Music Sin Fronteras radio is coming to Semanario Laguna.
Foto: Patrick O’Heffernan.
Ajijic’s own global music radio program, Music Sin Fronteras, hosted by music critic and writer for the English page on Semanario Laguna , Patrick O’Heffernan, will now be available at semanariolaguna.com/. Each week, Laguna readers will get an advance peek at the upcoming guest and a phone number they can use to call in live on the show.
Covering every facet of popular music, Program Host Patrick interviews artists and plays cuts from their albums, EP’s and singles. He talks with artists from the US, Latin America and sometimes even Europe. All interviews are in English, although the song lyrics are often Spanish or Spanglish.
Host Patrick focuses on rising singers and bands, local talent in Lakeside, and artists who are at the cusp of going big time, with the occasional famous guest. While his specialty is fusion music –Latino/gringo– he plays virtually anything you can dance to from cumbia to hip hop to blues and jazz and rock and even folk and electronica. He also covers local live music – it’s coming back!– and the FIMPRO Latin Music Convention in Guadalajara, the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York, and the Latin Grammys.
On the air for seven years in Los Angeles as Music Friday Live radio, Host Patrick changed the name to Music Sin Fronteras when he moved to Mexico last year and set up a broadcast studio in downtown Ajijic. He broadcasts every Friday at 1 pm CT on stations in the US and the UK. Semanario Laguna readers will get the broadcast link, the weekly lineup, and the talk line to call in and talk with the artists.
As Lakeside opens up, local families still need help
Chapala Expat Liasion Hector nEspana helping families.
Patrick O’Heffernan.- As the Lakeside community begins to up from the quarantine to stop the spread of Covid-19, both Mexicans and Expats are working to help ease the impact on the local families in need, but the help provided by Expat organizations and businesses to the local communities needs to remain strong.
Among the businesses and organizations who have been “angels” are Operation Feed in San Juan Cosalá, Super La Huerta Market in West Ajijic, which has been providing food despensas, Programa de Niños Incapacitados, Lake Chapala Center, Foodbank Lakeside, and many others.
Many Expats have donated to these organizations or taken personal responsibility for supporting local individuals they know or who work for them, even when they must stay home. Local restaurants, which are themselves often in a difficult situation, have been feeding families in need. Casa Maybella Test Kitchen and La Bodega are two of the many restaurants that have provided meals to families devastated by the quarantine.
Dispenses packed by volunteers awaiting distribtuion
But the need will not diminish immediately as restaurants and stores open. Chapala Expat Liaison Héctor España points out that and almost every neighborhood in Chapala has families that are stressed for things beside food and that there is a great need in many neighborhoods throughout Lakeside.
The towns of Santa Cruz de la Soledad and San Nicolás de Ibarra have no economic activity and are especially hard hit. “The people there need more than food – they need money and medical care and everything required to support families,” he said, noting that “even in Ajijic with many gringos, there are hungry families because people like waiters and dishwashers and cooks have been out of work.”
España himself goes out and delivers despensas and knows of families that have not been helped, so he tries to see to it that they get what they need. On his Facebook Page he complements the Expat “angels” who go out on a second round of deliveries with more despensas including visiting families who tell him that they have been missed by all others. Some “angels” also continue his second round with other families.
Some families do get government assistance he noted, from the several million pesos the Federal and Jalisco governments allocated for relief and small business help. But it was far too little for
Interview: Ajijic Delegado Juan Ramón Flores looks at the needs of the community.
Delegado Juan Ramon Flores in is office. By Patrick O’Heffernan.
Patrick O’Heffernan. Ajijic. The Plaza and the Malecón are still closed, but the churches are open with sanitary guidelines, along with restaurants and stores throughout Ajijic. But hotels and galleries, if they are open, see little or no business. The economy has a long way to go before it is anything like normal, which means that many local families in Ajijic are still on the edge financially and need help. Ajijic Delegado Juan Ramon Flores sat down with Laguna this week to talk about them and what is being done for them
“In the past five weeks we have distributed 5000 dispensas throughout the area, using the money from Chapala”, he said, noting that there were not specific neighborhoods he concentrated on. He and his volunteers look at the conditions of families from week to week to know who to distribute despensas and other help to rather than designate specific neighborhoods because situations change with people.
