Oil on Canvas for CD Cover Art
Category Archives: Music
It was hot and sweaty in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, where I had to take one of these tricycle taxis from the bus station to the Mexican border. It was much cheaper to walk across the bridge then to pay $4 to be tricycled across. Guatemalan and Mexican immigration was smooth enough, although a slow and sweaty process. From there I took a shuttle to Tapachula, where I had to wait a couple of hours for the bus to Arriaga. It gave me time to relax and have some good Mexican tacos. It seems to me that Mexican tortillas are the best.
I enjoyed a night and a day in Arriaga, Mexico where I had stayed before, at the Hotel Chiapas, although they had raised their rates somewhat since I was here in October. I had more great Mexican street tacos, then in the morning an incredible breakfast buffet for $4 that set me up through lunch. I had to wait all day and into the night for my bus to leave for Oaxaca at 9PM. It was nice to be in a real bus station rather than just a spot on the sidewalk.
I slept on the bus all night and arrived in Oaxaca around 5AM, so the Hostel Paulina, where I had stayed in October, only charged me for the following night. Breakfast was included, and the staff recognized me and requested a musical performance. I gave them a Promo CD of Luis Sabor and the next morning they were playing it for the breakfast service.
I really like Oaxaca, Mexico. It is one of the few large state capital cities that still retain a relaxed atmosphere, despite being very busy and offering a great deal of opportunities for shopping and entertainment. It is similar to Leon, Nicaragua in this regard. I enjoyed visiting a large mercado, where I tried on a sombrero, since I had accidentally left my leather hat on a bus in Escuintla.
I also tried a few of these “chapulines”: chili-fried crickets, at the insistence of my friend Porfirio, whom I had met back in October when I was busking in the Plaza. Porfirio and I talked a great deal and he had an interesting story to tell. Having grown up on the streets, he had just spent his first entire year dependence-free, after being addicted to heroin for six years. It was inspiring to hear how he had pulled himself out of the gutter, literally, with the help of God, to escape the living hell he had endured. He was incredibly optimistic, and I have felt compelled to pray for him, as his trials certainly cannot be over.
After just two days in Oaxaca, I was ready to board another bus for a long trip to Puebla. The bus stations were starting to resemble airports now, and the buses were more comfortable, including bathrooms and movies, although much more expensive than in other countries.
Antigua Guatemala was really great. The hostal I stayed at for a week happened to be Salsa Central, where four different dance instructors gave group and private lessons. As a result I made dozens of friends, listened to great music, and really felt at home. Friday night I took my Guiro to Las Palmas and talked the owner and band into letting me play with them, and it was great fun. There were a few extended songs of over 15 minutes that really pushed me to the limit, then after the band stopped I got to dance a few songs with some beautiful ladies I had met. There were actually more friends there than if I had gone out to a club in my home town of Tucson Arizona.
Sunday I took a shuttle to Guatemala City where I got a “first class” bus to San Salvador. I met a Canadian couple, Eric and Heather, at the bus station and it turned out we were headed to the same hostal( #1 on hostelworld.com) . The ride to El Salvador was very short and smooth, and when we got to the border there was no immigration post per se, just some military guys who checked our luggage and passports and asked alot of questions. The ride to San Salvador was pleasant and when we arrived a local lady overheard me ask about taxis and made a call to a Christian Taxi service for us. Eric and Heather and I shared a taxi to the hostal and then shared dorm room as well. The Hostal Cumbres del Volcan is one of the cleanest and most civilized I’d seen, and only $8 a night. The downside was that it was in a residential area and there wasn’t any place even to buy a soda within five blocks. I didn’t bother taking any photos because it was just an urban center that could have been anywhere on the planet. I spent Monday promoting my music show at a number of five-star hotels and restaurants, I have a solo act as Luis Sabor, singing and playing guitar. I didn’t expect any response right away, so I left for Santa Ana, which is actually back North a couple of hours. This is a town more to my liking and I found a great Hostal Casa Verde just blocks from the center of town.
This is really an awesome hostel, just look at the view from the rooftop terrace here. It has free internet I’m using at the moment, clean everything, and one of the best kitchens you could imagine. The owner Carlos is very friendly and helpful, has designed this place in a very intelligent manner. When he found out what I was doing he immediately called up a nearby cafe and I played there Wednesday night, and I’m going to play there again Friday. The interesting contrast I am seeing between Guatemala and El Salvador is that in Guatemala, Xela and Antigua at least, the rooms were really cheap but it was a challenge finding a cheap meal. Here its in reverse: rooms are twice as much ($9!) but cheap food is everywhere. It will be easy to keep below my daily budget of $20 here, so maybe I can make up for my expenses in Mexico.
The weather is really my style, WARM, but with a constant breeze. As long as you stay in the shade its very comfortable. No need to use a towel after a shower, and of course there are no blankets, just thick sheets. The hostal here is just blocks from the market, but the whole center of town is just one big bustling entrepreneurial zone. Just about anything is offered in any of dozens of shops of various sizes, including folks with just a basket or cart. Tomorrow I plan to make a video of a walk through the market which should be very entertaining. One thing different about El Salvador markets from other places I’ve seen is the abundance of pharmacy outlets everywhere, sometimes right next to a food stall in the market. Perhaps there are no licenses required to sell pharmaceuticals because I’ve even seen guys selling packaged medicine on the sidewalk.
In all, Santa Ana seems to be a very pleasant place just to kick back for a few days, which is just what I plan to do.
