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#TBT: The Volkswagen ‘Beach Bomb,’ the world’s most valuable Hot Wheel

Bruce Pascal was seven years old when Hot Wheels first hit stores in 1968. “It’s hard to explain the craze today, but Hot Wheels was huge. All of my friends were saving up to buy all the Hot Wheels they could,” he said. Hot Wheels soon became the number one toy for boys, and Pascal spent his childhood racing and collecting the die-cast cars. When he grew up, Pascal put his Hot Wheels in a cigar box at his mother’s house, where they collected dust for almost 30 years. His passion for classic cars continued into adulthood, but his Hot Wheels collection remained out-of-sight until he rediscovered it in 1999. “That excited feeling I had as a boy was rekindled instantly,” said Pascal. “My friend offered to pay me $200 for the cigar box. I declined and held onto them, but it was his offer that made me start researching the value of Hot Wheels and pursuing collecting as an adult.” Pascal began searching for Hot Wheels everywhere. He called other collectors, took out newspaper ads and even used a 1969 telephone book of Mattel employees to see if any former workers had rare toys they would be willing to part with for a price. He collected everything he could, including Hot Wheels memorabilia like blueprints, original drawings, sales brochures and wood models. His collection of Hot Wheels models was growing by the thousands, but Pascal was still not satisfied. Why? He had his eye on the most valuable Volkswagen ever produced — the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb prototype. When Volkswagen and Hot Wheels first collaborated to make the model, it had a narrow body and surf boards hanging out of the back window. It was unable to stay upright when it rolled, so Hot Wheels redesigned the model, making the sides more weighted and moving the surfboards to the sides of the vehicle. These redesigned models made it to production and were sold with a sticker sheet of flowers to decorate the vehicle, epitomizing the 1970s “flower power” era. However, it’s the original prototypes with the surfboards out the back window that are extremely rare, as only Hot Wheels employees had access to them. The pink Beach Bomb prototypes are the rarest of all these models. Bruce Pascal has over 4,000 Hot Wheels in his collection. “I already had heard about [the Beach Bomb] in purple, green, red, light blue and gold. I even had heard about an unpainted model,” said Pascal. “But pink was extremely hard to find. Most Hot Wheels models were marketed to young boys, who the brand assumed didn’t want to play with pink. They created just a few pink [Beach Bomb] models to market to their female audience.” There are only two known pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb prototypes in existence. When Pascal learned that these were the most sought-after Hot Wheels in the world, he began his research. He tracked down the owners, made his offers and eventually acquired both pink Beach Bombs models. He has since sold one of them to another friend and collector, but the one that is in the best condition has stayed with him. Today, Pascal owns over 4,000 Hot Wheels models and about 3,000 pieces of memorabilia, but the pink Volkswagen Beach Bomb remains his most prized possession. Pascal’s collection includes thousands of pieces of Hot Wheels memorabilia “I won’t say how much I purchased it for,” said Pascal, “but it is worth an estimated $150,000 today.” This is well over the cost of most new luxury vehicles — and more than 50 times the cost of the model that made it to stores — but for Pascal, the 1:64 scale Hot Wheels car was well worth it. “This model was a huge win for my collection,” he said. To help prevent sun damage, the Beach Bomb remains in a dark, Plexiglass case. Pascal displays the model in his personal museum in Maryland, where he gives private tours to other Hot Wheels enthusiasts. He has also loaned the model out to other automotive museums and events for display. “I want other people to experience the Beach Bomb. I’ve found so much joy in learning about classic cars and Hot Wheels, and I hope I can spark some of that in other people. It’s a treasure to find these rare models,” Pascal said. While many other car manufacturers have die-cast Hot Wheels models, Volkswagens — particularly the Beetle and Bus — are by far the most popular castings among collectors of all ages. As Pascal says, “What car and toy better symbolize the 1970s than Volkswagen and Hot Wheels?” The brand is developing 42 new Volkswagen models in 2020. All photos courtesy of Bruce Pascal

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For #GivingTuesday, Volkswagen gives back through U.S. Soccer

