Keelin, Maureen, Trini (the birthday girl), Juan, and Senor Daveed - click to enlarge
By an amazing and fortuitous coincidence, yesterday we got in touch with a family we have spent some time and had dinners with (we go to their casa for posole or carne asada tacos and they come to ours for my paella and gazpacho soup). As it turns out, our friend Trini Lopez is turning 50 today, and they had a massive fiesta Saturday night at her casa with live music. There was an bottomless cooler of Pacifico and Corona cerveza, and they actually served plated dinners (pork tacos, tortillas, refried beans, salsa) and cake to the crowd, which had to number at least 150-200
The Lopez's also hired Banda Vallejo, an 14 piece Mexican brass band. The Banda Vallejo had four trumpet players, three trumpets, a sax/clarinet player, electric bass, electric guitar, piano, drummer, percussionist, and vocalist. They played extremely loud, without even approaching the limits of their amplification system. They had two towers, each with ten big Cerwin Vega speakers--it looked like the Grateful Dead's wall of sound from the 70's.
How did the neighbors react to 150 people partying in the streets with a brass band playing as loud as The Ramones? They loved it. They were all there. We left around midnight, and the party was in full swing (and would be until after 2:00 AM), and the band had one more set to go. Did I mention that many people (including us) were dancing?
Like many things in Mexico, it was a do-it-yourself affair. No liquor licenses, food permits, or block party permits. No. They just pulled a few cars crosswise at either end of the block. The music was loud, the beer was cold, the food was good, and we were the four gringos out of 150 people.
When we arrived Trini and Ishmael sat us right up front, close to them. Jose, Trini's brother, whom we had met once before (at a party they held for us in 2003) was in charge of the bar, and made it a personal mission that anytime one of us had less than two inches of Pacifico left, a fresh one was immediately ferried over.
It was a little strange of course, because few of their friends had ever spent much time around gringos; we were a curiousity to everyone except the Lopez Family. But people warmed up to us, and we had a few conversations in our broken Spanish (with the exception of Keelin, who can actually hold a conversation). I am an OK reader of Spanish, and have a fair vocabularly, but my conversational Spanish is pathetic, and I am usually reduced to a Harpo Marx pantomine routine when speaking with people who know no English. Or, as we often, do we enlist Keelin as our conversational go-between.