He divides the city into halves and some volunteers work on one part and some on another part. “We are distributing over 200 despensas for Ajijic every week. Many people are out of work and need help”, he said, noting that there is no unemployment insurance in Mexico when asked about government assistance to the unemployed.
“I have ten volunteers – not employees – every week who help with the despensas ,” he said, “some are different people each week, some expat some Mexicans.” He continued that some people in Ajijic have friends in the United States who send money that is used to buy despensas.
“We all work together,” he said, “the cooperation is excellent, there are many good organizations helping.” He added that expats who want to get involved in helping should contact Héctor España, the Expat Liaison in Chapala.
When asked about plans for more opening he said that “The Malecon and the Plaza will be the last things to open. We wait for the word from the Jalisco government about when cases go down. Same with live music. It is their decision. “
He added that, except for important trips and volunteering , the people should stay safe at home and wear masks.
Corn leaf artisans devastated by Covid-19 tourism bans.
The creation of the corn leaf products has been on hold since March.
Miguel Cerna.- “Sin chamba” – without work – is how the nearly 200 artisans of San Cristóbal Zapotitlán describe themselves because they had to stop the production of corn leaf crafts due to the lack of sales when tourism stopped in March.
The situation is especially difficult for the artisans like Laura Flores Damasco, who has been working in the corn leaf technique for 20 years and relies on it to support her family. Damasco stopped producing due to the lack of buyers so she resorted to doing household chores with her relatives to survive the pandemic. It will be difficult to start again due to the increase in the cost of the materials she requires to produce the dolls, birth announcements, flowers and other items she makes.
Febronia Leal Arce, 58, also a corn leaf artisan and the head of a family of 10, explained her plight. «We are now in this situation because we have no jobs; we don’t even have tortillas, ”she said with resignation. She was echoed by Herlinda Anguiano who runs the “Creaciones San Cristóbal” cooperative of 10 women, who she said now are all out of work.
So far, the only support that this union has received was the delivery of 70 food despensas by the Ministry of Economic Development through the General Directorate of Artisan Development; however, as of our deadline, no support has been announced to restart their work or revitalize their market.
Jesús Carlo Cuevas González, director of Tourism and Crafts of Jocotepec.
This devastating economic blow to corn leaf artisans has been caused by the virtual disappearance of the tourist sector nationwide as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the travel bans enacted or urged to combat its spread, as explained by Jesús Carlo Cuevas González, director of Tourism and Crafts of Jocotepec. Corn leaf crafts had a strong presence in Tonalá, Chapala, Mazamitla and the neighboring state of Michoacán , and at the Jocotepec pier, which, is still closed due to contingency.
“The corn leaf artisans have no sales now because their main market is people from Guadalajara or the ZMG, who come to buy their crafts to take home. The issue is that with the paralysis of the tourism sector, there are no people who buy handicrafts because it is not considered an essential item,” he said.
Although not all artisans are heads of the family, most contribute considerably to the livelihood of their homes, so some have chosen to migrate to the countryside in order to restart the production of their crafts. (translated by Patrick O’Heffernan)
Chapala opens Phase Zero: a report from restaurants.
RESTAURANT IN THE CENTER OF AJIJIC.
Patrick O’Heffernan. Ajijic – Kicking off the reopening process, Chapala posted its Comprehensive System for Economic Reactivation (SIRI) on its Facebook page along with a video outlining the steps necessary for businesses to get accredited to open. Among the first to apply and reopen are restaurants.
At the state level, Governor Alfaro anticipates that in this “Phase Zero”, manufacturing industries will open first, followed by agricultural industries. Chapala is allowing the opening of its 450 restaurants in Phase 0. The official state plan and required sanitation protocols are to be released by this Thursday but local restaurant owners have already been able to apply. The plan will include dates for each phase of a sector’s reopening and the “new normal” for operation.
Tourism is expected to be the last sector to open and a spokesperson for UdeG projected 5 months before tourism is opened, bad news for Chapala and tourist-oriented Ajijic. But local restaurants are opening so Laguna talked with restaurant owners to get a picture of the reactivation process on the ground.
