Sometimes it happens: cities that are major tourist destinations have essential
places for foreigners who come visiting.
Sometimes people living in those cities
do not go much to these sites. In other cases, foreigners and locals mix with
each other, each having its good reason to be there. When that happens it is
usually because the place is both interesting and real.
Plaza Garibaldi is one of the most traditional places in Mexico City. It is the
base of operations for the mariachis. If you need a mariachi band to sing Las
Mañanitas (typical birthday song) to your mother, you go to Garibaldi. If you
don’t have enough money to pay a mariachi at home, you take your mom to the
Oh, excuse me. Anybody knows what a mariachi is? Mariachi is a musical
group with many members (round about 10) which play all sorts of traditional and
regional mexican music. Their clothing is based on the charros (horsemen of the
farms) and is adorned with silver. They have this huge hat, which is associated
with the image of mexicans, even if no ordinary mexican use it unless… works as a mariachi.
The Plaza Garibaldi is surrounded by cantinas (mexican word for “bar”). One of
them is almost a mythical place: El Salon Tenampa. In that place there is a lot
of tequila and of course a lot of mariachis. On the walls there are murals like this
one where the quintessential charros are Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete.
A tradition of the cantinas are the boxes for toques, meaning for electrical
shocks. Personally I’ve never understood that tradition. It’s about men called
Toqueros. They bring with them a small wooden box with six batteries of one
volt and a half, a pair of wires and two copper cylinders. All this stuff acts as a
generator and conductor of energy.
The game consists of the following: a player holds the cylinders in his hands, then the toquero turn on the appliance, so the batteries release discharges up to 70 volts. All friends of a group go in shifts. The one who holds the more volts win. What do you win? The honor of being named the most “macho” at the table.
Absurd, right? Well, everybody at the cantinas seem to have a lot of fun with that. Reset yourself for less than one euro.
If someday you go through Mexico City you have to live a wild night at Garibaldi,
where the party doesn’t end until sunrise. To get there only catch the subway and get
off at Garibaldi Station in the historic city center. And good luck, you macho man!