If you don’t know already, I play in a quartet with my 2 sisters and my brother. It is an amazing experience, and there’s nothing quite like it. A while ago, we were invited to play in Laredo, Texas, as the city’s “Rising Stars of 2009.” This consisted of playing a concert for the city’s schoolchildren, doing some sort of ‘media interview,’ and eating a lot of food with important people.
I’ve decided to blog all of it (or as much as I can) in a few blog posts, so as to share the experience as best I can (which, knowing me, will probably be a very poor representation of events, as I write like a hippo). Well, here goes nothing…
So, I woke up at 4:30 AM so I could get to the airport in time to catch the 7:50 flight to Houston. Knowing airport security, it takes about… 2 hours to get checked in, get cleared for security, and get to the right terminal. We started boarding immediatley… and arrived at around 10. Pretty smooth, although I had never been on a plane as it was de-iced before. From there, we boarded the 11:30 plane to San Antonio, waited for half an hour for them to ‘fix a problem’ on the plane. It was a bit unnerving, but we eventually got in the air and landed at 12:50.
Then, we drove. And drove. And drove. Truely, there is nothing of significance along the 150 mile stretch between San Antonio and Laredo. We decided to stop for lunch at the next available restaurant, but we couldn’t see any kind of stop from the highway. Finally, we saw a sign that said “McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Subway, Next Exit,” and jumped at it. Of course, the exit had a sign telling us to proceed for 5 miles to get there. Lunch was otherwise… fairly uneventful.
We finally got to Laredo around 4:30? Yeah. 4:30 sounds about right. We had to drive straight to the civic center so me and the quartet could do a sound check and make sure that our powerpoint presentation we had prepared was
working and everything. A nice lady, who introduced herself as Mrs. Ruiz, handed me a cello that apparently belonged to the conductor of the Laredo Philharmonic Orchestra, or LPO. Naturally, I was afraid to breathe too heavily around it for fear of any damage befalling it.
Some people from the local NBC news studio were there, and we played Eine Kleine Nacht Music for them (which apparently aired on the 6 o’clock news, but we missed it). My laptop hooked up to the projector brilliantly, but the projector displayed the colors completely off, and we couldn’t fix it. Guess we’ll have to try tomorrow… *gulp*
Some interesting things I’ve noticed about the city is that everything must be locked up. The vending machines outside the civic center were in metal cages to prevent people from coming and stealing them. Aparently, the Civic Center also had a grand piano at some point, but it had since been stolen (which personally crushed me). Another thing that I found interesting was that all the trees had their trunks painted white, and for the life of me, I have no idea why. I’ll have to look into this.
Dinner was probably the most memorable event of the day. We ate at La Palenque Grill, the only restaurant I’ve ever seen to say something like this on their menu:
If you like a particular dish that is not on our menu, and we have the ingredients, we will gladly make it for you.
I split a plate of beef fajitas with my brother, which was fairly tasty. I also had the spiciest salsa I had ever had in my life. They must have added some crazy hot peppers to it… but it was really good.
Apparently, the people at the table next to us told the head waiter that it was our birthday, and a mariachi band played happy birthday to us while the waiters sang in spanish. We got some dolce de leche cake, which was outstanding, and they stuck these gigantic birthday hats on our heads. Interesting…
Regardless, it was fun. Tomorrow should be even more so, seeing as we’re playing a concert for 2000 children. Laredo has been anything but uninviting, and the town looks like it would be neat to explore, given a bit more time. Sure, I don’t speak Spanish, but that doesn’t mean I can’t understand things (even the humorously-translated ‘Do Not Disturb” tag in our hotel room).
(Oh, and there’s apparently going to be a crazy blizzard on the east coast, which may delay our travel plans. Not good.)