Pasta Trenta Italian Restaurant owner Barbara Romo reopened Tuesday night with 30% of her tables available and no more than 4 people per table plus following all sanitary protocols… Look for complete information in the print edition of this newspaper.
Fifteen people ultimately affected by tainted alcohol in Ajijic
Families in the municipality of Chapala are in mourning. In the photo a family of Ajijic during the wake of the deceased
Sofía Medeles / Domingo M. Flores (Ajijic, Jal.) .- Ten inhabitants of Ajijic (between 32 to 61 years old) lost their lives in the five days from May 10 to 14 for the alleged intake of adulterated alcohol. Five others affected by the alcohol are in recovery for a total of 15 in Ajijic ,according to a count by Laguna reporters.
The Jalisco Ministry of Health (SSJ) official data as of May 20 shows 16 cases identified in the entire municipality of Chapala: 11 deceased, four discharged and one patient who is still hospitalized in grave condition. In the neighboring municipality of Jocotepec there has been only one death recorded, a 63-year-old male.
Four of the five survivors in Ajijic have already been discharged, according to Laguna’s last count of those affected. The fifth, Mrs. Martha Blas, is still hospitalized but stable. Those discharged are: José Guadalupe «Pepa», Rodrigo Alejandre Covarrubias «Pinky», Agripin Carranza Ramos «Pin» and Mr. Pedro Castillo. Three of the survivors have partial loss of vision… Find complete information in print edition.
Ajijic Doctor joins bi-national webinar panel on Latinos.
Dr. Santiago Hernandez, M.D., Medical Director of Chapala Med.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic)- HispanicPro’s Webinar “What Latinos Need to Know About Coronavirus and their Health” was aired live on Wednesday from Chicago. Dr. Santiago Hernandez, M.D., Medical Director of Chapala Med and RMC Hospital was joined by Emergency Physician Dr. Pilar Ortega M.D., and Geraldine Luna, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Illinois Chicago. The Zoom webinar was attended by people in the US and Mexico by internet and telephone and was in English.
Dr. Ortega, who chairs the Medical Organization for Latino Advancement, explained that Latinos need to understand that Covid-19 infections grow exponentially every day: “Covid-19 is more contagious than any virus we have seen.” Dr. Luna echoed this, noting that models show a single person can infect 59,495 other people if they do not isolate themselves. “We need to flatten the curve and staying home reduces fatalities and flattens the curve,” she said.
Dr. Santiago noted that the infection numbers in Mexico were low, but possibly underreported. He understood that many in the Mexican community may not be taking the virus seriously and think it is like the H1N1 flu, which it is not.
Announcement of HispanicPro webinar with Ajijic physician Dr. Santiago Hernandez of Chapala Med.
“People in Mexico have big families and are very social; they have a hard time saying “no” to request for visits or family gatherings, “ Dr. Hernandez said, adding “ It is hard to isolate big families in Mexico – it is who we are. Unfortunately, our cultural norms that give us our identity may harm us.” He suggested that Mexican families say” no” to visits by explaining it is a way to protect the family.
The panel recommended frequent handwashing, noting that disinfectant gels are only 70% effective while thorough handwashing is 90% effective. The also refused to recommend any of the drugs now big promoted as cures saying that staying home is the best preventative. The panel also recommended wearing cloth masks when you leave the house, although they are not perfect and should not give us a false sense of confidence.
Dr. Santiago told the audience that this is a unique time in world history, “it will change our world and our mindset, he said, “I am grateful every day to be alive and not sweat the small stuff or the numbers and focus on the hopeful stories.”
Nancy Robins talks about her late husband, the beloved Michel Robbins of Ajijic
Photo: Nancy Robbins with hers and Michaels instruments.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- Nancy Robbins settled back into a leather couch in her apartment cluttered with vinyl albums, music awards, a big screen computer and indigenous art to talk about her late husband, the American-born, Northern Indian musician beloved in Lakeside, Michael Robbins. The conversation was ebullient, like Nancy, full of smiles, laughter, and funny stories.
“He led such a fascinating, dynamic life and taught and helped so many people ‘I have to celebrate him’”, Nancy said, “he always lived the highest values in morals, in art, in intellect, and in athletics, so of course I celebrate him”.
