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The Keys To San Miguel De Allende

Author: Bruce D.
Date of Trip: January 2012

San Miguel is built on hills. It's a walking town but taxis are cheap. Agree on the fare before setting out. We leave two hours early, walking slowly, so we can take our time, as we make new discoveries.

The Instituto Allende is an immense, beautiful colonial building, made of stone and founded in 1938. It's now part of the University of Guanajuato. In the fifties and sixties famed Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo was artist-in-residence. Now you can study drawing, sculpture, ceramics, weaving, art history, painting, batik, language and much more.

We join the sell out crowd for the concert. As we enter the auditorium we're offered a margarita. We take our seats. The all male quartet comes out on the stage. The spokesman for the group is a rotund gringo with a guitar parked atop his belly. He speaks excellent English and Spanish and introduces the Mexicans that make up the rest of the group. There's another guitarist, a local boxing coach on maracas, and the bassist.

They play and sing one tender ballad after the other. Spanish Eyes, Besame Mucho, the standards and the less familiar, but always performed with great style and taste. The gringo does informative and humorous segues between numbers. They're marvelous. The audience is thrilled. They can do no wrong. It's the perfect evening.

The quartet has now played for over an hour. We're getting much more than we counted on for five dollars. They have the audience in the palm of their hands and then a phone rings. And it rings and rings. People are looking around and over their shoulders, ready to glare arrows at the person who didn't turn off his cell phone. And the phone keeps ringing, but the quartet, professionals to the last, continue playing and singing. The audience is trying to figure out the location of the phone. Slowly they focus their attention on the stage. The phone must be off stage and would a stage hand please answer?

But then the bass player, now strumming away with one hand, reaches into his jacket pocket, pulls out his cell phone and answers.

"Hola. Si. Si. I'm busy now. No, I'm working. Okay. I'll be home about midnight. Que mas? What else? Si. I'll stop at the store. Si. I love you too. Bye."

The audience cracks up. The quartet continues on, finishing the song with a great flourish, having never missed a beat. They bow to a standing ovation and a special salute to the bassist.

We file out of the auditorium. Some music lovers have gathered around the musicians offering their congratulations, shaking hands and asking for autographs. We start back to our home, wending our way along the cobblestone streets. In the near distance we see La Parroquia lit up. Above the spires a full moon garnishes the sky. And, just then, a flight of egrets headed south for the night, is silhouetted against the moon. As Mexicans would say: "Only in Mexico."

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