HIS SPIRIT LIVES ON! ... BONER, THE PIANO DOG ... November 27, 1994 ... February 20, 2010
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March 31, 2007
Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico
I think this will be my last day in Mazatlan, Mexico. I have loved it here and there is so much I have not been able to explore. It is rare for me to find a place that will hold my interest. This city is one of those rare finds. I went to the market this morning and it was amazing. I had to run home and get the truck. The energy was alive and full of variety. I pulled right up to the end of a street corner and Cor was with me to take pictures. When I had enough he drove me through the streets while I played. There were many thumbs up signs. We drove to the Cathedral park where they were setting up for the Palm Sunday festivities on the church steps. All the tents were covered with Coca Cola signs so I suppose they are the sponsors for this Palm Sundays church festivity. After that, spot I dropped off Cor and went to the cliffs for some sight seeing but could not resist parking the truck to play. High above the ocean I was able to experience the feel I get from watching strong waves flow and splash onto huge rock formations. I was very aware of the emotional push and pull of the water and had a new musical experience with that.
March 30, 2007
Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico
I spent most of today creating emails. I want to spend some time before I leave enjoying this city as it has so much to offer. I am really not going to want to leave this environment. I am now sure that the ocean breeze is a place for me to live in. Tonight I went on a date with Chrstina. We went to the movies and it was so bad we walked out. Thank god they had an intermission. Luckily we both could feel each others dislike for it. We did really well considering we can understand about two words of each others language together. I drove up the Malecon away from the tourist area to create some romantic music for Chrstina. Believe me... we are just friends out to share a romantic evening high on the cliffs overlooking the ocean waves and mountainous islands in the distance with a beautiful moonlit sky with stars and cirrus clouds all about. Of course a few people stopped by to try out the piano and to listen some. I really did a musically creative release. The sounds of the ocean waves were strong and that inspired some strong playing. Afterwards we went to get these tacos that I have been salivating for but the vendor was not there! I cajoled Christina into making egg and cheese omelets and then showed here my websites with all the pictures.
March 29, 2007
Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico
I slept late this morning, as I still am not feeling well. I took the dogs, Boner and Shiva (Roberta's dog) to the park for them to do their duty and a guy who was helping out yesterday with the old people event we created approached me to talk. It was the strangest thing as he told me right off that he was living in the recovery (addictions) house on the other side of the park. I had seen the place and was thinking about going over there to get and lend some support and here the place and residents have come to me. All three guys who helped yesterday live there. We planned to meet and talk again tomorrow morning. Afterwards, I went to the pharmacy to get a newspaper. Finally, I found myself in one of the newspapers here in Mexico, I know I have been in several I just never get to see them... but there was no name no caption, just a big picture! Roberta thinks it is a teaser for an article to come. I spent the entire day creating emails asking for financial support for this trip, There are many people reading this blog everyday and if each of them paid it forward with like fifty bucks... well that sure would help out allot. I really dislike dealing with the responsibilities of money and the bills for this trip, it takes so much energy that could be put into what I do best... nurturing music, friendship, respect, empowerment and inspiration. In the park today, one of the schools had a show day. The band played, teachers were acknowledged, and I got to see the schools traditional dance group strut their stuff in full custom. I enjoyed the kids more than the pros I saw last week. The pros were too serious for me. I relate to the flirtatious fun of the Mexican dance style and these kids had that to the fullest.
The last two days were planned appearances. Two days away from the chutzpah needed to just pull up to a spot and play is enough to make me feel too chicken to do it. I started rationalizing that I was sick, need a break, worked too hard today... but some motivation always comes up from where I do not know and I just seem to move forward from a power other than my own. I had finished what I was doing at about 10:30 pm and just got up to go outside and play on the Malecon like I had thought about doing early in the week. I wanted to meet with and play for the Mariachi. The other day I was calling them music hookers. Now I understand better. They are a tradition. These guys hang out for hire along the street all night long. I went and meet with five groups. I played for them and they played for me. It was truly wonderful. I found great camaraderie. Of course, they had to hear me play and I needed to impress them first. Luckily, I can do that. They all seem to have a straight guy with them who sets them up. One group was a club who formed several groups. The members switch with each other on different nights. Two trios sang romantic Mexican ballads for me. This was such a treat. We were treating each other. The fact that we could barley understand each other's language was no barrier. People drive along the Malecon (the strand by the sea) and pick these guys up for hire every night. They take them their dinner, or to a party or to their girl friends house, ten songs for 2000 pesos ($200 bucks). Everyone jumps into the buyer's vehicle; they go and are delivered back when they are done. String bases, tubas and horns (mostly during the day) or just guitars (mostly at night).
March 28, 2007
Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico
So... a bug of some sort caught me. I woke up and ran to the pharmacy for amoxicillin. I glad I am not in the US where I would have had to go pay a doctor $100 to get a prescription. Today Roberta and I planned a gratis event in the park for the old people in the home across from the park. None of that senior citizen terminology here, old people are still called old people in Mexico. Roberta's massage therapy staff gave simple face and hand messages while the yoga staff guided people through some easy-seated stretches. I was amazed that the "old people" got into it, all of it. I first provided a mini concert of Ragtime and Boogie Woogie and then for the therapy part I improvised. My improvisation created a perfect environment for the therapeutic mood desired on this beautiful day. One old guy got up onto the truck to play some. Two newspaper photographers came and a television crew arrived as we were leaving. Damm, oh well. I worked hard. This was the first time I sweated while playing on this journey. It was probably partly because I am sick but also I wanted to make this event work, I wanted give all that I had to offer and also hopefully get some business for Roberta's spa. She was giving freely to these people today as she has been giving to me. The women I have been hanging with here in Mexico are so beautiful, they smile all the time and every time I am with them, I am just blown away with their beauty. I want one.
I came home to cook a chicken that I had brought yesterday. I was bringing out the potatoes, carrots, onions etc... was not quite sure of what to do and then Christiana entered the picture. Lucky, I was able to understand that she was offering to cook for me. She played mom, while I am sitting and writing today's blog. In the background, I am listening to beautiful Mexican marimba melodies coming from the park across the street. An easy ocean breeze blows through my room and I am feeling nurtured. Christina, she has the shortest height in the staff, has four boys the youngest is sixteen. She has recently left them with her brother to raise while moving to Mazatlan for work. She has been widowed for twelve years. She cooked the best Mexican meal I have had to date. She made it special to help heal me faster. I have become completely "hotified". I never understood why people got so turned on to hot spicy Mexican food. Now I understand, the hotter the better for me. I'll never go back! Tonight I walked Boner by the sea on the beach for the first time. I was trying to understand why I like this place so much with its neglected building, a few really interesting ones, it is not that clean, maybe because it is built on a cove, because I am staying in one of the nicest houses with the nicest people? I think it is because, "it is what it is". It does not have a feel of trying to be anything and yet there is a feel of respectfulness.
March 27, 2007
Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico
I am having a big adjustment consciousness with where I am presently staying. To have coffee in the morning with internet access... who could want more? My yoga class last night stressed out my body and the fact that I only slept a few hours has not helped. In addition, I did not drink enough water. I am getting a head cold. To bed early tonight. I took care of some emails, did a large load of wash, cleaned some dirt off my luggage, and did some planning for my return to the states. I then got hooked up with Christiana who is an expert message therapist and we went to the supermarket together. The idea was to help each other speak our languages. After about ten minutes of slowing Christina down and getting rid of some anxiety by telling her to breath, we started to work well with each other and to understand some. That was exhausting but worth it. Then on starting the truck I noticed the clock would not turn on and then this horrible sound, a grinding when I put in the clutch. I thought, "uh, oh I can't get stuck here I need to get this truck back to the house." Every time I went to change gears, there was an awful grinding. I had to keep the clutch half way in the entire time. On returning home, I called a mechanic who came over and then of course the truck worked perfectly. We drove it all around, he drove it all around, looked under the hood, and it was all working better than ever. The clock was on, everything was fine. I will just leave it at that for now.
In the late afternoon Boner and I created a treat for Roberta's childrenŐs yoga class. About twelve children ages six to ten did some stretching and breathing and then came outside to get all jazzed up with some Boogie Woogie and Ragtime piano. Roberta suggested we take the show on the road and everyone jumped into the truck and we drove to the Malecon with everyone playing the piano at the same time. Roberta turned out to be an excellent driver with the afternoon rush hour traffic flying through the streets and we presented a visual and musical sound bite along the sea. When we were done on the ocean drive, we drove up some of the smaller older streets of the city, which demanded a change of musical feeling. I began to improvise to the environment and all the children became silent as we traveled through the streets to smiles, waving hands and thumbs up signals. It was a "tripy" feeling. It was awesome. On returning to the home base, I provided some relaxing music as the children drew their experience on paper with a variety of drawing materials. This was another successful day.
March 26, 2007
Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico
I thank God because that is who I was taught to thank and I do it willingly and with gratitude for the success I had in Roblito. We had our pictures taken... said our goodbyes, Julio my host gave me a four thousand year old spear head and a necklace pendant that you could still see the eyes and nose on it. It also has ears. He had found them in a nearby riverbed. I gave him a poster which he immediately nailed up on his living room wall and I passed on mardi gras beads to him that were given to me after Katrina last year... on and on the exchanges went... and then Boner and I drove off. Again, along check points to Mazatlan at the police acknowledged us and waved us on. "Oh yes, we have one of your brochures", he says.
Once again, we are welcomed as guests at the Indigo Villa Margarita Spa; Roberta the owner has her apartment upstairs. While I am here, I will give her the use of my services with both hands on the piano whenever and wherever she deems my deeds be done. She has been wonderful to me. I was given a set of keys to get copies made and with the first encounter; the key maker starts giving Boner attention. I gave him my card to introduce Boner to him and he says, "yes, I saw you on television last week". Is that too cool or what? I went back to the apartment and was waiting for Roberta to finish with a message client and for Cor to finish his shower and I was waiting, waiting... thinking, I would get a break from playing piano today... and then I thought, "what are you wasting time for get on the piano and play for yourself". So I did. Within 60 seconds, a large camera flash went off. This is so funny for me. I asked the guy with the big camera to take a picture for me on my camera and he did. Then a family came buy and of course, they ended up playing some piano. I love sharing my piano. After everyone finished their tasks, I joined Roberta for the yoga class she was giving. I needed that. Can you believe with the little room I have in this truck for necessities I managed to bring along my yoga mat and I am not even a yoga freak? There is nothing better than breathing and stretching. Afterwards we went to the local street vender around the corner for the best taco's and tostados ever. They were better than any Philadelphia cheese steak I ever had. I had three steak, melted cheese, avocado sauce, salsa, and warm soft tacos and a hard tostado, with a rice water, cinnamon drink and it came to under four bucks. The drink was more refeshing than any drink that I can remember. A television and seated bench was included at this vendors stand. While driving to Roberta's tonight, we stopped at a street corner to listen to a seven piece Mexican band play with horns and clarinets while they stood over a table of four at an outdoor cafe. Mexicans love thier music loud. We went to the store where the cashier tried to rip us off by charging us thirty bucks for some donuts, water and milk. He saw me and thought, "sucker American" but did not realize Roberta was a "homey". I was glad she was with me. On the way, we drove along the Malecon, the walkway by the ocean where I discovered Mexican music hookers. They are on every street hanging out in costume looking to get picked up for a last minute gig from someone on the way to a party or for someone to present as a last minute gift to "woo" a girlfriend. They hang out all night long until the sun rises looking for anyone who is drunk and will be loose with their change. And now here I thought the days for the opportunity to be a hooker were over for me... not. This will be without question an agenda for me before I leave this city. I am going to go out some night and be a music hooker. I am going to use Boner to pimp me.
I am now going for my first shower in a week as there was no showers or water in Roblito. I used body wipes that I brought along to try and stay clean. I was as prepared as could be. God this shower is going to feel good.
March 25, 2007
Roblito, Nayarit Mexico
For my last day, I decided to stay in Roblito and went to the center. There were many visitors and family today but they stayed with the houses they were visiting. The kids came a running to the truck immediately. We played duets once again and much better this time. I was able to slow them down enough to think about what they were doing. They have really enjoyed the piano. One girl asked me how much one would cost. After a lot of buffoonery with hitting the keys to make noisy music I had them sit while I improvised seriously and was amazed how they listened and watched for a good five minutes. Then each had there turn and I was more amazed at how creative and musical they began to be. They played with both hands, they used different fingers, and they created patterns and rhythms. They copied each other and me. With them understanding no words from me and I only a few from them I was able to teach them and they just took off with it. How great it would be to deliver a piano to the village and put it in the community house for all to use.
Afterwards I went to Vickie's house, she is finally getting some water it has been about five days and she was very happy about that. I played for the pigs and chickens as they walked around the truck and for the dogs as they all peed on the wheels... to Boner's consternation. It was windy and dusty today so I started to clean the truck for my trip to the city tomorrow and all the kids adamantly demanded to help. Some went to find plastic wrappers on the ground to do whatever they could. I took some pictures the other day of a group of boys they were all chums... and made a dvd of it for them. When the one boy saw I was walking around taking pictures of chickens he pulled me to his house to show me all his chickens in pens so I did not have to run around all over the place. Everyone I have met here has wanted to connect and to show appreciation. They have shown me total respect. I will feel sad to leave them, not sad at all... to leave the dirt and trash. I like when everyone you see is always smiling and acknowledging. I like the fact that they were a constant reminder for me to do the same.