Michael and Nancy Robbins have been fixtures in Ajijic and the Lakeside music scene for decades, training other musicians, running a popular Indian restaurant on the Ajijic Plaza, organizing performances and just plain helping people. They started coming to lakeside in 1992, and were married in Chapala. But Michael’s story starts 60 years earlier in Los Angeles where he was born in LA, the son of a movie theater manager. “Of course Michael went to the moves for free, but it was gymnastics that captured his heart”, Nancy explains. His father, who was his inspiration, died when he was thirteen and he felt he had to do something to live up to his father’s expectations. That something was gymnastics.
“Michael had a decision to make: he would come from the Boy Scouts, put on his band uniform and play, and then change into spots clothes for gymnastics – he had to choose one so he chose gymnastics”, Nancy said, almost as if she was there. It was a good choice; he was All City Champion and then went on to win a national championship and a full scholarship to UC Berkeley, where he met his first wife, Mary Lawrence, who left him after a year of marriage.
“They parted ways because they were quite different. He was an athlete; he didn’t drank or smoke or hang out and party. So after they parted he came down to Mexico in 1961,” Nancy said, describing the beginning of his love affair with Mexico. “He became a painter and a professor at Lake College in Mexico City. I met him 13 years later when I was babysitting for his ex-wife in San Francisco”.
While she was babysitting, a friend of Michael’s brought some tapes of his music back from India and Nancy listened to them over and over. When Michael returned, she peppered him with questions about the music. “I had all kinds of questions and what is more attractive to a man than a women interested in his subject, whether it is cars, football or Indian music? And I can cook,” she said with a laugh, “I was 24 and he was 37, but how many times in a lifetime do you get a chance to be with someone of that caliber, so I grabbed hold of the guy and would not let go!.” They were together for 45 years.
Michael Robbins went to India to study classical Northern Indian music, an artistic tradition that goes back over 2500 years. Originally music of the royal courts, instruction in tablas, sarod, harmonium, sitar and the music they played was passed down from father to son or nephew by a few elite teachers who allowed no deviation from tradition. (women now play the sarod and the tablas). Michael learned from some of the most famous, and most strict of the teachers, becoming a disciple of Pandit Radhika Mohan Moitra in the Sarod, and Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh in Tabla. Nancy explained he started in Calcutta with a teacher who was too busy for him, but noticed he could play real music and gave him a break.
Michael would play the classical recorder while others played the tabla or sitar and his teacher said “You can actually play something – these other guys are just playing scales – come on, I will take you to a teacher”, and took him to Radhika Mohan Moitra, who took him. He went on to become not only a student, but a force that help reinvigorate the music.
After returning from India, Michael founded the Sarodya Society in the 90’s to promote the awareness of sarod and tabla and train other musicians. He continued that tradition in Lakeside training many Mexican and gringo musicians in Hindustani classical music. His students include some of Lakeside’s most popular and talented musicians like Juan Castañón Acasia, Angel Madrigal, Alvaro Rubio, Alvaro Rubio and others.
But the move to Lakeside was slow and careful –process that began in 1992 and ended in 2000 when they finally moved everything to lakeside and became residents. Once in Lakeside, the quickly developed a strong music community, not only through teaching but through the Indian restaurant they opened on the Ajijic Plaza, that served as a venue and gathering place.
“I had learned Indian cooking we wanted a venue here, so when I saw the For Rent sign on the Plaza and said to Michael I wonder how much they want for that, he said go for it,” and I did. They ran the restaurant for almost seven years. “It was fun and I met so many nice people. The restaurant was a way for people to come to use, instead of us going to them. I thoroughly enjoyed it,” she says.
During their time in lakeside, Nancy cooked and played music, ran the restaurant and “all the other things wives do”, while Michael played and taught, creating a community and training so many of the musicians that entertain Lakeside residents today.
Michael died last week of congestive heart failure brought on by a 50-year old liver problem. But even in talking about his death, Nancy was upbeat. “We didn’t go to the Plaza for about 4 months and then eventually he was in bed for the last two days. I held his hand and he asked me to roll him over and I did and propped him up and that was the way I found him. I thought he was sleeping until the dog jumped on the bed and licked his foot and he didn’t complain, so I knew he was dead.”