I stayed in Morelia for five days and got very rested up from my long trip there and what was sure to be a long trip to Oaxaca. The trip to Oaxaca was indeed difficult. I had to wait in the terminal at Morelia until 2PM for the bus to Puebla, as there wasn’t a direct route to Oaxaca. Eight hours later I struggled with my heavy backpack and guitar through the huge terminal at Puebla where I discovered I had just missed the latest bus by 15 minutes and had to wait until Midnight for the next one. I had a nice sandwich (Torta) and waited. The trip to Oaxaca was only four hours, and I slept the whole way. I had made reservations the previous day for the Hostel Paulina, so I felt confident arriving there at 4:30AM, and they didn’t even charge me for that night. It turned out to be a great deal, including a satisfying breakfast included, for around $15 and night.
The hostel was populated by a large group of students studying Acts (from the Bible) of the Covenant Church. They were great folks, mostly Swedish with some Central American kids as well, and we got along quite well especially after I started playing guitar and singing. I stayed in a dorm room, but shared it only with one Japanese guy who was very agreeable.
I spent my days taking my promo packets to hotels and restaurants, and I had interviews with a couple of interested parties, but mostly I played my music in the Central Plaza with my guitar case open for tips. I gained a few dollars a day, enough for lunch, and I met a number of friendly locals that were big music fans. One interesting fellow named Porfirio Diaz (!) had a helluva story to tell: he had been a heroin addict for the last 20 years and finally pulled himself out of the gutter and was working in a sports shop in Morelia, just visiting family in Oaxaca, and passing the days shining shoes for extra cash. He’s a really good guy and I sure hope he can keep on keeping on.
Oaxaca was actually quite comfortable, but even with the cheap hotel and free breakfast, lunch and dinner were pushing me over my $20 a day budget, so I was ready to head south. My goal was Tehuantepec, a little town half way to the border of Guatemala that I had visited fifteen years before. The trip was a long four hours and when I arrived I made the mistake of hoisting on my backpack and walking from the bus terminal to the hotel I had stayed at long ago. The town had grown enormously and I was in great pain from walking more than ten blocks when I arrived at the Hotel Donaji, which had since become a grand hotel charging $30 a night for a single with only a fan. I felt I had no choice, so I forked it over and planned to get up early to catch the early morning bus to Arriaga.
The ride to Arriaga was quite pleasant, even though the bus was second class and spent alot of time picking up students and locals along the way. Arriaga was much more my kind of town, and I could have spent more time there if I wasn’t so eager to reach Guatemala. The taxi driver took me to a brand new hotel that charged $15 a night for single with fan. The market was just a couple of blocks away.
I bought a few tacos at around .5o cents each, then bought some avocado, cheese and tortillas for my dinner. When I got back to my room I realized I had forgotten my avocado, so I hustled back to the same vendor and told them what happened, and they went ahead and gave me my avocado without argument.
I suppose the beginning of the trip was when I left Tucson, Arizona around Sept 16, 2012 at 3AM and drove to Las Cruces, New Mexico where I called my new Couchsurfing friend Paty who had generously offered her abode for my much needed rest. It had been a stressful day before as I had packed all the belongings I could into my Toyota Camry, leaving behind everything else to my friends and the house I had lived in for the previous 9 years, to be auctioned off in October.
I slept for a few hours at Paty’s place, then had dinner in El Paso before driving all night until I was dangerously sleepy and decided stop at a rest stop outside of Junction Texas. By dawn I was much better, then got out of the car to do my morning ritual of Qi Gong exercises before driving in to Austin, Texas. Austin has changed a whole heck of a lot in the last 15 yrs since I lived there. I stayed with a couple of friends of mine, Tim & Taz, and later Gary, and had a couple of shows playing guitar and singing my songs. My stage name is Luis Sabor and I have been planning to sing my way through Central America and finally to Lima, Peru, where I will spend the New Year with my 9 yr-old son, who lives there.
I visited alot of friends and family on my way to Victoria, Texas, where I stayed with my parents for a few days and left my car parked in their driveway. My folks drove me to McAllen, TX where we visited with my Uncle Leon before getting on a bus for Reynosa Sept 29. Right in the bus station I met a lovely Mexican lady named Alejandra, who was travelling the same route to Queretaro Mexico. We were instant friends and we talked a great deal along the way. We said goodbye in Queretaro as I took a bus to Morelia, where I had another Couchsurfing friend , Marjolaine, generously offering me a place to stay.
My stay with Marjolaine was wonderful–I really got the rest I needed. The second night in Morelia I played at a restaurant for food and tips, then my last night I got to play all night with a Salsa Band, playing my Guiro, a percussion instrument which is great fun.
Now I’ve used up my time in this internet cafe, so I’ll be posting chapter 2 soon. Hasta Luego! Luis
I had an interesting experience the other day. I was meditating, as I do every morning, and it was going well. Unlike most days, I was not as distracted by memories, desires, or fictional characters from movies or books. I was in a peaceful state, approaching “no thought.” A feeling came upon me, along with an idea that in around 10 minutes some “event” was going to take place. Hmmm, I thought…what kind of event could occur? Probably the phone will ring, perhaps someone will knock on the door, or I suppose there could be a power outage. Sometimes when I finish meditating it is exactly at the half-hour mark, maybe that’s all it is. So I kept at peace for a space I felt was about 10 minutes, then I turned my head to look at the clock. It was 10:28. Well, I guess that’s close enough, I thought, so I stretched my legs and started getting the blood flowing again. Then the phone rang. Wow, I thought, that’s cool. I answered the phone, and it was Tchiya Amet, a fabulous indigenous reggae musician, who had never called me before, and we hadn’t communicated even by email in a couple of years. She said she had been trying to send an email for the last 15 minutes, but for some reason the computer wasn’t cooperating. She asked me if I would like to do the artwork for a new CD she is going to release soon. Well yeah! I would say that was a significant “event.”