Senor and Linda Lou have been in Pueblo Alamos, Sonora, Mexico for 8 years. Okay, okay, now it's been 9 years.
Every day brings a new discovery.
They are still working on the casa............Senor says, it won't be long.........but Linda Lou says, it won't be long until what..............stay tuned to find out what's next.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

FAOT Days Eight and Nine

Buenas tardes.
We awoke to the distant sound of a single bongo, lonely and slow, soft, almost mournful. An interesting group of dredlocked young Americans, www.soulfireproject.com , traveling by bus, are staying across the arroyo through the weekend. I recognized the bongo as theirs, but it was playing a different song, almost as if it were playing a sad song, maybe sadness at the festival being over.

So, yes, it is true. FAOT is officially over. Days 8 and 9 were filled with music. The festival closure was in the Palacio last night with the beautiful mezzosoprano, Encamacion Vasquez and Jose' Luis Ordonez, a tenor. Afterward, there were more performances on the Plaza stage, the Estudiantina was in the streets, stilt walkers and puppets and clowns were parading.


So, today the streets should be nice and quiet.


Senor went to the hardware store this morning around 8am. He returned to the casa, gave his report.................... there are no cars around, no people walking, nothing going on, nada, nada, nada. His prediction.......there is absolutely no one in town, it is all over.

I immediately had mixed feelings. It has been so crowded, there has been so much excitement, so much noise, so much activity. I have met some interesting people I would like to spend more time with. I actually felt a little sad.

By 9am, Senor needed to return to the hardware store. He did not return for along time. When he came back, he said he could not even get to the hardware store. There were people everywhere. There were 6 busses lined up at the Alameda. There were Mexican tour groups and youth groups all over the place. There were truckloads of people and even more busses, pulling into town. There were crowd control police everywhere.

Then the music seemed to start from all directions, and it has been going all day.
The music is our music, it is Alamos music, it is bongos, accordians, guitars, bass guitars and tubas. It is the wonderful music we will hear on any given day.

I think now, for the Alamenses and their guests from both in town and out of town, the real party festival has begun. A Mexican friend stopped by earlier. His comments confirmed that and he said it will last all day and night.

The air is filled with the smell of carne asada, peppers and onions. A car is parked on our street, music is blaring, Tecate is flowing, people are singing to the music.


Soon we will be off to a large party ourselves, a fundraiser in the Palacio, for the Senior home. The beloved singer, Lorena Robles, will play. She is the sweetheart of Sonora, with a rich, vibrant voice and wonderfully skilled guitar fingers. Many, many people, both foreign and Mexican, will go to hear her.

Now a new celebration of some kind has started across the street at the old Tequila Factory. I think this is the real night of the ending of FAOT. Maybe this is the local celebration of the closure, the ending of the event...........................or it could just be the beginning of a brand new event.......................

Below are my last FAOT photos, but I will put many more on flikr as soon as I can..................street guitarists perform below at the Plaza......


a musician from La Magica performs at the Plaza stage................

another La Magica musician plays................


a Peruvian woman plays at the Plaza.................




a young man, who is also a bongo player, juggles at the Plaza......................




another Peruvian musician plays below.....................



street performers below, in the kissing alley........................

outside the Teracotta, musicians, and jugglers sit on the steps and jam.....................
adios! linda lou.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

FAOT Days Four Five Six and Seven

Buen Dia. Finally the FAOT flag has unfurled.

Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were beautiful days, but today it is sprinkling and overcast and very windy.On Sunday, Alamos was just jammed with people, the music venue was great, and alot was going on both day and night. It was surprising to see so many people in town. Last year's festival was well attended but Alamos was still suffering from the aftershock of Norbert. So, this year, it is good to see such large crowds of people.

The vendor booths always seem to have alot of people milling around, bargaining, chattering, buying.















The kissing alley had a constant surge of people going to and from the Plaza to the Alameda.