Are Expats fleeing Lakeside because of Coronavirus? We talk with the Executive Director of Lake Chapala Society
Steve Balfour, Executive Director of the Lake Chapala Society.
Patrick O’Heffernan(Ajijic).- Have you noticed fewer people at Superlake, in your Spanish Class, or posting on some of the Lakeside and Ajijic Facebook groups? Many have noticed and are speculating that Expats are leaving Lakeside to get back to their families and homes in the US and Canada because of the Coronavirus. But there are no statistics of the number of Expats leaving, or even of the number of Expats in Lakeside (estimates run from 8,000 to 15,000 and it depends on the time of year). Steve Balfour, Executive Director of the Lake Chapala Society, Ajijic’s hub of Expat activity, had some thoughts about the response to Coronavirus and Expats in Lakeside.
“The first thing we have done is close or postpone all of our activities and events, such as the Blues Festival, Open Circle and others. We intend to resume them when it is appropriate to do so. In the meantime we are keeping the grounds open, but activities are closed,” he said. Balfour added that the staff are working to scrub down and disinfect the campus. He wants to keep the small staff of LCS employed, even if it is in cleaning and maintenance. The Café is not run by the LCS, but rents space and will make its own decision.
Takeout orders. Call: 33-22-30-15-69. We are located in San Antonio Tlayacapan.
When asked about Expats leaving, he responded that he understands from many of LCS’s Canadian members that “the Canadian government has put out a notice that Canadians who want continued access to their health care need to come home now». Since the US and Canada have agreed to a border closure with exceptions, many Canadian Expats feel they must leave now or not be able to return to Canada for some time. Balfour said that he has seen that a lot of Expats are leaving, but many are not, telling him that this is their home now.
“There are no right answers”, he said about the question of leaving or staying. “This is something totally new, a once in a lifetime experience, so there is no right answer – people have to make their choices for themselves.”
Balfour said there are currently a little over 2700 members of LCS, but that number is deceiving because people come in and out and some are permanent and some are temporary. “If you look at the memberships over 2019 –people who were a member for any length of time– it is closer to 4000,” he said. But he added there is no way to tell what percentage of the current membership or the 2019 membership has left Mexico.
“One of the challenges is that there are so many seasonal Expats who come in between November and April, increasing the population,” he said, “and a lot of these people would have left now anyway or just moved up their departure by a week or two». He added that before this week he did not see a slowdown in activities or ticket purchasing by LCS members, so if there was an exodus of members it did show up in participation.
He pointed out that most of the LCS income is from bus trips and activity fees, which are suspended, so LCS has to run on a very reduced budget and does not have staff or funds to do research or surveys. He added that this is a great time for people to make their annual contribution or renew their memberships to help with the reduced cash flow.
My Fair Lady opens this Friday at Lakeside Little Theater
Eliza Doolittle and the ensemble in My Fair Lady at the LLT.
Patrick O’Heffernan (Ajijic).- Lerner and Lowe’s famed musical My Fair Lady opens Friday night, Feb. 21, 2020, at the Lakeside Little Theater and is already sold out. The run has been extended to March 4 to accommodate the demand for tickets.
Winner of Best Musical Award in 1957, it is a comedic romantic tale that illuminates class divisions in turn of the last century London and the cluelessness of the male ego. Directed by Dave McIntosh with music direction by Ann Swenson and choreography by Alexis Hoff and Mary Neill, it features a cast of three dozen dancers, singers and actors.
With sumptuous costumes and a set evocative of London in 1917, the LLT production stars Michala Swanson as Eliza Doolittle, Brian Fuqua as Henry Higgins, Rob Stupple as Alfred Doolittle, and Mark Heaton as Colonel Pickering. Presented with permission of Tams-Widmark, the production was generously underwritten by Jeff & Connie Pecsar. The Lakeside Little Theater is Mexico’s oldest English-language theater and has been in operation since 1965.
A self-sustaining, all-volunteer not-for-profit organization, it offers theatre arts to Lakeside residents at its recently renovated 122-seat facility in San Antonio Tlayacapan. Tickets available at the box office for the extended run as long as they last.