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Jonathan Roldan – BAJA BEAT

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Thursday, February 13, 2020
Family planning
Wednesday, March 11, 2020
It was never about the fishing


Musicos de la Noche
I don’t get to see many movies. Especially living in Baja and with our lifestyle, we barely ever get to watch TV, let alone catch a movie.

And that’s with a bar that has 13 TVs in it — we’re always running!


However, Jill and I recently got to sit down for a moment and catch the movie, “Yesterday.” It’s a romantic English comedy about this guitar-playing singer who has spent years trying to “make it big.”


He just can’t seem to get it going.


He’s ready to quit and go back to being a teacher. On his way home after a failed gig, there’s a mysterious global blackout and a bus accidentally hits him in the dark. He’s hospitalized.


When he wakes up, he takes to his guitar and plays the Beatles’ iconic song, “YESTERDAY” for some close friends and they are mesmerized. They have been his friends and supporters for many years, as friends do. But none of them were delusional about his talent.


But, now their mouths are dropped open.


Absolutely blown away to be more precise. He protests and keeps insisting it’s one of the greatest songs from the Beatles.


Beatles? Who are they? Some kind of bug?


As it turns out, the whole world has never heard of the Beatles and suddenly this guy starts playing all the Beatles hits…


“I Wanna Hold Your Hand”


“Back in the U.S.S.R”


“She Loves You”


“Hey Jude” (although the record company wants him to change the title to “Hey Dude”)…


… and the whole world goes crazy for him and thinks he’s the biggest singer-songwriter in the history of the world. A fun movie and I won’t kill the ending for you!


But, it reminded me of a story… of hidden talents.


Many, many years ago, I was invited by a bunch of our captains to come over one evening for some beers and tacos. Nothing formal. Just a bunch of the boys.


Sounding like a good idea, I drove out to the remote area where many of the captains and their families lived.


I had left the lights of the city miles behind in the rear view mirror. The night was chilly and clear.


It took a bit of navigation to find the little pueblo nestled in the darkness of the low hills and shrubbed trees a few miles back from the beach.


I followed the stab of my headlights through the dust of the gravel road and found the little clearing behind a group of block houses.


The guys were already there, mostly lit up by propane lights that were hung from trees and surrounding an old brick barbecue. I probably could have found the place just by following the aroma of cooking meat over smoky mesquite and the laughter of beer-driven voices arrayed in plastic chairs around the fire.


An instant welcome with lots of hugs and handshakes. A plastic chair was shoved under my butt near the crackling fire.


A cold can of Tecate thrust into my hand pulled from a tattered scuffed ice chest.


Psssssst! Pop that beer, and even in the dark, watch the icy smoke rise before tipping it back and feel that wonderful icy burn in the back of my throat with the first sip. Nectar of the gods for sure!


It’s the Mexican equivalent of happy hour.


Just like any other workplace. The workday is done, and it’s been a good one. Put your feet up. Loosen the belt. Put on the kick-back clothes and some old flip-flops on the dirt ground.


No boss or employee foolishness. Just one of the guys. And it feels good to be included. And welcomed.


Cracking some beers. Shop talk and jokes. Easy conversation. Knee slapping laughter. Letting fly the occasional unapologetic burp — or worse!


Grilled meat and fresh tortillas with salsa served in mismatched plastic bowls on a makeshift plywood board on concrete blocks. Delicious goodness dripping down chins and wiped with shirt sleeves. Sluiced down with another beer.


The family dogs press noses against pants legs eagerly hoping for something, anything from greasy fingers. The chickens know to keep a low profile in the bushes.


Life is good around the fire.


And you think it can’t get better until someone pulls out a guitar. And starts strumming a few notes. Hmmm… that note buzzed a bit.


A little adjustment on the tuning and a few chords from a familiar rancho song… you wish you could remember the name of it.


But yup, that’s Captain Alfonse pulling chords out’ve a guitar that looks like it’s seen more than a few campfires. Maybe even more beat up than Willy Nelson’s guitar.


A longing tune about a missing love.


Alfonse has worked for us for years and you had no idea. A few sing along. Others stare into the fire with smiles.


The last chord drifts off with the final words to the song. Andale, amigo! Applausa, applausa, as beers are lifted.


Then Captain Mario produces another guitar. His cousin goes back to the house for an accordion. Captain Yonni pulls a fiddle from his rusty pick-up truck and Captain Bujo and his son pull some old maracas and a scratched trumpet they were hiding someplace.


Pickin’ and grinnin’ Baja-style. And here we go! Uno… dos… tres…


A few simple songs at first. More beer and the music and songs get tighter along with the voices!


Who knew about such hidden talents way out past the city lights! Just incredible musicians. My mouth drops open.


Happy songs, sad songs, drinking songs. Anyone not playing is singing or clapping rhythms.


Wives and kids join in. The dogs wag happy and even a few chickens come out. One couple dance a well-practiced rancho two-step in the dirt with neighbors clapping time.


Sheer joy and simple pleasure of songs and companionship with neighbors, compadres and family, in the dusty glow and iconic hiss of the propane lamps and a communal campfire.


I don’t know the words, but can’t help it when maracas are put in one hand and beer in the other. I can sing, “La-La-La” as good as anyone when I’ve had enough beer.


And it feels good to join in and just let go. Loud as you want. As off-key as anyone and laughing your head off about it with good friends.


It’s the best of nights. It’s the kind of nights you too rarely find any more. Neighbors just getting together to sing, drink beer and laugh. Maybe like our grandparents did back in the day.


Before internet. And TV. And everyone behind their own little closed doors not even knowing your neighbors.


Tomorrow is another workday. But today is today, and the music seems as if it’s being carried to the sky by the sparks of the fire. Little pinpoints of light and harmony up to the stars.


Who knew?


Music out where the streetlights end and the dusty road begins. And hidden talents under the desert sky.


* * *


Jonathan can be reached at his Tailhunter Sportfishing Fleet in La Paz at www.tailhunter.com.


• • • • •

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