A scheduled noon performance of a saxaphone quartet from Mexico City had to be moved to 1:30pm, because someone forgot about noon mass. But it was well worth the wait. The four musicians are University students and the church acoustics were wonderful. Aleida Ibarra, an Armenian sopranist, sings below on the Plaza stage, late Sunday afternoon. The quartet of violins and cello are also from Armenia. A huge Mexican audience turned out for this performance and most of the people seemed very familiar with Ibarra and the quartet. Ibarra sang a heart stopping Madame Butterfly. The church is in full view from the stage and Ibarra did not skip a beat when the church bells tolled for 6pm mass.Monday and Tuesday were a little quieter. There were no concerts in the church and very little music during the day.


One of the great things about this festival is that it encompasses many arts. Although the main focus is music, there are art walks, there are movies and special exhibits in the museum, and there are classes held for painting, for music and photography among others. The classes are held for both adults and children. Monday and Tuesday seemed to be class days, with music in the evenings inside the Palacio and at the outdoor stage on the Plaza.



The Palacio is ready for an elegant evening of opera.
We took advantage of the slow day on Monday and went to the IMSS building in Navajoa to renew our Mexican health insurance. I will tell you more about that later.
Already I can hear some of the street performers, their bongo and guitars floating out into the barrios on the brisk wind.
So I am off on new old bike to explore the day's events. I will go up to the Mercado Artesanios, where the indigenas Mayo and Yaqui are offering traditional health information and food.
Then I will go to the church performance at noon. A violinist and pianist from Veracruz are performing.

At 1pm, I want to follow the clowns as they wind their way through the barrios. At 5pm, there is a Mexico City opera performance at the Plaza stage. Tonight there is more Bolero, opera by Lauren Smith, of the US, at 8pm in the Palacio, and Salsa Bands on the Plaza stage, at 10:30pm.
If only I could stay up that late.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

FAOT Days One-Two-Three

Buen dia!

FAOT is well underway here in Alamos. Below you can see the FAOT flag flying at the mirador. Faot, which is the Festival de Alfonso Ortiz Tirado began in 1985, in Alamos, in honor of Dr. Tirado and continues to be a huge event that brings in international performers and tourists from around the world.

Tirado, who was born in Alamos, in January of 1893, was not only an orthopedic doctor, but a remarkable tenor who sang in operas around the world.

FAOT, held in his memory, lasts for 9 days and includes not only a nightly opera venue at the Palacio, but many other stage performances around town.

The huge FAOT banner hangs outside the Palacio below, ready for the opening Thursday night event.



The impromptu street venues are very entertaining and while they are not on the program, they can quickly draw a crowd. Below the young American musicians are singing at the Plaza.

























I was very excited for Friday, as it was a day filled with highlighted events that we wanted to attend. The program was full of exciting music from Germany, Jalisco, and Mexico City.
We awoke to rain.






It rained all day. Many performances were cancelled or delayed.
The little red train and yellow raincoated people moved quietly throughout town.







Vendors abandoned their tables.





It poured throughout the day and into the night. I got stuck downtown, in the rain, walking to spanish class and after, walking home.

Saturday, it was still raining.
Early in the afternoon, there was a change.





By 3pm, on Saturday, things are looking good and we are off to town, to check out the activities.
Vendors line the street with cajeta, a wonderful sweet fruit gel and honey.





Lots of artesanios and crafters are here.

Lots of dulces.
We walked to the plaza stage to hear Los Folkloristas, a wonderful group from Mexico City.


















After the performance we watched the Estudiantina perform. This group of about 20 lively young men are a highlight of the Alamos music scene, at any given time of the year, but especially during FAOT, everyone is eager to see them perform.
They play a variety of percussion and string instruments, wear colorful caped costumes and stroll the streets of Alamos, followed by a wine laden burro and crowds of people.







A new addition to this year's festival is the Jalisco theatrical group, Zaikocirco. This group includes magnificently costumed stilt walkers, other dancers and musicians. It was spectacular in the dark, and we were mesmerized by their movements and the music.

