Zocolo at night, Taxco, MexicoThe Zocolo is the center of activity in most Mexican towns and Taxco is no different. There is usually a landscaped, park in the center, with flowers, trees, shrubbery, benches to sit upon, and a “kiosk” (bandstand) for musical and other presentations on special occasions. There is a casual, relaxed fiesta atmosphere about the place — vendors sell popcorn and candy, blow up toys and Mylar balloons; there are artisans selling watercolors, indigenous peoples selling sombreros (hats), colorful baskets, painted leather or pottery, embroidered clothing, and  the ever present street urchins with their packs of Chicklets. Of course, a Zocolo would not be complete without a shoeshine chair on every corner. They do a brisk business, too. Mexicans love shiny shoes.

You might find many of these things or their equivalent in almost any larger American city. Madison, Chicago, Austin, Boston, Manhatten, Brooklyn, all seem to have their version, whether in the city center or a central park of some sort. However, only in Mexico will  you find a true Mariachi band.

You can tell the Mariachi (the most distinguished of street musicians) from the rest of the bands by their black suits, red ties, and shiny silver buttons and chains adorning their jackets and pant legs. There are usually about 7 in the group — several violins, a viola, a couple guitars (one a bass), and a trumpet or two. They tend to gather at the Zocolo on weekends and in the early evening when people are strolling about, warming up, practicing riffs of new songs, and generally waiting for some lucky woman to come along whose escort treats her to a performance. After the negotiations over price, the band gets off their park bench, and with great aplomb seats the couple and gathers around to serenade her. One song turns into another and then another — like true musicians everywhere, they love to practice their craft.

I recorded video of one song, however I cannot seem to upload it to Youtube in a timely manner so you will have to be satisfied with pictures for now. If I do not figure it out and post it later, when you see me, ask to see the video. It is truly a treat.

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