A few nights ago, a new friend of mine invited me to a family celebration. In fact it was the birthday of his grandfather, a man that I met about 25 years ago when I contracted the (Then relatively unknown) "Mariachi Perla" to play their music on the pool deck of the Playa Linda Resort. The meeting was happenstance and has been a joy to me since. It went like this:
I requested a music and entertainment expense-budget for Playa Linda. We only had one wing constructed at the time and the members were (to be kind about it) tolerant of us and trusted that we would supply them memorable vacations. there was no pool and we needed music big time so the project developer, Raymond Maduro, called me and asked me if I would please listen to some musicians he knew. I expected nothing good but said yes and minutes later they showed up at the office.
He was then what he is now; tall, white haired, thin as a reed and slightly hunched and wearing a black silver studded Mexican outfit along with one of those expansive hats that give shade to more than one and of course he held a guitar. After getting over the initial shock of Mexico in the Caribbean, we started to talk and his offer was a damned good one. They would play one night free and if the people didn't like them they would not bother me again. If the people liked them, then I should pay them what I thought was fair.
Two hours later, the MARIACH PERLA DI ARUBA were in the parking lot tuning guitars and making sure that all was in order. One of the wives went to where they would be performing once inside and made sure that the space was clear. It was a Wednesday night and the then famous steak and lobster Playa BBQ was in full force. No one expected music. The members were all enjoying what it is they came to enjoy and the sound could be best described as a "Crowd Murmur". << I hope that makes sense. And then it happened. With the start of one note, they became a line-item in the expense budget for years to come at Playa Linda, and Aruba Beach Club/Casa Del Mar.
If you have heard Mariachi music, you will understand this; The music started with a long trumpet note that was extremely loud yet not unpleasant. It was immediately followed by another trumpet playing a Mexican staccato sort of a melody that is so common to Mexican music. And then the long sustained howling of men's voices. No words - just a long long AAAAYYYYAAAAYYYYAAAAAAYYYYYAAAAAYYYYYYY
Everyone turned around to the oncoming "Men in Black" (Some things have history) and the common sound through the blaring was that of forks hitting the plates and "Heck with the food" grins dominated.
And there he stood. Singing while slightly hunched but tall and holding a guitar and strumming close-eyed while tilting his head back. He was a silhouetted wolf baying at an unseen moon and did not want to be disturbed. This classic (Caribbean DON QUIXOTE figure) was busy etching a memory in my mind and would not be distracted. He succeeded. To be clear on this - I am not a fan of mariachi music, however I am a devout fan of MARIACHI PERLA DI ARUBA.
And so - twenty -plus years later I went to his 89th birthday celebration and encountered a long time friend. The kind you don't speak with often but the kind that is burned into your minds heart. Without question, we hugged and he asked me how I was doing. Nice isn't it? Unselfishness exists.
His family sang to him and he bathed in the sounds of sons, grand children and great grandchildren. Neighbors were there as were the most remote and least expected visitors - all of them singing to him. NO instruments - just voices singing Happy Birthday but Saying thank you to a tall thin, slightly hunched man that is - before all else - a wonderful human being. If you would like to live that moment when steak and lobster took second (at best) place to music, then check out the below on u-tube.
Mariachi Perla di Aruba-Maria Chuchena el torrito jarocho
Na mi amigo - danki pa aseptami na bo fiesta. Mi ta mandabo un caloroso abraso.