Spirit of Sonora

Casa Duarte honors tradition with authentic flavors

Written by Gail Collins

Dia de los Muertos, Mexico’s celebration of the dead, sounds a lot like Halloween, but there are no pumpkins or witches—skeletons rule the day. The departed souls of young and old return to eat, drink and be merry, as they had done in life. Falling on the first two days of November –All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days— the annual holiday blends the traditional beliefs of the indigenous peoples with Catholic feasts. Parades and parties shut down cities and feature macabre skulls in arts and treats, like pan de muerto, a rich coffee cake with meringue decorations resembling bones.

Despite the skeletons, Dia de los Muertos focuses more on life than death and its natural continuum. Wealthier people build an altar to their loved ones in their home, but most people decorate gravestones with marigolds and personal items. Families gather in the graveyard in the evening to wait for and pay respect to the deceased. Candles are lit, incense is burned and prayers are intoned. During the vigil, the family hosts a festive picnic, telling stories about the departed and enjoying their favorite foods and drink.

MartAnne’s  Burrito Palace has long showcased Day of the Dead themed paintings by Flagstaff resident and artist Emma Gardener.  MartAnne’s, previously owned by Anna Martinez, as well as Casa Duarte are now both owned and managed by Anna’s daughter, Tina, and her husband, Gonzalo Duarte. The Mexican café above downtown serves MartAnne’s famous breakfast menu, including chilaquiles—a piled plate of leftover corn tortillas, sauce, eggs and more.

“We’d already created the perfect menu there, so we kept it and added on,” Tina said.

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REUNITED: Katy’s LaBounty Family Finds Lost Dog After Three Years

This Katy family had given up hope on ever finding their beloved rescue pup, Beau. Three years after he disappeared, they got a call they never expected.

Katy Magazine, October 2017

Written by Gail G. Collins

When Michael LaBounty’s home phone rang around 10 p.m. near the end of July, he felt annoyed. He was sure the 800-number on the caller ID was a sales call. Then, his mobile phone rang, and he picked it up. A woman identified herself and spoke about a micro-chip for dogs. “I don’t want a chip,” Michael said, confused. But this wasn’t a sales call; it was the call the LaBounty family had waited more than three years to receive. Their dog, Beau, had been found. Michael couldn’t speak. “It was full stop, silence,” he said, “And it was a ‘deer in the headlights’ look from my wife, Leslie.”

A lucky match at CAP

The family had owned two dogs when they moved to Katy in 2005, but they grew old and passed on.  Sons Andrew and Collin, of course, missed their four-legged friends. “In January 2012, after a year of grieving, and another year of nagging from the boys,” Michael said with a laugh, “we got another dog.” The LaBountys visited Citizens for Animal Protection, a private, non-profit outfit that offers shelter, foster care, adoption and other services. They chose Lucky, a three-month-old pup, believed to be a mix of Rhodesian ridgeback and chow. They renamed him Beau.

It was instant affection all around, especially for Collin, still in grade school. “He was so attached—they were like brothers—and he found comfort in Beau,” Michael said. The smart puppy was quickly housebroken, and learned to sit and shake hands. Beau was skittish of bad weather and new people, and this fear explained how he could become lost and stay lost for so long.

Blown away by the storm

Beau was an inside-outside dog, and on Friday, March 28, 2014, the family went out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. They left the dog in the yard, but an approaching storm blew open the gate. A neighbor saw Beau bolt, but couldn’t retrieve him. She was frantic when the LaBountys returned.

“A cavalry of friends spent a weekend looking for Beau,” Michael said. They posted on Facebook and Lost Pets, hung flyers, visited shelters and called around. It was an intense search, but Beau was truly lost. Then, calls came in to report a dog. Each time, Michael’s heart leapt, and he dropped everything to follow up. He spent hours searching shelters and areas where the dog had been spotted. This continued for two years. After a year, Andrew and Collin began an earnest campaign for another dog. The family visited Special Pals, Houston’s longest running no-kill shelter and adopted a 50-pound black lab. Zeus was a year old.  Soon after, the phone rang with the happy news about Beau.

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