Notes from Mexico Trip- Johnny Monsarrat Mexico Trip

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 15TH, 1999 -- OAXACA & MITLA RUINS (CONT.)

Back in the main square, there's a concert by a school orchestra, probably junior high. strings, brass, violin, trombone, bass, French horn. These instruments are expensive -- these kids must be middle class or rich, or maybe the school owns the instruments. There's a really bright rack of three spotlights illuminating the orchestra. The kids are dressed in white shirt & vests on a mini-stage with stereo amplifiers they're not using. There's a large white sign (10'x10') "Centro de Seguridad Social" "Exposicion"

Another two of these triple-light racks glare into the audience. To one side are picnic tables with mothers chatting behind it, where a food sale is going on. There are rows of chairs before the stage. To one side is some of that pressed metal artwork we've seen in Oaxaca. A sheet of metal into which has been dimpled a pattern: fruits and teapots, still life.

Across the square, there's costume jewelry for sale at vendor tables, and black Oaxaca pottery with stylish holes. Popcorn in bags, and junky kids’ toys. Balloons in various cartoon shapes, and metallic balloons that float.

We have dinner. A Spanish style restaurant on the main square, 2nd floor. The restaurant has maroon, shaped tiles, stucco walls, ceiling with open wooden beams, dark wood and rounded archways giving a view onto the square.

Serenaders come to play: 5 men in black pants, red glossy shirts and black vests. One has a red "pirate" head kerchief. There's a kid -- 16 years? -- in one corner with a tambourine. He's frowning and looking over the edge through an open window to the square below. It's symbolic of kids & adults generations having differing views on tradition.

Clean cut men with serious mustaches! Black patterned shoes. They stand somewhat spread out among those seated on the porch: mostly tourists in plain dark wood chairs and tables with white tablecloths and poinsettias. There are rich Mexicans here: pale skins mean mostly Spanish in their blood, of course. I smile at one of the serenaders and he smiles back. Now the kid is clapping two wood percussion knockers together, still staring over the balcony to the outside.

The desserts are much less sweet than the USA. The cheesecake is almost a plain substrate. No sugar high from eating it.

There's a table of obviously German people: 1. a dirty man, blonde, rugged, unshaved with ponytail & glasses. A black & white sweater and a little rowdy. Black & white sweater rolled half-way up arms. 2. Blond & brown (bleached?) man with hair up and distinctive octagonal glasses and a sport coat over a striped shirt. 3. Checkered shirt, half-collar & glasses, short hair but long sideburns and earrings. 4. a Mexican-looking woman. They're all smoking, of course.

The Germans are talking animatedly in pairs. One guy chews into the bread without breaking off a piece. He has wire-frame glasses, too.

In a US restaurant, you give the waiter your credit card, he returns with the slip to sign AND the card. You pocket the card, sign it, and walk out. Usually gives no opportunity for the waiter to check that your signature matches. However, in Mexico, it's different. The waiter brings back the slip to sign but keeps the card to check the signature. If I just sign the slip and walk out (out of habit), then that means I'm leaving the card behind!

In the square, there's a band. An electric guitar with too much bass playing harmony, drums with red razzle dazzle. Two guys playing a huge wooden marimba with two levels to it. One guy: 3 mallets. One guy: 4 mallets!

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