Category Archive for Alternative Canada

Winter holiday travels in Ottawa, Ontario & Outaouais, Quebec! Parc Omega wolf & bear suite, Nordik Spa Chelsea.

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Happy 2024! Let’s make this year the most amazing one yet.

I have a lot more Japan content coming your way, but let’s start things off with a Canadian winter / holiday season recap…

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In December, I explored Outaouais (Quebecois  region north of Ottawa) and Canada’s capital with Sancho Angulo! Read on for our “ice queen” adventures in Ontario and Quebec.

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How cozy is the enormous fireplace at Fairmont Le Château Montebello, Quebec? Built in 1930, the luxury hotel looks like a giant log cabin.

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In December, snowy Ottawa and Outaouais feel like a winter wonderland. The regions have charming European-style Christmas markets and events, which made Sancho and I feel as if we were in a Hallmark holiday movie!

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Even this Goth was feeling merry and bright at Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. Located halfway between Montreal and Ottawa, the hotel holds the record for the world’s largest log cabin.

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I enjoyed an eggs benedict breakfast with this snow-covered view, and a deep massage at the spa that got me in “serenity now” mode.

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It’s a good hair day… time to explore the village of Montebello with Sancho!

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We had lunch at Le Bistro Montebello. The Quebecois family-style menu included bison steak and poutine made with local ingredients — oui, oui.

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Then, we walked over to the charming Marche de Noel / Montebello Christmas Market, which was one of the best I’ve ever experienced. There’s no entry fee, and the neighborly staff greets you at the entrance with free cups of spiced hot mulled wine… We loved walking around and seeing the artisanal vendors, such as chocolatiers Chocomotive.

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I don’t get to do many winter outfits these days (due to The Collapse’s global rise in temperatures) — but I had fun styling my new Snowman New York coat and Adidas Originals cat eye sunglasses (which have a Y2K vibe).

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Snowman New York produces luxury outerwear with high performance materials and 90/10, 700 fill power down. I love how they create puffer coats that have a chic and non-bulky look, yet keep you warm in bone-chilling weather.

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Their coats are handmade to last, and insulated with highest premium down — you can tell that this is luxury outerwear.

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Love the sleek, lightweight, cyber-like design of Snowman NY’s long black puffer… I felt like a character in The Matrix. (My shoes are Comme des Garcons x Salomon collaboration sneakers, from Tokyo.)

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My Adidas Originals shades (OR0089 ) are oversized cat eye sunglasses made from durable acetate: functional meets fashion-forward eyewear.

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Back to my Ottawa Tourism adventures… “Sancho Claus” and I popped into Elf’s Pub, a Christmas pop-up bar at Ottawa’s Fairmont Château Laurier. Sip on eggnog cocktails, and feel as if you’re in the North Pole.

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I stayed at The Metcalfe Hotel in downtown Ottawa, and the lobby was festively decorated — giving me a chance to pretend that this was my tree.

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‘Tis the season to eat and be merry. My Ottawa restaurant favorites included Metropolitan Brasserie (French tuna nicoise salad, steak tartar, and Sancerre and Chablis wine), and The Grand pizzeria. Sancho and I also feasted on Asian fusion like kimchi beef wraps at Sidedoor restaurant (above).

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At Ottawa’s Aviation Museum, you can board a “Flight with Santa” this season that lets you sit in his “sleigh” as you fly over the Canadian capital.

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Ottawa also has a popular Christmas market, and attractions like skating on Rideau Canal.

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I also descended into the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War museum. In the early 1960s, Prime Minister Diefenbaker’s government built this top secret, four-storey underground bunker to shelter VIP officials in the event of a nuclear attack. (It was decommissioned in 1994, and became a museum.)

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A tour of the Diefenbunker is a must. I was fascinated by the Cold War era technology and cultural quirks (there are early computers, and no plastic — but ashtrays everywhere!). I was particularly tickled by the food freezer that served as both a meat locker… and a makeshift morgue. (Or perhaps the two are the same, if  we run out of food in The Collapse?)

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The Diefenbuker also has an epic escape room themed around spies and nuclear missions. I can’t wait to come back with Sancho to slay the puzzles.

parc omega bison nature park ottawa

There’s so much to see around Ottawa… Sancho and I went north of the city to Parc Omega in Montebello, a nature park that lets you get up close to adorable Canadian wildlife!

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Parc Omega has a car safari, or self-driving route that lets you see a variety of animal species along the way. Pick up a bag of carrots before you go…

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… so that you can feed the cute deer and elk that poke their noses into your car windows!

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Just don’t feed the bears like I did… (Kidding, they were in hibernation at this time of year.)

