June 2nd, 2005

abstract butterfly

Guadalajara

Today I read a babelfish translation of the lyrics to the song "Guadalajara". I like such translations, though they make me wonder things like what I would actually colloquially call that thing the translation program calls a rockrose of the river.

We vacationed in Guadalajara years ago, finding it wholly congenial to our tastes. I liked going up into the balcony of the civic theater to watch a ballet folklorico perform the dances of a lot of regions. My favorite part is the part in which people do loud dances in which their shoes clack against the dance floor, as in the dance of the old men, when wooden shoes tap out a syncopated rhythm. I liked the way that the city bus played "As Time Goes By" in Spanish. It was fun to buy an orange soda, and then have it placed into a plastic baggie, straw provided, so that one did not have to pay ruinous bottle deposit charges.

I love the stark, passionate 1930s murals, the string art of the Huichol native people, and the way that the panaderia provides ample pastries which one gathers on a tray with tongs, usually paying a dollar for five or so. I like the way a brass band plays a weekly concert, and folk art makers are in the suburb an easy bus ride away.

I'm struck constantly by how much life and vigor day to day things can have, if one just imbues them with it. So often folk expression is not some huge planned thing, but something that stems directly from the way people live. Home-grown music, neighborhood arts and crafts, and local celebations build so much community. Not every place needs a Plaza of the Mariachis. But I do appreciate when people do music, arts, crafts and just living from the grassroots, and infect a whole culture, like some healing anti-biotic killing off the disease of unease.