March 24 2007
Roblito, Nayarit Mexico
I have had the amazing opportunity to spend a week with an indigenous tribe of people who have embraced Boner and me as well as several other outsiders. They live mostly off the land. They know that meat does not come from the supermarket. Modern aspects have entered their lives like the trash of plastic bottles and cans from the junk sold in the small stores. The stores sell small items of food; pepsi sells soda and also owns all the varieties of junk food sold. That is where the trash comes from. They have nowhere to put the trash so the place tends to be really trashy. Along with the natural loose dirt and airborne dust from the animals, walking, biking or vehicles that move about... it all gets pretty nasty. The flowers are often covered in dirt. Everyone has a television and as they watch the ridiculous glitzy, American takeoffs of game shows and such I wonder how they relate to them. I will not miss hearing the nasty dogfights and the sounds of the losers, and the need to keep Boner on the leash within three feet of me while swinging a big stick in every direction as I pass a house and two dogs try to attack us from every side. I will also appreciate the, "toilet" as never before. That goes back to the experiences I had in America. Taking a poop is a basic so I've written several times about it because I have been dealing with basic needs since I began this journey. Getting up in the middle of the night to go outside to the outhouse and doing my duty in the dark is just the first half. Then I need to drop a bucket down a thirty foot well to fill it with water and then lift it up to throw into the toilet to flush. My poop always takes two buckets of water. I have a new appreciation for toilet paper. Two pieces, none of this four or six from a role... I need to use those two pieces more than once if possible and make sure I drop it in the bucket next to me, not in the toilet. What a pain in the ass. Ha. The only good thing from this is that I am using my arm muscles everyday lifting the water up.
The village of Roblito has shown me a brotherly friendliness with nothing to gain but the experience of me as a person and what I have to offer with my music, Boner and the truck. Even though I have done things that are strange to their ways, they never once made fun of me or pointed out my difference, or gave looks of bonding over my difference to each other as I passed by. For example walking my dog on a leash with a stick by my side all the time. This was crazy to them. Their animals are loose and fend for themselves. If one gets killed in a fight, so be it. Believe me when I tell you I was looking for judgment and the projection of being singled out as different. My skin is sooo... "white" and they definitely have no prejudice or special feeling about that reality. The people here have no idea how long I am to stay for all they know I now live here. These are a people full of hearty spirit. I had this feeling from every age group both male and female. I know some of the men and women were not so open to me and wary but they just let me "be". I have been very considerate not to, "tread on toes." If there were people who were not happy with our presence I would not have know they, it was like, "if you do not have anything nice to say, say nothing at all". We did not stay with influential people in the village. Vicki, Gabriel and their two son's Valentine and Danny fish for themselves and are farmers on their small plot of land and Julio who's house I stayed in and where I kept the truck is defiantly isolated from most of the community. He did not socialize with anyone except for one guy who stood watching a sports game for a short while one night on television in his room with him. Julio locks all his doors all the time. He spends most of his time alone working on his fishing net, with the television, tending to his flowers and vegetables and I assume he eats with his mother who lives across the street, as there is no stove in his house. His handshake is extremely soft and when he passes the adolescents on the corner by riding by on his bike they all become silent. I wish I could communicate with him as I feel his isolation from an earlier time in my life. The human dynamics of this communities as they relate to the whole, in groups and individually are nothing I have not experienced in my past. All the roles are the same... its just that there are fewer people taking on each role. I was fortunate to have fallen into specific families that have opened their house, food and friendship completely to me.
I have had a lesson and practice in acknowledging people. It has been a conscious decision to look at everyone as I pass and give them a big smile and say something like, "olla" no matter what mode I am in or my state of mind. Everyone always responds whether they want to or not. This is expected and the only form of communication that has really been possible for me. It is needed. It is not natural for me, I can tell you that. I want it to be natural. It helps me to not be self absorbed which I become easily when I am not feeling secure. As I said, everyone has always responded but when I say something like, "buenas dias, tardes, noches" then everyone responds enthusiastically.
Today I went to check out the mile long stretch of 20 foot high mounds... of four thousand year old oyster shells that are found here. No one knows why they are here, it may have been a trading area from a time past or from a problematic oyster overeating family. Maybe it was from an oyster shell collection that got out of hand. It is a good thing that oyster shells have little appeal for me or the journey would end here and now, as I would have loaded the truck with shells to head home with. I would not be able to ship them like I did with rocks from Montana one year because there is no way to send or get mail from here. I spent some time on the beach just sitting with Boner. Time when we are together, the two of us alone with nature, quiet, connected and in the moment... these moments are the most blissful states I have yet to experience.
Later in the day, I took the truck out to clean and as soon as the kids saw it that was the end of any cleaning. Everyone was jumping all over the piano and we all had a good time for about an hour. I taught a few of them the ultimate piano duet. It starts out on the black keys. It has no name but it goes like this... da-da-da-da-da-da-da....da-da-da-da-da-da-da...da-da-da...da-da-da...da-da-da-da...da-da-da. Do you know it? I choose to go play for myself with the sunset rather than check out the local "cock fight" that was happening. I saw the pictures that Cor took afterwards and I am glad I missed it. The sunset was amazing. A truck pulled up behind me and stopped. I thought he was listening to me but he was there to dump trash. My speaker has major static coming from it. I think it might be wreaked form the bad roads. This is not a good thing. It is new and cost $700 and there is no way to replace it here or anywhere close. At night, I had dinner with and spent time with Viki and Gabriel and their son's. Today was Vickie's fifty first birthday. Core and I brought here a cake from town the other day. I am starting to have the need to buy food for everyone because there is no money to be had. That goes for me too but I have credit. That will be a tuff responsibility to take care of when I return home if people do not help support this wonderful dream I am living for the world and myself. There is also no water. Vicki would have washed my clothes but there is no water for that, or the dishes, or to feed the animals or nothing. I see people digging in different ground areas during the day looking for water.
March 23, 2007
San Cayetano, Nayarit Mexico
My friend Cor and I are having a picture fight. He keeps taking pictures for me without a flash because he wants to be artsy but I cannot use them for this blog and I want to capture all the moments big-time. Damm that's frustrating. He complains that I don't have any pictures of him on this blog... so today I'll start with a picture of Cor and also stop asking him to take pictures for me even though his doing what I ask would help out allot. We drove to Tecuala to get some internet access and I forgot to bring the computer! I hung around town as Cor did his emails and all over everywhere... I would hear, "piano!" as in bring your piano to this spot to play. The people all remembered me from earlier in the week. There were also many people from Roblito in the city and they would all yell, "Max" Cor's nickname, to say hi. At 2PM I started to notice that the streets had become very quiet... and then I noticed everything was shut down. Everyone was taking a siesta until about 5PM. This started many years ago because of the afternoon heat but I think now it is more out of habit and tradition. I passed by a 9 inch diameter caramel popcorn ball a vendor was selling four times and finally gave in to the temptation. As I sat on a park bench in the square, I listened to the mass going on in the church next to me. It was ninety-five percent filled with women and I thought, "they are praying and singing in a zombie like monotone way" and then I thought, "maybe it is all about an expression of reverence or maybe they are being meditative". They were probably clearing their heads and getting in the right space to go home to deal with their husbands. Throughout the town center young lovers sat or stood to display their affection in public for each other, This is the spot to do that in Tecuala. I passed a cow parade today. At any given time while driving down a road a herd of cows will come tromping by head on and I will stop the truck as they all pass one by one with no one leading them. I am finding the need to clean the truck everyday as it is constantly getting caked with dirt.
I drove to San Cayetana, Mexico as it was getting dark and as I felt my way through the town, I decided to stop at a playground with a bunch of kids in it. I setup the truck, Boner jumped on and all the kids immediately started closing into the truck area. As I began to play and more kids began to bike their way to the spot, there were about forty. When I finished they all cheered and then I tried to get someone up onto the truck to play. They were shy so I tried to get the piano rolling with an offer of a poster for the first person to try the piano out. Finally, a girl decided to have a go at it and everyone's energy tripled and we all screamed and had fun as she banged away. Then the heavens opened up and they all started to jump into the truck to play at the same time. What amazed me was with... how as excited they were, they were careful in getting into the truck and getting out. They were considerate of the truck, the equipment and each other. There was no mean pushing or shoving and not one person was careless enough to sit on... or climb on the speaker in the back even though there were ten kids on the truck at any given time. When I was playing, I could feel them all staring to weigh the truck down but for some reason did not worry about it. There were some crazy sounds from all the music happening at one point. A few wanted to play with me and others stepped in to say it was not polite. I assured them it was ok and as I played some boogie I had kids jamming' away on my left and right. That was a first... and was musically interesting to me. I started giving away brochures and in a matter of minutes, a case went. I did not care... that much. They were souvenirs for them and some were taking stacks of brochures, they wanted as much souvenir as possible. I nicely got back about fifty from the five hundred, I was amazed at how responsive these children were, they all kept thanking me in Spanish and English. I took pictures and the bright flash from the camera really excited them. More... more... more... It was a Diggin' Dan appearance, but most importantly they were all interested in Boner. I want to remember the first priority of this journey, which is to have the world meet Boner. I think everyone asked me for his name. It is a difficult name in Spanish so everyone kept practicing it out loud. I let Bo jump down from the piano to show off on the grass. He rolled over for them, sat, laid and gave some paw. Then I let some of the kids give him his treats.
March 22, 2007
Playa Novillero, Nayarit Mexico
Life is beginning to move slower. We drove to Playa Novillero, Mexico to do the beach scene today. There were few people there. I drove the truck onto the beach and settled on a random spot to play. No one came over until I was done playing. At that time, a bunch of kids ran over. Too late, I was done. That is not the attitude I want to have. For the last few days I have been juggling energy of wonder from what I am doing, seeing, the people here in Mexico and the joy of all of that that... but at the same time I am experiencing turmoil from an American guy who has been joining us on our ventures. The relating between us is affecting the journey to the point that I will leave Roblito if it gets any worse or does not improve. I would rather say adios amigo to my friend Cor and my new village friends rather than infect the environment with any negative energy that is affecting me. My frustration does not affect the music I create even if I am thinking about what is going on. My inner energy and flow is true, strong, and constant.
At night Cor and I made a spontaneous decision to create music and some hooping by Vicki and Gabriel's house. It was ten at night and everyone was in there houses with the doors shut. All was quiet and dark except for a few light bulbs hanging around outside of houses. The houses are very small like the size of a typical American living, dinning, and kitchen room total. I began to create music so simple and still. I was very conscious not to create a stir. I wanted to blend in, to seep into the night. Then Cor lit his hula hoop to do some fire hoop dancing in the dark and we created a very unusual duo. The creative swirling, whiling, twirling, the whooshing and swooshing of the fire, the constantly stimulating flashing glow, the rhythm and flow was perfect with music of the night that I was creating.
March 21, 2007
Roblito, Nayarit Mexico
I woke up this morning and went straight to work on my writing, cataloguing etc... Last night the dogs howling hard, cats screaming, roasters, pigs all were freaking. It was wild. I opened the door to let Boner out to pee before I went to bed and there were three horses in front of us looking for grass. Bo was too chicken to go out.
In the afternoon, Bo and I went to the river with a few pigs, roasters and chickens. I went for my first swim and I did not ask the other animals why they went. I enjoyed the water with the fish jumping into the air to catch bugs all around me. Bo and I played fetch in the water one of his favorite activities and we chased each other around in the mud on the beach for a bit. A couple locals came buy in a canoe with wood poles they had just chopped to build something and I helped them unload the boat. I created a gash in the palm of my hand during the process. I thought I had packed everything... well antiseptic and Band-Aids were two things I missed. As I returned I noticed about twenty village women raking the town square area and thought it might be a result of Cor's cleaning up the place. They had a feeling of paid workers and later I found out they were being paid... by the state. I went and got the truck to provide some music for them. They were burning piles of trash, plastic bottles, dog, pig, roaster, chicken, cow and horse poo and no matter what area I moved to... the wind would shift the smoke into my face while playing. When I play Ragtime here, I think about the base especially for the Mexican oompah, oompah effect. At home I feel silly improvising on a basic C and G7 chord, here those chords fit in perfectly.
The cleanup was for a parade! We saw one yesterday in a town we were traveling through. It is some type of children's festival time here in Mexico. The parade was a truck full of speakers with loud music and another colorful truck decorated with balloons and a boy and girl, king and queen sitting on it. Someone threw out candy from the truck and all the kids walked along around and around the town. It was like a small mardi gras. As I experience deeper the fabric of the families, societies and individual towns I am realizing that everywhere is the same, the same as at home. There are different personalities and styles that make up the communities, different levels of cleanliness and education. It is the scale, the size, and the amount that makes the difference. People here in Roblito are basically care free as in they do not have much to care about. To me that has its plus and minuses.
