
dresses. He stammered his thanks but bolted for the door as
soon as she turned her back. On the path from the shack, he
hurried for the shallow river. Then as was his habit, he
went to wash in the cool waters of the river.
And pandemonium broke loose. He had not noticed that he had
been joined by several young maidens in the shallow bend,
and had knelt to splash water onto his face. They had
swirled about as though he were invisible until the cold
water hit his face and he felt a momentary disorientation.
His clothes fit once more. He was a boy again. His elation
The girls had been removing their skirts and tops and
splashing each other playfully when he stepped down to the
water, and one of them saw him immediately after his change
from a girl to a boy.
"Heyo, strange boy!" she shrieked, "Are you so bold that you
would join us in our bath?" And they began to pelt him with
rocks and sticks until he ran from their midst.
Ramón beat a hasty retreat up the bank. He examined his
clothes, which seemed to fit once more as they should. "I
am once more a man," he said, though he could not explain
However, he was beginning to see a pattern. Get wet with
hot water, turn into a girl. Cold water made him a man. He
began to feel a tiny bit of confidence returning as he
neared the village. That seemed safe enough. Simply stay
away from cooking fires and hot springs, and he could quit
Too late, he looked up to see a stream of steaming fluid
cascading toward him.
"Oh, I am sorry," apologized the old woman, "I did not see
you on the trail, senorita."
Ramón disgustedly brushed the dishwater from his face and
headed back to the river, to a secluded bank, and splashed
He came upon a campfire, with two men drinking coffee. It
would be awful tasting coffee, for he recognized his abuelo
(grandfather). This meant that the man sitting with his
back to Ramón would be Papá. That person turned and spoke.
"Machito! It is good to see you, my son!"
"Papá! Where were you? Did you know what would happen to
me at the spring?"
"Of course! You received your secret name, and you were
told of your animal guide. You are now a man! Normally, of
course, you would have been better prepared, but we figured
since you had been fasting on the way here you were ready
for this step."
"Wrong! Do you want to know what really happened?"
"Such an attitude!" admonished Grampa, "Manuel, you must
speak to your son about his lack of respect for his elders."
"What about me?" cried Ramón, "Don't you care what
happened to me?"
"It is the young generation," mourned Papá, "They are so
infatuated with the Espańoles they have lost all sense of
our past and traditions."
"That is no excuse. You have not taught this boy well
"Is anyone listening?" Ramón said, "I have a problem!"
"You are now a man!" replied Papá, "You must learn to deal
with your own problems. You cannot come whining to me for
every little cut and bruise."
Ramón clenched his fists and waited until he could speak. "I
am not cut and bruised," he said, "It is much worse than
that." He picked up the coffee pot and poured coffee on
himself, yelping in pain because it was so hot.
"They have given you a sacred form!" Papá stared at him,
then realized the implications. "That's your sacred form?"
he asked, "But how can you hunt and scout if you are...?"
Grampa's reaction was a little less subtle. "Gah!" he
cried, and he sit down with a thump, crabbing backwards away
"Now that I have your attention," Ramón said as he gingerly
felt the scalded spot, "How do I get out of this?"
"We will think of something," Grampa said, warily easing to
his feet and inching closer, "You must get help from the
tribal medicine man."
"Better that we tell no one," mourned Papá, "Oh, the shame
of it! My son, a female!"
"You must make the most of it," opined Grampa, as if that
"Yes. I will try. Now, Ramón, it is important that you
remember the name of your sacred form, but tell it to no
one," said Papá.
"So what is your name, when you take the sacred form?" asked
Grampa, testing him.
"I don't know! Why should it have a name?"
"The spirits always give a name to the initiate!" snapped
the old man.
"We must be talking about different spirits. These just
jumped out of the water in a white mist and pushed me in!
They didn't say anything!"
"What could possibly have caused this? You spoke the words
we told you to say, asking them for a blessing and a guide,
didn't you?" Papá stiffened as he sensed Ramón's hesitancy,
"Didn't you? What did you say to them?"
"They said nothing that made any sense," Ramón insisted, "I
thought it was all a big joke. I thought you were just
trying to scare me."
