I'd never done it before.
Podcasts, that is. I've know about them for a couple of years, but never had any interest in listening to one. At my old college, PVCC, the student leadership council created a podcast and we put it up on the college web site. It was one of the most-read things on the site. I just never had the need to download and listen to one. Figured they were mostly music for much younger ears. And I didn't like the idea of wandering around Phoenix with earbuds in my ears, zoned out, listening to my little iPod noise, and not the environment around me.
But then came Mexico. Through the magic of the Internet, I can go to the National Public Radio (NPR) site or to iTunes, and find free podcasts of my favorite talk-radio shows. Stuff like the Dianne Reehm Show or Fresh Air with Terry Gross or All Things Considered. Not every archived show is podcasted, but enough are so that I can select a few of my favorites. Sitting here in an Internet cafe in Mexico, on my little laptop, I can download them onto this computer. It takes about 5-6 minutes to download a 40-minute show. And then I have it. In the morning after breakfast, I just fire up my computer and listen to a full-length radio show on a topic I'm interested in....from the comfort of my hotel room. Today, I listened to Dianne Reehm interview a psychologist and author who wrote a biography of Charlie Chaplin. Delightful! And since there is no TV in this hotel room, it's a bit of American culture on the go.
Last night, I got my culture "live." The city put on an event called "Gala de Habanera de la Bella Lola." It was a fundraiser benefiting the local Mexican Naval Academy. Many of the cadets can't afford the tuition (it used to be free, but these days it's not), and this is one way they create scholarships. All the hoi poloi of Mazatlan turned out. And me in my jeans. Didn't pack "fancy." Lots of naval officers in dress blues and cadets in white uniforms. The evening of music featured a local student small symphony and a local chorus plus the naval academy chorus. Really nice! And the soloist for the evening was an older gentleman who is somewhat of a local celebrity. As a young man, he was a naval intern here and he sneaked out of the academy one night to enter a song contest. He won, and the rest--as they say--was history. He does have an incredible voice. They performed 11 songs, all related to the sea. The last was the song for which the evening was named, "La Bella Lola" (the beautiful Lola). It is almost a city anthem for Mazatlan, something everyone learns from childhood. La Bella Lola (Beautiful Lola) is, for many, the Hymn of the Sailor. The lyrics describe the beauty of a woman and the surrounding sea.
Here are the lyrics to the popular song:
MY BEAUTIFUL LOLA
WHEN ON THE BEACH MY BEAUTIFUL LOLA
HER PRETTY FIGURE GOES A'SHINING
THE SAILORS BECOME SO CRAZY
EVEN THE CAPTAIN LOSES THE COMPASS
OH THE PLEASURE I FELT
WHEN AT THE BEACH
SHE TOOK OUT HER HANDKERCHIEF AND WAVED TO ME
LATER SHE APPROACHED ME
GAVE ME A HUG
AND WITHIN HER GRASP I THOUGHT I HAD DIED
AND WE THE POOR SAILORS
HAVE MADE A LITTLE BOAT OF WAX
TO LIVE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEA
FOR ONE CANNOT LIVE ON THE LAND.
And--to my surprise--all the women in the audience, as if on cue, pulled white handkerchiefs from their purses and waved them slowly in the air, as in a goodbye. Very emotional. Not a dry eye in the house.
Tonight, I went over to the baseball stadium to go to the semifinal game of the season with the local team, the Mazatlan Venados. In the States, when our sports teams have names of animals, they are MEAN animals: The Bears, the Wildcats, the Cougars, the Diamondbacks. But here in Mazatlan, the team is the "Venados"....translated "the deer." Somehow I can't imagine playing a team named for Bambi.