Boner is bringing something new to the rural areas of Mexico. A dog that walks on a leash, a dog that is clean, a dog who's rib cage does not protrude from his body visually, a dog that responds like a person, a dog that will sit on a piano and stay there even when his master leaves. I do not think anyone has ever seen a dog that has been given the type of respect that Boner has and they have never seen a dog that responds to our type of domesticated respect.
March 20, 2007
Huajicori, Nayarit Mexico
Today started out smoothly, Cor cooked me two egg, bean, avocado, tortilla sandwich in Vicki's kitchen and I shaved. I had to boil the water used to shave had a small broken piece of mirror sticking up from a milk crate in the back yard. I still am not used to little pigs running around in the kitchen and the dogs fighting over fish bones left over from last night on the dirt floor by my feet. It is dusty, dark dirt. Bo stays on his leash and I need to scare the other dogs away from him constantly. Now along with no water here in Roblito, there is no electricity. We all ration the water.
We went to Tecuala for the post office and to get a CD that has been blasting form the Roblito store speakers everyday. The music is infectious. I also need to get on the internet. Four of us and Boner took the trip; I must avoid using the little truck that could as a bus. People clearly do not appreciate and understand that the truck is old and fragile. The parking spot we had picked by mistake was a taxi stand and the taxies let us know with full blasting of their horns until I moved. I had to find a way for Cor to find me so I thought I would park and play music then he would be able to hear me. One block up I found the town square and sensing Cor would be a while I decided to provide some music and to invite people up on the truck to play. I put out some signs to take a brochure; I put a smile on my face and began.
Afterwards, I went to the internet cafe and did my work. Again, while waiting for Cor... and to not miss the opportunity to play... also to release some energy and to create space from a guy with whom I am sharing space in our group that is troublesome... I began to play on the street. I relax more and more each time I improvise. I give myself the time and space to make decisions musical. More and more, I am giving myself permission to disconnect from any structure at all with chord and sound. I become playful in a carefree way with the notes.
After Tecuala three of us decided to take a trip to the hot springs north Huajicori, Mexico. A town is not a town in Mexico unless it has a road bump... a big road bump to slow any traffic. Even Roblito has a road bump. A legitimate town has two and special towns have three. When they are paved it is just a bump but some of the cities roads... the ones that are made with rock... they also make their bumps with rock and this is not good for my truck with all the weight. Tonight another member of the community was riding along... an extra 300 pounds of man at least. The road was torturous with holes, rocks and dirt. I wanted to enjoy the magnificent surroundings but I could not as I had to focus on my driving. For several hours, I was not able to take the truck over five miles an hour. My two passengers just could not "get it", the fact that the Raggin' Piano Boogie truck has a fragile history and is old. I must always consider the truck, piano, speakers and equipment in it and the fact that I need to drive it all out of Mexico, up the California coast and back to Philadelphia. I need to keep everything in the best working shape possible. Here in Mexico, the trucks are completely beat up and they beat them up while driving. There was no way I was going to be careless thousands of miles away from home with the Traveling Piano. I wanted to give up, but so much time and distance was already invested it was impossible. It got dark and it was pitch black. Every time a truck passed, we asked for directions. Luckily, that happened three times. Cor's intent was strong. We stopped at a point and amazingly, Cor trudged through the woods and found the water. I followed him in his exploration. Bo followed me. The other guy stayed with the truck. Here I was once again in the middle of no where in the dark except for a tiny flashlight that Cor had... with the stars and under the trees... a clean smooth rock wall straight up on one side and slanted rock sliding into constantly flowing warm water on the other side. I had to feel my way over brush, slippery stones, and water on hands and in bare feet to get to the spot. The trip was worth it because we accomplished our goal. I found two bubbling waterfalls where the water flowed from and as time progressed, the water became hotter and hotter. It was truly an experience, especially when we became quiet. As I started to become faint with heat and relaxation, we started back to the truck before I lost the ability to balance myself. I will remember the feeling of laying on the slanted rock out of the water to get cool and then slowly allowing myself to slip into the warm pool of water and the sounds of a quiet night and pure nature. The water was a perfect depth; it came up to my neck. When I got back to the truck I had to create music for the mountains, stars and sky and to create wonder for whoever might hear it in the valleys. I had moments of complete disconnect while staring at the wide-open skies and the starts while voicing music.
We started back to the town and Cor wanted to stop to get something to eat. They were having a Saint Joseph's festival and were beginning to close up for the night. I felt out the situation and also someone who could speak English and offered to create some music. They said of course, but I wanted it check it out with the ten police guys who had machine guns in their hands behind the truck. Everyone kept assuring me that it would be ok, but once again they do not know the history and did not want to get "real" about the last three times they witnessed my being stopped from performing. The local guy thought it through and went over to ask while I jumped up on the truck and created music with a beautifully lit seven hundred year old Mexican church sitting in front of me. Soon after... all the kids started to arrive and I just left them to jump all over the piano and to explore and create music on their own. Everywhere I stop everyone asks me to come back the next day. I wish I could because I only have time in each town for about an hour. I would enjoy the multitudes I would be able to reach once the word got out... but I am also happy to have my many small and intimate encounters.
March 19, 2007
Roblito, Nayarit Mexico
I needed to spend the day catching up with work. I am now interacting with two other people and it is a challenge to stay focused when it comes to the responsibilities I have decided to take on. I have the safe environment and protection but I do not have any private space and it is difficult to do my work without interruption. I have played piano and shared the truck everyday. Cor and I are consciously and passionately working at being supportive with each other especially when it comes to negotiating our relating. Chris behaves as a mirror of my past and it is work for me to deflect the chaos that I experience with him and seems to be manifested out of need, trust and fear. I have to work at establishing boundaries and limits for myself and allow him to just be... when he is in my space. When he is in a common space I have no problem in relating with him.
Vicki clips her pig's teeth when they are born so that they do not grow tusks. She raises then and then sells them at market when they get big enough. She has total control and shows confident stewardship over the animals she handles. The chickens love to eat the fresh pig poop as it is plopping out of their asses. Yuk. I will need to watch Boner as he has been following their behinds around at every turn and I know how much he likes cat and skunk poop.
I am not paying anything to stay here but I find a personal need to contribute what I have to offer. I gave up one of two cans of bug spray to Julio. I do not think he really felt a need to for it but I am sure once he tries it he will get hooked until the can is empty. I shared my candy from Zecatecas that I had planned on treating myself throughout the rest of the journey and I shared all the fruit I had purchased to eat from Austin Texas. I got an apple from the lot. Yikes. I have also started buying food to share
There are three small stores here for food. One has a jukebox, another game vending machines for the kids and I have not yet found the third store. When One store starts advertising over their loud speaker so the entire village can hear it, the other store starts its jukebox so the entire village can hear it. Julio who lives in the house were I am staying seems shy and a little bit withdrawn. He keeps all his doors and windows locked even when he is home and at night, he keeps the lights on from a big religious wall shrine that is in front of you as you walk in the doorway. This village has between 150 and 200 people in it. I walked two blocks to discover a large river but am afraid if Boner goes swimming in it, he will drink some of the water and get sick.
I was going to go out and play some music for myself and actually practice. I need my sheet music when I practice because my old repertoire has slipped away from my mind and hands already. Who was I kidding? I pulled up to a lot on the river and asked if I could take the truck to the edge. They said of course and then they put the outside light on for me as it was getting dark. Then a young boy and girl came out to watch and I called them over to pet Boner and to play on the piano. I have been experiencing some creative first timers on this piano. The boy played until more family came out but only the father would come over to the truck. I felt good that I got to work the truck today for others and myself. I envision these experiences of openness, welcoming and embracing with the Mexicans might have been the same as in the beginning with the Europeans and Indians until someone got greedy and started to drive the Indians out of their homes. Mexico if anything is now being colonized by corporations so that might happen in a different form but still... I am truly a unique experience, that I realize. When we were done, Bo and I went for a short needed walk. I watched out for neighborhood dogs constantly. I learned a trick that the Mexicans use for troublesome dogs. As soon as a dog approaches us I bend down like I am going to pick up a brick to throw at it and the dogs run away... every time. There has been no water here for three days, so my need for a shower is great. I cleaned myself with hand wipes that I brought and then made double use of them for cleaning some of the dirt off the truck. I made my work priority today; I need to keep my house in order. I created the last five days worth of dvd's from my oprah tapes, and did some photo cataloguing.
March 18, 2007
Roblito, Nayarit Mexico
I woke up this morning around 9am because I had to pee but went back to bed because I wanted the rest. When I awoke the second time, it was to an amazing variety of natural, constant and strong sounds. Tropical birds, roasters cockling, pigs grunting, the horses whinnying from being chased out of yards, dogs establishing territories, kids playing, people cleaning their areas, Mexican music coming from houses, the breeze, leaves dropping, the buzzing of insects, etc... As I walked out of the house I found mounds of soldering cow and horse manure which is used to keep the bugs away from the houses and outside sitting areas. I got to pet some of the neighborhood dogs. They are almost all boney and dirty. As soon as they experienced my feel and friendliness they tired to take ownership of me for example when I went to pet another dog they would gentle nip at my hand to stop me.
I tried to go for a walk in my bare feet, damm it was too hot. A guy walked by in a full baseball uniform. That seemed really strange in this environment. I listened to really good Mexican/German oompah style music coming from somewhere in the neighborhood. I am now sitting under a fruit tree in Roblito, Mexico. It is a lime tree and I have a sweet citrus smell all around me. I put Boners piano rug next to me on the ground but he is preferring a spot in the shade on a cement slab where he can watch me, Julio who is in the house, the truck and all the gate openings. Boner is experiencing a side to life that he has only probably dreamed about. He is as one in the animal kingdom. I can see him soaking it all in. He is getting dirty; he wants to be like one of the other dogs that roam around, one of the pack.
It is Sunday afternoon. Julio's house is much different then Vicki and Gabriel's. He is inside right now watching a soccer game and eating. He has a bed, chair and two tables, an ironing board, television, and a satellite dish on his roof and that is about it. The house is nicer than the impression I got when I first arrived and it was dark. Unlike Vicki and Gabriel's house, it has a smooth cement floor and is much cleaner. The heat from the day keeps in the warmth for the night so I had a good sleep on my air mattress. I had brought sheets for the beach, I never had thought about needing them for my bed.
Julio fishes and has a huge vegetable plot in the back yard and flowers such as portulaca, german roses, and coxcomb. He came outside and after coming out to wash his hands and asked me... "No mosquitoes? I show him my can of bug repellant. Roblto is famous for its mosquitoes and ticks and flies. I applied Boners monthly application of flea, tick and heartworm medication the day I arrived. I have experienced yet another toilet variation. It has been a theme with this journey. The toilet is in an open out house. There is no composting here. I shit in the toilet and throw the used paper into the trash bucket next to me. Then I walk to the well and drop another bucket down to draw water and then I throw the water into the toilet to flush it.
There are many people here that I would like to relate to but they are always high and smoking pot. The price for pot here is the same as when I used to smoke it back in the seventies, like twenty bucks an ounce. I gave up smoking almost twenty-five years ago. I have no problem relating to someone who gets high around me but it becomes to difficult when it is on a constant basis because the relating and care becomes one sided (that's my side) and as a result... I become bored. Core stopped by to tell me that he is a gathering that is called a maricous. I am not sure of that spelling but it is when everyone gets together to buy a beer and then you get free food with it. Today is was at the village's baseball game. One of the residents moved to American and did well so he donated a fence, equipment, uniforms and a dugout for everyone. I brought the truck to play some music. I was concerned about the truck soaking in the musty cement smell from the garage but the dirt smells the same and it is really impossible to get away from both. The cab was full of mosquitoes when I opened the door. My musical creativity is picking up on Mexican influences. I am thinking the oompah sounds in the base, the rhythm and staccato of the language, the pace of life. I was creating my own musical realty while watching a Mexican baseball game from the truck. Everyone liked the music but they were not too overly enthusiastic. It could have been because it is Sunday and half of them were drunk and it is warm outside. Cor and one other guy besides myself got on the truck to create music. My energy level is zapped out.
March 17, 2007
Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico
It was hot today. I knew that Mexican's take siestas in the afternoons but they never taught me why. It gets so hot that the people have learned to work there way around the heat. They get up and work in the morning and then when it gets too hot and humid they rest. When the day becomes cooler, they go back to work and work until late night: makes sense to me.
