By Carlos Jasso
When I found out that mariachi music had been added to the U.N educational and cultural agency, UNESCO’s, intangible cultural heritage list, I decided to find out what the mariachis themselves thought about it. I went to the famous Garibaldi square, known as the “home of the mariachis”. I wanted to capture a sense of the atmosphere and emotion of this place where many Mexicans go to celebrate, to party, to fall in love, to reminisce, all to the background music and lyrics of the mariachis. Another visually interesting scene I wanted to illustrate was the Xochimilco canal where locals and tourists alike hire small boats and are serenaded by mariachis.
6:30am Garibaldi Square
Glasses, bottles of tequila, piles of rubbish and a few drunkards were strewn on the square as the shutters of the cantinas were pulled down. Scattered groups of tight trouser wearing, black mustached, sporting Elvis Presley gelled haircuts, big bellied, silver belt buckled musicians were playing with full enthusiasm to the last party-goers and the street cleaners.
As I crossed the square listening to the mariachi music I saw an elderly man sitting on his trumpet case and leaning on the door of a news paper kiosk. He saw me and the moment I grabbed my camera he looked down.
Me: “Hey Sr. Good Morning (silence)… mmmmmmmm. How do you feel to be recognized as the UNESCO Heritage of Humanity? (silence)
Grumpy mariachi: “WHAT? We are WHAT? Well, I don’t really know what you are talking about but I have been a mariachi for 60 years and a new title is not going to change anything, is it? Our clients will pay us exactly the same. So, what’s the big deal?”