Sunday, March 20, 2011

One-Half Degree of Separation for Canucks

Post-Mexico Update

Yes, my blog has ‘gone dark’ for a while and I have returned from a wonderful four weeks in the Yucatan, browner, poorer and with my betacarotene levels nicely topped up thanks to mango consumption. Mangoes, nectarines, wild raspberries and rambutan-- these are a few of my favourite fruits and I sing their praises like Julie Andrews but an octave lower.
But I digress.
Today I must marvel in print at how Canadians have ½ degree of separation between us while the rest of the world has, apparently, 6 degrees stretching between strangers.
On the February Full Moon, exactly one month ago, mi casido and I were shuffling around an open-air dance floor in our water sandals and flip-flops to a great Louis Prima tune. The Merida Big Band was playing, the third and final band at the Full Moon Jazz Festival near the village of Telchac Puerto on the Yucatan Peninsula. It was the second year of fundraising for students who attend the free public school in the fishing village. But although all public schools in Mexico are free, each student must provide his/her own supplies, uniforms and sometimes, teacher and school supplies, like toilet paper. It means that most children can’t go beyond Grade 6.
The first Full Moon Jazz Festival in 2010 with 300 people attending raised enough money to sponsor 18 promising but financially poor students with the following list: a new backpack, all school supplies (notebooks, pens, dictionary, geometry set, etc), three uniform shirts or blouses, two pairs of uniform pants or skirts, a pair of uniform shoes, three pairs of socks, a sweater and a Christmas present.
The organizers wrangled great corporate support and for our attendance fee (roughly $21 Cdn) we enjoyed complimentary wine and wonderful appetizers, perfect weather, terrific jazz standards and Cuban-influenced Latin jazz too. If you are in the Yucatan next February 12th, catch the bus from Merida or Chelem, Progreso or Chicxulub and support some bright kids while having a good time meeting other music lovers.
Speaking of meeting other music lovers, we invited two women over to our table, Jacquie and Rosie, and really enjoyed talking with the two Canadians after being holed up in our beach casa writing by ourselves for the best part of two weeks. Turns out that Rosie was named for Grace Rose Darling, an ancestor who was a revered Victorian lightkeeping heroine!  In 1838, Grace Darling rowed out in a storm with her father, the lightkeeper at Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands off the coast of Northumberland, to rescue survivors of a ship which had sunk after hitting the rocks on this treacherous bit of coast (rather like the West Coast of Vancouver Island’s Graveyard of the Pacific reputation). So Rosie was delighted to chat with real Canadian lightkeepers and then we four enthused about music, all forms of it.
Turns out that one of Rosie’s sons is a classically trained guitarist who also plays jazz and moreover, he is a favourite rockabilly musical act of ours, having seen him perform at the Vancouver Island MusicFest, none other than Cousin Harley aka Pigby aka Paul Pigat!
So that’s what I mean about Canadians getting together. Sooner or later, we’ll find out who and what we have in common and then laugh at all the connections and celebrate them too. It’s a great big country in a beautiful, small world. 

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