After all these years living in Mexico, you’d think I’d remember when Dia de las Madres is. Here is always happens on the same day of the year — May 10. The newspaper reminds me of the Mother’s Day sales and restaurant specials, and I usually manage to snag one of those free gifts of flowers and candy that merchants hand out to all women, but there’s one constant which never fails to catch me by pleasant surprise.
Last night after going to bed around 1:30 a.m., hoping not to repeat the previous night’s nightmare of sleeping with Al Gore, I directly went to dreamland, only to hear choruses of dulcet voices. In my neighborhood, the only noises at this hour are the usual cohetes, gunshot, bone-shattering music, and the signoff song du jour, Led Zepplin’s Immigrant Song (We came from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.) Sweet music is a rare occurrence in my part of town.
This year I connected the noise with the date, grabbed some clothes and a camera with a dead battery and went to the street. A dozen men, beer bottles in hand, had moved the serenade from the house across the street to the corner, singing away with amazing sincerity and talent to four generations of mothers at the pozole lady’s house. They would soon move on to another house, and yet another, before heading across town, hitting the homes of all the womenkind in their world.
It is 10 a.m., and Las Mañanitas rings out down the block. Before long, the mariachis will make their rounds, showing up for an hour here, an hour there, to perform for mothers who’ve slaved away over hot stoves preparing a festive meal for their families. For what the mariachis charge for house calls, the entire family could be feted at one of the city’s best restaurants. But the neighbors wouldn’t be as impressed.
Sweet music is always a pleasant way to start the day.