Roberta opened a spa in her house a few months ago. She has been teaching yoga in the house for a few years. She had a major class today for children and the parents came to interact in the process. Afterwards I realized that I could have played the piano for the class. One girl was waiting for her mother to come pick her up so we passed the time with her playing the piano. My camera batteries died... pooh. Later I treated Cor and myself to the spa. It was also the least I could do for Roberta's extending her hospitality and friendship to us. I am talking about giving her some business. It was an amazing experience; the place is beautiful and not too big, clean and earthy, peaceful and luxurious. I tied a rope around my waist to go sit in the sauna and there I was give water mixed with healthy essence to sprinkle on the hot coals. I could stay as long as I wanted. Then I passed through an open sitting area with couch and pillows to stand under an amazing showerhead to rinse myself off. I pulled on a string to turn the water on. Next, was the whirlpool where I could sit and relax again as long as I wanted and there was a simple curved brass water head in the center where I could sit and let a light stream of warm water pour over my head and face. Daniela brought me some fruit and a glass of water to enjoy as I sat. I was able to be nude as the experience is meant to be alone and personal, quiet and tranquil. The I moved onto the message table where I laid first on my stomach and was covered with towels, two layers worth. Danielle and the message therapist both worked on me at the same time. Daniela copied her movements as a student. To be messaged by two people at the same time
We left Matazian to return to Roblito and were stopped at one road checkpoint because the militia inspector wanted to say hi. He checked me in at a road check in Satillia when I first started the journey. Satillia is half way across the state. I had given him my brochure. I am becoming known to the militia. No travel is under three hours. Cor and I left Matazian at 9:30 pm so we had to stop and get coffee along the way. We stopped in a small town and brought also some toastias, which equals to about a sandwich for a dollar. We also had a sugar coated fruit named tamerid. I have no idea if that spelling even comes close. The town was alive with Saturday night activity, little parties everywhere and every place that sold food or libation of any sort was open at 11:30pm. I could hear a huge Mexican brass band coming from somewhere. That is my favorite musical sound so far in Mexico. Music is always playing somewhere and it is loud. I wanted to stop and create music for everyone but there was just too much packing to move around.
I had been wondering about these motels I have been seeing every once in a while that are like parking garages with no roofs and with large curtains for the front of the stalls. They are places to stay with your vehicle to keep it safe and hidden behind the curtain. (used mostly for sexual escapades)
March 16, 2007
Mazatlan, Sinaloa Mexico
I am staying with my friend Cor in Roberta's House. It is the largest house that I can see in Matazlan, Mexico and on the central park square in the old part of the city. It was built by Roberta's great grandfather. Her family has a major financial history and I am in the lap of Mexican luxury. It is on the highest ground so it overlooks the entire city and the surrounding hills with windows and it is a 360 degree view. . Right now I am sitting on the roof which has the shape of a ship sailing on the city. As I lay in the hamock under the screened roof top to shade me from the direct sun I feel a warm summer breeze that is almost cool at the same time. The sounds of the city, ocean, buisness, nature and people full the air around me but not directly in my space. Trucks ride around with speakers vocalizing agendas all the time in Mexico. I want to have the abundance I am presently expireiencing in my life... always. I need to keep a check with reality because I will be retuning to Roblito after tommorrow.
I have constant impulses to go creat music on the street outside. Finally, I could not take it an longer and went out to play. I forgot to bring the brochure signs for the truck so few people apporached us directly because they did not know if they would be welcomed but everone took notice and smiled as they passed. A few jumped onto the piano to play. Matazlan television came buy to do a segment which created the opportinty to signifiantly accomplish my goal of wanting the world to meet Boner. Cor brought out his hula hoops and began to dance with the piano music across the street. I stopped after about fourty minutes. I heard people singing in the church across the street. Opps! After going upstairs to the apartment I noticed the police had arrived, but the truck had already been covered and I was gone. Good thing. Nadia, Roberta's friend was cooking a lasgna for us and we developed a very intimate conversation for hours about our lives. A few hours later Oscar an Oceanographer and his girlfriend and anoher friend Danillea joined us. These are all monied people. We went to the beach to create some music and watch Cor do some fire hooping. We hung out on the strand and Oscar lined the walls with beer to drink, Danillea did some skateboarding and Cor did his thing while I wailed away on the piano. Local kids started picking up hoopes and they skateboarded while hooping at the same time to the music. I was playing at a turn around area and the traffic really picked up as everyone wanted to check out the action. We were where locals go not tourists. The ocean waves roared in the night. We were creating a totally neat... jet set... in crowd... moment. Here I was in this super cool city, with super cool world educated and well traveled, sucessful thirty something new friends, creating a dream like "happening".
And then... the police came. We did not realize that it was 11:30 pm and people in the nearby apartments were trying to sleep so we packed up and went to another festival area of the city. I parked the truck and we walked to where the streets were filled with tables and stages of music filled with traditional Mexican singing and Flaminco dancing. I had never realized how rich the art and culture of Mexico is. I am completly impressed with it all. The archetcture has major french and spanish influences and there is a major German influence with the Mexican oph pah bands. I have already talked about the people in general but this city really showcases the women big time. They are beautiful, I really mean.... more than beautiful. They sparkle with beauty their sensuality is completly seductive for me. They are hot! There are five woment to every man so if your a half decent guy you can have your pick of the litter. Hmmmm...... It is a know fact that the women in mexico are very complicated and often have issues with men. Hmmmm.... As we arrived back at the apartment at one in the morning a jeep pulled up to us. It was the cities newspaper and they had been looking for us since the afternoon to do a story. We arranged a time for tommorrow afternoon. It is now 1:00 am and as I sit on the huge roof top of the apartment I am staying in, I am listening to the buzz of cars and I hear live Mexican music coming from big (like fourty piece) and small bands and from every direction shouting out into the night with an almost insane intensity and passion. I also hear the roaster from the hills already beginning its morning crow. The music reminds me of when I am driving home after a days work on the fourth of July or on new years eve and I see and hear fireworks being shot off sporatically from neighborhoods near and far. I am hearing the sounds of live Mexican music from bands in this city of Matazlan and they are popping up sporatically from every direction of the city. By 2:00 am all is quiet. Since the cold is rarely an issue here in Mexico the apartment and house environments I have expireienced inside is open to the outside. as I move from room to room I find I am outside or under only a roof with no walls.
The ocean drive area at end is filled with night clubs. It reminds me a little like Miami beach with the energy. There are huge castle like clubs and clubs with no walls right on the beach and the sounds all mix as though everyone is competing with each other through the music they offer to get attention for themselves. I am thinking about my plans. I want to stay here but I have the committment to Robito and we also left a guy back at camp who is waiting for us.
March 15, 2007
Tecuala, Nayarit Mexico
I arrived in Tecuala, Mexico to meet up with my friend Cor. I was not sure where I was to do this and I was two hours later then we had talked about via email. By synchronicity Cor saw me driving down a street while he was coming out of a building and it was a relief because I was feeling irritated from the drive and did not want to add frustration to the feeling in getting lost looking for him. We sat for a while and reconnected after having not seen each other for a half year and then we bgan the drive to Roblito. The roads are made of stone, not paved, not dirt, not brick, not wood but... stone, they are round stones. I could not take the truck over five miles an hour. It was difficult to expireience any of the town because I had to focus on the truck. I felt relieved when we found paved road.
When I arrived in Robilto, I could never have prepared for the experience. The trip in was into the rural country... about 20 miles of nothing. We passed two small villages along the way with many cattle walking along the road freely along side of us. The roads are full of potholes and bumps; my poor truck. There are piles of trash because there is no way to dispose of it. There are also 30-foot high mounds of ancient oyster seashells, which this territory is known for. No one knows why they are there. The roads are made of seashells so there is powder everywhere from people walking, the animals and the vehicles. The white powder permeates everything as we ride along. The bushes along the sides the roads are white with seashell power. As I drove into Roblito I realized that I am in a village that is more basic then I could every have imagined. The first thing that comes to mind besides the cement brick houses are the fact that there are low hanging trees for shade. I met Cor's hosts/friends Vicki and Gabriel and upon entering the house, I became afraid. I am truly in a different world and it is as real as can be. Everyone lives with the animals as the animals live with animals. The ground is dirt and any movement at all... stirs the air with thick dust. There is constant activity in all forms. The dogs are establishing territories and dominance while also playing with each other. The chickens are running through the house from room to room and teaching their young to peck the ground, the roasters are crowing and doing what they do, the pigs are grunting and also running around in the house. Six baby piglets are suckling on their mother's breast as she lay next to a guy named Chris who is smoking and getting high under a tree with another local guy. Grecos (lizards) are screaming, many types of birds are flying around chirping and singing, Cats are perching everywhere. It is getting dark outside so I am quickly losing my ability to use my sight to navigate in this new world.
I became very concerned about Boner. The dog's keep the big pigs in line buy chasing them back into their areas ferociously when they over step boundaries. They play with each other with a pecking order. There are so many animals roaming I am in constant distraction. The villagers are very comfortable in their environment. The house floor is dirt. The walls are broken and peeling stucco bricks and cement blocks. The roofs are thatched. It is grey and dark in the house. I am amazed to discover a refrigerator and a light bulb and a stove. The outside is totally integrated with the inside. As the animals roam in and out of the houses, they also eat and take dumps wherever. A radio played the radio station of a city probably a hundred miles away.
Friends camp outside in the yard. I could tell immediate that Chris was a kind and caring soul. He has good intuition and took care of Boner for me in introducing him to the many other dogs. I had to leave the situation because my fear and control would have gotten in the way and created a disaster. Vicki cooked me eggs with beans and bread. She offered me a tamale and fish but I was too freaked out to eat. I was trying to adjust to the fact that I was going to be spending a significant about of time in this place and I wanted to use it to chill out and get work done. I was trying to adjust to the fact that if that was going to happen it would happen without any... and I mean any... of my usual creature comforts.
To ground myself and to express my energy and feel safer I decided that I was going to play the piano right then and there. I took off the cover and jumped into the truck. I went to play by putting my foot on the piano pedal and realized that I had stepped in a lot of horseshit. My sneakers had fair amount of fresh warm, wet horse manure stuck to them and now that was all in the truck bed and on the piano pedals. Things were getting messy. I kept going with my agenda and the village boys started to come over. A man came over and of course, they were interested and impressed. Everyone always had a constant smile. I invited the guy up to play and he was eager. It was another great moment for me. His one finger was bleeding and he was smearing the piano keys, which were now becoming mixed with dirt and blood. He seemed to not notice at all... or care. I just let him continue, as I did not want to interfere with the musical experience... one that was especially his. He was having such a great time. It did not take long for all the kids and many villagers to arrive and start creating music together on the piano. They freely explored the sounds and capabilities of the piano without hesitation or self-consciousness. They followed my directions instinctively when I showed them what to do and gave them ideas. They would have stayed for hours on the piano but I had to get myself situated somewhere before it got too dark. None of the dogs attacked Boner and think as long as the villagers kept watch and told them that we were ok they responded accordingly. These people are totally friendly, embracing and comfortable with themselves and that reflected itself in the dogs. I asked Cor what we were going to do with the truck and if there was someplace indoors that I would be able to create a base from and have some cover for sleep. One of the villagers gave me his house to use. He had a garage type covering for it and it even has a courtyard. He gave me the key... just gave his house to this stranger. I was amazed at his generosity and willingness. The house has three rooms with four walls, a dirt floor, an air mattress a broken chair, a table and a wire with a light bulb hanging from it. It is all grey and dirt colored. There are shutters that open as a window. That is it, nothing else. I was relieved with joy and felt that I had found luxury. It is luxury for this village; they gave me the best that they had to offer. The environment could not be safer and have more protection. That is all there is to look for here, there is nothing else to have... except the need for food. I will deal with that later. There is no water, toilet, sink... nothing.
Cor had a gig to do in Matazlan, Mexico tonight with no ride to get there. I was confused and disoriented but going with the flow of experiential possibilities. I said of course I would go with him because he needed the ride and I did not want to miss out on a good time. I realized he would have to drive once we got to the main road, I was too exhausted. The distance would take over three hours additional travel and it would be in complete darkness. I just could not do the driving. It was amazingly difficult to let go of the concern and control over the fragile handling the truck and equipment needed. Every town has many speed bumps, there are many military road checks, sudden curves and hills with no lights, maniac tractor trailer passings around curves with no room for last minute trouble and drivers at night with no patience who want to get to their destinations. The gearshift needs constant attention and stops or any acceleration needs to be smooth and easy inconsideration of the speakers and packing and keyboard shifting. The constant road vibrations and jiggling around of all the electronic and computer component, the dirt flying around from being too close to other vehicles, the weight load, and the age of the truck needs constant care with the bumps, potholes and rocks throughout travel. A person would not know this without the twenty years of experience I have had in keeping this truck alive. I was driving Cor crazy with constant reminders but it was what I had to do considering I had to get this truck with all my belongings through the Mexican stage of the journey and then all the way to Hollywood and back across the country form California to Philadelphia. When we finally got to Matazian we headed for a beach party thrown by a nightclub for the spring break crowd from mid-western American colleges. Cor is one of the ten best "hoopers" in the world. He hula-hoops. It is an art form and popular with the underground, music, warehouse dance scene. It is also popular with outside festivals of all types. He dances with hula-hoops that are on fire and brings hoops for the crowds to join in. I was zoned out completely while I took pictures for Cor and watched about 400 drunk teenagers act drunk at three in the morning on the beach like an MTV beach party on television. I got to bed about 4:30 in the morning.
