Billy was still nursing an injured knee, so as
is friends played, he watched the games and goofed around with other players. I was waiting at home for his phone call
to let me know when to show up for the festivities.
The food and
supplies were beginning to arrive, so this BBQ birthday party was definitely moving forward.
I soon received Billy's call: "It's happening! C'mon down!" he said.
After the rain, courts are slick
and need to be mopped of extra water.
On the right you see Doctor
Oscar, one of the town's obstetricians. On the left is Fernando, an
82 year old who has come every weekend from Guadalajara for twenty
years to play tennis
here in Chapala. The courts that Billy help build bring a wide crowd
"Charlie" holds a squeegee
Carlos, or "Charlie" as he is
called, has an outstanding baritone voice and sings professionally
in Guadalajara. We were hoping he'd stay around for the party so he
could sing! But Charlie comes to play and then runs back to Guad for
Ya wanna play? Ya gotta mop!
Beto is a longtime friend and was
Presidente (Mayor) of Chapala when
courts 5 and 6 were built in 2000. Everyone participates
on an equal basis in the mopping of the courts. Doesn't matter who
you are or who you used to be.
Campo wipes the seats down so on
changeovers no one sits in a puddle
We've known Campo for decades
also. A Columbian native, he's lived in Chapala for 34 years. Campo
has great charm, considers himself quite the cook, and actively
helps Billy with his Spanish.
One of Beto's employees
Beto also owns several stores in
Chapala, and party supplies are brought from his dispensa. Carne, chorizo, Oaxaca cheese,
tortillas, and utensils are now arriving! The party is getting
Fernando, Beto and Ramon start
No such thing as too many cooks
here! Everyone wants to get in on the act, and the meat and sausage
get laid out on the hot coals. Fernando, Beto and Ramon all pitch
in. Ramon used to own a restaurant in town not far from the tennis
So here you have Ramon cooking,
Beto checking out the quality of meat from his store, and um..
Fernando is helping too!
A closer look
at what's cookin'
carne asada, some of the best chorizo on the planet and
shrimp that Billy soaked in a secret sauce. The seafood gave a good
contrasting flavor to all the meat.
Too much fun!
Here you have Dennis, Billy with
the bag of shrimp, Odin, Beto, Ramon and Fernando. Everyone has
their hand in on the cooking!
Odin keeps an eye on the
The shrimp are starting to get
some good color now. They were a hit!
Anyone for shrimp on the barbie?
Where the boys are
Billy, Dennis, Odin, Campo,
Ramon, Fernando, Beto and Gilbert.
All the guys are hanging out
grillside and aren't going to miss a thing. The wives are enjoying
each other's company at the table while the boys serve them. Isn't
Right about this time, Dr. Oscar
gets called away to deliver a baby.
People from other courts start to
smell the delicious offerings and gather around also.
players have finished up their games and are drawn by the
mouthwatering smells coming from the grill.
Campo and Billy clowning around.
Latins are very open and
emotional about their friendships. It has been a privilege to be
able to enjoy these qualities in our world travels. Latins will say
"You are a friend for life." When was the last time someone said
that to you?
It's very heartwarming and
And we love it.
Freshly made guacamole, newly
grilled tomatoes and chiles for the salsa, some salt 'n' chili in a
Wives Libya and
Estella join in on the fun too, and Alvaro just came in from his
Earlier in the day, he was almost killed by one of his
horses who got spooked at the watering hole. Alvaro was grateful to
be alive and was starving. Nothing like a brush with death to get
one's appetite for life engaged again!
Oscar is still delivering that baby...
Fellowship: the #1 priority
Enjoying each other's company is
big in Latin countries. Just being together is held precious. How
are you? How are your children? How is business? Are things
going well for you these days?
Father and Son; a special bond
Odin and his 5 year old son also
named Odin have a Father and Son moment. Again, Latins are very
emotional about their relationships and Fatherhood is a proud
"My boy, my son, the best thing
that has ever happened to me in my life," Odin Sr. says. "I
love my son."
There is no doubt.
Like Father, like Son
Odin Jr. is
learning the man's "way of the grill." He saw his father grilling
earlier and was so proud to be able to
contribute by cooking the corn over the last embers.
Let the music begin!
Alvaro, also a former Presidente
of Chapala, sings his well-known favorites. Music is another
must-have ingredient to Latin parties and if you can sing, dance,
play an instrument or otherwise contribute you are always welcome!
The corn on the table was freshly
picked from Alvaro's fields that morning.
Ramon's soulful singing
Ramon has a
golden voice packed with feeling. Listening to his ballads brought
me to tears. I figured it was my party and I could cry if I want to.
emotions are so full at these events that I get bowled over by their
power. This is LIFE. Fathers, sons, Mothers, marriages,
music, food and friendship.
was just bawling.
Odin asked why
I was crying and I said "Honest. It's not because of your singing.
I'm so happy and just taken with how special this all is."
another hankie please!
Oscar? Isn't that baby born yet?)
More clowning around
Odin, Ramon and Fernando all get
in on the act. Humor and laughing is also a familiar ingredient.
People poke fun at themselves and each other. It softens life's
blows and bonds us all together.
Getting in on the act
"Hey, if the boys can sing, so
can I!" says
Martha. She's strumming and singing a song about her
native state of Chihuahua.
Seems all the songs were proud
compositions about Mexico, her beauty and the fervor for which
Mexicans love their country. Or they were romantic ballads - sort of
like the Mexican version of Country and Western. You lose your
lover, your rancho, your reason to live...
A common joke when listening to
these "I-can't-live-another-day-without-you" songs is to pretend you
are cutting your wrist with the pain of it all. Except you and your
friends are laughing because it is so over-the-top.
The drama! The passion!
Father and Son
Alvaro and Oscar have a
Father/Son moment too - one of clowning around and singing.
Everyone knew the words to every
song. When was the last time you gathered around and sang love songs
about your country and lovers?
The last time we did this in the
States was over a campfire in the Montana mountains under a full
moon. We sang Cheeseburger in Paradise!
Line 'em up!
Dr. Oscar returns!!
Another custom in Mexico for
birthdays and anniversaries is to form a line to give the woman
hugs. Every man in attendance gets in line and not just once!
Free hugs are hard to pass up and they just feel so good!
I already had several lines formed
to the chant "Linea (LEEN-ya), Linea! Linea!"
Dr. Oscar gives Alejandrina a hug
while Campo sings to Alvaro's guitar playing. In the background
partiers start again to chant "Linea! Linea! Linea!" to begin
another line to hug the player's wife.
All in good fun!
We wish the same for all of you
everywhere. Lasting friendships, open acceptance of who you are, and
profound appreciation of being alive.
Linea! Linea! Linea!