Media Luna and Gil

There is a wonderful band of young men pictured here who play in San Miguel de Allende. They call themselves “Media Luna.” (Sorry about the photo. I only had my iPhone).They play as a complete band, but they frequently join with my wonderful friend, Gil Gutierrez, a master guitarist who is from Oaxaca and lives with his wife, Rebecca, in San Miguel. The most wonderful thing about Gil…aside from his amazing ability to play a guitar, is the way he nurtures other musicians, especially young ones. He seems to get such joy out of other people’s talents. It is a joy for me to watch as he plays with these guys, and for some reason it always makes me cry a little bit.

I always enjoy going out to Zandunga, Gil and Rebecca’s venue out in the country, to hear whatever music Gil has assembled there. But, my favorite is a mixture of Gil and Media Luna. The music is mostly Flamenco/Jazz guitar. Usually quite dramatic. When I sit and listen, I know without a doubt that I am in Mexico.

This past Sunday we took a trip to Zandunga once again. It was wonderful, as usual. I always tell Rebecca that she sure knows how to throw a party, because that’s what it feels like at Zandunga. This Sunday was no exception. One at a time, Media Luna walked out into the crowd and started playing their guitars. Then Gil walked out and joined in. The crowd was totally into it. What a gift to San Miguel to have such a place as Zandunga, and an artist such as Gil. And what great blessing for a young musician to have the opportunity to play with him and learn from him. And the beauty is, he seems to be learning from them as well.

Zandunga—Magic in El Campo

After Fred and Pinky and I arrived in San Miguel de Allende, one of the very first things we wanted to do was visit Zandunga, the new venue created by the virtuoso guitarist, Gil Gutierrez. It is a large open-air stone building with a great kitchen and bar built on a rancho that Gil has had for a while. You get a sense that this place is a dream come true for Gil and his wife, Rebecca. A place where they can do what they do—provide hospitality and wonderful music. The minute you walk onto the grounds you sense a welcoming spirit. We had met Gil and heard him play when we were in San Miguel last year. His music is amazing, and we were really looking forward to hearing him again. The thing that impressed us about him, almost as much as his music, was what a friendly, warm, and laid-back guy he was. None of the ego one would expect to encounter from such an incredibly talented and revered artist.

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Going to the country on a Sunday afternoon has become our favorite part of the week here in San Miguel de Allende, and we were very curious to see what Gil had created. We were not disappointed…in fact, we were delighted.

We had met a really interesting woman while we were here before, and gotten to know her a bit on FaceBook. So, when Linda Bacon McBurney invited us to join her and her husband, Charles, to go with them and a couple of friends to Zandunga, we were quite excited. We went early and had a great table. This place is the complete package for a perfect afternoon. Music, dancing, delicious food, and hanging out with like-minded people in a gorgeous setting in the countryside of the mountainous state of Guanajuato.

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And, the buffet was an abundance of the flavors of Mexico. Rebecca oversees the food and drink, and she does it with the same style and charm that Gil infuses into the music. When I asked Rebecca to recommend a good tequila, she didn’t miss a beat. Herradura Ultra. Now I’m hooked. I had never had this, but it has to be the smoothest, gentlest tequila in the world.

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Fred and I walked Pinky around the grounds that afternoon and we had what we call a “Mexico Moment.” An instant in time where we both completely understood why we have moved to Mexico. Zandunga is a word that is sometimes translated as gracefulness, elegance, charm, and celebration. It refers to a style of music that is from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in the state of Oaxaca, which is where Gil is from. We felt the spirit of the music on Sunday afternoon. We also felt the spirt of Mexico. It was one of those magic afternoons that words simply don’t do justice.

If you are ever in San Miguel de Allende on a Sunday afternoon, you really must go out in the country to Zandunga. Tickets are $400 pesos and must be bought in advance. They are available at Hernández Macias #129. from 12 noon until 4. Call 152.4608 to arrange pickup. The price of the ticket includes your first house drink, a bountiful buffet from a beautiful open kitchen, and some of the best music you’ll hear anywhere. Bring your dancing shoes. You really don’t want to miss this experience. And, thanks again, Linda, for the invite.