Music men


OUR MOUNTAINTOP is a magnet for tourists, especially during the Christmas holidays, Easter Week and the Day of the Dead. Most of the tourists are Mexicans.

But in all the years I’ve lived here, I don’t recall our having the hordes that we have right now.

We live on the outskirts of town, and every day we face a long line of creeping traffic heading downtown. Luckily, there is an alternative route, but I’m not going to advertise it.

A twist to this year’s Christmas season is a gasoline crisis. Lots of gas stations are out of fuel, and those that have some often have long lines of cars. A number of Mexican states are affected, and nobody seems to know why.

Rumors abound.

Our “Energy Reform” starts Sunday, the first day of 2017. Gradually, the Pemex monopoly will fall as foreign gas stations are phased in around the nation.

In theory this will lower prices, but on Sunday prices will increase from 15 to 20 percent, so people are angry.

But Mexicans are usually angry about something or other. Along with the Energy Reform, we’re getting a reform of the legal system, and reform of the educational system.

That latter has the teachers, a gang of union leftists, foaming at the mouth, which tickles me no end.

Mexico is changing.

The last gas crisis, earlier this year, only lasted about a week. The current one has gone on more than two weeks. Nobody seems to know how long it will last. I fill the Honda tank every time I pass an open station with no line.

Mexico is ever entertaining and challenging. If it’s not severed heads rolling down cantina floors or teachers apoplectic at having to take competency tests, it’s something else.

One way to stay mellow is to sit at a sidewalk table on the main plaza with a hot café americano negro, reading my Kindle and sometimes seeing street musicians.

I tipped those old boys in the photo.

And life goes on.

14 thoughts on “Music men

  1. Smart feller, you are. Doesn’t pay to get into local politics. Too many intrinsically intertwined relationships that become restless when a Gringo steps up to tell them how they do things back home.


    1. Carole: Being a citizen, I do get into local politics to vote, but that’s the extent of it. I told this yarn years ago, but I’ll tell it again. Once I was asked to be the headman, the supervisor, of the local polling place up the street. I begged off because I thought, rightly, that the locals, even though it was legal, would not take kindly to a Gringo overseer on election day. Mexicans are not into multiculturalism.


  2. One can only hope the foreign gas stations aren’t part of any collusion.
    That being said, change is inevitable. Let’s just hope the soul of Mexico doesn’t change.


    1. Dave: I don’t think the soul of Mexico will change, but things are changing and almost entirely in a positive direction. The legal system is coming into plain view and we’ll have open courts like above the border. Previously, everything was behind closed doors, incredibly corrupt. The energy reform will introduce competition. It seems to be getting off to a rocky start, but I am optimistic. The education reform has teachers beside themselves, pulling their hair out. I mean they’ll have to do such outrageous things as pass competency tests, and won’t be able to bequeath their jobs to their unqualified kids and nephews on retirement.


  3. When I see aging street musicians trying to hustle for a tip to feed themselves I see it as Mexican Social Security and realize how blessed I am to have my gringo pensión.

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  4. I was beginning to fear the art of being a street musician in Mexico was a lost art. At, least in our sultry neck of the woods. Most of them are ancient here. And then I ran into a quintet made up of young people. Our beach town is not well-suited for young people anxious to climb the greasy pole. The usual route is to escape. I wish young musicians well. It is a hard way to make a peso.


    1. Señor Cotton: Alas, street musicians are alive and well on the mountaintop. I say alas because sometimes they are a first-rate nuisance, but it’s a better occupation than crime, so I put up with it.

      Speak of the Devil. Just this afternoon I was sitting at the coffee shop reading my Kindle when I well-dressed man, about 40 years old, stopped very near me and began loud music on a contraption around his neck. At first, it annoyed me no end. Then he started singing Aida, the opera. Did a good job of it too. I gave him 20 pesos. Other customers chipped in too. Opera! Who woulda thunk it?


  5. According to “El Economista,” the gasoline shortage is not due to one, single factor, but rather a large number of issues ranging from the deferred maintenance at a teetering Pemex, to pipeline plundering, to bottlenecks at the port of Veracruz, to confusion about the new law. Frankly, if they are correct, this problem isn’t likely to work itself out in a week or two. And if diesel fuel for trucks and buses starts to run short, things could get ugly. One also wonders if there isn’t some kind of foreign currency shortage too. The peso has been simply crushed in the past few months. That doesn’t help.


      1. Sometimes complicated systems (like petroleum refining and delivery) can take only so much abuse before they start to fail catastrophically. Let’s hope that 2017 brings better news on the gasoline front.


        1. Kim: Well, ain’t you the canary singing happy news!? What I hope is that foreign energy firms saturate the Mexican market ASAP, and that’s starting this year. Started a little bit last year.


          1. I’m with you in that hope. Frankly, I think Mexico is in for a rude awakening when it finds out that Pemex is not a national asset, but rather a national liability. The actual petroleum reserves are another matter.

            If EPN and the legislature were smart, they’d sell it off post-haste to private investors, and simultaneously pass a wellhead energy tax law. Collecting that tax would be about as sure a thing as exists, and then the state would then be free of the Pemex Albatross. And the people would be free of a giant nexus of corruption.

            Sadly, Mexican politics likely prevent anything remotely approaching the above.

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