Last night was Agustin’s “surprise” fiftieth birthday party that got so big that they had to tell him about it because we were holding it at his restaurant and the staff could no longer buy enough food for all the people who attended without his knowledge and help. I don’t know if he ever ate as he was running here and there in his spiffy new chef’s coat, but it was definitely the best party I’ve ever been to in terms of the entertainment. Two musical groups played, including the best 10-piece mariachi group I have ever heard (including the Mariachi Festival and world competition in Guadalajara.) There was simply no believing this local group, with their oldest member, who is 75, having fifty years experience as a mariachi.
No telling how much experience the younger members have, but judging from the performance, they must have started in the womb. It was simply incredible. After the classic fare of “Las Mananitas” and “Guadalajara” and “Coo Ca Roo Coo Coo,” they did classical, mazurkas, and other music more usually performed by an orchestra–all performed flawlessly and with such emotion and spirit that I was in tears at times. Agustin stepped in and eventually, most of the remaining audience (the original 150 or so had dwindled to 30 or fewer by then) was out center court, singing along with the lyrics in typical Mexican late-night-party style. A little boy came in from off the street, in his pajama bottoms, shirt and bare feet. People started sticking their name tags on him and soon his shirt front was covered. I stuck mine on his pajama bottom back and with great dignity, he removed it and placed it over his heart. He had some cake, then entered into the festivities with other kids, dancing and generally having a marvelous time. A tiny baby snoozed in its mother’s arms, totally covered with a blanket for privacy. Babies fast get accustomed to noise in Mexico and are never left home even when the festivities go deep into the night and out the other side into morning.
One incredible young violin player-singer was so majestic in his performance that I inquired of Agustin where he had gone to college to achieve such mastery, and Agustin, who knew or was related to all the members of the troupe, declared that he could not even read music. Hard to imagine because I have never heard his equal at the opera, on the stage, on radio or on The Voice!
Six birthday cakes, a money tree covered in envelopes given with the intention of sending Agustin to Cuba to go investigate the music he has loved and sung from the time he was a child, the wonderful cuisine of Viva Mexico and most of my favorite people from both Mexico as well as transplants from north of the border created the perfection of the evening. The dancing and foolishness with John Mistrik who turned into a kid again with balloon fights with the kids who were reeling with happiness over his antics and their own. The incredible ballet one young boy staged with a balloon long after the battery on my camera had gone. It was a memorable night.
Happy Birthday, Agustin, our beautiful and generous friend with the biggest heart in Mexico. Generations of kids as well as all of us who have met you at this later stage in our lives have benefited greatly from your actions. We all hold you in our hearts. But it takes all of our hearts to equal the size of your own!!!!
(You can read a detailed article I wrote about Agustin HERE.)
(If you want to read captions and see the photos in a larger form, click on first photo.)
The prompt word today is “Culture.”
I’ve known these folks for 15 years. Some of the first I met when I moved to Mexico. Aurora, in the red, is a fantastic caterer and I’ve availed myself of her services, believe me. Some folks just can’t retire. She gave her restaurant in Guad to her kids but works as hard now out of her own home.
This local group are regularly called upon to play at Viva Mexico and other venues around San Juan Cosala
I took so many photos of the tables, but can’t show them all here.
These little girls spent most of the early part of the party cavorting in the empty part of the restaurant. A great playground.
These two mugged so much that I had difficulty getting this good shot.
Later the mariachis came out to play and knocked our socks off.
This is the young man who was absolutely world class but who can’t read a note of music!
Audrey as appreciative audience.
Again, the amazing young man who sent chills down all our backs with his incredible voice.
This little fellow literally danced his pants off. Unfortunately, my battery was failing by the time the dancing started and I missed some great ones. This one is a bit fuzzy but I had to include it anyway.
John to the left ended the evening with a good half-hour balloon battle with the kids. Don’t know who loved it more, him or them. It was so fun to watch.
Bernadette and Alan were the first to come up with the idea of a party for Agustin.
Some of the six cakes cooked by attendees. Yum.
Lined up for service.
Agustin had such a good time joining in the action. Wish I’d been able to capture more of it. My extra camera battery is packed away somewhere in the recesses of the chaos of my packed-up house.
The staff performed admirably, as usual.
This was a small part of the capacity crowd that filled the garden part of the restaurant.
Still superb in his 50th year as a mariachi.
Best buds. Two of the last to leave.
Cutie pie. She posed for about two seconds and then was off.
Does this look like a sixty year old leg to you? She posed for it!!!
Our cheerful and competent wait staff.
The six cakes, baked by different antendees, were a big hit.
It just looks like these ladies are competing for the biggest piece. Actually, they were cutting the cake for everyone!
This darling little gate-crasher never had a chance of being bounced. I don’t know who was the first to make him feel welcome by giving him their name tag so he’d match other party guests, but others followed in short order until his shirt was covered with them.
He approved of the cake.
I finally gave up trying to photograph Agustin’s right hand. It was always a blur.
Toward the end of the evening as Agustin was dispensing hugs, my battery had about given out and most of my photos were too blurry to use, but had to use this one anyway. Dee was on the decorations committee with Bernadette.
Spoils of the evening.
As the party thinned out, Ron was left on his own as his friend Steve went off to try to ruin some of my shots. For example:
and this one,
and this one! Just kidding Steve. Steve is an excellent photographer of long standing. The devil made me take these shots!!!
Duelling trumpets or cornets.. I can never tell the difference.
The oldest couple ever to file for a marriage license in Texas. At 91, he married an older woman! They live a block away from me and are two of my favorite people.
Cookie totaling up someone’s check.
Agustin harvesting more balloons from the ceiling for the kids.
Nice to have a comfy bed on your dad’s lap when the party gets too long.
Wish I’d captured the balloon action between John and the kids, but at least I got the balloons and a bit of the kids.
Toward the end of the evening, when the faint-hearted had all gone home and only the Mexican nationals who really know how to party and those die-hard Anglos such as myself were left, with no further responsibility, Agustin let loose
and let loose