I learned today that the zocalo is awesome at night. Though I have been here a week, I haven’t really ventured out much at night. Initially it was because I didn’t know how safe the city would be at night. Then it was because I was just too tired.
But tonight I went to this small restaurant that keeps catching my eye called “la casa de abuelita” or something like that with a cute little sign. I sat by a balcony overlooking the zocalo and watched what looked like a high school orchestra band playing. What the Lonely Planet claimed is true – nearly everyday there is some event at the zocalo that a tent is being set up for or taken down from.
In any case, after dinner I resisted my usual urge to hole myself up in my room to read and instead I walked around the zocalo. I checked out how much the mexican tunics cost from a couple vendors. I watched the marimba band that plays nightly. I watched some kids practice their break dancing moves.
Then came the best part. A mariachi band. I didn’t realize how much I love mariachi until that moment. I was so excited. Some lady in the zocalo who happened to be there was singing a song with them. Once they were done, the band walked in the zocalo for a bit to find someone to play for. I surreptitiously stalked them because I wanted to see them play more. Finally they stopped at a table in a restaurant to play for a family. I loved it. The pomp and circumstance of the uniforms. And the cool instruments. And the gritos from the band were all amazing.
I didn’t realize until tonight that mariachi bands typically play for someone or serenade. Unlike the marimba band that just set up shop in the middle of the zocalo.
I also loved how all the different musicians in the zocalo give each other space. There were two hippy looking guys nearby who started playing their guitar and sax when the mariachi band stopped. And the mariachi band picked up the basic chords and were strumming along as backup to the hippy guys. Then when the mariachi bands were playing for the family at the restaurant, the live band hired by the restaurant gave the guys the floor to play.
It was a good night 🙂