Anyway, I got in late last night on an Aeromexico flight which, apart from leaving a half-hour late, was excellent. I have been worried about my guitar ever since I booked the flight a few months ago. As I have mentioned before, my instrument was built by Robert Holroyd in Vancouver in 1983 and it has been my sole instrument ever since, undergoing a couple of repairs and restorations over the years. It is a superb guitar and irreplaceable since Bob passed away decades ago. I will not let it travel in cargo. My travel agent assured me that the policy on Aeromexico was that musical instruments can travel as carryon luggage as long as the case is less than 1.15 meters in length (which I guess lets out cellists). My case is 1.07 meters, so I should be good. But I was extremely apprehensive because of many bad experiences over the years where I was often lied to and sometimes forced to check my guitar. When I showed up for checkin in Mexico City yesterday there was no problem. I held up my guitar case saying, "this is my carryon" and they simply said," that's a guitar?" and waved me on. It came to me that all the bad experiences I had back when I was touring, were with Canadian airlines, who seemed to actually hate guitars.
Seated next to me on the flight was a gentleman who commented on my case and asked me if I was a classical guitarist. He turned out to be a Mexican guitarist who just started teaching at the University of Toronto and he gave me a copy of a recent album he recorded that I will review when I can get to it. So that was a nice coincidence.
I got in very late last night--it was snowing lightly and around 0 degrees (32 Fahrenheit), but the hotel folks were very nice. That is the first thing I notice, Canadians are polite to a fault! Now, yes, I do realize that I am in fact Canadian, born and raised, but I have not actually lived in English Canada for the last twenty-eight years so I do feel a distance from English Canadian culture. The first eight of those years were in Quebec, which is quite different, and the last twenty in Mexico, which is really different. It is fascinating to view one's own culture from the outside, as it were, which is what I am doing. I have never spent much time in Ontario (apart from a summer back in the 80s) and I have not been in Toronto since around 2000. One of my first goals will be to see if I can find some Montreal smoked meat!
I am writing this on a new laptop, an Acer 15.6 inch Chromebook that I purchased from Amazon for $213. Yes, not a misprint. There was a charge for shipping and import duties to Mexico, but not that much really. Why so cheap? Chromebooks are much cheaper because they do not include hefty fees for the Windows operating system. They take some getting used to because they do not run any of the usual programs, but for web browsing they are perfect and you can use Google docs instead of the usual Office programs. I find that, for most purposes, they are ideal. They boot up in a few seconds and shut down instantly. This is the third one I have owned and I love them when I travel. My Macbook Pro is a bit too heavy. Plus, 15.6 is a lot of screen on a laptop, which I appreciate. I can't do any composing on it as it will not run Finale. I should look and see if there is any music software available.
I managed to completely forget all of my charging cables so I will have to ration my computer time. It says that the average battery life is twelve hours (!) so that gives me two hours a day as I charged it up before I left. Fingers crossed! My iPhone is going to die a lot sooner, so I am going to leave it turned off most of the time. Why did I forget the cables, which I usually remember? I think it was because I was mostly focused on packing everything I needed for the recording. I haven't traveled with my guitar for twenty years so there was a lot to remember:
- extra sets of strings (2)
- sandpaper (2 kinds) for the nails
- polishing board for the nails and nail file
- clipper for the strings if I have to put a new one on
- scores for both pieces
- music stand
- foot rest
Often the most challenging part of being a musician is simply the logistics of getting there with everything you need.
I am staying in a Marriot just a couple of blocks from the CBC building where we are going to be recording and while a modest, older hotel is quite suitable. The room is great--it has a kitchenette with a fridge, stovetop, dishwasher and kitchenware so I can actually cook here. I wonder if I can find a decent bagel? I am told I have to visit the Kensington Market, which I vaguely remember from years ago. I won't be here very long and every day involves either rehearsing, recording or editing, but maybe I can fit that in.
And now, time for breakfast!