Music, music, music!

Seems like the music just keeps on coming here in Chapala and Guadalajara. Over the last couple of weeks we’ve enjoyed more concerts at the train station in Chapala, taken in the rock royalty of Santana at Telmex Auditorio in Guadalajara, more opera with Live from the Met at Teatro Diana in Guadalajara, been serenaded by an all female mariachi band in Tlaquepaque and witnessed a superb concert of solo electric guitar at the train station in Chapala only last night.

Let’s start there.

Neither of us are musicians, so describing what we heard and saw in technical musical terms is just not in the cards. Yet, we’ve seen lots and lots of concerts and extraordinary guitarists, Santana, of course, most recently. Joe Bonamassa several times over the past few years. Yet, the show we witnessed and so enjoyed was in a zone all its own. Check out this video (if you care to).

We’ve never seen or heard anything quite like this. The best way I can describe it is that Francisco plays classical guitar and adds a whole lotta touch of percussion instrumentation with the guitar. Notice his hand placement. Only a few times in the entire performance did he play the guitar in the “traditional” manner of one hand on the neck creating the notes and the other plucking or stroking the strings. It was fascinating to watch and a sheer delight to hear.

You can check him out more thoroughly on YouTube. If you like him, please spread the word. We just loved his music and would enjoy seeing him gain more recognition for his accomplished playing.

Our other great pleasure this week was listening to the all-female mariachi band at La Patio in Tlequepaque. Tlequepaque is an artsy neighborhood of Guadalajara. Definitely tourista. Yet, with a lovely charm.

La Patio is muy pricey. Yet, it’s worth paying to see and hear the mariachi band. The music is glorious. The look is excellent and, in addition to the band, dancers put even more flair into the show.

And when we attended Live at the Met yesterday, we learned that King Crimson is coming to Teatro Diana in August.

We’ll be there!

 

 

 

 

 

On the Road Again in Mexico

Hola!

We did the border run once again. Up to Nuevo Laredo and back to change some of the paperwork on the car.

There are two main routes from the Chapala area to Nuevo Laredo. One, the west route, goes up through Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, Saltillo and Monterrey before ending up in Nuevo Laredo. The other, the east route, goes up through San Luis Potosi and Matehuala then onto Saltillo and Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo.

We’ve driven then both.

Google directed us via the east route this trip, as it had on the last. The only part of this route was a connector we had to take between the toll road and one of the regular main highways. Pothole city, for a long stretch too. But we stuck with the plan.

Luckily, Google got us there without having to use that connector. Oh joy!

It’s a pleasant route. Some of it toll; some of it free. Not particularly scenic but beautiful in its own high desert way.

Somewhere after Matehuala, we noticed a traffic stoppage on the southbound lanes of the divided four lane we where then on (not one of the toll roads). We simply breathed a sigh of relief that we were not caught in the stoppage and cruised on.

But the line up on the other side just went on and on. And on and on. We kept thinking it would clear up, but it didn’t. So I started measuring the back up some time after we’d passed the construction that appeared to precipitate it.

Fifteen miles later it came to an end.

And we’re talking out in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t see any services or gas stations at any point in that stretch.

We made a note to make sure Google routed up via the west route for our return.

Having concluded our business in Nuevo Laredo, we made our way back to Saltillo where we spent the night at a City Express hotel, a Mexican brand that we’ve come to rely on for decent clean rooms and good service. And, to boot, the free breakfast here included chorizo and eggs and refried beans and plenty of fruit as well as the usual suspects.

After breakfast, we rolled for Chapala via the west route to be sure.

Be warned though. On the west route there’s a twenty or so kilometer stretch that connects one toll road with another that is absolutely the worst road we’ve been on in Mexico. Super slow going. Dodging and swaying to avoid potholes that are axle busters for sure.

Just saying.

It’s kind of a grueling trip. But we needed to get it done, so we did. And despite this being our third trip to Nuevo Laredo, we still find that having a car here is worth the effort.

A View of Migration from the Other Side of the “Wall”

This one’s a tough one for me to write. That because it’s going to seem like it borders on the political.¬† And I’m totally an agnostic when it comes to politics. I don’t want to hear about it; I don’t care about it; I find it very annoying.