This year, #GivingTuesday seems more needed than ever. Youth athletics have felt the impact of the pandemic, from cancelled leagues and seasons to uncertain paths for college hopefuls. For those reasons and many others, Volkswagen of America is the presenting partner of U.S. Soccer’s #GivingTuesday Campaign this year and directing $115,000 of its U.S. Soccer sponsorship towards scholarships and non-profits that develop and nurture female soccer players and coaches across the nation. “Volkswagen is committed to the growth of soccer in the U.S.—and what better way to do this than by supporting organizations rooted in these efforts,” said Duncan Movassaghi, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Volkswagen of America. “We’re happy to be presenting partner of U.S. Soccer’s #GivingTuesday campaign as it encourages others to drive something bigger than themselves and shows our Drive Bigger platform is hard at work.” Started in 2012, #GivingTuesday is a global event that seeks to bring nonprofits, businesses and individuals together to raise money and awareness for charitable efforts. As part of the campaign, Volkswagen is directing $15,000 to The Jill Ellis Scholarship Fund, an initiative developed by U.S. Soccer and the former Women’s National Team Coach who guided the team to two FIFA Women’s World Cup titles, to help address the gender gap in top-flight coaching. The fund has a goal of doubling the number of elite professional female coaches by 2024. “We want this program to help create a culture shift in the coaching industry, where women are encouraged, promoted, and prepared for success through education and support,” Ellis said. “We know this will take all of us, and there are so many amazing people who are part of this project and want to see more female coaches achieve their goals.” The provided scholarships will cover 50 percent of the tuition costs for female candidates enrolled in Pro, “A” and “B” coaching license courses. “We know we can’t remove every obstacle and barrier in her way, but we can help,” Ellis said. “Representation matters. I want more girls (and boys) to have female coaches so they can see women in leadership roles. I want young girls to be inspired to speak up, contribute, be heard, and be a leader themselves. … We want to make a lasting change in the soccer community.” The fund has also built programs around the scholarship to provide direct hands-on support, including the SheChampions Mentorship Program. The program will “match top female coaching candidates with top coaches in the women’s game, to help them navigate and overcome challenges they face every day,” Ellis said. Volkswagen is also directing $10,000 to ten Team VW brand ambassadors who chose these nine soccer-based charities to support with these funds: Tyler Adams (MNT), Crystal Dunn (WNT): America SCORES Abby Dahlkemper (WNT): Grassroot Soccer Ali Krieger (WNT): Women and Girls in Soccer (WAGS) Carli Lloyd (WNT): Women’s Sports Foundation Weston McKennie (MNT): The Steve Nash Foundation Samantha Mewis (WNT): Hidden Gems Soccer Jordan Morris (MNT): The Jordan Morris Foundation Kelley O’Hara (WNT): The Kelley O’Hara Scholarship Fund Gyasi Zardes (MNT): The Columbus Crew SC Foundation More information on the above highlighted charities can be found here. “For me, it’s about two things: impact and inspiration,” Ellis added. “We have a massive opportunity in front of us to impact so many people.”

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#TBT: Volkswagen’s Guinness World Record-breaking history

