Saturday, November 25, 2017

Waking up with a band in my living room

Early morning band

This morning, I awoke to band music in my living room … well, it sounded like it was in my living room. I started to ignore it and go on with my day, but then decided I wanted to know where it actually was, who it was, and why they were playing at break of day. So, I dressed and headed out to see what was going on. 

I found them near a school about three blocks away. About a dozen guys of various ages were playing in the street. I was trying to watch inconspicuously, but almost immediately a guy came up and handed me a cup of hot jamaica (a deep magenta-colored tea made from hibiscus flowers, reputedly good for lowering blood pressure).

I listened as the band … a tuba … always a tuba … several horns, three clarinets and two drummers … played. Mexican street band music is probably an acquired taste but it was lovely to be out on a beautiful morning watching these guys play together. Accompanying the band was a cohete guy who would punctuate the end of a song with a rocket launch. Music. Boom. Music. Boom.

I wondered what brought them together at this time and place. Perhaps just the general festivities of these days of the San Andres Fiesta, a nine-day fiesta honoring the saint we know as Saint Andrew, whose day is November 30th. The celebration has already been going on for several days with lots of music, volleys of rockets, and a plaza that has been turned into concert central surrounded by food booths, pop up bars, and carnival rides for the kids, all surrounded by commercial booths selling everything from pots and pans to religious paintings.

Jamaica cart
Woman with jamaica
When the band began to move on down the street, I thought I would go back to my apartment, my curiosity satisfied. But, a couple of the guys waved me to come with them. So I did and became part of the noisy procession walking through the streets, people appearing in the doorways, many still in pajamas, watching and waving. The jamaica cart guy and some women who walked with him, handed cups of hot jamaica to the watchers. 
Generosity. That’s the word that kept coming to me. This band, freely sharing their music, giving away hot drinks, sharing their enthusiasm and joy with the people of their pueblo. It didn’t feel like they were “performing” as much as they were just having fun being together and connecting with their community during this time of religious observance and celebration.

It is said that the biggest day of the San Andres Fiesta (the last night) is sponsored by the Absent Sons - those who have gone to the US to work and send money home to their families. I am stopped by that thought of “absent sons” going off to foreign lands to support their families. Sacrificing for their families, yet we call them illegals or aliens. 
As I’ve watched life in this small community, I’ve begun to realize what those “absent sons” have sacrificed. They must miss terribly the connection to family, community and church which is such a living, breathing part of life here.

I am truly grateful to have been invited into this small moment of connection this morning.


  1. Joyce you really captured the sense of it all, the belongingness that is extended by this culture. Much thanks for sharing this.
    (And for some reason I have not been getting yr post notifications, so I will "follow" again.)

  2. Thanks, Susa ... it's such a gift to be here surrounded by all this generosity of spirit.

  3. Beautiful post! There were fireworks here this morning, as well, but so far no tubas and drums.........there is still time. My Mexican calendar says today is the feast of Santa Catalina as well.........always a saint, too.

  4. Thanks, Babs ... I am woefully ignorant of the Saints but Mexico is trying to educate me.