The story I’m about to tell is more of what I would call a human story. I just feel that it needs to be told.

Saturday I walked over to the mercado and the sidewalk market here in Chapala to get some of my favorite salsa.  I asked the vendor at the booth beside me the price of some of her items. She had trouble understanding  my less-than-stellar Spanish and I was having trouble understanding her.

A young man standing nearby stepped in to help. Obviously Mexican and with very good English skills. After I’d completed the transaction, he and I started talking.

Turns out that he’s from the States. Some twenty-five years ago he emigrated illegally to hopefully find a better life. And he did. After a series of stops and locations, he ended up in one of the “square” states where he built a life. Found steady work as a skilled laborer; married an American; had three children.

And he recently decided that the time had come for him to become a legal immigrant. So he began the process. And part of that process is that he had to return to his country of origin in order for the process to go forward.

That was almost two years ago, and he is still waiting for any answer.

So here’s a man who came clean. A family man. A contributor to the American economy. And he’s exiled from his life and his family.

Could he have been simply telling me a story? Sure. I don’t think so. No apparent reason comes to mind for him to do so. I can’t help him in any case.

Now, I’m not saying any of this for political reasons. I’m simply listening to this man and also remembering stories from other friends of mine who tried to enter the U.S. legally and how cumbersome and burdensome and long the process was and is.

It gave me pause to think about this from “the other side”.

 

A Calm Week in Chapala

Greetings from Chapala!

We’re so enjoying warm days and slightly cooler evenings and nights.

Chapala is back to “normal” after the festivities of Carnaval. Life simply goes on.

Our neighbors and I took a walk in the park across the street from us. On occasion I just need to sit down for a few minutes. So I sat on one of those children’s merry-go-rounds. This one made of good solid steel. Of course I twirled myself a little. Soon, three young Mexican girls stood watching me and they decided to give me a ride. So on they jumped and proceeded to send us all spinning around and around. Delightful!

One the lake front at the malecon, life goes on as usual.

Many plants are blooming with the advent of warmer weather.

The malecon is kept clean and tidy. It’s pretty typical to see workers pruning and caring for the plants, watering them, and doing general cleaning and repair.

And, of course, the birds are plentiful. Now, I’m not a birder. I don’t really care what the birds are named or how many different types I have seen. I’ll leave that to others who have a passion for such things.

I do, however, just love seeing various birds enjoying the malecon. A few are loners. Others, like the pelicans or the gulls, tend to flock together. It’s a beautiful dance and one that I love observing almost every day.

We so appreciate living here in Chapala.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carnaval Finale in Chapala 2019

Carnaval is winding to a dramatic and climatic ending this coming Tuesday. Yet it seems as if this weekend has been the big blow off.

Somewhere nearby a party went on until 5:30 in the morning, with very loud music. I could hear it in the bedroom and I’m pretty hard of hearing. Roused from a slumber, I stumbled into the living room and saw that I had left the sliding window open. Promptly shutting it, I was able to dull the noise to at least a sleeping level for me.

Our neighbor got to listen all night however.

Such is Carnaval.

Still, it’s great fun.

Chapala is swarming with visitors. And, of course, the locals are all out too. Its one huge party: on the square; on the malecon; and in the park across the street from us, which, this year, is Carnaval Central for Chapala.

Families are out with food and drink and enjoying to the fullest the few remaining days and the last weekend before the beginning of Lent.

The usually quiet street is jammed.

And the entrance fee for the park has gone from a lowly five pesos (twenty cents U.S.)  to thirty-five pesos (a dollar and seventy-five cents).

Still, the park is rocking and rolling.

All the usually quiet and grassy pathways are now crowded with vendors, mostly food yet a few product providers as well. Booze too. It’s legal here. And, not to be left out, a paraphernalia shop where the proprietor was puffing away on a beefy doobie. It’s legal here too, although the government has yet to determine the rules. (Mexican courts recently struck down the marijuana ban.)

Food, food, food!

And carnaval games.

And, of course, cotton candy. Take a look at the size you can get there. (I didn’t.)

There’s a area for bands to play and a hot air balloon where you can take a tethered ride.

What a town!