On June 3, 2019, a professional racing driver achieved the fastest lap of the Nordschleife performed by an electric vehicle in a Volkswagen ID.R prototype. It’s not easy to make it into the Guinness World Records book. With over 50,000 applications from aspiring record-breakers each year, it can be a competitive field — especially in transportation, where records can come down to a millisecond.   At Volkswagen, we know a thing or two about breaking records. To celebrate Guinness World Records Day, we are looking back at nine times Volkswagen and its fans have advanced the auto industry and earned a place in Guinness World Records history. 1. Fastest lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife by an electric car   In the highlands of Nürburg, Germany sits the Nordschleife, a motorsport racing circuit 12.93 miles long. As drivers loop around a village and medieval castle, they take 145 turns and experience 3,000 meters of elevation change. On June 3, 2019, a professional racing driver achieved the fastest lap of the Nordschleife performed by an electric vehicle in a Volkswagen ID.R prototype in 6 minutes 5.336 seconds. The ID.R has two electric motors — one for each axle — that generate a combined 670 horsepower.  2. Fastest automated parking facility  The Volkswagen Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany features two 20-story vehicle storage towers that connect to the factory via an underground tunnel. After purchasing their new Volkswagen, car buyers can watch as it is retrieved from the towers and delivered to them by an automated system, which set the world record for being the fastest automated parking facility in 2013. The robotic shuttles can complete the parking process, from the entrance of the tower to the farthest parking box, in 1 minute 44 seconds.  The Volkswagen Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany. 3. First car to sell 20 million units  The Volkswagen Beetle was the first automobile in history to reach 20 million sales. On May 15, 1981, the 20 millionth Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line of Volkswagen de México in Puebla. To celebrate, a commemorative limited-edition Beetle was sold with silver metallic paint and black side stripes.  4. Farthest distance driven using an internal combustion engine in one hour  Two professional racing drivers set the record for the greatest distance driven in one hour by a car with an internal combustion engine. On October 18, 1980, at the 14-mile, high-speed Nardò circuit in Italy, test drivers drove 219.598 miles in a Volkswagen diesel-powered prototype in just one hour.   5. Most people crammed into…  A “new” Volkswagen Beetle: A total of 25 people packed into a Volkswagen Beetle in Kremser, Austria on April 29, 2000. 1 An “old” Volkswagen Beetle: A decade later, a university attempted the same feat — this time with a 1964 Volkswagen Beetle. On December 9, 2010, twenty people crammed into the car, which was the most people to fit inside any old-style Beetle model. A college group organized the event to raise awareness of human trafficking. 2 A Volkswagen camper van: On September 5, 2015, a group of Volkswagen enthusiasts gathered at a festival held in Malvern, Worcestershire in the UK. Fifty people crowded into the van, setting a record that had never been attempted before, and they used the event to raise money for a children’s charity. 3 A collection of Volkswagen Beetles. 6. Fastest vehicle crossing the Gilf Al-Kebir Plateau  A Volkswagen Amarok was driven across the Gilf Al-Kebir plateau in Egypt on July 9, 2012. The route started at the Kamal El-din Hussein Memorial and ended at Wadi Abdul Malek, breaking the world record for the fastest time from south to north of the plateau. It covered 236 miles of difficult terrain and poor weather in 5 hours 7 minutes.  7. Longest parade of Volkswagen cars  A total of 2,728 Volkswagen Beetles participated in a parade on a racetrack near São Paulo on May 1, 1995. The event, organized by a local Volkswagen enthusiast club, also achieved the Guinness record for the longest parade of a single-model vehicle.  8. Largest human power symbol  Hundreds of Volkswagen employees gathered in Millbrook, U.K. at an employee conference on October 15, 2019. To foster teamwork, the group came together to create the largest human power symbol. The 786 participants, all of whom worked for the Volkswagen Group, remained in position for five minutes.   9. Bestselling passenger car company   In 2017, Volkswagen broke the record for the world’s best-selling passenger car company, with estimated sales of 10,447,227 units.  And Volkswagen is not done breaking records. With the ID.4 launching a new generation of fully electric vehicles, we expect to hold more of the world’s superlatives in the years to come.  The Volkswagen ID.R prototype in Nürburg, Germany.

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Volkswagen teams with Taos Ski Valley, Inc. for snow adventures

