Thursday, 7 March 2013

Cover band

The Mid-Week Blues-Buster is only in its third week, but I but the concept behind it is great, and will have me coming back... 500 words (a loose 500, 300 to 700 is fine) using a song and its video as a prompt. For this week, it was Gerardo Ortiz - Este Amor, a cover of Bob Marley’s Is This Love. I quite like being sung at in a foreign tongue, especially when it is something familiar. I’ve had it happen in a few different languages in my travels over the years. There’s a bit of me in this story, some elements are friends, and some of it is based on other patrons I've had a drink with.

There wasn't much to the bar, but then again there wasn't all that much to the town. Sure, it was on the tourist track, but everyone left after snapping a few pictures and buying some ethnic trinkets to show folks back home how adventurous they were. Unlike most others, I hadn't moved on. Don't get me wrong, there wasn't anything that made this town special. I wasn't seeking a higher spiritual truth like some of those who clambered over the ruined temples (it isn’t sacrilegious if no-one still believes in those gods, right?) nor was I trying to find myself like the ones who were living out of their backpacks and seeing the “real world”. I was here because I just couldn't be arsed any more. Booze, internet and passable food... what else could you want? After about five months, they even stopped trying to sell souvenirs to me. I didn't kid myself that I fitted in, but at least the locals left me in peace. More than I could say for the tourists - they were always trying to ingratiate themselves with me. Thinking I could give them an easy way to connect, so they'd have a bit more of local colour to add to their stories. Wrong!

There wasn't much to the bar.The beer wasn't even cold. But then again in this climate, nothing was. The breeze stirred by the rickety ceiling fan was barely enough to keep the flies away, but sometimes you have to be thankful for the small things. My stool on the verandah was empty, so I took my accustomed seat and began drinking mechanically, watching the unfocused haze of the sunset. A Zen Master has nothing on me, I can sit for hours as long as the succession of beers isn't interrupted and no-one tries to talk to me. Sighs escape me periodically, but I couldn't tell you why. Not contentment. Not sadness. Not even ennui. Apparently there's a word in the local lingo that sums up this state I'm in so perfectly that I could be the poster boy for it, but I don't care enough to learn how to pronounce it.

There wasn't much to the bar. But then again, there wasn't much I was after. I wasn't running from anything and I hadn't burned out. Life here was simple. Predictable. Peaceful. I had a good thing going. The tour guides that often drank here after the last bus departed were more excitable than usual tonight, talking excitedly. Just as the mosquitoes were coming out, a couple of guys rocked up with some instruments. A fiddle, a flute and a harmonica. Normally, that'd be enough to make me head home, but I still had a couple of drinks in front of me to get through, so I stayed and listened. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I had been dreading something "traditional" that the tourists all lusted after but sounded like cats being strangled with their own tails. Instead what greeted my ears was real music, just done differently. It'd take me a while to pick the songs, as they were singing the lyrics in their own language. Who would have thought that a pub cover band with those instruments would work? The Beatles. The Doors. Marley. A bit of Zep. As the night wore on, the music got more recent, but somehow it was still great. Even some that I'm embarrassed to admit to knowing... Aqua. Rednex. That chick with the annoying voice who was everywhere a year ago. The beers had run out, so against my better judgement I swapped to the local rotgut. Still they played on, getting weirder and more eclectic. Stuff I'd heard my parents listen to that I couldn't name, but I knew. When I recognised the notes to Somewhere Over The Rainbow, I started to feel tears trickle down my cheeks. I had a vivid childhood memory of watching Kermit playing his banjo and belting out a song on a similar topic. Not the same tune, but it hit me powerfully for some reason. Maybe I should blame the booze, but I decided that tomorrow I'd head back home.

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