Afterward, performances lasted well into the night, with more opera in the Palacio, Argentinian and Bolero performances on the plaza stage and jazz.
As Senor and I wound our way through the streets, on our way home, at the early hour of 7pm we asked ourselves if maybe Sunday night we could stay up a little later for the outdoor opera performance at 7pm.
So, Sunday is here with strong breezes and a beautiful clear blue sky.
Soon, we are off to the church where we will hear a saxaphone quartet. Then off to see the master Mexico City jugglers. Then while Senor walks home to check up on the football play-offs, I will get in some vendor shopping and some photography at the Plaza, maybe some barbacoa soup over at the arroyo or some fruit smothered in hot chili sauce.
It looks like a very promising FAOT day.
Adios!

Friday, January 22, 2010

We've Got Mail

Buenos dias! It is a very stormy Friday here, rainy, cloudy, windy, but very warm.






I have been going down to the Palacio every day for several weeks now and every day there is new mail in the box.
Some people in Alamos seem afraid to use the Palacio Officino de Correo and it is very possible that the mail service has only recently upgraded to its current system. I believe it is now possible to get all of the mail sent here to Alamos and possible as well, for all of the mail sent from Alamos to reach its destination.


I use the post office frequently. I have actually shipped around fifty packages or envelopes out of the Palacio office in the almost two years we have been here. I have shipped all over the world, most of it glass or jewel related items that people have purchased from one of my online shops.

Everything has reached its destination. If I need delivery confirmation, I ship first to my sister in the states and then she adds the confirmation and ships it further.

So, imagine my excitement in the last few weeks as I have gone to the Palacio and seen mail in our box.



Mail has come from Texas, Tennessee, California, Washington, Oregon, Arkansas, Colorado, Arizona, Minnesota, Michigan, New York, Idaho and Virginia.


Most of the senders we know, but a few letters came from folks who read the blog and just wanted to wish us a Merry Christmas.
Thank you to everyone who sent mail in December!

It is finally arriving!!!!!!!!!


Now, I have said we get the mail, but we do not necessarily get it in a timely manner. I once received a letter from Seattle in six days. I received another from Texas in seven days.


Most mail arrives in two to three weeks. But, I do not have any problem with that.
I am not in any hurry.


The letter below, first class from Seattle, 79 cents, mailed December 18th........... arrived 15th of January................................
Encino, California, mailed on the 19th of December.....................


routed through Mexico City and received on the 5th of January.........box full of chocolate chip cookies, $8.25 to get them here....................yum, a cookie is a cookie, and these still taste good after 16 days of travel........................senor's college found us........................mailed from Colorado Springs, December 12th, made a stop in San Carlos, received January 10th..................................


another letter from Seattle, pretty Christmas postal stamps, mailed December 22nd.......................


arrived 12th of January, after a stop in San Carlos........................

Little Rock, Arkansas, mailed December 19th.............................


San Diego, California, mailed December 28th........................


both letters, in the box, the 12th of January..............................

On the 15th of December, my sister mailed a box of chocolate stained glass window cookies............my favorite. In the month it took them to arrive the 15 cookies or so became 1....................still good.
I could go on and on about the mail we have been receiving.
When the Palacio is closed on Saturday and Sunday I go into mail withdrawal. I can hardly wait for Monday and often, I am there at 8am when the mail lady unlocks the big wooden doors. I always say good morning and ask how she is as I make a beeline for the box.



So, I was very disappointed when I went to the Palacio yesterday, a Thursday, only to find the big wooden doors to the building shut tight and under guard of not one, but two policia.
The bad news is I could not get the mail, the good news is I have never seen those beautiful doors before.


The building was closed because the FAOT festival kicked off last night with the US soprano, Jessye Norman and pianist Mark Markham. All the government offices were shut down and the doors were locked.
So instead of getting mail, I hung around the Plaza for over an hour, taking lots of photos.
There are people everywhere. There is press everywhere. There are RV tour cars everywhere.
Now, it is pouring rain, buckets and buckets and the canalis are flowing like little rivers.
I can only imagine that there is not a soul in town......................but tomorrow is another day!
Below are 2 young american musicians being interviewed by Radio Sonora. After the interview they performed while sitting on a bench at the plaza, for street money. They were quite good. I took alot of photos and I will post FAOT Day One manana.
I have to do my Spanish homework, look for my rain jacket and head to class soon............adios.