I am really not a big live music fan. I occasionally go to concerts and shows of bands that I truly love, but I’m not one to go to hear a band play just to go. I’d never say “I’m in the mood to hear some live music tonight, let’s go catch a show.” Which, having a music fanatic husband who loves to hear bands live and would say that exact thing has made some of our social decisions over the years a bit challenging.

It’s not that I don’t like music, I love to listen to music and my tastes are quite diverse, but I’ve never gotten the big appeal of listening to them live. I love listening in the car, while working out or just while hanging out at home. But at concerts? Well at concerts there are usually long lines at the bathrooms, long lines to buy a drink, long waits for the show to start (if something says it starts at 10 p.m., that’s when I expect it to start and with most concerts that time is simply a suggestion) and they are often hot and so, so crowded. I’ve already mentioned how crowd-averse I am, so it has to be a particularly epic show to overcome all those things. And so often it’s not. I also realize that as I typed all of that I now sound like a crotchety old woman but I promise, I’m not nearly as crotchety as I sound and even before I turned 40 I felt pretty similar.

So when I first heard about the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival it wasn’t really on my radar as a must do. But then I started having the following conversations with people here in Playa del Carmen, in particular with one friend who should definitely be working in the PR department for the Festival, it’s like her Christmas.

Friend: Are you  going to the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival?

Me: Eh.

Friend: You have to go!

Friend: Are you going to the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival?

Me: Maybe

Friend: You HAVE to go, these are my favorite nights of the year

Friend: Are you going to the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival?

Me: Probably

Friend: You’re going.

I mean I’m not stupid, I can take a hint, as well as a direct order, and so we went. This is the 7th year of the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival and it has grown to be held over three nights. We decided to go on Saturday, the last night of the show. We loaded up our cooler, grabbed a blanket and some chairs and walked along the beach towards the show. Oh, I didn’t mention the beach? Yes, the Festival was set up outside on a beautiful section of the beach here in Playa. And it was free. And you could bring your own food and drink. To reiterate, a free concert on a beach in the Riviera Maya. I get it people, you’re seriously questioning my “I’m not stupid” statement, aren’t you? I agree, it shouldn’t have even been a question of whether or not we were going to go.

The "Commute"
This was our ‘commute’ to the show. I know, it’s still beautiful even at night.
Hanging out at Riviera Maya Jazz Festival
Waiting for the show to start (of course it didn’t start on time).

Was it crowded? You bet. Wall to wall people. Were there long lines at the bathrooms? Well yes, once we finally found the bathroom we also found long lines. We also got rained on and the show definitely did not start until late. But you know what? It didn’t matter, because the show was still pretty freaking amazing.

Riviera Maya Jazz Festival
This was while Celso Piña was playing. I looked him up after the show and found out he’s called “The Accordion Rebel.” That’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard.

The band Earth, Wind & Fire was the headlining act for the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, that was enough to convert me. I’m a believer now. Not in all concerts, but free ones on the beach in Mexico? You bet.

I continue to be amazed each and every day by the diverse and interesting opportunities that I am presented with in my new day to day life. I push myself to be open to new experiences, embrace new ideas and challenge my traditional way of thinking. Is it working? Well just for the record, I was not the first one in our group ready to leave the show. Progress.