Things are finally settling down now after our epic vacation to Guadalajara, Mexico specifically for El Encuentro Internacional del Mariachi y la Charrería and to see the beautiful state of Jalisco (the birthplace of tequila). Looking back, our week and a half there was pretty spectacular, but there was an instance during our visit that continues to really bother me. Perhaps I’m bothered so much because I was essentially heartbroken over the treatment of my daughters in a country that has otherwise ALWAYS been very, very good to them; my wife and I brag about how well children are respected and loved in Mexico…
Everyone EXCEPT for the management of Teatro Degollado.
Let me preface the rest of this story by explaining how much I LOVE mariachi music; call it a bit of an obsession of mine. When I hear really wonderful mariachi my heart is lifted and, I won’t lie, I can bit a bit emotional. With that said, you can probably imagine how excited I was to be able to travel to the home and birthplace of Mariachi for the largest mariachi music festival in the world and I have been wanting to go for years.
I was MOST EXCITED to see one show in particular: three of the best mariachi bands in the world perform with the Jalisco Philharmonic Orchestra.
We bought 4 tickets weeks in advance and my daughters, 4 and 6 years old, were dressed in beautiful new gowns we purchased especially for the occasion. We met the conductor, Maestro Hector Guzmán, prior to the show and he told us how perfect the Teatro Degollado is and how much he enjoys this theater more than any other in the world. We went on to talk a little bit more about the show as well. He was really friendly and our excitement level was through the roof at this point!
When we arrived for seating we were flatly and unapologetically REFUSED ENTRY because we had children with us.
We’re on a vacation of a lifetime and my daughters weren’t going to be let in? Why in the world would anyone or any institution want to deprive children of a fantastic cultural and artistic opportunity?
After being escorted to the TicketMaster office, the first female supervisor I spoke with actually had the nerve to suggest that my wife and I take turns staying with the children outside while the other watches the show. I firmly refused that option; we were all going to watch the show, or we were all leaving. Then she tried to convince me that the seats we had were bad and the kids wouldn’t like them (the seats were fantastic BTW) because they wouldn’t be able to see.
Seriously. I cannot make this stuff up.
I wasn’t having any of it. I explained that there was NOTHING on any of the printed show advertisements, the Encuentro website or TicketMaster website (where we bought our tickets online) indicating that there was an age restriction and I asked them to point out anything we might have missed. Clearly, they could not.
We were stunned and my daughters were visibly upset – they understood why we weren’t going to be let in, and they knew how excited I was about this evening; Maddie took the news especially hard. This was the toughest part for me: Maddie and Max KNEW that they were the reason for my disappointment in this moment.
Fortunately, after much pleading and negotiation (onlookers would have probably called it “begging”) with upper management (thankfully my Spanish was just good enough), they eventually relented and let us in with the fierce admonishment that our children MUST behave or we would be asked to leave.
Of course, Maddie and Max were perfectly behaved, they always are. In fact, they were quieter and better behaved than the people we were sitting among. Max, our youngest, actually slept through most of the show. We all did the best we could to enjoy the performance, despite the fact that I remained heartbroken for my daughters and furious over our treatment.
My heart did not soar. I was otherwise unmoved.
Maestro Hector Guzmán was correct, Teatro Degollado is an extraordinarily beautiful building, the show was amazing and the acoustics are near perfect. It is just a shame that my once in a lifetime experience had to have been marred in this way.
I am not sure that I will ever return to the Teatro Degollado after this embarrassment, which is terribly sad because this is where the premiere shows of the El Encuentro Internacional del Mariachi are held. Without attending the galas there really is no compelling reason for me to go back to Guadalajara, an otherwise very special city.
This could have been avoided and I hope others will learn from my story. If there are age restrictions for a show, PLEASE advertise them conspicuously. I hope that all involved: Cámara Nacional de Comercio de Guadalajara, Teatro Degollado, Ticketmaster Mexico and Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco will do a better job of advertising age restrictions in their effort to avoid embarrassing future guests and travelers or surprising them with disappointment on arrival.
Adios, Jalisco, Mexico! Thanks for the tequila and mariachi.