March 14, 2007
Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico
I drove through Guadalajara, Mexico from Zacatecas today and I am beginning to see tall trees and pineapple trees. There is a feeling of lushness and there very green plots of grass. The trees are tropical. This is a nice city; I wish I had time to stay. There were trees and flowers that were so vivid, red, purple, orange... they almost hurt my eyes. I found them to be a type of azalea. There were some four story high trees in total bloom with bright yellow flowers. I feel good today because last night I doubled up on water and multivitamins and dipped into my emergency supply of pain, muscle relaxer and anxiety medication. I made it a challenge to not rush. I stopped at the bakery and had a hotdog sandwich on delicious bread with mayo, onions, lettuce and tomatoes. Of course, I had no idea what I was ordering at the time. I realized as I began to drive out that I had been only in the central part of the city; the mega supermarkets began to appear.
As I pass through every town or city, I begin to feel as though I am in America in seeing the typical Mc Donald's, Sam's Club and Home Depot chain stores on the outskirts. It is downright hot. I once again feel like I am home with the smell of skunk road kill. I take the toll roads when I can because the bumps, sizes and potholes are too rough on the freebie roads. The tolls are painful; I have spent hundreds of dollars on tolls. When I drive on six lane highways, I feel like I am in a go cart track as the lanes are so narrow. Window washers finally got me at a stop light and I paid them because they did such a good job and my windows needed cleaning and... I did not want trouble. Water is an unexpected expense at $2.50 a gallon and I need two gallons a day for Bo and me. I ate one of the apples I brought from Texas and it was so warm it tasted like a baked apple. Through every town no matter how big or small, Corona beer flags hang from every single store that sells the product. It is the only product with visual commercial signage and every commercial establishment flies the flag.
I stopped in Guadalajara for gas and the guy tried to rip me off: the price was 205 pesos and I had given him 500. I cold not process in my brain the change he gave me but I knew it was too little and called him on it. I could tell his fellow worker said give it to him so he gave me more but still not enough. I did not want to deal with it so I let him rip me off the two bucks that took me fifteen minutes to figure out once I got back on the road. While I was getting gas I asked "done el banjo" (bathroom) and he pointed to the door and gave me a peso for it as I would not have know that they charged to use the bathroom. I thanked him with the subconscious thought that his kindness was not freely given. What I did do to respond was to gift them with music at the gas pumps, I got the nicer guy onto the piano to play and I got a picture for myself while doing it. They sell cigarettes in some places not by the pack but by the cigarette. I found kinder toys my old favorite discovery from Europe and treated myself to two of them.
My final destination was Tepic, Mexico to stay the night with a friend of Cor's named Chris at an upscale vegetarian restaurant in the center of the city owned by a guy named Luis. I arrived with a magnificent sunset. As I traveled, I had the experience of driving through the bush of the desserts edge and watched as everything turned to lush green valleys and tropical like mountains. There was a major amount of smoke from man-made fires burning in the distance. Graveyards are painted white instead of the usual black and grey tombstones. I liked that. The mist rose as the sun set. The sights were breathtaking and something I did not expect. It all just keeps getting better and better. I am constantly amazed at the trucks on the road. I have always called myself the king of packing but the trucks I see bulging from the sides and the heights of the loads put that packing title to shame. Where ever I stop whatever town I stop in it is simple to find the closest bakery. My nose leads me to it. In the cities, the scent of fresh bread fills the air near every bakery. On the mountain passes I would see where two tractor trailers had exploded trying to make a pass and as a result were burned to a crisp with the loads melted to the ground. An accident on the road brought a stop to everything for an hour and I sat with resignation. Ten miles after I got going, I saw an ambulance making its way to the scene on this two-lane mountain road. I saw two cars stranded and all I could do was ask god to help them, as I could not. I was thankful I was not in these mountains alone in the dark. They had wells at restops along with water for overheated vehicles. I would find myself going straight down a mountain for a half hour hoping I would not end up with the need to go back up which was never the case. The view was so amazing I wanted to wake up Boner to look. I made the conscious decision to not rush today because I am physically fragile. I feel like I am riding thought the grand canyon in my easy chair. (my truck seat)
When I got into the city, it was dark. Yikes, I was tired and completely at a loss as to how I was going to find this street and house address. I brought a phone card to call the restaurant but the number did not work. The city was big and spread out. I used my dependable savior for situations such as this. I told myself, "you can do this" and then I started my mantra... "Saint Anthony I know you will help me here, you have never failed me, I must let go of all thought and allow you to help me find the way. Saint Anthony... Saint Anthony... Saint Anthony... Saint Anthony... Saint Anthony..." I stopped five times to ask people from whom I did not understand a word but... I drove right to the house on a tiny side street with not one wrong turn and it took fifteen minutes in total. That was typically amazing. Vendors with open silver carts were on every block selling food and some had benches for their patrons. One even had a hired musician to stroll around the cart. I met Chris and had an interesting long talk. I parked the piano truck in a garage around the corner and paid $22 to keep it there overnight. There was a piano on the restaurants second floor so I expressed myself musically to shake off some tension and then I went to bed sleeping on a blanket and my yoga mat. Bo lay next to me because he was a bit disoriented and did not want to be on the tile floor. In the morning we ate, I played a little more for the owner hoping he would give me the breakfast for free. That did not work. Bo and I jumped in the truck and forged forward to Roblito.
March 13, 2007
Zacatecas, Zacatecas Mexico
There are still many old Volkswagen Beetles here in Mexico. My first car was a Beetle and I loved it to its death. There is a lot of youth and romanticism going on in this city. The youth are doing their own thing while fully integrated in the adult world. You never know what is inside the facades of the streets. A person needs to develop a sense for driving up down the steep and curved streets to know what to do when a car almost hits head on and then someone must back up. When I came down from my room today, everyone in the hotel was receiving a health checkup from the state through a health mobile that drives around the city. You could walk through one old, dirty door and you can find a modern Verizon phone store inside, another door might be an apartment, a clothing store etc... but I have to look in... there is little "in your face" commercialism about the goods sold in the city. The top of my head is becoming sunburned as I grow balder. I reminded myself of a good tactic to use when Boner is dealing with Mexican people and they are ruff with him. Last night this guy smacked him in fun and I immediately moved in and showed tenderness and then the guy without realizing it duplicated the behavior. Life works best by example. I wanted to take it easy today and I did have a little time to myself, about an hour walking the streets. I need more time to myself, big time. Mario came to meet me to help pick up the truck signs that I forgot to get yesterday so I spent time with him and his girlfriend Rosario. Rosario loves to be bubbly and feminine and to constant make singing sounds like a songbird. Her free spirited, happy go lucky way is infectious. We had planned on eating but luckily, they had to vamoose. I thought I would be able to get to bed by eight it is now ten. My body and mind is as fragile as it can get. It is stressed. Mario and I have worked very hard at understanding each other without being able to speak each other's language. That was hard work but worth it and I thank him for his perseverance. I wanted to find a painting of Zacatecas but had no luck so I brought mucho homemade Zacatecasian candy. (I made that name up, but it is all homemade). I went back to the pastry shop to get a sandwich and resisted on the pastries. Tomorrow morning when I leave and they are fresh, I'll hit the place up.
I told several people I would play outside the hotel for one half hour at 6:30pm, the hotel employees wanted to hear me. I drove the truck half way out into the street and said, "I just can not do this I am too exhausted". I pulled the truck half way back into its spot and two businessmen stopped to ask me about it. Of course, now I had to offer to play and I did but in the hotel garage where I would not draw a crowd and just give a sample. It worked out great because one of the kids working got to play on the piano and the hotel employees came to the window above to listen and take a picture and then I took a picture of them. Back in my room I did some yoga and worked on taking my time re-packing and organizing, writing this blog, making the pictures, publishing it all, answering emails, creating my Oprah tape and then the DVD. Bo gave me a tongue bath while I did my streching. He loves to show his affection by licking my face, arms and legs. When I get exhausted, my body shuts down emotionally, (I get depressed, luckily there is no room in my life for that at this point), physically (major body nerve pain and stress, fever, kidney, bowl shut down) and mentally (I went to pee and did it in the trash can instead of the toilet.) Well there ya go... It is not easy for me to cope with my life and to expand my life expierience but it is well worth it. Onward for a good ten-hour drive tomorrow, Drink water, remember to frequently eat fruit and protein, breath, stop for short breaks, and enjoy life. God, I really enjoy Boner, I am so grateful and happy to have him with me. He has been my longest surviving greatest gift of life so far. He is a champ! He is going with the flow, accepting everything and validating me constantly with his care. He is my example of coping.
March 12, 2007
Zacatecas, Zacatecas Mexico
I woke up this morning knowing it was not going to be a "down" day. I was apprehensive about my energy level but told myself I need to keep moving. I met with piano man Mario at 11am in my hotel lobby and we went off to meet piano man Jesus to jam together. I drove and Mario played the piano on the truck while we drove up the hills and down the hills and through the streets of the city. I stopped at a sign place; this cost me another hundred bucks to replace the magnetic Traveling Piano sign that disappeared. I am putting vinyl lettering on the truck so the signs will not get lost or stolen. Jesus never showed up. While Mario stayed with the truck and waited for Jesus... I went to check out a bakery a bakery someone told me about. After eating a something or other Mexican sandwich... which was very tasty, I brought a fruit tart and piece of cake for each of us and we drove off to Mario's artist friend's house, as I wanted to bring home some native art. I had told Mario we would play piano for the city today so I wanted to keep my word even though I needed a break. We decided on the city center from 5 to pm. For the next event of the day we drove up the city mountain to take pictures and the cable car ride to the city peak named La Bufa. I was taking pictures constantly and when we got to the highest spot my camera card died. Second time in a month! This always happens to me on trips. So be it.
Now this is where some will say I am a glutton for punishment, We were in the parking lot at the peak of the city, which was not truly the peak. I said this to Mario and he said we could climb it to the top. I asked, "is that allowed"? He said of course, he did it when he was a kid. Well this fifty one year old kid said, "lets do it". I am always up for some rock climbing. So much for a relaxing day. The climb was so steep and slippery that I had to lift Boner and throw him up onto several rocks as there was no way he could have jumped them even if he was younger. We made it to the top: it was very windy up there as we were quite high. I lasted about five minuets and said lets get out of here. It was an amazing view. I could see several cities in the distance. Zacatecas is known for it minerals and it was very difficult to avoid going on a rock buying binge as I have collected rocks from everywhere I have been in the world. The prices were a third, of what minerals cost at home but I kept telling myself that I have practically no money to spend on souvenirs; I do not even have it to pay for the hotel. The phrase for tonight is, "ohh... ma back". (from the climbing)
Next, we went to the city center to play some piano. I did not have my signs for the truck but the priority was not to promote anything and I was bringing the truck to the street more for Mario as I had my fill yesterday. There were city police all around but they paid no attention to us. The police vehicles were parked in front and behind us but they ignored the activity. What was to come next I still am having a problem accepting as reality. The streets began to fill with people, photographers appeared, and I wondered if news had showed us on television. The crowds grew to the thousands. Mario and I switched on and off with performing and I mean performing. There was no sitting at the piano playing for my own enjoyment with all these people coming to see us and staying to listen. The city started to light up as it got dark. It was truly amazing and enchanting. The only thing I can compare it to was the feeling of being in Europe on a warm crowded weekend night. I reached new creative heights with my improvising. I was unafraid but had to decide to be so. I inspired people to get onto the truck and create music even though they never played the piano before. Those people inspired other people to try it. People lined the steps and curb next to the truck to watch, they filled the curb across the street. People filled the side streets. People left little gifts in the cab. A group of students studied my brochure and wrote in English a thank you letter to give to me. As I write this, it is difficult for me to accept the reality that the Traveling Piano had created a citywide event. People came up to me and said things like, "whenever I feel sad I will now think of you to help me". What I am going to say now makes me laugh... street venders began to appear... guys selling balloons, popcorn venders. Can you believe it??? Its true. I asked someone if the city is always like this on Monday nights and the said, "no not at all... only on Fridays and Saturday nights, this is because of you". I could not believe it but everyone else said the same as though it was matter of fact. Thousands and thousands of people passed. Mario's girlfriend Rosario who is an accomplished Opera singer came with her voice students to sing with the truck. Mario accompanied Rosario's singing of the beautiful song of Zacatecas. She filled the streets with her voice and the crowed roared when she was done. I was dying of exhaustion and living off of the wonder. I was finally saved by the state of Zacatecas. Someone had become jealous of this American and his generosity. The state constable inserted a twelve piece traditional Mexican band a half block from the truck and told us we needed to stop because we did not have a permit. It did not matter that we were not collecting money. I said, "thank you, thank you, thank you. It was close to 9PM. As I drove away and down the street, I saw people walking with my brochure and sitting along the sidewalks trying to translate the English wording so that they could understand what my journey is all about. All of this happened in under four hours.
