In Albu-Turkey, way past the dumb ass intersection of I-25 and I-40, for some odd reason, the food gets worse. Just in that corner where snakes of diesel trucks roll off the black top into the potholed truck stops, where the chili is a dirty watery green and nothing to brag about unless you’re from Arkansas.
I was about 13 years old on a strange tour around the southwest of the United States. I was a dancer for many years and I loved hanging with all the adults. Boo, chained smoked Camels without filters. He gave us wine so I was dancing and drinking way too early.
It was on that surreal Hunter Thompson-esk tour that I first got my Ocarina in that truck stop in Albuquerque from a Peruvian-man named Carlos. Carlos was skinny, seemed like a sickly man, as he loved the watery green chili burrito.
Carlos didn’t have a drinking problem. He drank hard stuff and he didn’t stop, no problem. He smiled at me in the early morning as big ole-truckers walked in from the cold and into the greasy spoon. Winter was gonna come soon and the Aspen leaves had turned a shade of brown-ochre. Through his bigger than average teeth, he said, “come here..” Groggy and still a bit drunk he pulled me into his down-jacket to give me a hug. I could feel his bony chest. He liked me.
He was lucky. I wanted to be lucky. Ruby was from somewhere, grew up on some sheep camp outside of Durango and was a beauty with dark brown Hispana mama. She was half his age, however, that was a good thing cause that’s how we rock stars roll. She ran away from the potato fields and the pictures of her past life that collected on her Mamma’s Ice box-refrigerator door.
Where they meet was a wonder. Maybe I knew and maybe I forgot that part. I would watch her hard, strong body in her Peruvian Outfit as she sang songs from the high Andes with Carlos. She could easily drink a sheep herder’s wage at one sitting and still look beautiful. Maybe that was my influence, I can’t say.
He handed me a small pouch as they walked saying their goodbyes as the sky to the east became grey. They were headed out to the west coast…Va ya con dios.
She smiled at me – I tried to smile back. The hard wet snow began and slothing sounds of tire on wet pavement faded in and out of the sounds of air brakes and squeals from 18 wheelers.
The ocarina is an ancient instrument, one of the most complex, that encompasses uncertainty in a very small space, for chaos to dwell and be released as melody, the genius of fluid dynamics.
The first known ocarina-like instrument appeared about 12,000 years ago. The ocarina’s origins can be traced back to different places. I prefer it to be in the South and Central America, with the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas performing on clay ocarinas which were often shaped like birds or animals. I love the subtlety of dancing and playing, so it’s still being used the same way.
I never saw them again. I heard he died a few years after that. He was sick and he knew it. It was his last tour.
I can’t say if that’s where I learned flute, or Ocarina influences. I can’t recall much in that time. I was 13 bragging about my long hair and girlish face fading into a young man.
Nothing stays the same and that’s a damn good thing.
Come visit me on the pueblo shop, I’m there most days, so I can finish telling the story of Ocarina Carlos and Ruby dear.