Photo credit: Taos Ski Valley, Inc. The name of the all-new Volkswagen Taos was chosen as a homage to the wild and beautiful land around Taos, N.M. To build that relationship beyond the name, Volkswagen has teamed with one of the state’s largest resorts and one of North America’s premier ski and snowboard destinations — the Taos Ski Valley ski resort. A short drive from Colorado Springs and Denver, the top-rated, ski-in/ski-out mountain hotel and resort features 14 lifts, 110 trails and 1,294 acres of varied terrain, including access to Kachina Peak and Wildy Bowl. With the resort is the Ernie Blake Snowsports School, which offers lessons to skiers and riders of all ages and varying abilities. The ski school has Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI), which is a sponsorship partner of Volkswagen. “We are super excited that the name of this incredible and gorgeous new vehicle is synonymous with the spectacular place that we live,” Jeff Sherwood, director of resort services at Taos Ski Valley. The ski resort also operates an airline, Taos Air, which operates public charter flights to Austin, Dallas, San Diego and Los Angeles. However, due to Covid, the airline is currently suspended. Photo credit: Taos Ski Valley, Inc. Taos Sky Valley has received third-party certification for its high standards of social and environmental performance. The European-style Alpine resort runs partially on solar power and devotes funds to the clean-up of the Rio Hondo River, which flows from the resort into the Rio Grande. The luxury Blake Hotel, named for Ernie Blake, the German/Swiss ski pioneer who founded Taos Ski Valley in 1955, is also LEED-certified. All of this draws from the experience thousands of skiers seek out every year. From the top of Kachina Peak, Taos Ski Valley contains several double-black diamond runs that rank among the best expert-level skiing in North America. Its unique geography allows the resort to have deep powder long into the season while providing visitors gorgeous views of the Taos region. “Taos takes on a new meaning now for Volkswagen, and this collaboration with Taos Ski Valley strengthens our message of bringing SUVs to the American market,” said Duncan Movassaghi, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Volkswagen of America. “Collaborating with an organization that is as socially and environmentally responsible as Taos Ski Valley is perfectly aligned with our Drive Bigger goals.” The collaboration between the two like-minded, entities includes shuttle SUVs and loaner vehicles for guests to drive themselves up to the slopes or into town. Additional programming includes on-site VW activations for the greater Taos Ski Valley community, signage and joint digital and social media campaign efforts. “Every decision we make, we look at it through three lenses: financial, social and environmental,” Sherwood explained.  “And, as we talked more and more with Volkswagen, we found out that our principles aligned, and they were on the same path as us.” Taos was the perfect moniker for the sporty, subcompact SUV crossover, which embodies the same artistic and adventurous spirit and ethos of its namesake city. You can catch the affordable two-row, five-seater on the slopes on American roadways in 2021. 2022 Volkswagen Taos

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Shopping small leads to big impact

Little Sesame’s 1978 Volkswagen Bus The holiday shopping season is officially underway, and an easy way to celebrate the start of the holiday gift-giving season is investing in your community and shopping locally. Since 2009, holiday shoppers nationwide have been encouraged to forgo shopping at big-box stores and area malls and support local independent retailers and mom-and-pop shops the weekend after Thanksgiving. The annual shopping event is an opportune time for neighborhood merchants to attract new customers and highlight their unique services. This year it’s more important than ever to support small businesses who have been disproportionately hit hard due to coronavirus. Choosing to purchase books, food, services, and other holiday gifts from a small business positively impact communities and those that reside within them. With a little extra planning, it’s easy to shop in-store and online to find the perfect item. From hummus and coffee, to a mobile bookstore, Volkswagen is proud of the many small business owners that rely on Volkswagen products to help their businesses run.   Little Sesame’s 1978 Volkswagen Bus Little Sesame When Chefs Nick Wiseman and Ronen Tenne opened their hummus shop in Washington, D.C. in 2015, they wanted their restaurant’s foundation to have a very different philosophy than some of the New York City kitchens they’d cooked in over the years. One key ingredient of their business philosophy: travel. Little Sesame was developed in ode to the owner’s vibrant heritage and their love of travel. To help inspire the flavors of their hummus shop, the duo hits the road in their robin’s egg blue 1978 Volkswagen Bus to find inspiration for fresh, bold and new flavors across the U.S. Read more about the DC-based restaurant here. Dominykas poses with a cup of joe from Dom’s Coffee. The beloved European-style coffee store was opened by his parents, Andrius Plankis and Asta Plankiene, in May 2015. Dom’s Coffee The European-style coffee shop, Dom’s Coffee Bar, was opened by Andrius Plankis and Asta Plankiene in May 2015, two years after the couple emigrated to America from Lithuania. Named after their 8-year-old son, Dominykas, specialties of Dom’s Coffee artistically crafted drinks include espressos, affogatos, specialty lattes, cold brews and hot chocolates. In addition to their popular brick-and-mortar shop in Farmington Valley, Conn., the family runs a fully-equipped mobile espresso bar, which can be set-up and operated out of the trunk of their Volkswagen Atlas R-Line, when the car is parked. With their portable coffee bar, the couple has the opportunity to grow in their community steadily and economically. By adding a mobile component to their brick-and-mortar enterprise, they can reach new audiences and build new customers. Read more about charming coffee shop here. Melanie Moore poses in front of her teal 1962 Volkswagen Transporter, which doubles as The Book Bus. The Cincy Book Bus Melanie Moore had always wanted to open her own bookstore. After retiring from 25 years of teaching, she decided it was time to pursue her dream and get books into the hands of kids who need them most. She was about to sign a lease on a physical storefront when she got cold feet and decided to proceed in a new direction. Inspired by a novel centered around a fictional, female horse-drawn carriage bookseller, Moore decided to launch the Cincy Book Bus – a mobile bookstore – out of the bed of her husband’s teal 1962 Volkswagen Transporter. The van holds about 150 books, and Moore regularly rotates titles to cater to her audiences. Additionally, she’s developed relationships with foreign book publishers and authors to sell unique and hard-to-get titles. And, thanks to the Bus’ unusual appearance, customers often stop and pose for fun photo-ops. Moore dedicates her profits to stocking classroom libraries and giving back to her community. Learn more about the Cincy Book Bus here.

