Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Second week in Mexico - Los Cabos

Our travel day to Los Cabos was quite exciting. I saw the Hotel California! The one from the song! Los Cabos is only around three hours from La Paz so we were able to leave in the morning and still have time that day to spend in our new destination. As we reached the city, we were given police escorts. The streets of Los Cabos are very busy and narrow, so our vans and buses needed to be assisted at each intersection. Eventually, our buses reached Teatro de la Ciudad, a theater in nearby San Jose. Many members of the cast attended a press conference while the rest of us attended a speech given by the governor of Los Cabos. Since we are such a large group and will be in Mexico for such a long time, our organization is fully recognized by the Mexican government. This allows Viva La Gente to have many opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable. We are allowed to use city-owned buildings as meeting places, promote in areas that are closed to advertising and most Importantly we are able to take part in some of the Governor’s time. After meeting with the press and the Governor, the cast and I were able to see a once-in-a-lifetime performance provided by students from Cuba, Mexico and Argentina. This performance was a demonstration of Mexican culture. It featured traditional styles of dance and movement that are performed during mariachi, salsa and flamenco song selections. The students in this performance had rehearsed for weeks and choreographed an incredible show just for the arrival of Viva La Gente.

Our first full day in the Los Cabos area was filled with regional learning. We started off the morning with a bus tour that took us through the streets of downtown San Jose. The cast and I were able to see many homes and businesses that are sometimes overlooked by tourists. San Jose and Los Cabos are gorgeous areas, both cities are located on the tip of the Baja Peninsula. The many tourists provide an excellent economy for these small cities. Members of society who work in tourism are living very well, but other citizens are not as lucky. A large problem in this area of Mexico are the hundreds of families that have no land to build a home. Illegally, these families build houses in dried out riverbeds. This has become a large problem for the Mexican government. Substantial rainfall takes place in these areas annually and can become devastating to many families that refuse to leave the land in the river beds. The Mexican citizens and the government have fought over this issue for years. Citizens say they will protest government land laws until they are given the rights to live in safe places, yet the government can hardly keep up with growing populations and the need to keep its citizens safe. After visiting local neighborhoods and seeing substantial building projects in the river beds, the cast and I took an hour-long bus ride into the country. We were told that we would visit a traditional Mexican ranch.

Personally, I was livid when I realized that I had forgotten my boots and hat, but the day got better when I ate the best piece of fruit I have ever eaten in my life. When we reached the ranch I was given a large orange-ish yellow fruit and I was able to taste why the farmers of Mexico are such, "Jolly Ranchers". It is all in the mango! The mango is an incredible fruit. I'm sure that in some countries it is the reason why monkeys are able to climb so fast, but in Mexico I soon found out that it is the reason why people are happy. I believe that the only reason why people drink in Mexico is because they are waiting for the mango to grow. God bless the mango! God bless Mexico! Viva Mexico!

That evening, the cast and I were given the gift of dinner on a boat in the harbor. One of the best cover bands I have ever seen was the Mexican group that played on our dinner cruise. Mexico is always even prettier from the water. The cast and I were able to see 40 to 50 seals sunning on the rocks near the harbor. An hour or so later, a small number of the cast and I, happened to be standing in the right place on the boat to see two Dolphins jump out of the water. I never thought that I would come to a place this insane during my lifetime. Traveling has never been a large priority of mine because I have always looked for incredible things with out seeing them. My parents were right when they taught me to concentrate on the people around me and wonderful things will come to me to be seen.

Show day in San Jose was on thursday and went excellently. I was placed on the show set up crew and helped our tech team get ready for the show. Around 2,000 people came to the San Jose baseball stadium that evening. Mexico has taught me that there is a large difference between musical performance and entertainment. It does not matter how I feel about my guitar playing in a show, the people of Mexico want a message and are looking for entertainment. Viva La Gente has shown me that a show is only as powerful as a group makes it.

After the show, I worked with another student conducting an interview. After each show, a portion of the cast interviews potential students for the Viva La Gente program. I interviewed a local boy named Samuel. Samuel lives in San Jose and is an excellent candidate for our group. Student interviewing sessions are the most important part of my week. Up With People/Viva La Gente is only as strong as its student body, so I love interviewing new students for the program because it is sometimes like meeting a future cast.

Our Friday night show was a bit larger that the night before. We performed in a stadium in Los Cabos. The cast was very tired but pulled though! The next day we boarded the ferry to Tepic! Who knows what is next!!?

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