February 5 was Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day), and everyone was celebrating. The beach was alive with colorful sun umbrellas and wandering bands. Air thrumming to the um-pa of tubas, boom of drums, sizzle of horns, and ring of guitars. Voices mingled, some fine, others not so fine. But the tubas were what fascinated me the most. How do you carry a tuba around all day, through the sand, under the hot Mexican sun, playing one’s heart out?
There are often a couple of bands strolling the beach for tips from the tourists, but on this holiday, they were everywhere. One would break as others played on, echoing up and down the beach. Then, as the sun cooled into the blue Pacific and night came, indigo and splashed with stars, the celebrations dwindled; the umbrellas folded up; the bands went home. Constitution Day was over.
I woke, three in the morning, to the tentative um-pa that I had come to know preceded a tuba serenade. In my half-dream, I saw him: a lone, player-less tuba, personified like an ancient Disney cartoon. He swung and swayed up out of the ocean to perform his happy melody on the shore till I drifted back to sleep.