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Virtual events are driving enthusiasm in the automotive industry

Last year, a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle was the winner from the Seattle stop of the Hot Wheels Legends Tour. This year, the competition was held virtually. Photo credit: Mattel This year, major automotive events — which typically hold thousands of attendees and carmakers from around the world in large, crowded indoor venues — could not continue as they did in years’ past while following social distancing guidelines. But rather than facing cancellation or postponement, many are adapting by creating new ways for fans to engage with automotive brands and one another online. Hot Wheels Senior Design Manager Brian Benedict was working with his team to plan the third annual Hot Wheels Legends Tour set for March, when he realized the event series would look different this year. To avoid cancellation, Benedict knew the event series would have to pivot. “We would typically go city-by-city, with around 15 to 20 different events in the series, [but] this year we knew that wasn’t an option,” Benedict said. “The safety of our employees and attendees was our biggest priority.” After gauging interest from Hot Wheels fans, the team decided to turn the Legends Tour into a virtual event series. “Our fan base still wanted to participate in something fun and different, even if it was from home,” Benedict added. “And, with extra time on their hands, contestants were spending more time on car building [and] were eager to share their work.” In the car-building competition, which first started in 2018 for Hot Wheels’ 50th anniversary, contestants create a life-size, fully functioning vehicle by hand and their model is evaluated by a panel of automotive design experts. The winners from each event compete in the finale, with the champion inducted into the Hot Wheels Garage of Legends — the brand’s elite collection of the best Hot Wheels models. Only 22 of over 800 Hot Wheels models currently sit in the Garage of Legends. But perhaps the competition’s biggest appeal is the reward of having the winning car preserved as a 1:64-scale Hot Wheels model to be sold around the world. “We’re looking for folks who have created a unique, working car that’s worthy of being immortalized in a die-cast car,” said Benedict. “It’s got to have creativity, authenticity and what we call ‘garage spirit,’ meaning [that] someone put their blood, sweat and tears into the model, rather than having it shopped out.” The event attracts hundreds of contestants every year. When the Hot Wheels team made the event series virtual, they were concerned fewer people would be interested in attending the event and entering the competition. However, the virtual events series has drawn a wider audience than ever before. Attendees of the virtual event series were able to engage in the judging process for the first time this year. Photo credit: Mattel “Going virtual has given us a chance to engage with fans all over the country,” said Benedict. “Our audience isn’t limited to people living near the cities we would stop in. Now, anyone who has WiFi can join.” Benedict says the level of engagement has also improved, and online cameras can provide close-up views of the participating cars, which would normally be crowded with fans and difficult to see in-person. “This gives attendees a greater appreciation for the mechanics of the vehicles, and the contestants who enter their cars… are able to have their hard work viewed by a national audience,” he said. Benedict said this visibility also has helped Hot Wheels fans become more involved in the judging process. “The deliberation normally happens out of sight for most attendees [but] now they can… watch the decisions happen in real-time,” he said. This was the first year Hot Wheels incorporated a “fan favorite pick” element to the judging process that allows attendees to cast their vote for their favorite vehicles. “It’s things like this that allow people to feel engaged,” said Benedict. “There are still opportunities to see amazing vehicles and have conversations with other fans.” The series is ongoing through mid-November, and Benedict said the events have received positive feedback from attendees so far. “We haven’t had to sacrifice engagement, attendance or interest for safety,” said Benedict. “As difficult as it was to cancel the in-person tour, the virtual events have allowed people to come together just like [they would have] in-person.” As the industry continues to navigate social distancing guidelines, Benedict expects more automotive events to explore virtual options to allow audiences to engage with their community without leaving their driveway. “At the end of the day, people want to come together as a community — whether [that is] online or virtual.” The judges look for creativity, authenticity and “garage spirit.” This 1971 Volkswagen Squareback named “Two Cool” has all three. Photo credit: Mattel