"I do not joke with these spirits! What did you say!?"
"I said..." Ramón gulped, "I said I was not a mere girl to
be intimidated by all this trickery. Then they pushed me
into the water. But they didn't say anything sensible! You
said they would ask me my name first!"
"Argghh! My son, the mouth!" groaned Papá.
"Your son, the daughter," cackled Grampa, "Oh, this is
Ramón morosely headed for the river again.
HOMECOMING, PART II:
Again, he approached the door, and again he called, and when
the darkhaired woman came out and looked at him with
curiousity, his heart sank. Then, she spoke.
"Machito! It is you! My little Machito!" and she grabbed
him with so much force that he was nearly thrown from his
feet, "Machito, you are here! Oh, I am so happy!"
She shepherded him in the door, examined him from head to
toe, told him how long she had been waiting to see him, and
sat him at a low table laden with bowls of tortillas,
vegetables, and flowers, all without releasing him from her
Papá sat at the table, somehow seeming to shrink visibly
whenever anyone looked his way. Lucita watched him
silently, her observent fawn's eyes never blinking.
"Machito, this has been the most interesting day! There was
this girl who had lost her family, and..." she hesitated,
frowning. "She was wearing pantalones and a jacket that
looked a lot like yours."
"Perhaps she came from the same city where our son was at
school," suggested Papá.
"It is possible. But enough of my visitors. Tell us about
your days in the white man's school."
"It was okay, but I do not wish to go back," declared Ramón,
picking at the avocado.
"But you must continue your school! It is so important,
Machito!" Mamá served the dishes heaping full, as always,
and added a little extra to Ramón's plate. "Don Pedro has
done so much for us, to send you to this school, and now you
do not want to thank him?"
Ramón chewed the tortilla in agony. It was delicious but
his throat was so dry that it stuck. "I do not think I
could finish it," he finally said.
"Nonsense! You wanted it so much, and you have done so
well! What could possibly have happened that would make you
change your mind?"
When Ramón did not answer, she prodded, "Have you met
someone at school who has made you want to do something else
with your life?"
Ramón shook his head.
"Aahhh, then. Someone here at home?" she asked, with a half
He could not meet her eyes as he shook his head again.
"Macho, something is wrong. Tell me, what has happened?"
Mamá was worried, now, and she would not let the matter
settle. "Hijo, I am happy to see you, but I did not expect
you home before winter. Why did you come home early?"
She saw Ramón glance furtively at Papá.
"Mamá..." began Ramón.
But Mamá seemed to have something else on her mind. "Unless,
perhaps, you intend to forsake the new ways and return to
the wild, as did your grandfather." The thought burdened
her mind for a short while, then lifted. "But, of course,
to do that you would have to take up the ways of power, but
they are too unpredictable and dangerous, and your father
would never allow you to..."
"That tone of voice..." Mamá said, "She said it in exactly
that same tone..."
"That is her," said Lucita, helpfully.
Mamá sat straight up, staring at the door as if
"La nińa," she breathed, "The girl..."
"Que?" Papá said around a mouthful of tortilla.
"The girl with your clothes," said Mamá.
Ramón wished desperately that he could sink through the
floor. He wanted to slink out the door and disappear, but
Mamá was watching too closely.
"...Husband of mine, what have you done?" she demanded.
"It is an affair of the men... " began Papá pompously, but
was silenced with a withering glare.
Mamá had reached down a bonehandled skinning knife and held
it in a white-knuckled grip.
"There is something here that I do not understand. Take
your bowl to the horseshed," she ordered, "You can finish
your supper there. I will have words with your son."
And after she had sent his father away and sent Lucita to
her aunt, his mother turned to him and said, "Tell me I have
nothing to worry about, Machito. Tell me I am wrong. Tell
me the wolves are in the sheep pen, or tell me the clouds
are free in the sky. Tell me I am a silly old woman with
butterflies for brains. But do not tell me you have
followed your grandfather into the darkness."
Ramón hung his head, unable to meet her gaze.
"Madre de Dios," she whispered.
"But Mamá," he said, "I am not bad. I have done nothing
She pulled his face up, "Tell me."
