Before boarding Volaris Flight 657, the inaugural flight from Milwaukee to Guadalajara, I stepped into the the concourse restroom and saw a barrel-chested, full-voiced mariachi singer changing into street clothes.
“You guys just sang, right?” I asked.
Yes, they had performed at the ribbon-cutting event that wrapped up ten minutes earlier. Airport and Volaris officials spoke. Julián Adem, the Mexican Consul in Milwaukee, spoke. Some lower level elected officials spoke. (One mentioned how excited she was for Milwaukee’s first ever flight to Guatemala.) And as they all cut the ribbon the members of Mariachi San Francisco spread their arms and sang a handful of classic Mexican songs, guitars and horns included. The perfect live soundtrack as passengers lined up with their boarding passes.
“You guys were great!” I told them. “Where are you from?” I asked, expecting to hear Milwaukee or maybe Chicago.
“We’re from Guadalajara.”
They had flown in a few hours earlier on the first-ever Guadalajara flight to Milwaukee for the festivities. They played music for the arrival event and the departure event. They changed their clothes and flew back to Guadalajara.
How long did you spend in Milwaukee?
“About two hours.”
And as I boarded, two guys from the band tossed suggestions my way for the best place to go for birria in Guadalajara. (They recommended El Chololo.)
Even with US-Mexican tensions elevated these days, Milwaukee is now more directly connected to Mexico than ever. And my one-way to Guadalajara cost me just $136.