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How sweet are the animals, with their thick winter coats? Parc Omega lets you see them in their natural habitats as you explore.

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Our tour guide taught us about the animals such as the short and stocky Mongolian horse, which was once nearly extinct.

parc omega wolf and bears suite cabin chalet

Then, Sancho and I checked into the Wolf and Bear suite for an overnight stay. The luxurious two-floor chalet adjoins an enclosure of young wolves and bears…

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We got to wake up next to a panoramic window overlooking an enclosure of wolves!

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Sancho built a fire, and we watched our wolf neighbors run and play. As you can see from my Instagram reel, it felt as if we were one with the wolfpack.

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Feeling “hungry like the wolf,” we headed to the onsite Omega Bon restaurant for refined dishes made from local and seasonal ingredients.

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We devoured the pot of fondue made with Montebello’s famous Adoray cheese, rum cocktails with maple syrup, and other Quebecois favorites.

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Finally, we had a wellness day at Nordik Spa-Nature Chelsea — located at the entrance of Gatineau Park, and only about a 15 min drive from downtown Ottawa. Nordik Spa-Nature is the largest thermal spa in North America with 10 outdoor baths, 9 saunas, and a variety of relaxing treatments like a float in a saltwater pool, and a bewitching choreographed Aufguss ritual in a sauna.

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We indulged in winter cocktails as we soaked in a variety of steaming outdoor pools overlooking snow-topped landscapes (the onsen one was my favorite). Watch my video of our Nordik Spa day to see what we experienced!

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Still thinking about the food at Nordik Spa’s main restaurant, Restö — warm brie, mushroom toast, gnocchi with duck, I could go on…

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I spoke more about these experiences in a travel article for Huffington Post.

As I told Huff Post: “I predict more travelers will plan getaways to Outaouais, the region of Quebec located about an hour’s drive north from Ottawa. It’s home to one-of-a-kind nature experiences like Parc Omega, a wildlife park with self-driving adventures that let you get close to (and feed!) Canadian deer.” She recalled waking up to see a wolfpack on the other side of her window. “I also loved soaking in the steamy outdoor baths at Outaouais’ Nordik Spa-Nature, the largest thermal spa in North America that reminds me of the vibe at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon,” she added.

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My recent adventures with Sancho make me keen to do more cold-weather travels! It’s also an opportunity to do more winter styling: I’ll be living in my Snowman New York hooded coat and Adidas Originals cat eye sunglasses this season.

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Did you have a happy holiday? How are you feeling about the start of 2024? I’m manifesting more road trips, travel adventures with friends, and time in Japan this year… let’s make it the most amazing one yet!


Best summer activities in Vancouver BC! CICA Vancouver Sorayama, Capilano Bridge, Miku sushi, Fairmont Pacific Rim.

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Domo arigato, Mrs Roboto! I had a grand time this summer in Vancouver, as I do my best to avoid travel in the high season (too expensive and Collapse-prone these days).

Instead, I stayed home in British Columbia and enjoyed art exhibitions (including Hajime Sorayama’s sci fi futurism), sushi on the waterfront, day trips to islands, and outdoor activities.

Read on for my offbeat, artsy guide to the top summer activities in Vancouver, BC — and check out the accompanying videos/reels on my Instagram @LaCarmina.

El Pequeño Libro del Satanismo satanism book la carmina

First, an announcement on the writing front…. My latest publication, “The Little Book of Satanism,” was translated into Spanish! It’s available now from Spain-based publisher Melusina, who did the translation and new cover design above.

To get a copy of my translated book, Google “El Pequeño Libro del Satanismo” (and more info below en español). The Little Book of Satanism is also available in English through AmazonKindleBarnes and Noble and Simon & Schuster. Canadians can find it at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon Canada — or simply search for the title to find it near you.

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Here’s the Spanish description of my book “El Pequeño Libro del Satanismo”:

“Con demasiada frecuencia, el satanismo se malinterpreta como una religión que hace sacrificios de sangre a un malvado Príncipe de las Tinieblas con cuernos y cola. En realidad, los satanistas modernos no son violentos ni teístas, y consideran que el Diablo es una metáfora significativa para la búsqueda del conocimiento, la razón y la justicia.

Nos asomamos así a la marca de la bestia en los movimientos culturales e históricos a lo largo de los siglos, que han informado las creencias y prácticas sinceras de los satanistas en la actualidad. Escrita por la galardonada periodista de cultura alternativa y bloguera La Carmina, esta completa guía incluye información sobre los orígenes bíblicos de Satanás y sus diversos nombres, apariencias y símbolos; su trato en la tradición esotérica del siglo XIX, así como su papel como chivo expiatorio, desde los juicios de brujas medievales hasta el «pánico satánico» desatado en la década de 1980. El libro concluye con una revisión concisa de la filosofía y las prácticas modernas, centrándose en la Iglesia de Satán, La Biblia satánica escrita por Anton LaVey y el activismo del Templo Satánico.”

