So we got on this bus from the place where we were staying in Puerto Vallarta, on the Pacific side of Mexico. The buses are not the old ones, with the chickens and the screaming children. These were relatively new and driven like we were going around an oval track, rather than down a precipitous mountain. We got on and immediately started hearing the strumming of guitars and a plaintive voice singing Vaya Condios and other Mexican tunes.

The difficulty with hearing and seeing on that bus is that everyone, not in seats is standing in front of the performer. Sometimes, the performer gets on with you and you can really, REALLY, hear him ( and it is always a him) because he is singing in your ear. If you are really fortunate, he is carrying a boombox and is doing some karaoke in you head as you try and let your mind wander into more temperate sounds.

My two grandchildren, ages 10 and 12 are not used to this kind of happening and are really fascinated by these wandering troubadours. At first, they asked us to give the guys a few pesos and later on asked if they could give it to themselves. The trouble with giving these gents money is that they then think that it is their obligation to come closer and sing louder. The only advantage is that you can ask them to sing a song that you know is kind of quiet like Quantanamera. Other than that they tend to sing at the top of their lungs.

The singing goes on in a more convoluted way when you are sitting in a restaurant and a whole mariachi band comes up to your table and wants to do a complete concert. It is even worse when they ask you what songs YOU would like to hear. Since they don’t know, “There Goes My Baby,” by the Drifters I am left with La Bamba, or Besame Mucho or the much maligned La Cucaracha ( if that’s the way you spell it).

You can’t get away from these musicians, even in a Chinese Restaurant when a young man strolls over to you and begins to sings rock and roll songs in an unintelligible language that sounds like Spanish laced with Pennsylvania Dutch. My grandchildren, of course, love every moment of it and reach into our pockets to give each one of these people some pesos. I am hoping, when they get older, that they become more discerning because there are not tryouts for these jobs.


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