The Saints of Todos Santos: Donna Viglione of The Palapa Society, Volunteer Extraordinaire

By Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Todos Santos Eco Adventures

She went from managing haute cuisine in Boston to bringing her Bridge-to-English program to local Todos Santos children, and her success shows in the growth of the Palapa Society’s educational and scholarship programs.

Donna Viglione of the Palapa Society is bringing educational opportunities to local children

Donna Viglione was in Boston on Patriot’s Day 1976 explaining to wife of then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, that her (Rosalynn’s) luggage had been stolen out of her (Donna’s) car while they made a campaign stop on the way to the hotel from the airport. Rosalynn was sad because the bible that Jimmy had given her years before was in the luggage. Donna was sad because she thought this snafu pretty much spelled the end of life as she knew it. She was right.

To help the luggage-less future first lady Donna ran around town and bought Rosalynn all of her favorite beauty products, and Rosalynn was very touched by this act of kindness. So touched that when she and Jimmy moved into the White House she invited Donna to a state dinner in honor of German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Now invitations to state dinners at the White House are traditionally bestowed only on the true elites of the business, political and entertainment worlds, not 26-year-old legal secretaries cum campaign volunteers.

Donna was stunned by this remarkable expression of thanks for a kindness she had rendered, and she took to heart what it means to not only help people when you can, but to express gratitude for the kindnesses you have received. Now, the children of Todos Santos are benefitting greatly from these lessons.

Read the rest of Donna’s story on the Todos Santos Eco Adventures’ Blog.

Highlights of the 2012 Todos Santos Music Festival

By M. Fisher

The first Todos Santos Music Festival, held throughout the first three weeks of January, is receding in the rear view mirror of our memory, but before we look ahead to the Arts Festival—our next cultural explosion—let’s look back to the impact that Peter Buck, co-founding member and lead guitarist of American rock band R.E.M., and friends had on our community.

Photo courtesy of Chris + Lynn Photographers

The sizeable contribution of the proceeds for the event to the Palapa Society, nearly USD 50,000, will enable many young people in the area to continue their educations, paving the way for better lives and a richer community.

For music lovers like me, the joys of seeing such an array of first-rate talent on display in such a beautiful venue, at such an affordable price, will not soon be forgotten. The lead artists lived up to their hype, but for me it was the discovery of new talent like Kev’n Kinney and known artists who turned up unbilled like Chuck Prophet who made the show a memorable event.

While grocery shopping in Guluarte Mercado earlier this week, I ran into Cowboy of the popular classic rock combo Flashback. He was still glowing from the rare privilege of sharing the stage with the visiting musical luminaries. He spoke of their accessibility and generosity and how they all made him feel comfortable as fellow music makers. Flashback opened the festivities for the festival finale in the plaza, but they were not the only local talent in what became a multicultural celebration. One of my personal special moments came when mariachi horns were introduced to spice up a cover rendering of an Arthur Lee (from the 60’s group Love) favorite.

And accessible they were, these makers of gold and platinum recordings, as they moved through Todos Santos, in the restaurants and shops, without the entourages you’d expect from successful performers. Members of other headlining groups The Baseball Project and The Minus Five, along with other special guest performers Mike Mills, Kraig Johnson, Blake Sennett and the Elected, Fernando Viciconte, and Dave Depper could all be seen in town. They were always willing to stop for a photo or to be chatted up by old and young fans alike. I found out from Robyn Hitchcock (who has played for the Queen) when I encountered him enjoying breakfast at the Todos Santos Caffé, that he shared my admiration for the comic art of Robert Crumb.

These talented musicians came at their own expense, with no pay (other than the natural beauty, warm climate, and warm welcomes of the natives) to raise money for a worthy cause.

The rumors for next year’s festival are already swirling around town: bigger talent, bigger sound, more funds for Palapa Society scholarships, additional sponsors. I cannot wait to see what Peter Buck and Company will come up with in 2013.

Michael Fisher is a retired Early Childhood Educator, who now has time to pursue his hobbies, blogging, writing and comic art. Currently he is able to do this for two months of the year in the paradise that is Todos Santos, BCS. The rest of the year he resides in Monte Rio, CA, with his wife, Gail, and pocket Ewok, Aldo.

Images courtesy of Chris + Lynn Photographers