29 November 2009

Sunday Evening

I promised myself all day that I would go out in the early evening to see Puerto Vallarta in a different light. What happens to me when I live anywhere, is that I may go out two or three times in a day, but rarely leave the house at night. One reason is that I don’t particularly like being out alone when it’s dark. Another is that by the time the sun is getting ready to set, I feel like the day is over and can’t be bothered to get ready to go out.

At 4:30 I set off thinking that it should be cooling down and I had an hour or so before the skies started to change colors. Walking along the malecon I soon realized that I should have stayed in my sarong and not switched to long pants; it was still hot and super humid. By the time I got to the central square my hair was soaking wet and I needed to sit in the shade.

I sat on a bench under some trees and listened to the jungle sounds of probably 100 birds in the trees above me going crazy before sunset. I have never known why they do this both in the evening and in the morning right before the sun comes up. These are iridescent, black birds that might be mynah birds or maybe a South American mockingbird, or at least some sort of species that makes as much noise. It was sheer magic to sit there and listen to this incredibly load singing. The birdies did not seem to notice that they were in the middle of a city, with people milling around.

In the center of the square is a small bandstand where a brass band was tuning up to give a concert. There were about ten members, both men and women. People had gathered around, sitting on iron benches or on the edge of the large planter boxes. Promptly at 6:00, they began to play.

I couldn’t tell you what type of music it was, although several of the tunes were familiar. It wasn’t mariachi music or anything else that I’ve heard on Mexican radio stations. Whatever it was, it was wonderful and I was tapping my feet and swaying to the beat the moment they started.

And then couples, mostly of the senior set, got up from their seats and started to dance. You could tell most had been dancing together for years. I wouldn’t say it was salsa; they were much more reserved, but the steps and movements were much the same. It was a joy to watch and I wished I’d had a dancing partner.

I asked the women sitting next to me if this happened only on Sundays. She told me that there is live music both Sundays and Thursdays from 6:00-7:00, but that they play a tape the other nights.

I did notice that there were women dancing together and others dancing alone. When I returned to the hotel, I told the women at the front desk about where I had been and how I had wanted to dance. She said that it didn’t make any difference if I were alone, and that next time I should just join in.
Maybe I will.