Afterwards, I spent time with Mario, Rosario and Mario's two nephews in a small taco enclave across the street from my hotel. I ate tacos until I could eat no more. There is no way I can leave tomorrow; I'll be "zonked". I will need to pay for another night in my hotel. I forgot to pick up my truck signs. I feel edgy about how much time it is taking to get to Roblito but I will move at the pace that is necessary to accomplish the full goals of this journey. In fact, the pace is the accomplishment of this journey. Do you get that?
March 11, 2007
Zacatecas, Zacatecas Mexico
I wanted to play in the town square of Zacatecas, Mexico today so I went out to scope the area early before the traffic started and all the spots were taken. As I was walking down the street and a guy gave me a cookie to try. It was better than the best cookie I ever ate and is was still warm. I brought two bags and had them for breakfast. I stopped in front of a hotel where a guy was standing and asked if he worked there. I wanted to know what a legal parking spot looked like. He said yes he works there, he is the pianist. Another pianist playing for the breakfast crowd and I met him outside on the street! So, after some talk I went in and played on Mario's piano and told him that when I bring the truck out that he must play on my piano. I tied Bo up to a nearby post but while I was playing the management took him into the cellar garage and put him with cardboard boxes back in the corner behind a big piece of plywood to hide him. Good thing it was only for a few minutes. Mario was very enthusiastic about the idea of playing the piano outside on the truck. We set plans and when we connected, he had his two nephews Raul and Omar with him. This was when the fun really began. I drove the truck with Boner on top, Raul sat with me because he spoke English best, we needed him for directions, Omar was a fit young lad so he ran along side of the truck while we drove through the streets of town with Mario banging away and took pictures. I was amazed at how well Mario could play on the rumbling bricks and hills and for the first time. This was an amazing experience and everyone in the city was so stunned no one complained that we created a several block trail of cars behind us.
We drove to a beautiful park with fountains and people leisurely enjoying a warm Sunday afternoon. We were able to drive right into the park, nobody was upset concerning the need for permits and rules. In fact, the police drove along side us on their bikes as we were entertaining the streets and just smiled. Did I mention I also got a turn playing on the streets while Mario drove? At the park, we joined up with more friends Antonio, Sofia, and Javier. Javier and I started this "give' back and forth, he gave me a art tablet, I gave him a cassette, he gave me his lucky dollar bill, I gave him etc... Many, many people got onto the truck to play. Little kids just sat on the curb and listened to me play for over forty-five minutes. After a couple of hours, everyone jumped into the back of the truck and we all drove to the town center to try out the crowd there. I had a truckload of Mexicans driving through town with me. Again, many people jumped onto the truck while Mario and I took turns. The television cameras came and Mario was playing. I thought, "shit" and then, "good for him, this is his town and I want him to get the attention". It was truly glorious looking up into the sky and at the cathedral tops and all the people relaxing, hanging out with us on the steps and the cars puttering by, and the authenticity of this old Mexican city along with my creating piano music outdoors on the street, in my truck and with my best buddy next to me on the piano. I am in a foreign country that is so much like Europe. This is a very special city and I am so thankful I could give what have to offer in it. I am not sure a person could feel more gratitude than I did today. The city is super clean. People continually congratulated me all day.
At the park, I met Monica a Harvard med student finishing up her last year with research in Mexico City. She was in the city for a weekend getaway. We made plans for dinner with friends she knew and had met coincidentally earlier in the day. They were fellow students from Harvard. I was taken to this perfect Spanish restaurant where I think they made everything from scratch because it took an hour to have it served. It all tasted good except I was so tired I could not see it with my vision and I was so excited I gulped it all down. This restaurant also had a pianist and he was playing on a piano that was so old and authentic it almost sounded like a harp. It was a beautiful upright piano. He was playing romantic Spanish, Mexican piano music. The real thing, true and honest the music was. How wonderful for me to have this experience in a small Mexican restaurant no bigger than the downstairs living room and dinning room of my house. The place was full of color and you had to ring the doorbell to get inside. Guests needed to pull on a small golden spoon hanging in the upper right corner of the door and then the bells would clang inside and someone would come to open the door. I played some piano for everyone and arranged to meet with Jesus the piano guy manana at doce sharp. Mario, Jesus and Danny... the three pianists of Zacatecas, Mexico on the street with piano dog Boner! After dinner we all took a walk to the garage where the truck is being stored for everyone to meet Boner and I improvised some and heard some really nice piano playing and singing from one of the guys I had dinner with. Of course, we took pictures!
March 10, 2007
Saltillo, Coahuila Mexico
It is Saturday night, how did that happen? I am starting to come down and I may stop writing in mid-pass out. I have been exploding with life. Ok... lets start. I could not get out of the hotel parking lot this morning I was having so much fun. I wake up and go to get the free hotel breakfast in Saltillo which was a major fresh, hot, full buffet with everything Mexican, American and European to eat... I tried to not act like a squirrel gathering food to eat for the day. I was distracted with live breakfast piano music! I ate, sat and watched this guy play through my exact repertoire using sheet music just like I did twenty-five years ago. Memories, Cats, As Time Goes By... it was amazing to see myself as a Mexican twenty-five years ago at a breakfast gig. I could only resist five minutes before I had to go up and introduced myself. His name was Ricardo. Ha, how funny to try and describe myself and what I am doing to someone who does not speak or understand English. Piano, truck, dog, Philadelphia, free, travel? I gave him a brochure to help. I sat down and played for him and people applauded. That never happens at home. I like the pace of friendliness here in Mexico. It is not so snappy and aggressive. Of course, Ricardo had to come outside to play on the Traveling Piano truck. As I was packing to leave, a mother and her children passed by and took turns at creating music. After about two hours later, I took off for the city of Zacatecas it was to be the longest driving day to date and I was getting a late start. Driving out through the center of Salltillia in my truck was very cool. It was a different feel than walking or taking a taxi in a different country. I was experiencing the sights, sounds and smells at a unique pace and in the security of my truck.
I had driven through a bush like dessert for two hundred miles... away from any civilization in all directions and... I needed to pee. There are very few places to pull off the road so I stopped when I could at a small enclave of houses. I noticed two little kids in the distance looking in my direction with curiosity and I was drawn to them. I drove the truck down the road and right to the front of their small house with no door on it. The father walked over and I am remembering to keep my big fat grin while saying "Ola". I pull off the piano cover as he kept a friendly stance and I handed him a brochure while pointing to the pictures. I wanted to give him something to mull over as I continue setting up. The boys had run away in fear. I brought Bo out of the cab and put him on the piano and then I jumped up and started to play. Almost instantaneously the man starts dancing and jumping around the truck yelling, " Musica, Musica, Musica". I was in heaven. His boys came back and stood stunned. About four women ran into the house. The grandfather came over and joined his son in the fun. The grandmother watched from a distance. The women a mother and I guess daughters kept coming to the front opening of the house and would try to come outside but were too shy. They would make it about three feet, start to giggle and then run back inside while peeking their heads around the corner to watch. Within minutes, the rest of the town's kids started to show up on their bicycles. The father jumped on the truck and began to create his own piano music while banging on the keys. The wife walked over to take a good look and quickly went back to the house opening. The children... there must have been about eight of them... started to surround the truck and feel it... and the speakers and I became worried as they started to look inside the cab with great curiosity. They were very poor people and I could see how they might be desperate enough to take something that was valuable to me. I just stayed cool, calm and collected kept smiling and validating everyone.
I gave them all a picture card and then pulled out a Raggin piano Boogie poster for the father. Everyone's eyes popped open as wide as could be. It might have been the first time they even saw a city background that is in the poster. I wanted the father to take a picture of the kids and me but he was too afraid to look into the camera lens. It was obvious he did not know what a camera was. All the kids started to climb into the truck and over the luggage to get to the piano. Dirt was covering everything but I did not care. Four boys played the piano at the same time. A boy about six years old took the camera and I showed him how to use it. He did a great job and it is funny to see the picture taken about three feet from the ground because that is how tall he was. I left after about a half hour screaming "Whoo Hooo" down the road for about two miles. I was SO high. I realized these acts I am doing are completely for myself and myself is god or whatever makes the universe tick. I am currently connected. If I had stayed for about fifteen minutes longer, I could have coaxed the woman out of the house but the sun was getting ready to set and I had to vamoose. This was a completely new experience for them; they were feeling... walking around with curiosity, interest, amazement, looking in the cab, and exploring what was going on. My antennas were full blown the entire time; I was very careful and free. I was all about respect and friendship and music. I left shaking every individual hand while saying, "Adios, adios, adios". I have experienced a joy like this when I was able to give a piano to Doretha in Mississippi after the hurricane last year. You can read about that in the archived Tour of Synchronistic Wonder Archives. The difference from then and today was that pain surrounded the experience of joy in Mississippi. Today's joy was just spontaneous joy in of itself... in the moment... for itself... that was the difference. This experience was the biggest jolt of joy in my entire twenty years of playing the piano on this truck.
Zacatecas is as beautiful as it gets. It is built into the side of a mountain. It looks a bit like Israel without the new tall buildings. It has buildings that are rectangular and square blocks with natural shades of color. It has the charm of old American cities like Philly and Boston But without trees and the hills are as steep as San Francisco, steeper even. Zacatecas is filled with streets made of major twists and turns like in Europe and the streets are so small you need to pull in your auto mirrors or the oncoming cars will knock them off. The city reminds me of a non-touristy St. Michelle off the coast of France, very concentrated. Wow! As I was driving in, I was amazed that houses could be built on such steep slopes and I thought about trying to play the piano on one of the streets until I realized that it would not be possible. I could barely drive the truck up and down the streets to begin with. I got completely lost looking for the hotel that was recommended to me and I was lost on streets that felt like the truck could have tipped over from the top. I am not exaggerating. I started to pray out loud, "God please do not let the truck die right now on this hill." I was in first gear more than once and the truck would not go over five miles an hour and the poor baby was burning bad with the clutch smell and the hills were big and long. The truck almost stopped completely three times and then there was the going down hills. As I drove down the large brick streets, I was torn about wanting to take pictures and the fact that I was lost at the same time. While driving on the highway all the beautiful spots were difficult stop at and take pictures.
Lost in Zacatecas, I stopped to ask strangers for directions and luckily, I found a sweet couple celebrating three years of dating walking down the street. They were angels. They jumped in the car to go with me and show me the way to the hotel. There was only one problem. There was a major sporting event happening, a running marathon, and the streets were closed to traffic. I had a perfect hotel in the middle of town... that had an indoor parking garage but I could not get to it. Can we talk big city traffic jam on teeny weenie streets? Lets not. I felt like I was in New York city at the Lincoln Tunnel entrance for three hours. The couple hung in with me until we got as close as we could to the Hotel and then they had to get going. We practiced trying to understand each other's language while I tried not to focus on the fact that I had to pee like so bad... I stopped the truck, got out and did the deed on the street. What else could I do? I left the truck and we walked to the hotel where the bellboy took over with the dilemma of the closed streets. He jumped into the truck with me and we snuck the truck down the teeniest, weeniest streets together. He had to get out at one point and run in front of me down and around three and four sharp bends at a time to try and warn oncoming cars that I was not going to stop while I prayed that I would not get stuck face to face with one. We got to the final street and snuck past the guards and into the garage just in time. Within minutes the runners started to appear throughout the street. I had just made it. The only uneasy feeling I have is that the days are costing over a hundred dollars each with gas, food and hotel. I took a roll of toilet paper from the last hotel because it is expensive here and I have been rationing water. I am resisting feelings of worry and concern about neediness. I am losing my hair, as it is I do not need more stress to make the rest of it fall out. I dyed my gray hair black last night and there is less and less each time I do it.
This city is so awesome I booked three nights. I must stay. I must have this experience. I will probably never get to have it again and it is special and important to me personally. I want to spend the day playing the piano in the square tomorrow; it is truly a unique environment for me and the next day... I want to explore the city and take pictures. It will be the first day for me on this journey of a month now. I will be in heaven, this city is so true to its history... and it is non-affected with modern commercialism... I can feel its honesty. It is a very catholic city and I hear the cathedral bells every hour, bells that have been ringing for hundreds of years. I took Boner out for a walk during the race and thought, "damm I do not have my camera." I noticed no cameras in the crowds. I thought, "these people are living in the moment and probably will continue to do that as long as cameras are not sold to them. As we walked back to the hotel, people would stop to say hello to Boner. He always draws people to him. I stumbled across a restaurant/bar named Le Moulin Rouge piano bar. They had a nice grand piano inside and I went in and played. I communicated with many people through broken English, the brochures, my music and hand gestures about what I am doing and I hope they show up tomorrow afternoon in the square. I stopped and brought tamale from an old woman sitting on a street corner. I thought, "I want the real thing". I don't know if it was real but it tasted as old as she was and what the hell was I eating? With all my might, I could not chew through the leaf like wrapping. Was I supposed to? It seemed that way. I brought a big ice cream cone as a tamale substitute. I walked into an internet room on a side street where they rent time and showed my website to them. How interesting it was to start my day off with a piano indoors and to end it with a piano indoors. The Moulin Rouge movie is one of my all time favorite movies! Eight hours travel, two hours traffic jam, one hour lost in the city," whew".
