Guanajuato, Gto., Mexico
25.07.2005 - 11.08.2005
Stone walls rose to a pink and red stuccoed cupola, alit against a deep blue Guanajuato night. In front of the church, some estudiantinos gathered, while their audience sat and stood around them on the stairs, creating an impromtu mini Greek theatre, with the church's hand-carved stoned facade looming in the background. Other estudiantinos roamed nearby, tamborines and guitars in hand, waiting in their dark cloaks and frothing gold striped sleeves... A voice and tamborine focused the crowd's attention: "Aplauso para..." and the voice started listing different states, cities, that people shouted out. He was interrupted only by the applause he demanded. A little, high voice yelled out, "Toluca!" and she was rewarded: "Aplauso para Toluca!". When the steps were completely filled and bodies stood four deep, the student musicians started. Tamborine in hand, one estudiantino stepped in front of the rest, dancing and playing his small tamborine against his fingers, hands, knees, elbows, hip, heel, chin. The others dipped forward and leaned back in time as the crowd clapped to the rhythm. An bent, apron-clad, worn-shoe matron slowly entered the stage and danced with the harolder. She was the life of this party. Even when two other couples were invited to dance yet another tune, she was the one to receive the loudest applause in the end. Dark and sprinkling, the six estudiantinos, singing and playing, became pied pipers - leading their burgeoning audience up into narrow and yet narrower streets (for which this capital of the state of Guanajuato is famous). There was no fear of tripping in the darkness on the stairs leading ever upward, nor on the stone stoop steps that usually trip any tourist fascinated with the many beauties skyward. We were creeping slowly forward, closer together with every slow step. By the time we had reached a street five feet in width, I felt I had made good friends with the people next to me (they were visiting from the state of Hidalgo). I had to look up into the raindrops to see the harolder - he stood on the roof of the building I was leaning against. He continued to crack jokes while people squeezed in tighter. The next phase of the journey was open to only those with a boleto - a ticket I had failed to purchase. I watched, squished against the plastered stone wall as others filed by. The lights of the city glowed against the different colors of plaster as I walk down into the Plaza Jardin Union in silence, swinging my arms freely.