Within the first few days Kale was here in Cozumel he found a wonderful little music store called Unahi Paax, owned and operated by local couple Manina and Alejandro. Kale bought a guitar after chatting with them for a while and they revealed that they have the largest collection of musical instruments, in all of Mexico, at their house. Kale, being the sassy photographer and music lover that he is, asked if he would be able to see the collection to take pictures and they both agreed. Thankfully, Kale waited to go over until I got into town.
On Thursday, January 3, 2013, Kale and I walked just a few blocks down the street from our apartment to a giant black metal doorway. He rang the bell. I stood silently with a small bouquet of white tiger lilies in my hands, and we both had the biggest shit-eating grins on our faces.
The door swung open and there stood Alejandro: a jolly older man dressed in a t-shirt promoting the music shop, khaki shorts, socks under his sandals, and a beautiful smile that could just be seen under his epic moustache. As we entered the house his lovely wife Manina greeted us with a hug and took us into the music room.
My jaw dropped as I entered. Never in my life have I seen so many instruments in someone’s home. The main wall, the height of a two story house, was covered in string instruments: guitars, bass guitars, mandolins, fiddles, banjos - you name it, it was there. There were hand drums of all kinds, marimbas, flutes, whistles, headdresses for sacred Mayan and Mexican dances, turtle shells, and didgeridoos scattered in baskets or hung high for all to see.
There was one cabinet filled with Mexican, Mayan, and Native artefacts. Some of these items were a few hundred years old and some were dated back to 1800 B.C.
Alejandro made us a cup of café (not coffee, this stuff was outrageously good) and told me stories while Kale took pictures. Then one by one he went through the items in the case. He could play them all; he knew where they were from and the purpose of why they were made.
Each one made such a unique sound: some high pitched like a bird singing, and some very low like an animal grunting. One in particular made the most eerie sound, as if Death was breathing down your neck. It was used by a native tribe just before they would attack their enemy.
He then picked up a large black stone and placed it in my hand. It was a Mayan spearhead made of black obsidian. Again, my jaw dropped. The weight of it, the sharp edges, and the thought of how many lives this may have taken and protected…completely mind blowing.
Before heading out, Alejandro played us a beautiful song on what looked like a modern-day recorder - an instrument I haven’t heard since grade school. He posed for a few photos with his wife and hugged me like my uncle, with a tight squeeze and an earful of laughter.
If you would like to read Kale’s blog and see more pictures, you can find it at http://klworld.tumblr.com/