Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Slow Travel Benefits

Adding some dance moves to the song!
I've been in a small apartment on Adelina Flores for about six weeks now. Next door is a beautiful hacienda with a lovely garden that I can look down into if I climb up a narrow spiral staircase to the roof. And every now and then, maybe twice a week, a very professional choir practices over there. They sing show tunes from Man of la Mancha, and Mexican/Spanish popular songs like Besame Mucho and Eres Tu. Their lovely singing is just one of the many benefits of slow travel.

This evening, with nothing much to keep me home, and grateful the hot sun had gone down, I wandered about the town for an hour or so, and as usual, spent money. There were three little kids, all under the age of ten, running around together, each with his/her own basket of animalitos, little clay animals that are made in Aguascatenango. The kids sell them for 10 pesos apiece. The smallest one,  a boy, maybe five years old, slipped on some loose gravel and fell. His basket tipped over and most of the animalitos fell out. He burst into tears. I wasn't sure if it was from pain, or fear to go home without the animals or the money for them.

I got the kid up and brushed him off. The oldest girl was picking up all the pieces and counting them. Nine were broken, a rooster's multifeathered tail was in the boy's hand. I offered her 50 pesos for the broken ones and the pieces too. I figured I could probably glue them back together, and this way the kids would have money too. She was happy and the two older girls walked off across the street. The little boy tailed after me and complained that I'd given his money to that girl, as if he didn't know her. I asked "Isn't she your sister?" and he shook his head. I looked at her across the street and she was looking at us. I shouted, "You are his sister right?" She nodded and then yelled at him to cross over. The little stinker was trying to con me out of more money!  These kids might not be going to school, but nobody can ever say they're dumb.

When I got back to my place, I could hear that choir singing next door. It was so pretty and such a nice evening, so I stood in front of the closed door and listened. Within just a few minutes the door opened and the conductor asked me to come in and sit down. It felt pretty awkward for a few minutes, but the singers smiled a lot and I began to feel right at home. Clearly they were serious, but it didn't stop them from joking around and occasionally breaking into dance moves. They practiced for more than an hour and a half. I asked to take some photos and the conductor said "Of course!" There was a framed picture on the wall of them all dressed up for a performance. They are called El Grupo Contracanto. There were 11 women and 9 men, ranging in age from late twenties to probably seventy five.

They sang a wide variety of songs with complex harmonies, A couple of the soloists were impressive. After they sang Besame Mucho, I told them a friend of mine has a cow doll that sings Besame Moooooooocho, and they laughed.