My interest in history started when I lived in Los Angeles. Like Phoenix, it has a very modern feel, and most people have no idea of the history, beyond, well, when the mall was built. But, for me, learning more about the history of these places just makes them more interesting. And to understand the history of these very American cities, you have to learn a little about the history of Mexico, and Spain.
Most people are surprised to find that the fictional character of Zorro was set in Los Angeles, California. I liked Zorro when I was a kid, and I guess I just figured that he was in Spain. And while it's not the best way to learn the early history of California, reading Zorro comic books is how I started.
Growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I took a couple of classes in Spanish. It was the correct, Castilian, Spanish that I was taught. But it was the Spanish of Los Angeles that I practiced. I live in the Phoenix, Arizona area now, and don't speak Spanish much. Recently a friend of mine has suggested that I ask, politely, to someone who clearly speaks Spanish, if I can practice my Spanish with them. I am usually cheerfully indulged, trying to order at a Mexican Food Restaurant, for example. By the way, you always, always, always, ask permission before speaking Spanish in Phoenix, or Los Angeles, because to jump right into it can be insulting. Don't do that. My vocabulary is still very poor, but I was recently told that my accent is Mexican, of which I am very proud.
Like all history, the story of the three countries, Spain, Mexico, and the United States, is wildly complex. I hope to learn more, and I will share what I learn.