In late January 1973, I went to visit my father and his family in San Salvador for three weeks. This is just one story from that trip.

My father had a business associate Herbert, who was a wacky kind of guy. I was 16, and along with one of my half-brothers who was around 12 at the time, Herbert came with my father and me to Guatemala City for two days. It was a 45-minute flight from San Salvador. Herbert and my father were going to talk to the president of the Guatemalan congress about my father starting to do some business there. My father sold commercial electrical supplies, and was a partner in a company doing major electrical construction projects such as wiring apartment buildings, a new soccer stadium, building substations, and even wiring towns for the first time. Soon thereafter my cousin who was the head of the Salvador Communist party would come along and blow up such things, but that’s a different story.

We went to a cabaret nightclub in the first night for dinner. The show band was a seven-piece with horns, and led by an attractive, charismatic female singer. She would walk around among the dinner tables when she didn’t sing from the stage. When she got near our table, Herbert called her over and whispered into her ear. She came around our big round table to stand next to me while the bright spotlight shone on both of us as she first spoke, then the whole nightclub erupted in applause before she sang to me. Herbert seemed awfully proud of himself, and my father was laughing.He explained, “Herbert told her it was your birthday and asked her to sing you this song,” a hit down there at the time, Te Traigo estas Flores.

Of course, I was horribly embarrassed, because if there’s anything I don’t want it’s to be the center of attention. Soon the hell was over with and we finished dinner. We stopped at the town square in the rented car on the way back to the hotel, and there were two competing mariachi bands who swarmed over to our car. Herbert called one of them over to him and spoke. They all came around to my rear window on the left side of the car and started singing this song to me—again. Once again I was horribly embarrassed.

We got back to San Salvador, and every time over the next couple of weeks whenever we went out and Herbert could find a mariachi band at an outdoor café at lunchtime or anywhere, Herbert told them it was my birthday and requested Te Traigo estas Flores for my “birthday,” which they would all then proceed to sing directly to me.

trumpets-hell

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I was sound asleep in my room the night before flying home early in the morning when I was awakened by loud singing. I couldn‘t figure out for the life of me why it was so loud or where it was coming from. My father opened the door after about a minute and the familiar song Te Traigo estas Flores was suddenly much louder still. A mariachi band was in the next room. My father had gone into downtown San Salvador and brought a mariachi band back to serenade me goodbye from the next room while I was in bed on the final night of my visit. How he got them all into his Mercedes with their instruments would have been the big story of the night, but there were no photos, so I was left to imagine it. Did the one guy hold his giant bass guitar out the window while they were all piled into the car? I could never figure that out. They sang Te Traigo estas Flores first, maybe another 40 minutes of other songs, then Te Traigo estas Flores again at the end before my father took them back down the mountain into town again to leave them where he got them.

I‘d picked up a 7-inch 45 RPM disc of this song in a record store down there one day, and it must be somewhere here, but I didn’t find it the last time I looked—but YouTube has everything.