"At the spring. I - I made the joke..."
"Spring? What spring could this be?"
"At the sacred spring, Papá called it, in a canyon beyond a
cave. The cave was very small to get into. We almost could
not fit. I fell into the spring and..."
Mamá's eyes were welling with tears. "Mi bebito!" she
cried, gathering Ramón into her arms and crushing him to her
breast. Her sobs grieved Ramón horribly, he wanted to
comfort her. To tell her there was nothing wrong with him.
But he could scarcely breathe, and what could he tell her?
That he was deformed, that he did not know what he was?
"I am not following anyone!" he finally said, when she eased
her grip on his neck. "I did not even see Grandpa!" he
added, "Until after..."
She traced the line of his cheek, with its faint promise of
down, and whispered, "What have they done to you, my
Machito? You are my little man, my promise of the future.
What has happened to you?"
"Errr... I become a girl," admitted Ramón.
Mamá's eyes grew round with horror. "Mi bebito!" she
cried, "Mi bebito es un... un... emasculado!"
"No, Mamá, no!" Ramón hastily tried to correct her,
remembering all too well the shattering convulsion he had
felt when he first discovered that his other form did not
come equipped with certain accustomed features, "Not
emasculado... a girl."
"Una nińa? How... what...?"
"Let me get some hot water and I will show you," said Ramón,
and he did. When he splashed his face with warm water, his
"It was you! You came to the door, and called me Mamá,
and I thought you were lost..." she declared, and froze,
torn between relief and anger. Finally, she clutched the
girl who was her son to her and wept anew.
It was difficult to speak around the lump in his throat, "It
was me," he finally said, "I came home because I did not
know what to do."
"But how?" Mamá drew back, wanting to hold him but suddenly
afraid, somehow, that holding him only made things worse.
Afraid that he had become something unclean. Ramón squeezed
back the tears that forced their way to his eyes.
"I do not know. But I change. It was because I made the
joke at the spring. Because I laughed at the spirit of the
"So you became a girl, for punishment?" This was something
Mamá could understand, even if it was powerful stuff.
"And now it is over, no?"
"Oh, I wish so, Mamá... but I am afraid that it is not so."
And again Mamá clutched her to her bosom, "Mi Bebita!" she
"What a terrible tragedy!" she finally sobbed, "And yet...
"Yet... you are such a pretty girl..."
"Mamá!" Ramón pulled away from her, "Do not joke about this!
I am disfigured! I am a freak!"
"Mi bebita... I was not joking. You are beautiful."
"I would sooner be ugly and strong... and male," declared
"But you are not. At least not now," a discomforting
thought creased her brow, and she added, "You can change
back, can you not?"
"With cold water. Here, I will show you."
Mamá gently held Ramón back. "In a minute," she said, "Let
me look at you. You are such a pretty girl!"
"Mamá!" Ramón felt his face warm and knew he was blushing
"Es bueno, mi machito," sighed Mamá with a faint smile,
"Let me see you turn into the boy again." After this deed
was accomplished, she said, "You must go with me to get your
"But Mamá," objected Ramón, "I have never had a sister!"
"Shhh, don't say this when there are listeners around.
Lucita came to us when the soldiers took her mother away."
"When I came through the town everyone acted afraid. And
you tell me the soldiers come and take our neighbors. What
is happening here, Mamá?"
"Oh, it is bad, Machito. The Alcalde does not govern the
land as did the Commandant, he only wants slaves to work in
the mines. When they found that Arturo was a goldsmith they
tried to make him tell them where he got his gold, and then
they took him and Elizabeta to the mines. Before they came,
Elizabeta begged me to hide Rain, so I brought her to our
"Una hermanita. I never had a sister."
"You must never say to anyone that she is not your sister.
Somewhere, her mother trusts us to protect Rain. You must
be a strong man and keep this secret."
"A sister," Ramón repeated. He liked the idea. Someone to
protect. He imagined himself beating up the soldiers who
came to kidnap her. Yes, he could do that.
"And don't do anything foolish like fighting the soldiers,"
"Yes, Mamá," sighed Ramón.
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