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#TBT: A Volkswagen Beetle adorned with millions of beads links Mexico’s past and present

The Vochol Beetle. Credit: Asociación de Amigos del Museo de Arte Popular, A.C. Volkswagens have always been vehicles of expression, from the Volkswagen Light Bus to the Wedding Beetle. But perhaps no car is as intricately and meticulously crafted as the “Vochol,” a 1990 Volkswagen Beetle adorned with over two million carefully placed glass beads. The name “Vochol” is a combination of “vocho,” a common term for Volkswagen Beetles in Mexico, and “Huichol,” another name for the Wixárika indigenous group in the western states of Nayarit and Jalisco, Mexico. Separated from modern Mexico by the Sierra Madre mountains, Huichol artists have preserved many of their pre-Columbian traditions through the centuries, including their decorative beadwork. Originally, the Huichol people used beads made from seeds, shells and other natural materials to adorn jewelry, animal skulls, bowls and masks. Today, their beadwork incorporates colorful glass or plastic beads, depicting geometric patterns and scenes of animals and crops. About 2,277,000 beads cover the Vochol. Photo credit: Asociación de Amigos del Museo de Arte Popular, A.C. In 2010, a combination of public and private organizations commissioned the creation of the Vochol, a complete covering of a Volkswagen Beetle with ornate Huichol beading. The goal was to create artwork using folk techniques on a modern canvas, demonstrating the ongoing traditions of Mexico’s indigenous communities. A team of eight artists from two Huichol families worked for eight months to decorate the chassis and interior of the Beetle, meticulously covering sections of the car with resin and applying the beads in elaborate patterns by hand. The entire car was covered in beads and symbols that pay tribute to Huichol culture, from the side mirrors to the seats to the steering wheel. The final product is an exclusive design that not only decorates the car but expresses Huichol spiritual beliefs. On the Vochol’s hood, two snakes in the clouds represent rain. The sides depict deer, scorpions, birds and peyote flowers, which are all important symbols in Huichol culture and spirituality. On the roof, a large sun symbolizes the union between humans and gods, and four two-headed eagles offer protection to the passengers inside. An image of a shaman steering a canoe adorns the back of the car. The phrases “200 years of Independence” and “100 years since the Mexican Revolution” are spelled out in the Wixárika language along the fenders to mark the bicentennial of the start of the war of independence from Spain in 1810 and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution in 1910. The phrases “200 years of Independence” and “100 years since the Mexican Revolution” are spelled out in the Wixárika language along the fenders. Photo credit: Asociación de Amigos del Museo de Arte Popular, A.C. In total, the artisans used about 2,277,000 beads in their finished product and totaled over 9,000 hours of work. The car is perhaps the largest individual piece of Huichol beadwork ever created. The masterpiece was unveiled at a museum in Guadalajara, Mexico. It was then featured in Mexico City for exhibition, and later embarked on an international tour at museums across the United States, Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East. When it is not on loan, the Vochol resides at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City. By combining the Volkswagen Beetle — a pop culture icon in Mexico and around the world — with the Huichol traditional craft, the Vochol is a unique display of the persistence of folk art in a modern world. of

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