Welcome to The Nomadic Drummer, my arts and travel blog (AND my Sabbatical project for the Utah Symphony). During this next year, my Wife, Shirley and I will be journeying to a variety of cities throughout the Colonial Highlands of Mexico, with two months set aside for travel to five countries in South America, as well. Join us as we immerse ourselves in a veritable sea of music, history, art and cuisine south of our border to savor these amazing cultures that endlessly intrigue and fascinate us. We hope to make this contagious so that you’ll be intrigued and fascinated also.
Occasionally, I’ll foray into some storytelling too, particularly when adding an anecdote helps to crystallize or give context to a point. And I’ll begin by doing just that, as I have a history with Mexico that goes way back. And there’s a life lesson in just how all this came to be: a lesson for me, and potentially for anyone.
Back in 1980, I was a music major at University of Louisville. On one cold and snowy January afternoon that year, simply the view out the dorm window was enough to send a chill down one’s spine. My comrades with me that day: Ed, Marcia and Michael must have felt it too, because the conversation – as if it would bring some relief from the weather – quickly turned to warmer times we all wished would hurry up and get here.
That’s when Marcia turned towards me and asked, “So, you got any plans for vacation starting in May?”
“Yeah,” I said, as I lurched out of my chair to dash off to class. “I’m looking at auditioning for some summer music festivals – Aspen, Tanglewood – maybe Santa Barbara, I’m thinking.”
“Cool,” she said as I headed to the door. “Ya know, my fiancé, Jorge, conducts a professional orchestra where I live in Mexico City. Think you’d be interested in playing Timpani for it?”
“Nahhh, Louisville is sweltering enough in the summer,” I said a bit too cavalierly. “Don’t think I’d even survive the temps down where YOU live in July & August. Gotta run to class now – see y’all!” (Slam)
Now, those of you who’ve known me for any amount of time know that my life took an unexpected curve and that I DID, in fact, go down to play in Jorge’s orchestra that Summer – and for the next seven Summers as well. If you know me well, you also know how much I came to fall in love with Mexico – that even more than thirty years later, sometimes I can’t stop talking about the place – and that my experiences there had a lasting and profound impact, changing forever how I view both my life, and life, in general.
But, since that’s how things turned out, then why did I open this article with that story? Because not only was I (thankfully) dead wrong about Mexico City’s summer weather, I was incorrect about pretty much everything about Mexico. Turned out: all I thought I knew then about the place wouldn’t even fill a tequila shot glass – and 95% of it was flat out wrong.
Stay ‘tuned’ – as it were – for Part Two of this introductory article (coming your way tomorrow) titled, “The Zorro Effect.”