Joe Arroyo - loved and adored by millions - just in my city alone - left this planet the day before yesterday.
He was born nearby in Cartagena, but loved, and is now buried, here in Barranquilla.
I felt a connection to him when I saw him live at Fiesta de Polleras back in early March. I blogged about it here if you want to take a look. He was the main attraction that night and the crowd went wild when he came onstage.
The following video is of his orchestra...just before he came on.
I loved that he allowed many women up onto the platform for hugs, picture taking, and dancing...even while performing. He was happy to be there and it showed.
I took video from my table because I knew I'd have to fight the crowd to get anywhere near him. It didn't turn out so great...but his voice and 'spirt' come across fairly well.
I was at my quilt group meeting yesterday when my hostess's husband came in to tell us that "The 43" was lined with people waiting for him (his hearse) to pass by. It was the first I'd heard that he'd died the day before.
No one seemed to know what the cause of death was - and I thought that strange - because in the States, it's always discussed to death. Pun intended. Some suspect he died of Cancer.
At any rate when Momy's husband was telling us about the people lining the streets, the music of Joe blasting from stereo systems up and down the Calle, I wished I could take a picture.
A couple hours later when I was headed home in my taxi, I indeed crossed Calle 43 and saw for myself what he was talking about. Thousands of people were there to pay tribute.
The sky was stormy, but at dusk, the lighting was that awesome yellow, pink, gray color that seems surreal.
There was so much traffic that it took awhile to get through the intersection. Even though I still don't speak much Spanish and my taxi driver knew no English...we talked about, appreciated and grieved a little together as we sat in line - listening to his music on the radio all the while.
My camera batteries were dead but the picture I have in my mind will remain. It was beautiful to see the emotion and love and gathering together of my fellow Barranquilleros in honor of and respect for Joe Arroyo.
His music will stir hearts for many, many years to come.