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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | July 2009 

The Second Time I Saw Alejandro Fernandez, Part 2
email this pageprint this pageemail usLiana Turner - PVNN


Everything was pleasant except for the third day, when my daughter woke up with a fever of 102 degrees, and then my car got towed. I was told that I wouldnít be able to get it back until the next day, and even then I would have to go to Las Juntas with all kinds of papers, but one of my waiters found a friendly cop who helped us out.

I was instructed to go to the towing company and call the police and they would send someone. When I arrived in a taxi, it was completely dark, about 11 pm. I couldnít rouse anyone in the towing office, and I didnít feel safe standing there alone waiting for the cops to show up, so I asked the driver if he could wait.

He agreed, and didnít want to charge me extra (I gave him double the fare anyway.) The patrol pickup came within 20 minutes, and after paying the ticket and the towing fee I was on my way home, ready to sleep and start again in the morning. Throughout the day I had also been home a few times to check on my sick girl and administer Tylenol, and that night she was fine. I wonder if lack of motherly attention can cause a fever. Hmm...

We started serving breakfast at 7 am and served all day, until 11 or 11:30 pm. Those are some long days, and my crew did it cheerfully with not one single complaint. I am so proud of all of them, especially the chef, Eugenio, who has a restaurant called El Girasol, at Playas Gemelas. I havenít been there, but Iím sure it is good. He is the best chef for Mexican food that I have ever run across. He went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure everyone was fed and happy.

My job was basically shopper and administrator, but after a few days, when our meal counts started climbing to 175 and 200 and then 230, I had to hire another person to do the shopping. I was delegated to general supervision and list-making, since everyone else was too busy to even check supplies.

There was one moment when I was taking a break at the back door, and I flashed back to countless other kitchen back doors where I have taken short breaks. It doesnít matter how flashy the restaurant looks from the dinersí point of view. The kitchen back door always looks the same. Dingy, lacking fresh paint, and maybe a drain in the floor where some grains of rice hang around amongst wilted herbs.

Anyway, I felt right at home, and was feeling nostalgic and realizing that I had felt exactly the same kind of exhaustion sitting on a wooden crate or an overturned white bucket at many kitchen back doors. The first time was over 30 years ago, and I was happily thinking that I donít feel any more tired now than I did then. Life is good. I am happy to still be able to work hard and know that I will recover from it.

Now that I think about it though, 30 years ago I would be exhausted, but still go out for drinks and stay up late with my work buddies. This time, I made my way home, had a glass or two of wine while checking email and doing other business and then slept almost before my head hit the pillow.

We were given passes with our names and photos on them to get through security, which increased in intensity as the days went on. By Friday, which was sound check and rehearsal night, it had become quite a challenge just to get in to work. Most of the security people recognized me as the one who was arranging for them to be fed, so I didnít have too much trouble.

Saturday was the big night. Streets were blocked off completely, and we were only allowed to bring our cars in to unload and quickly leave. I took a taxi to get back to the restaurant after wisely leaving my car parked at home. Of course, it rained, but Vallartans are a hardy bunch, and after all, itís only water. Itís not like it ever gets cold enough for rain to be truly miserable.

The security was very tight. When the guards began letting people into the stage area, it was only in groups, maybe 100 at a time, and as they entered they sprinted toward the front in order to get the best view point of the stage. The place filled up fast and the rain came. I didnít see anyone that looked unhappy. All I saw were beaming smiles.

The concert started late, as most concerts do, for various reasons. This time it mostly had to do with the water. Crews were working hard to clear the water from the stage to make it safe for the performers. The stage was covered, but the roof was very high, and if rain only came straight down, that would have been fine, but it didnít come straight down. It came at angles and soaked everything.

The opening acts were mostly pop bands and singers, and it surprised me to be able to recognize some of the songs. My daughter and her two friends, of course, knew most of the groups, and were enjoying their first concert experience, and from backstage no less.

Then came the star of the show, Jalisco son, Alejandro Fernandez. He appeared not in traditional dress, as I had seen him before but in jeans and with a fashionable scarf around his neck. I guess it would have been incongruous to follow all that pop music with a Mariachi tribute. As it was it flowed well, and everything matched.

I was so tired by that point that my cognitive skills were very low, and I have no idea what songs he or anyone else sang, but he was still handsome as ever, the music was all good and the crowd was very pleased.

Enrique Iglesias was the last act that I saw, just before I wandered off in an exhausted haze. The crowd went wild, and I actually saw tears in the eyes of some young girls. I canít think of any star that could bring tears to my eyes, but I am much older, and try to reserve my passions for people that I might actually speak to someday, or more likely, that I already speak to.

I began walking North from the stage area to go home. I walked past a group of fans on Juarez Street that was solely dedicated to peering inside of luxury vehicles that were leaving the area to maybe catch a glimpse of a star.

Every time a vehicle came out there was a lot of activity and screaming. I guess those were part of a fairly large amount of people who were not allowed to enter the stage area, as it was completely full. I continued walking until finally there were a few cars on the street and a taxi came by, which I shared with three excited girls who were on their way a little farther North.

The next day was all about tearing down and cleaning up. The crew worked so hard and so fast that they finished, for the most part, on Sunday night. They were scheduled to work all day Monday too, but since they had to begin setting up for the Guadalajara concert on Tuesday, they worked through the nights and finished early.

We were scheduled to do all three meals for 75 people on Monday, but since they were done by Monday morning the whole day was canceled. That left us with 225 meals worth of food, and another two days of work to distribute it all, plus hauling all the equipment back to the bakery. Most people wouldnít think of all the work afterwards, but even when itís over, it is not really over... yet.

I took a good part of the food to Cafť Roma, where SeŮor Fox and his wife, Cheryl, collect food for the families of the dump. SeŮor Fox told me that they are feeding 600 people every day! But they are not only giving food. They are also providing a way for people to get out of the dump life by creating a school for the children and education programs. If you are looking for some way to help, that might be a good place to begin. To learn more about the Children of the Dump, click HERE or visit ChildrenOfTheDumpVallarta.org.

We also sent food to a family headed by a 27 year-old single mother with six children of her own and two of her sister's. One of the children has cancer, and the mother is pregnant again, in hopes that the umbilical cord from the new baby can be used in the young girlsí cure. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon story, and there are still a lot of people who need help. I am happy that this concert in its aftermath gave us an opportunity to help, even in a small way.

The concert helped many people in many ways, and I was humbly grateful to be a part of it, and hopefully the wave that it created will continue to spread in our community and tourists will return and life can get back to normal.

Viva Vallarta!

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The Irreverent Chef, a.k.a. Liana Turner, is the chef and owner of Paradise Bakery and Catering. Serving the "Best Cinnamon Rolls in Vallarta," along with delicious sandwiches, salads, main dishes and yummy sweet treats every day but Sunday, and providing all styles of catering services, from pre-prepared meals to-go for informal gatherings to full service elegance for dinners, cocktail parties, wedding receptions and special events, Paradise Bakery & Catering is located at Sierra Aconcagua 299, Prolongacion Brasil, Colonia Lazaro Cardenas, Puerto Vallarta. For more information, call (322) 222-5133 or visit VallartaCatering.com.

Click HERE for more articles by The Irreverent Chef



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