Music karma, last small town, risk

Dear friends and family,

Be careful what you wish for. Turned out that those dancing horses were quite entertaining, but lost their allure about midnight when the cowboys had them dance in the dark and show the sparks they created from their steel horseshoes on the concrete road. 

Yes, it was a wonderful old hotel, right on the main square of town. You can see from the attached pictures that it was close, so close that this corner was the main source of entertainment for those who chose to party late into the evening. The three bars, two below my room and one across the street, competed for customers by competing for decibel levels. The competition heated up as the evening wore on. By ten PM, the noise was loud, by midnight my bed shook from the vibrations (and I didn’t even have to put in a quarter, for those of you old enough to remember vibrating cheap motel beds).

Quiet started at about two AM, leaving at least three and a half hours before the cacophony of roosters, church bells, and garbage trucks started. I was thinking that if I was tired enough, I could sleep through anything, but I was wrong. 

Why not move to another room or hotel? Karma. 

I wonder, does karma have to be repaid in the same dosage as borrowed (or one might say “inflicted”)?

When I was twelve, which would put the year 1965, I started a band. We called ourselves THE CHARGERS. Seemed to have power and presence to the name. I played drums, and I recruited an accordion player, a piano player, and a guitarist. Set for big things. We would probably become famous even. To that effect, we soon changed the band’s name to THE GREEN HORNETS, as it seemed based on a band from England that was shaking up the rock and roll world, that bug names were going to help propel us to greatness. 

Just like one of the potential record labels said of the Beatles at the time “the world does not need another guitar band”, we were safe.

We practiced in our living room, polka after polka, inflicting this music pain onto my siblings and parents. Louder the better, right?

Turned out, our guitar player, a childhood friend of mine, couldn’t actually play the guitar, so the rest of us met and decided to fire him from the band. We did, and his mother called my mother and complained, so with another secret remaining band member meeting, we allowed him back in on the condition that he wasn’t allowed to plug his electric guitar into the amp, but could still be in the band. Compromise made. 

Our world tour consisted of playing for family reunions, first communions, and garage picnics. Our best musician was our accordion player, so we stuck with polkas mostly. As twelve year olds, we played music to inspire and offer life advice. My two favorites were IN HEAVEN THERE IS NO BEER, THAT’S WHY WE DRINK IT HERE, to be followed by the Julida Polka, which has many ways it is sung, my favorite being JULIDA, JULIDA, IF YOU’VE GOT MONEY, THEN YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MY SWEET HONEY. 

In case my siblings hadn’t heard enough, I bought the album ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? By Jimi Hendrix and plugged my headphones into the hifi, played the drum portion and sang loud enough to hear myself through the headphones. I’m sure it sounded good in the house, or even the neighborhood!

So, thinking the karma music (noise?) payback complete, I enjoyed my 3-4 hours of sleep per night and the siesta in the afternoon to make up for the shortfall. 

Jardin is a beautiful city and I enjoyed time in the coffee shops drinking a real latte rather than the tinto coffees that I was used to. Hey, a tinto was twelve cents and a latte about three dollars. The average made it still affordable. 

I got invited to join the English club on evening at a student run coop coffee shop. They wanted native English speakers to be able to practice their English and also give us a chance to polish our spanish. I met a Colombian English teacher, a tattoo artist covered in tattoos (do tattoo artists give themselves their own tattoos?), and an American expat, just moved to Jardin three weeks ago using the pensioners visa to be able to stay. He explained Jardin has many expats, attracted to the affordable lifestyle, the warm weather and the tranquilness of the small town. 

I did a couple of hikes into the hills above town. I was joined by two French women on one and a young Belgian guy on another. Fun to hang out with foreign travelers. 

After hiking across the valley, I came across the cable car for a potential ride back over the chasm to the edge of town. It looked like something built by parts they found in dad’s garage. “Hey, look at all this cable, let’s string it across the valley. Then we can attach this little tiny cable to pull it across.”

“What will we use for a car?” “How about this cattle carrier that fell off an old truck, just put a couple of bench seats in it” and the cable car was built, or could have been built that way.

Not wanting to miss the opportunity for more exercise, I chose to walk back across the valley to town. Other than riding mountains in high heat with trucks passing within inches, I wasn’t interested in more risk. I do think it has something to do with relinquishing control. Huh, might be a lesson here!

Sending love,


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6 thoughts on “Music karma, last small town, risk”

  1. It’s amazing. All these little towns living their lives, making their little corner of the world beautiful with flowers, lights and colors. Such a nice view of humanity. Glad you got to experience this.
    I didn’t realize your band played polkas and actually sometimes played in public.
    Safe travels.

  2. I only remember you playing in the bedroom upstairs with your light show
    Song by Iron Butterfly

  3. Charlie, loving the stories as usual. You still seem upbeat after a few months. Good on ya.

  4. I would pay good money to see a video of The Green Hornets! Jardin and its surroundings look stunningly beautiful. The basilica photo from your hotel is magic.

  5. What a great trip you have chronicled Charley. I’m grateful for your sharing your experiences and karma…

    Sparking dancing horses; the stuff of legends, and perhaps spawning a new designer sports shoe as well.

    Bidding you continued safe travels.

    Cheers, Bill

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