Boner is definitely going full leash from now on, he is a little gaga from the travel, has not been getting enough exercise and is not responding to my commands and he may be hard of hearing now with his age. "Don't drink the water, remember, remember," I keep telling myself. I was thinking, "wow you are really are from home", and feeling how amazing and cool it is that I am so far from home in my little truck, with my piano and my dog and my equipment to stay connected with everyone. I was trying to race to get to Zacatecas before dark because I knew I would not be able to see the road in the dark. I am riding through dirt and brush. I could feel myself getting tuckered out, as it was difficult to keep my foot to the pedal. The truck is certainly tuckered out and we are not half through the journey yet. There are no places to pull over to takes pictures. It was rare to see a bird flying in the sky probably because it is so dry. Dust and dirt squalls were popping up without notice all around like little tornadoes. I am glad I had decided to put the cover on. This was a four hundred mile drive, eight hours. I really needed this drive for my soul... being almost completely with nature, I had missed the sight and feeling and experiencing of the earths beauty, the spacious skies of Montana the sweeping secular beauty of New Zealand, the Sinai Dessert, the Alps the peacefulness of it all. Here I am experiencing it now in Mexico and it is a lot easier to travel distance when I do not have a millions signs bombarding my brain every moment or the distraction of speeding cars and trucks constantly up my ass. God, I love the earth, the mountains, valleys, hills, the ground, the bushes, and the dirt. Every so often little trucks would pass me with cargo bulging off the backs almost twice the width and height of the truck. The sign from the side of my truck is gone, boo hoo, that hurts my ability to get the word out of who I am big time.
March 09, 2007
Saltillo, Coahuila Mexico
I have little time so I cannot go over what I write, I am just going to plop it all down. I had a dream that I got drunk last night. I do not want to get drunk, especially if I am going to be driving, ha. I think it shows how vulnerable my spirit is in the moment.
Magic! I cannot believe I am in Mexico with the Raggin' Piano Boogie/Traveling Piano truck. I did it. I am in another country. I never thought of Mexico as completely different from America, but it is. Spanish is spoken here, surprise, surprise. I have difficulty with language and I cannot even figure out if the signs on the road say gas, hotel or what. I did figure out a stop sign after I went through about three of them. Boner senses the change; he knows he is not in Kansas. He is a champ. First, thin, a big black Spanish beetle flew in the truck and tortured him for a good hour until I finally caught it. I think it bit him. Poor guy has black fly paranoia from when he was bitten by one as a baby.
I saw a helicopter on the way to Laredo trying to hone in on a couple of Mexicans in the bushes. At the boarder we got insured, bonded, health certified, declared, and fully customed. I only made a real ass of myself once. I had to pay the guy for the truck visa and the sign said something like $245. I thought, "shit" but what was I going to do. I started passing twenties through the window and he started to say, "more, more, more, more, more" until his buddy and the people behind me started to laugh. It was $245 PESOS not dollars, something like $25 bucks. After they all had their laugh, he warned me to be careful if I do not understand the money language and to not just keep giving until they say stop or I am out of money. Dumb ass, I better learn the money quick.
Mexican traffic jams are just as bad as American. I can handle city traffic, country traffic but I cannot stand the suburban sprawl traffic where millions of people move to the suburbs to escape the city and sit out there in traffic to get in and out of work in the city. It does not make sense to me. I am already starting to worry about running out of gas between towns. We found our way to Saltillo and it was dark and 7:30PM. My eyes do not see so well when driving anymore at night. I was praying to Saint Anthony to direct me as to where I was going to stop. I was prepared to sleep under the tarp in the back of the truck because there did not seem to be any hotels or I did not recognize the word for it in Spanish. When I found the city it was... just like a city. How knew? I stopped at the first place I saw... a Hampton Inn... an American chain ugh... could not resist but I did when they said a hundred ten bucks for a room. I moved on and found the next place the American Eurotel. I'll get enough Mexicana later; I just needed to get off the road. We left this morning at 7:30AM. This place is like a four seasons, pool, supplied water, coffee, breakfast, garden, playground, mints on the king sized bed, top notch furniture, gated parking area which is just what I needed for the truck. It is parked right outside my window.
I thought, "I am in another world as I drove up through the sharp edged Mexican mountains and down with a sky of pink sunset streaking upward. I was not able to depend on the roads for the sound they make when you ride off the edge from not paying attention or falling asleep. If I did ride off it would have been about a foot downward. In other areas, the sides of the roads were lined on the ground with solar strobe lights to help keep the traffic in line. That was major cool looking, twinkling yellow and white lights lining the way. I was wondering if the traffic moving the way it did was from high altitude. I did not feel a steep incline but the truck would not go over forty and some of the bigger trucks could only do twenty. Coming down the hills it was like, "don't get in my way because I'm coming through", with everyone. The mountains are spectacular. I went but three police check points but no one stopped me. I went through some really smelly and polluted areas and thought I would not want the milk of or want to eat any of the cows I saw grazing in it all. The refineries repulsed me in the beauty of the mountains.
I wanted to stop and play for the towns I saw along the way but nighttime was coming. I had no idea of what to do but getting off the highway did not seem sensible. The towns were not slum they were just downright poor. I had to give a woman holding a little girl in one arm and her other arm out for help... money as I passed at one point. The tolls are friggin' high! One was nineteen bucks for a short road and the other was twelve but the beauty I saw with the rolling, spacious mountains and not having to deal with the tractor-trailers was worth it. They were on the free road a couple miles away and parallel. I cried with gratitude. Really, I did... in seeing the nature of the world so beautiful, the warm sun and my dog's head lying on my lap as I drove through Mexico. It just made me want to create music for people.
The Magic of the journey happened when I signed into the hotel I am staying at. The desk guy found someone who could speak English for me and they turned out to be two brothers, Erick and Freddy. I just smile when I think of them. I described what I am doing in Mexico and then of course we all had to go out to the parking lot to play some piano... Freddy tinkled and Erick showed his stuff as he has taken lessons. Mario and Ezequiel the bellhop and driver also came. We had fun with the camera and then we all came to my room to do an Oprah tape. They did not know who Oprah was but they got the Wildest Dream, streaking across the Superbowl field concept I told them about. I gave them posters (god I am so glad I brought some even the there was no room in the truck, I am just afraid I am going to run out soon) and they waved them with delight. I acted like a crazy American while they acted like crazy Mexicans for the camera. It is a great first day for Mexico! I am so glad I got to play on this first day.
March 08, 2007
San Antonio, Texas USA
Boners' snoring last night was so loud I woke up all night while wearing earplugs. Onward... I must be crazy to have been so active today. Ray and Jeanne invited me to stay an extra night and I took them up for the offer. I started the day getting Boner's health certificate for Mexico. I had the vaccinations and all the other papers. Bo needs more documentation then I do. That was sixty-five bucks for a vet hug and piece of paper. Then I went shopping for a Spanish/English dictionary, water, toothpaste etc... I stopped by another vet hospital to ask if they sold dog vitamins and the subject of treats came up with the employees. I told them all I would give them a one of a kind treat and what they needed to do was count to two hundred and then come outside. Upon coming outside, they found Boner hanging out on the piano while I was slamming on the keys with some Boogie. Of course, I had to coax them into creating some music of their own. They returned my treat gesture with a box of treats for Boner.
Then I went to meet up with Wayne, the guy who found the hosts for us. We went to the local park. A few people came up to the truck while I played but most were hesitant to acknowledge the strange sounds and site. A flock of pigeons kept circling over and in front of the truck while I played. That was allot of fun. I spent a lot of time in traffic today. This city wins the waiting game so far on this journey with the rush hour traffic and the red lights, which equal about a two days wait each. I searched throughout the day to exchange money into pesos but the most I could get was seventy-four dollars because all the kids are getting ready for spring break. The sun is getting stronger everyday and I am feeling the need to adjust to the weather.
I rushed home before dark so I could play for the neighbors and kids on the street where I am staying. It took them all the usual ten minutes or so to edge forward into the situation but then everyone got into the spirit. I am in a hilly area where I see rooftops of houses everywhere as the trees are no taller than the houses. Ray and Jeanne have been very good to Boner and me. They are conservative, military... Ray is a retired army colonel who now has a second career as a fifth grade school teacher with four master degrees and they are very Roman Catholic. Jeanne gave me wooden rosary beads to use in Mexico and I will probably use them as I will need all the help I can get! I realized today while practicing being in the moment that when I am in that place... I feel a constant "high". More specifically, it is a state of being where there is no good or bad, right or wrong, clutter of thoughts... when I am in the moment... "it is what it is". I have been reminding myself today "I can do this"... the Mexico part of this trip. I realize that while I am in Mexico I will be relieved of the need to... and I will also get the opportunity to practice ... express myself through actions and music only... seeing as I speak no Spanish. I will not be spewing information as to what I am doing, why, who I am, what I have done... hahaha... it goes on and on and I have not had much success in talking sound bites. Well... that ain't gonna be a problem after tomorrow because I know no one will understand anything I say.
March 07, 2007
San Antonio, Texas USA
I drove to San Antonio Texas today to Wayne and Brandyn's house. They are cat lover's big time and they told me they had a few before we made the arrangements. I had been doing fine in past houses but this one got me. Boner can handle cats as long as they do not attack him. If they approach him, he just rolls over to die... not really...almost. The room I was going to stay in had no windows to open and I started to get dizzy after sitting on the couch for five minutes and then the sneezing, itching etc... Wayne turned out to be such a great guy he started calling everyone he knew to see if they had a spare bedroom and it was so funny to hear him talking on his cell phone. "Its a Boogie piano guy and he has his piano with him on his truck and he has a small dog that is really really good, and this guy is the nicest guy I ever met." Too funny... what a great guy to not be offended that I was going to have a problem saying overnight in his home. We drove about twenty-five miles out of town to friends of theirs. I need to get their names tomorrow. Brandyn seemed amazed that Wayne had the courage to ask them and that they said yes for one night. I wish I did not have a problem remembering names. The guy is a retired army medic and his wife a terrific artist. Brandyn is an occupational therapist and Wayne is finding himself after dabbling with a degree in journalism, he also has been a story teller, tour guide, ex-punker who is now retired at forty-six from money management skills he learned from a self-help finance/value alignment book. So I am in this beautiful bedroom in a suburb of San Antonio and I need to get out of here by 9AM. Mexico is close and I have no idea what I will do for accommodations tomorrow or how to work myself over the boarder with all the legalities of the truck, dog, equipment etc...
I am always learning new things. Texas has a red ant problem in certain seasons, Austin has a major cedar pollen allergy season where almost everyone is affected and newcomers develop problems within four years of living there. Grackles are a bird that is considered a major pest in Texas. They have migrated from the South, and are considered noisy, dirty, ugly and they overwhelm areas. No one can kill them because they are protected by some treaty law but you can try to scare them away with cannons or other fake sounds. Texas and cockroaches go together. They also have scorpions here but the tarantulas keep that population down. The tarantulas build webs in the hallways of houses like spiders do in my home area but the webs are more stringy and gooey. Tarantulas do not bit like the scorpions do, they run from humans. Nice eh? Heather and Matt my hosts from last night, their dog Murray is epileptic and the third dog I have met during this journey with a seizure disorder. I am glad I remembered to bring in my ear pugs for tonight because Boner snores louder than any human I have ever heard and he is getting hard of hearing so I can scream at him in the middle of the night when he is sleeping, he does not hear me.
March 06, 2007
Austin, Texas USA
I am in the most dangerous house to date. Heather my host makes the best desserts ever. I have been opting for the lemon bars and bubble buns for breakfast.... the best I ever had... and I am not exaggerating... is the homemade chocolate raspberry cake... I ate it instead of lunch...twice... and also last night... god help me... I am just not going to pass up good stuff like this.
Everyone at the University of Texas in the center of Austin who caught us for the short time we were there today had a good time. It is a glorious, sunny, warm day. Everyone was blown away with what we had to offer. I found Austin laid back and welcoming with any type of creativity. I had no tip jar so people just started putting money into the truck and in no time, forty-one bucks appeared. Two days before Christmas on a full day on a crowded Chestnut Hill street, the richest area of Philadelphia I put a tip jar out to see what would happen and it was less then that. So today paid for a tank of gas. I am focusing about the gestures of appreciation because this trip is costing hundreds of dollars a day! The school newspaper guy was so excited to have discovered us he was shaking. Two photography students jostled as to who was going to have the rights to use Boner and I as subjects for their photo class. Six policemen walked by to check us out. Word was getting around fast; too bad I did not have time to stay for the day, the week, or maybe the rest of my life.
In the afternoon, I went to the local playground where all the moms play out the American dream rendezvousing daily with their tots. Boner and I introduced ourselves, I played some piano and then everyone had his or her turn in creating music. Of course, we had to have a photo shoot. At night, I was tired but that did not deter me from going with Matt, the other half of my hosting team to meet up with his friend Penley who was having a birthday. Shawn another friend who is also an opera singer was there along with Pedro. We all went for some Hookah (Arabian water pipe) at a club named Red Fez. That was after I created some music on the street corner. I kept telling myself, "you are in Austin Texas playing the piano out on the city street and improvising on the piano. This fact is beyond my wildest of dreams.
