Bienvenidos! A traditional welcome to Mexico.

by Marianne Freeman April 13, 2021

Bienvenidos! A traditional welcome to Mexico.

Music is an integral part of all cultures, whether the instruments are lovingly handcrafted using materials at hand or full brass bands associated with New Orleans. The type of musical expression tells a lot about each region.
Harry and I were honored to receive an invitation from the Trade Commission of Mexico which, ultimately caused us to fall in love AGAIN. This time it was not with each other but with a whole different world; a new culture, country, community, and clan. The people we met changed our lives.
The invitation prompted our inaugural trip south of the Border to the cities of Guadalajara, Jalisco, and San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, the purpose being to meet with local artists and consider their creations for importation to the United States to sell in our stores in Las Vegas. Since that trip in 2001, we have fallen further and further in love with each additional visit.
We had no idea that a total cultural experience lay ahead of us. After a long day of meeting many talented artists, few of whom spoke English, at that time I knew zero Spanish, we were treated to a beautiful dinner at a local restaurant and then escorted to the Parroquia, For those who are unfamiliar, the Parroquia is the park area, located in the center of most towns, villages, and cities in Mexico. The Catholic church is always the focal point. The area surrounding the park is lined with restaurants and shops.
The main Parroquia in San Miguel de Allende is situated directly across from the beautiful church of San Miguel the Arcangel, and it was here that we met the strolling street musicians known as Estudiantinas or Callejoneadas (literally alleyway musicians). As our group of gringos gathered, the music began, as is the tradition we accepted the invitation to follow them as they led us along the side streets of San Miguel, playing and singing traditional songs all the way. All those who followed were invited to sing along, dance if the music moved us, and share in the wine that is carried in a fabric saddle on the back of a burro. I can't imagine a better way to welcome strangers to a city, a culture, and a language that was foreign to us just a few hours before.

Callejonedas, street musicians playing in Guanajuato, Mexico

01. The Estudiantinas converge in the center of San Miguel de Allende  and urge everyone to sing and dance along as the evening's music is about to begin. | 02. No merry procession through the cobble stone streets is complete without a decorated donkey satcheled with cases of wine for all to enjoy. | 03. A particular group of Estudiantinas from Guanajuato, belt out the lyrics to the famous song "Cielito Lindo" translated as Lovely Sweet One.

This tradition of strolling street musicians began in 1962 in Guanajuato's capitol city in the state of the same name. These musical groups are primarily comprised of students of music and the performing arts at the university located in the city's central area. This experience allows them to perform in public and entertain the locals and tourists all while taking them on a walking tour of their beautiful city and introducing them to its history, music, and architecture.
If we weren't immediately enamored with the enchanted towns of San Miguel and Guanajuato, the Estudiantinas sealed the deal. It is truly an experience not to be missed and a memory that we relive with each visit to these two historic and beautiful cities.

Street scenes of San Miguel de Allende Mexico

01. The sun slides slowly toward the horizon behind a church bell tower of little town off the Calle de Oro in Guanajuato Mexico. | 02. December 31st 2019, a few hours before the New Year's celebration in the town of San Miguel de Allende #bucketlistcelebration. | 03. A horse and buggy wedding procession through the streets of San Miguel de Allende.  





Marianne Freeman
Marianne Freeman

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