All posts by Ellen Carol

Year of firsts


The Year of Firsts #7   November

Performing on a stage made from people’s homes


This month I did not set out to  achive this “first” activities  however a musical first fell into my lap.


This month’s First was performing on a stage made from the wood from people’s homes. 


This was an extremely unique experience. Los Similares the 60’s 70’s rock band that I perform with was asked to play at a festival hosted by a small puebla 2 and ½  hours outside of Merida. None of us knew what to expect. After driving through towns on winding roads we arrived at Hanal Balam. It was a beautiful little puebla with farm animals and children running freely. As we approached the stage I was a little nervous as it was quite high, did not have stairs and was made of different sized pieces of wood.  Hanah who was assisting us in our set up told us that all the wood had names written on them as they had been taken off the houses in the puebla in order to build this temporary stage.


(my view)

Part of the reason for the festival was to raise money so the town could build a more permanent stage for future performances. Once the new stage is completed, the people of the puebla would then take back the pieces of wood and return them to the spots they were taken from.  Quite an interesting concept. Could you imagine that happening anywhere else? “I am just going to take off this wall or door or roof from my house for a month until the festival is over. “ As we started to play our set more and more people came out of their near by homes to join the activities.


They were so happy to see us there. They were happy to have us standing on their houses to play music for them. But this was a very new experience to them so they did not clap. When we were done playing each song they just smiled and nodded. The children would run up to the stage and then they would run away.  So adorable. We were offered rice milk when we were finished playing and stayed to watch the mariachi band that performed after us. It really was an incredible experience and so worth the 5 hours drive.  Thanks so music to Maria Moctezuma for organizing such an amazing event. 


March 3rd 2015

March 3rd 2015

Well motivation has set in time to explore and wander.  One of my favorite ways to see an area is just pointing myself in a direction and walking. As the Simmons family was busy today I took the opportunity to have some alone time so I set off to wander the countryside. The the day was a bit overcast with the sun popping thru on occasion and air was a bit cool making it the perfect day to explore. I started walking down to the almond field, wandering in between the trees that were covered with pink flowers a calm entered my whole body. I took a deep breath that was scented with the sweet aroma of the field. I found a trail at the back of the field but as I made my way down the hill and the trail it seemed to end at a large fence. I backtracked and found a second trail but that one also ended abruptly however it had taken me a bit farther and I notice another trail started up about 40 feet ahead of me so watching for snakes I made my way thru the mustard flowers. Dawn gave me the heads up before I left “You don’t have to worry about the black ones. It is the lighter beige colored ones that you have to watch out for. They are deadly.” Well I didn’t see either and that is fine with me. I made it to the next trail and walked along the hill that was covered in mustard, poppies, and 3 other flowers that I didn’t recognize. The birds were chatting away around me and I could hear some chickens and cows commenting in the distance. I got to the point where the hillside turned and the trail once again ended. Off in the distance I could see the sea and in that moment I decided I should try and make my way there today. At the top of this hill was a house that was partly built and then they just stopped mid build. This is a phenomenon that I have seen all over the world. Grandiose structures are begun and because of money, permits or changing minds they just stop. Gary was telling me that there are no mortgages here. You buy a house when you have enough money to buy one. If you are building a house and you run out of money you have to wait till you have more money to finish it. So homes usually get built in stages. It is an interesting concept. But because of this there are partly built houses speckling the countryside. My plan of attack was to climb up to the house as there must be a driveway that connected to the road running down to the sea. I was wrong. This house had been sitting for a while and the road that once was here was overgrown by trees and shrubs. There was one space for me to fit thru so I hopped over the construction debris and thru the shrubs covering the drive to land me on the desired road. Too the Sea.

Although this was the main road to the little village I was staying in there was little to no traffic making the walk quite peaceful. To my left there was a shepherd and his flock going for their daily walk in the hills. To my right way off in the distance and up one of the hills I saw another group of sheep on their daily stroll. Then the music began. Every day there is a lone voice that rolls over the countryside. Call to pray happens 4 times a day. There are large pillars called minarets built around the mosques where speakers are mounted as to reach as many people as possible with their soothing melodies. I stopped for a moment to appreciate the song combined with the beautiful view. I felt all the tension I had been carrying just fall away on the wind. I did try to capture the moment with my video but the wind stole the show on that footage and in retrospect I think the way my memory holds that experience will never be matched with anything I could try and document. So I will just say you should put it on your bucket list. It really was an uplifting moment. I continued my walk to the sound of this haunting voice and each step seemed to be lighter and easier.

When I reached the sea I thought “I should jump in” But I have to say I am a bit of a wuss when it is a bit chilly. “I don’t have a towel or a swim suit. It is quite cool today. The walk home might not be as enjoyable if I am wet.” Quite quickly I talked myself out of the idea however to my left was some rocks perfect for climbing so my sea swim changed to a sea climb. The sea combined with the wind had carved out intricate patterns in the sandstone hills. Making perfect holds for climbing the rock. However caution was needed as all of the beautiful nooks and crannies although made for stunning visuals and great pocket to grip while climbing they would not be very good to fall on if you made a wrong move. So I made my way carefully, as I was free climbing, not to challenge myself to a dangerous degree. There were a few areas however that I would love to go back to with someone whom I could trade off being a spotter for.

There was a fellow fishing off the rocks. The sea here sadly has been over fished by “the fishing industry” leaving the local fishermen with only small fish for their dinners but this fellow seemed to be quite happy to be our catching what he could. This is something I have started to notice about Cypriotes. They are happy with what they have. Life is simple and that is ok. If they do want something they work to get it but live life in such a way that  until that happens they are satisfied with what they have. Keep in mind I am a tourist and might be “positive side” focused but so far life here seems super sweet.

Climbing on the rocks raised my adrenaline and got my pump to walk back up the hill home. And a good thing too because as I was coming to the top of the hill I started to think “Maybe I went a little to far today” my legs and back started to say “Hello Ellie we are here and we are just letting you know you should stop for a bit.” When I arrived by at  Dawn’s house I was welcomed with fresh squeezed lemon juice and a outstanding pasta dinner.