Matt kept telling me what a music town that Austin is. IT WAS AMAZING!!! It was awesome I have never seen anything like it and I have been around. Every other business was a club, restaurant or bar of some type, all with live music in the windows, outside, music drifting outside, all types of musical styles and performers. One place had up to four bands playing at any given time in four different rooms. I walked by at least thirty places with live music and that was nothing. I had only explored a couple of blocks. Mind you, it is Tuesday night! I will not forget this town. I would take a plane flight here just for a weekend of music.
March 05, 2007
Linden, Texas USA
Today was a travel day, ten hours worth to Austin Texas I started out with Martha's and Jerry's pancakes made from scratch along with sausage. We took pictures and then I drove off. It was 32 degrees in the morning but warmed up enough to take out my yoga mat at a rest stop and stretch some in a warm afternoon sun. The suburban sprawl of flat tract housing around Dallas as we passed was amazing and it was fun to drive by the tall city buildings some twenty-five miles away. Boner has been such a trooper in finding every position possible to stay comfortable next to me during the travel. We stopped every two hours to stretch but I do not want to do this distance in one day again. It is too much. It was almost 400 hundred miles and it ended with our getting stuck in rush hour traffic. Austin is a narrow city but long... north to south and the interstate goes right through the center north to south. We moved through it at about two miles an hour the entire way. I stopped for a standard southern Texas sandwich of barbecue brisket with pickles and onions. Pickles with brisket? I'll never have it any other way again! Heather and Matt with their two adorable kids Clay who is three and Julia who is 5 are hosting Boner and I tonight. I called them the night before last. They know nothing about me and invited me into their home and gave me dinner and even offered dog food for Boner. With Matt coming home from work, Heather trying to cook dinner, everyone dealing with the house being remodeled, the kids needing there attention and excited with the activity, you know the typical beginning of the week... dinner time... family stuff... and here this family makes room for and embraces my journey completely. I wish I had more time to spend with people along with the travel, the performing, packing, unpacking, planning, ongoing business, communication, writing, publishing... cheeze... one step at a time. I am very thankful for people like these guys who are "paying it forward" to me so that I can continue to "pay it forward" myself. The lack of need to find and decide where I am going to stay is a BIG help and the financial savings will help give me the time needed to spend on this journey.
March 04, 2007
Jefferson, Texas USA
I escaped from the idea of going to church with Martha my host today; she was very nice about it. Jerry the other half of my host team used me to escape also so that he did not have to, "hear the preacher tell him how bad he had been." We had an early dinner of fried elk with bread, gravy, mashed potatoes, string beans and ham. It was one of the tastiest meals I ever had. The delicious home cooking has been a major plus of this journey for me so far. After dinner, we went off to Jefferson, Texas to play some music. Jerry rode his bicycle in, twenty some miles this sixty five year old guy handled with no problem whatsoever. The town was kind of empty as it is still winter and a bit cold. It was my first old timey Texas town and of course, my Ragtime and Boogie fit in perfect. I also improvised and had a good reception all around. I played outside a saloon where they kept the doors open for people to listen and they treated us to some good fired Texan fixin's. I gave some piano lessons from the truck and both kids and adults took their turns at playing. Scott Joplin the first Ragtimer grew up close to this city so I am sure he played all around me. The music felt more real than ever to me. It was a perfect first stop for me to play in the west. It took twenty years to get here, "it is what is" and I am glad I got here before I dropped dead. Boner is doing great in going with the flow and meeting new doggie friends in general. Jackson, the neighborhood dog went with us for our walk, he's a muscular short pup with energy and muscles out the snaazzs. There are three types of dogs I have found in every area I have been to. There are the house dogs, the yard dogs and then the dogs who belong to everyone in the neighborhood that run freely. Tonight Martha treated me to her Sunday night routine of eating fresh from the pot, popcorn.
March 03, 2007
Linden, Texas USA
I was treated to another great breakfast by Scotty this morning and then on my way out of town today I stopped by to see Suzanne and Fred two local musicians. We did some bonding as musicians and I played on their piano some until we all went outside and they jammed on the Traveling Piano truck parked in the driveway. I feel intimate in relating to non-affected down to earth and creative musicians and that describes this pair. Fred said, "you know some people bike cross country, others walk across the country and here you are traveling across with your piano and your dog, I think that is a fine way to travel." I agreed.
As soon as I entered Texas I felt a cultural change, everything became more western. I stopped for gas and could not resist getting some spicy Texan chicken wings. They were great and I was excited to be in Texas for the first time. As I am traveling South I can feel that I am getting closer and closer to Antarctica as each night seems to get colder and colder. It is close to freezing tonight. I am in Linden, Texas and sleeping at Jerry and Martha's house. As I drove into town, they invited me to have dinner with the family. I was treated to all the catfish I could eat with the Harp, Teague and Simmons clans who were finishing up from a large family flea market. Afterwards we all ran out in the freezing cold to hear some Boogie and Ragtime while having our pictures taken. The kids got to bang on the piano keys some. It was just the type of chaotic fun I love! Everyone was a trooper. Back at the house, Jerry and Martha and I sat and talked. For some reason I delve into a religion and metaphysical topic. As Jerry and Martha's eyes started to glaze and their heads started to tilt to the side somewhat I asked myself, "danny what are you going for here, why are you talking like this," and then they helped me ease my way out, thank god. This was not a good topic for tonight. Jerry is a strong cyclist at sixty-five years of age and Martha made me laugh as she got tired. Her talking and expressions reminded me of Eunice Higgins. Martha is downright sweet and has traveled around the world on several outreach missions with her church.
Tonight I have had my first full nature experience. I forced myself to get some exercise before bed and Boner and I ended up taking a walk on a long open road passing large patches of daffodils lit by the full moon and bright stars above. The neighborhood dog joined us for a while until the distance became past his comfort zone. He was thrilled to join us and Boner like his company but kept looking at me as if to ask, "why is this dog walking with us?" I've been sleeping in offices on futons, couches and in guest bedrooms but tonight I am in what feels like a real bedroom for the first time, a room that could at one time have belonged to Opie in Andy of Mayberry's house, a room now being filled with family memories.
March 02, 2007
Little Rock, Arkansas USA
Last night was a drainer for me; it was so much fun but I was also whacked after the long travel day so I decided to take it easy today. I did not even do this blog before I went to bed I just could not. I woke up and showered, taking a long walk was the priority over everything today as both Boner and I need as much exercise as we can get. I often try again and again to rationalize that I am getting exercise with the energy output from creating music even though I know that is ridiculous. Scotty made me a french omelet for lunch from the farm eggs I brought yesterday. They were intensely yellow and delicious. I started to collect rocks as I walked which can be trouble because if I start collect rocks at this stage of the game the truck will be full of rocks within a month. Again I had to say, "stopping to look at rocks is not exercise Danny." Scotty's dog Luke is the sweetest, cuddliest, affectionate, accommodating two-year pup I have ever met. Boner is the only dog whose energy I have enjoyed more. Instead of playing the piano on the truck, Scotty took a picture of Boner, me and Luke sitting in the back. In the house, Scotty treated me to some Blues Boogie and the Alley Cat on his Yamaha keyboard. We had dinner with Karen, Scotty's girlfriend and then the three of us drove to her house to hang out a little in her bedroom. She has a beautiful 1917 Steinway Grand piano in there and I treated them to some musical improv. It was on a stone floor and I created music at a newer level then ever before. I simply played single notes and became mindful of the sounds in of themselves and then I began to ebb and flow with the intensity, simplicity, love, beauty, joy and ability. It was an awesome experience.
I see myself on Oprah's television program on a circle platform creating music for the world on her stage. It seems natural to me not something that I aspire to. I just am beginning to feel more and more that I am heading in this musical direction; also to perform outdoors on a summer night for audiences in the ten's of thousands. It just feels right. Again, no delusions of grandeur, "it is what it is" and what I have to offer to the world. I have been thinking about a question that a producer or someone working at the casting call for the Big Give the other day asked me. I do not even remember specifically because they seemed to become impatient with my inability to answer their questioning as to why I do what I do on the truck. It made me feel unsure of myself when in fact there is no one answer. When someone asks me to be direct, I go into survival mode concerning my saying the "right" thing or my reply not being discounted. Every "thing" can have many answers and sometimes my answers to not come quick. Someone told me they were probably looking for a hook to use in a positive way, maybe so. It is what it is, it was what it was. Onward... I realize that the next town that I play in, I need to situate myself there for several hours like four to six to give people the time to experience... and then respond... and then to spread the fun so others can come.
March 01, 2007
Little Rock, Arkansas USA
It takes so much time to create my website pictures but I must do it because I want to share what is going on. Some of it would be unbelievable to me, so I want to prove it is happening to other skeptics. I started the day with a good hearty breakfast at the local eatery with internet access in Waynesboro so I could upload my website material. It began to rain and was so thick it looked like snow; the winds were so strong I could not go outside. Of course, the truck was sitting on the street with everything under its tarp and I was wondering, "is the rain seeping through the tares yet?" I was to head for Little Rock Arkansas and everyone was saying, "don't do it", as they were expecting the worst storms in years and there was a tornado watch throughout the area. I would be heading directly into the storms. I decided that the weather reports have created enough unnecessary complications in my life and I was going to travel no matter what. I'm not stupid... I did watch the skies constantly for tornados and thought about my options. I thought, "if a tornado takes me in the air I might land in Kansas... Minnesota... on Mars... I am truly a free spirit now and it is an amazing life experience.
As I drove, I started to realize how my waist is expanding in only a week and it is a direct result of missing my daily walks. Boner is becoming less responsive to my commands and that also is a result of his not being able to release his energy through exercise. The new sounds in the truck while I am driving are confusing me. I was listening to the Beetles Abby Road CD from my Ipod and I started to hear a buzzing sound. Was it the truck motor, my cell phone, my Ipod? It was my electric toothbrush that I had triggered in my carrying case. Ha. The weather was perfect the entire time while driving with only two, three minute rain sessions. Yesterday I was wearing an undershirt, today it is back to the winter coat and hat. We stopped at a rest stop and I took Bo for a short walk and did some computer work and emails. Eight hours later, we arrive in Little Rock. It was dark. The first thing I noticed... JESUS!... that is all the billboard said. I knew I had no need to worry about taking the name of the lord in vain in this city! Another thought as I was driving was that... the thousands of church signs were like the thousands of fast food joint signs... they are difficult to ignore (if that is what a person wanted to do) with the repeated impressions hitting you every mile or so. "Jesus is the way", "You Better Believe", "Your Dead Meat with You Do Not Repent". I made that last one up. For the record... I love Jesus.
As I drove through the city, I was in culture shock. We had come out of the back woods and now I was in chain store heaven. Every chain store from the Pennsylvania area... from Save-a-Lot to Crate and Barrel along with every southern store that is not in the north had a site. On the other side of the city, I found Scotty's house, my host for the night. The first thing I heard when I got out of the truck were the peepers, frogs in the lake on his property. The feel of that sound I just love. Once again, my truck was fortunate to have a garage. I hope it does not leak oil and I had this thought when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I am meeting top of the line people as in interesting people with good character and a lot of life experience. Most have been liberals so far! I gave Scotty the dozen fresh farm eggs that were passed to me last night. Did you know that fresh eggs do not need refrigeration for at least a week? We started to talk about fun names like the fact that salesman who used to pass through Arkansas used to call the state Rackensack.
Scotty is a successful advertising and public relations man, he started out in the air force and he is a Unitarian. He is also a musician who plays boogie piano and the gutbucket. Yep, the gutbucket, he is a good player! A gutbucket is a metal farmyard bucket with a pole attached by string and it plays music like a bass. He also has a girlfriend that he is truly in love. Scotty is sixty-eight years of age. These guys I am meeting are inspiring me, they all have one or several girl friends or are still out actively on the prowl. They are getting "it"! Scotty belongs to a music group that was having a session shortly after I arrived so I joined them for the session. The experience was the highlight of my trip to date. This group of about twenty-five musicians get together on Thursday nights to create music, jam and just play for each other. They have been doing it for 29 years and alternate between the different members houses every week. They were of all expertise levels, instruments, ages and styles of music. The flute, fiddle, mandolin, sax, bass, harmonica, voice, hammer dulcimer, bongo's, guitars and lets not forget that gutbucket! They call themselves the Wifnsip music group. Anyone can belong and there is to official structure to the night. One lady, Suzanne, sang the music of bird songs to the improvisations. I was hearing the vocal musical birds sounds of nature indoors with the instruments, wow! They were all troopers. They ran out with me into the cold to do a jam with me in the truck while it sat on the lawn. The younger kids, the rockers and newbie's huddled together in the back not knowing how to interact or respond but all the seasoned musicians just jumped right in. Inside, I acted like the kids; I could not even pick up a percussion instrument to join in. I was too chicken. I hope I will grow into being more comfortable in that area. I can do it sometimes one on one but have not yet improvised in a group setting. What a great journey I am on!