What I find astounding in Mexico is that there are very few beggars here. Most of them are found in the tourist areas of the country, like Cancun or Puerto Vallarta. Most of the time people who would otherwise beg find one service or another to offer. Some of them make breakfast tacos, some others sell snacks from their living room window, some walk around trying to sell chewing gum – and there are those who sing.
Mexicans love loud music. Every now and then someone puts a big speaker outside the house and the whole neighbourhood gathers up, and they sing together till the early hours of the morning. I don’t know why Mexico is so noise-insensitive; the best explanation I have heard so far states that this is the only way they have to manifest their presence in face of futility of political institutions. The gentleman you are about to hear did very acutely manifest his presence, however for reasons much more mundane than a political rebellion.
I was on a bus from Valle de Bravo to Morelia. The journey takes some five hours. The bus stops every now and then right at the side of the road to collect passengers, and merchants of all kinds take advantage of those stops. They hop on the bus in one place, go down the aisle trying to sell their snacks and refreshments, and hop off the next time the bus stops. More or less halfway way through the journey, a very, very sad man joined us for a little while. He must have been my age. He had a cowboy hat on his head and a guitar in his hand. He squeezed between the seats, settled exactly where I was seated, leaned on one of the chairs, and, somewhat unwillingly, started the concert:
Singing was clearly not what he had been meant to do. I wonder what circumstances pushed him to do that over all the other things he could be doing: he could build houses or serve tacos. Maybe he had sick parents. Maybe he had three children to provide to, and he was earning the most giving mini concert in buses, with people paying him to stop as soon as possible, in the absence of a way to escape. He most certainly wasn’t doing that because he liked it. He had resignation and contempt written on his face. I hope that his sacrifice pays off and once he makes a fortune singing on buses, he opens a business of his dreams that gives Carlos Slim many sleepless nights.
If you liked this entry, you might like to have a look at some other postcards that I sent from Moscow. You can find them here. If you would like to stay in a more regular touch with Samovar, like it on facebook and instagram. I publish there almost daily.