LILA DOWNS

Tlaxiaco is the capital of the High Mixtec region of Oaxaca, in southern Mexico. It is a city of about 20,000 people, nested high in the mountains.

During a recent visit, I learned from my friend José Perez that Lila Downs, the famous singer, was born and raised in Tlaxiaco, and had lived there most of her early years. Being a fan of Lila's, I decided to present one of my associates with one of her records, and said to my friend: "Please take me to buy a record of Lila Downs."

He said: "Of course." And we headed toward the center of town. Once there, José stopped the car at a corner, pointed at a store, and said: "There."

I jumped out of the car and went inside the store, and out again, and told José: "This is a hardware store!"

He smiled and said: "That is where you will find Lila's records." He jumped out of car, walked into the store, and showed me a collection of Lila's records on display on one side.

Puzzled, I said: Why is this store selling Lila's records?"

He answered in an explanatory tone: "This is Lila's family's store. They are her relatives. They sell her records here."

 

The Tlaxiaco river on the San Miguel bridge, showing pollution with urban wastewater

The Tlaxiaco river on the San Miguel bridge, showing pollution with urban wastewater.