EL PEQUEÑO LIBRO DEL SATANISMO de La Carmina, una obra que ahonda en sus valores afirmativos como inspiración en la vida. 14 x 21 cm. Páginas: 112. ISBN-13:978-84-18403-80-4. Precio: 14,90€.

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To grab a copy of my Spanish-translated book, Google “El Pequeño Libro del Satanismo.”

The English version (“The Little Book of Satanism”) is also available worldwide from all major retailers. See links below, or Google the book title to find it near you.

la carmina the little book of satanism book review rating amazon goodreads

I asked ChatGPT to describe my book, and the AI spat out: “The Little Book of Satanism” provides a brief overview of the philosophy and practices of Satanism. Written by La Carmina, it covers topics such as the history of Satanism, the Satanic Bible, and the rituals and practices of Satanism. “The Little Book of Satanism” is a concise introduction to the basic ideas of Satanism and the worldview of its adherents.”

Order my Satanic book worldwide via AmazonKindleBarnes and Noble or Simon & Schuster. Those in Canada can find it at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon Canada. Thank you for reading — gracias!

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Speaking of robotos — I was chuffed to visit the CICA Vancouver in Gastown for the first time. The Vancouver Centre of International Contemporary Art is a space for boundary-pushing works like the sci-fi visions of Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama.

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Sorayama’s superrealist Mrs Robotos and visions of artificial intelligence / femininity / human emotions are out of this universe. CICA’s “Space Travelers” show features this immersive installation — doesn’t it remind you of an alien movie?

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Since the 1970s, Hajime Sorayama has been mesmerizing viewers with his robotic-space-fantasy visions, which have a surprising warmth. I got to see his earliest commercial works from the 1970s, and large-scale paintings with pop culture themes like his take on Marvel’s Iron Man. (Wearing a leopard print active jacket by Mulu.)

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Sorayama is known for his sexy robot ladies, which inspired films like Robocop and Ex Machina.

So shiny and chrome… To see how the light reflects off the metal surfaces and mirrors, watch my video of the CICA Sorayama show. (I always set my reels to the best space disco songs!)

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Sorayama has become more well-known in recent years due to his collaborations with Dior (above), Uniqlo, and more.

Space Travelers: Hajime Sorayama canada solo exhibition

Hajime Sorayama created mecha-dino sculptures for the film Jurassic World, which continue the theme of sentience vs AI. A remarkable show at CICA — and I can’t wait to see more of his works when I’m in Tokyo, where the artist is based!

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Here’s a first look at my new blue-black hair by Katya at Kore Salon in Vancouver. Happy to change up my look from the purple, which I’ve now had for years!

I took my new lilac cloud bag from Verafied to Buntzen Lake in Anmore, BC. My jacket is Mulu — love the cropped fit and breathable fabric, and glad to rep a woman-run, size inclusive label (up to 7XL).

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Buntzen Lake and this pier were the shooting locations of horror films Lake Placid, Freddy v Jason, and Jennifer’s Body. Quite a few cult movies were shot in BC, which is known as Hollywood North.

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Here’s the purple-blue hair I had before switching it up. Catching the breeze at the rooftop pool of the Fairmont Pacific Rim. I was writing a review of this stylish luxury hotel, which gave me an opportunity to hang at their waterfront property.

(Wearing a black MISBHV shrug and UK Swimwear top.)

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You couldn’t ask for a better summer day at the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s outdoor pool fringed by palm trees, overlooking the North Shore mountains and harbour.

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My friends and I lounged in this private cabana, and devoured salads, falafel, poke, and Prosecco.

See my Insta reel / video of our Fairmont Pacific poolside hang here.

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And then, dinner downstairs at Botanist Restaurant, one of the most exquisite fine dining spots in the city. The Chef’s Selection at Botanist was to die for: gorgeous, gorgeous cocktails and full-flavored Pacific Northwest creations like a quail’s egg on a floral black truffle nest, and perfectly charred kanpachi on creamed corn.

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I also served Sporty Spice for a day at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. I hadn’t been to this iconic North Vancouver landmark since the 90s, and discovered that there’s so much to see and do now — like a  daredevil cliffwalk and treetops adventure, and encounters with birds of prey!

I’m into the Y2K crochet bolero vibe these days. It’s hand-knit by Maryuan77, who sells them here on Depop.

