By Javier Andres Rojas
BOGOTA (Reuters) - The boisterous music - usually heard at family celebrations and raucous birthdays - bursts through the eerily quiet streets of Colombia's capital, Bogota. The mariachis have arrived.
As the Andean country waits out two months of a national coronavirus quarantine, musicians playing the traditionally Mexican genre are lugging guitars, trumpets, violins, speakers and microphones to street corners, accepting tips from delighted residents who dance on their balconies.
The pandemic and accompanying shutdowns have cut the musicians off from their usual work, band leader Hubert Ramirez said, as his group set up on a new street.
"The poor mariachis are shut in," said the father of five. "So we decided to go out, we'll make people happy and they can support us and that's how we'll get through this situation."
"There isn't money left to buy food, let alone pay rent," said Ramirez, adding the street playing has helped allay some costs. "It's gone better than we expected."
Surprised residents often record the serenades on their cell phones and some sing along.
"I think it's a breath of fresh air during this situation and it takes people out of their houses, their social isolation," said resident Maria Elena Mondragon. "They make us smile so we have to support them, help them because they don't have a way to offer their services."
"I think it's marvelous," she said.
The nation of 50 million people has more than 16,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and just under 600 deaths.
It has been in obligatory lockdown since late March.
(Reporting by Javier Andres Rojas in Bogota; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Matthew Lewis)