The sound of a trombone emerges from the foliage of the northern Veracruz mountains. It plays a single note, then another. As trumpets, cornets, tubas, and drums join in, musicians march out from the pines. They have walked miles to reach Pie de la Cuesta and participate in the celebration.
Blasting away, they take their places in the line. Another nine bands are already waiting. One group of musicians is decked out in matching blue suits. Others sport ponytails and Che Guevara T-shirts, while many wear baggy jeans and baseball caps. The drums are decorated with the names of the bands and colorful images of deer, mountains, starry skies, and roads winding their way between houses.