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The Capilano Suspension bridge hangs 140 metres above the rocky river, and sways as people move across. The bridge was originally built in 1889, and became a leading tourist attraction in the 1980s. (Rest assured that there’s nothing sus about the bridge’s safety!)

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Capilano Park now has many other outdoor activities for all ages, like the Treetops Adventures. I had fun moving across seven footbridges hanging between tall fir trees, and looking down at the forest floor.

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Another highlight: Capilano’s totem or story poles, which were carved by local indigenous artists. They depict spirits and animals that have special meaning in their culture, like the Raven and Bear. (If you’re interested in BC First Nations art, I recommend UBC’s Museum of Anthropology as well.)

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Be sure to wear sneakers or good walking shoes. I’m a fan of active / fitness dresses these days, which come with shorts and a built-in bra.

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Would you step onto Capilano’s suspended bridge?

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Check out my video from Capilano Bridge Park here (it’s set to the Bee Gees!)

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The forest is home to birds of prey, like this adorable kestrel.

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The Cliffwalk was beautifully designed — it’s a narrow cantilevered walkway that curves around the Capilano River Canyon.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is lovely to visit year-round. It will soon transform into Canyon Frights for Halloween, and the attractions are then lit up with lights for the winter holidays.

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Who here is part of Leo Nation? For my birthday on August 17, I received the best present imaginable from my favorite Vancouver restaurant, Miku. They invited photographer Joey Wong and me to try a seven course kaiseki of dreams!

For my bday dinner, I wore this eyeballs puff dress by Sourpuss Clothing.

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Miku is part of Aburi Restaurants, which has become a worldwide name for their creative Japanese cuisine (they invented the pressed salmon and jalapeno oshi sushi, which is often copied but never surpasses the original).

Predictably, I ordered all the cocktails with yuzu (it’s my birthday after all). The Paper Crane (whiskey, amaro, aperol, yuzu) came with an origami bird.

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The chefs spoiled us with a multi-course menu featuring the freshest catch of the day and Miku’s signature aburi nigiri. Everything was beautifully plated on handmade Arita plateware from Kyushu, Japan.

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I loved visiting Tohoku last year with the Japan Tourism Board. The Iwate wagyu croquette with yuzu creme fraiche and black truffle snow brought back tasty memories.

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Here’s a video of my Miku kaiseki meal. The chef’s selection of sashimi came with dramatic puffs of dry ice, and each slice melts in your mouth (scallop, tuna, hamachi).

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Miku’s waterfront setting and attentive service are also unbeatable (no wonder the Japanese restaurant is Michelin recommended). You can sit indoors or outside on the patio, and take in the lights of Canada Place convention centre and ferry terminal.

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I’m a little allergic to shellfish, so the chefs changed up the menu and invented this wagyu x sukiyaki sauce x mushrooms dish just for me!

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The nigiri platter was a show-stopper. Vancouver is known for having some of the world’s best sushi, and Miku’s high quality fish / seafood paired with creative sauces and ingredients are top of the line.

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And the sweetest ending: peach earl grey mouse (even Joey got a belated birthday cake). Thank you Miku for a kaiseki dinner I’ll always remember. (Check them out in Vancouver and Toronto, and sister restaurant Minami in Yaletown too.)

bowen island bc ferries horseshoe bay

I leave you with some photos from a day trip to Bowen Island, British Columbia. It’s a much-loved summer getaway spot for those in Vancouver — Bowen is only a 20 minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay, and you get to take in these spectacular views of the water and tall mountains.

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When you arrive, stop at the pier for Earnest ice cream and smoked salmon tacos. Then, head over to Tunstall Bay beach — I’m wearing AmyLynn Clothing on the shore.

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The waters are cool and oh so clear. (Photos by Yusheng.)

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Thousands of you loved my video of the Bowen Island day trip — come give it a view, and see more Instagram @LaCarmina reels here.

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I’m not a camping / hiking type, but it’s lovely to get outdoors in the Pacific Northwest during the hottest months. Wearing fashion from Tokyo at Killarney Lake on Bowen Island.

la carmina spanish translation little book of satanism EL PEQUEÑO LIBRO DEL SATANISMO

Did you have a fun summer as well? Now, let’s get ready for spooky season… including Halloween in Japan! Follow along @LaCarmina on social media to see my costume and adventures in Tokyo and beyond.

And thank you for reading my book! If you’d like the Spanish translation, Google “El Pequeño Libro del Satanismo” to find it. “The Little Book of Satanism” is also found on AmazonKindleBarnes and Noble and Simon & Schuster. Those in Canada can find it at Chapters/Indigo or