While the rainbow community celebrated pride day and my friends in Illinois and New York went to the parades, my buddy and I went to explore downtown Laredo for any sign of pride activity. Alas, we were the only ones saying “you go!” but we did discover some very nice people along the way. (FYI – I did tell him I was going to write about him)
Ventura is a traveling musician. That is not all he is. He told us about his life as a migrant farmworker from Laredo, a divorced dad, as a Leo (hence the tattoo), his time in the service (U.S.Army) in Germany and Fort Hood and later having lived in Minnesota, Idaho, Ohio, South Dakota and wherever work would take him. Most of the time, he spent at “matanzas” – slaughterhouses – for pigs or other animals. Those places are hard on the body and the senses. He’s had a hard life and finally came back to Laredo when his mom reached her 80’s – but, he hasn’t been able to find a job here. In his younger years, he worked extra in the fields to earn money to help buy instruments for a band he and his friends put together. He has always loved all kinds of music. Because he just couldn’t find work in his native Laredo, he started traveling with his karaoke machine and speakers to sing for tips. It’s not new, in bigger cities you have all types of music on street corners and different types of street performers. Ventura says he has been chased away from different locations by police but not today, three officers rode by on their bicycles and said hello to all of us in the “audience.”
Ventura says he doesn’t throw his money out on smoking or drinking – just water. Today he stopped to talk to us since we made eye contact with him and he thinks he has seen me at the Volunteers Serving the Need thrift store. Guilty. He says that he receives a monthly couple bags of food from the veteran support organization where I volunteer; but, he does say “what the heck am I going to do with so many cans of tomato sauce!” but he says he is grateful for the rest.Today’s audience was treated to some covers from los Temerarios, Bukis and Joan Sebastian – all songs I was familiar with because my mother would play them when I was a little girl.
My friend and I were glad to have made a new friend and he says that if you need a singer, karaoke machine or any kind of work you can give him, to leave a message for Ventura at Sanborns downtown :).