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Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Night of Romance & Music in Puerto Peñasco

by Naomi Black

Evening seems to fade more gently in Mexico, when everyone comes out to enjoy the coolness of the evening. Vendors set up their carts at the edge of the square, preparing tacos, hotdogs, churros, or papas fritas. Another vendor with balloons arrives, as well as the ice cream man with his little cart and bell.

Families head to the zocalo. The children are giddy with energy, ready to run free up the steps of the gazebo, laughing as they race across the wooden floor. Older couples stroll under the flickering shadows of bougainvilleas and palms. Young couples in love sit together on park benches, speaking in low tones. This is my romance with Mexico as day slowly fades away, the sunset taking its place, eventually turning into the black of night. As darkness envelops us, everyone drifts back to the casa.

I am in Puerto Peñasco, hardly a colonial town of Old Mexico. And yet, one summer evening, we were invited to go to the Malecon at sunset to hear live music. On a hot and humid Sunday night, I discovered that this tradition is alive and well here in tourist-trodden Northern Mexico!

It was just as it should be, with strolling families, energized children, young couples in love, older couples sitting quietly, and the young people flirting and laughing. The vendors with their various snacks, the ice cream man with his cart, and even the girl selling balloons were all there. As we arrived and I saw the band set-up, complete with conga drums, I realized the music might just be perfect. The band plays not on a bandstand, but out on the edge of the road. Up the concrete tiered steps are hundreds of townspeople and families mingling with all of us: the foreigners, the tourists, and the visitors.

In this is a beach town, our backdrop is simply over-the-top: a stunning sunset over the water as the sky turns from pastel pinks and blue to deep, intense fiery reds and orange. Added to this are small fishing or pleasure boats on the water, an assortment of sunset cruise boats in every size and shape, including a pirate ship with its fireworks display, and the grand concrete columns and colored lighting of the boardwalk itself. Here the stage is set for a romantic evening.

The music does not disappoint, as it is a mixture of Mexican Cumbia, Cuban, and Caribbean. Off to the side, two ladies are dancing with their babies. One man gets up and starts his crazy dance; he has so much energy! He soon finds a partner and they swirl back and forth on the concrete. Other people are dancing, occasionally interrupted by small boys bicycling across the floor. People come and go, continuing a stroll along the Malecon or heading off to their dinner plans. I sit and watch and am mesmerized. Here at the Malecon on this Sunday night, I unexpectedly found a romance with evening in Mexico again.

This was not the first time I was pleasantly surprised by music at Puerto Peñasco. Last year, we attended Jazz by the Sea. It is great to see that this event appears to be an annual event, as it is a featured event this October 4th. What a fantastic evening of Latin jazz, food, and wine. The venue was outside and informal, but with subtle classy touches of white tablecloths and wine glasses. As always, the stunning sunset over the water made for the perfect backdrop.

In July, I joined the Uncommon Women on Common Ground for a sunset cruise. (Just to get it straight, I have no aspirations of being in any real way “uncommon”; however, being just a “common woman” sounds a little uninspiring.) These ladies are pretty great, and we had a blast that evening. The highlight of this cruise was when one of the truly “uncommonly talented” daughters got up and performed some very beautiful belly dancing just as the boat turned around and the sun set in the sky. To dance on a boat is, to me, true talent. Once again there was another great moment of dance, music, and sunset!

Tradition, music, and talent are all alive and well here in Puerto Peñasco. I eagerly await the next unexpected moment when music blending with a sunset makes me love this place a little more.

“JAZZ BY THE SEA”, October 4; for more information call 1-877-843-3717