Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ale Delgado, mobile milkshake star, talks Nicaragua and mix tapes

Ale Delgado
Belmont University sophomore Ale Delgado wants to make you a milkshake.

Delgado's name is on the tips of Nashville tongues this year - not necessarily because she's an intern at Infinity Cat Recordings or Vice President of Belmont Service Corps - but because she is one half of the entrepreneurial team that brought Moovers & Shakers into being. Moovers & Shakers touts itself as Nashville's first mobile soda parlor, and everyone from Nashvillest to the Nashville Scene is eating it up. (To satisfy your soda sweet tooth this summer, you can follow Moovers & Shakers on Twitter and Facebook, or visit their web site at

Born Martha Alejandra Delgado in Rockville, Maryland, she also lived in Gainesville and Cincinnati before coming to Nashville to become a Belmont Bruin.

Delgado's parents are from Nicaragua, so I asked her how that heritage reveals itself at home:
My parents cook Nicaraguan food all the time. We usually end up having gallo pinto a few times a week, so that's a big stable. My mom also sent me some pico in the mail the other week and I got to share it with my friends here, which was pretty fun. (I admit that I kept most of it for myself...) Same with music, though unfortunately I'm never quite sure who I'm listening to. I can say there was a lot of Celia Cruz and Proyecto Uno played in my house growing up-- quite a variety!
Sadly, I don't speak Spanish. I can understand fairly well, just not very good at translating my own thoughts in my head. I volunteered with my family at Cincy-Cinco, which was always a ton of fun because I usually helped out with games. Plus, it was the only time I knew I could really get good Spanish food!
Delgado has visited Nicaragua only once, but she remembers "the little things" - including the ice cream:
I don't make it down to Nicaragua a lot; I think the last time I went I was 6 or 7...It's really the little things that I remember from my trip to Nicaragua, hanging out with my cousins outside on the hammock, watching Zorro. We were staying so close to the ice cream shop that we could walk over. I loved that as a kid because it was so hot outside! (Plus, you can see how much I love ice cream...) I also remember loving the beach, although I ended up getting a mouthful of waves a couple times!
Delgado's parents came to the U.S. during the war that ravaged Nicaragua in the 1980's. Names like Daniel Ortega, Violeta Chamorro, the Sandinistas, and Oliver North can be abstract political footballs in the U.S., but the events that brought those names to the headlines were very real. Delgado tells the story through her mother's eyes:
My mom came over in 1984 as a political refugee. She stayed with her aunt for a year until the rest of the family could come over and actually missed celebrating her Quince. Her family came with tourist visas, then applied for political asylum, and have now all become permanent residents and US citizens.

The war itself was pretty horrendous; she describes it as a period of insecurity, lack of safety, and fear. At one point, the military thought her family was harboring revolutionaries, so they were threatening to bomb the house. She said that if it weren't for their neighbor yelling for them to open the door, they probably wouldn't have survived. After that, they walked to the nearby hospital, holding white flags to show that they were just civilians. They put mattresses up against the wall to protect themselves from the bullets, had to run into the bathroom whenever they heard machine guns or helicopters...

After a while in the hospital, they left for Honduras. It was there that they learned that my great-grandmother's jewelry business had been looted and there was nothing left. When the war was over, they finally returned to Nicaragua before coming to the U.S. 
My mom said she feels like she was protected from the first-hand horrors of the war, but the impact of living with a war does shape her feelings and behaviors. She doesn't really watch the news, especially when it involves human suffering, but she does say that she's able to adapt to change and remain hopeful in challenging situations.
Delgado's mother and father now live in Fayetteville, Arkansas - her dad works at Proctor and Gamble, and her mother at the University of Arkansas.

When she's not making milkshakes for her new business, Delgado is blogging at Pretentious Mixtapes I Made In High School. I asked Delgado about the hobby, because I was surprised that the word "tape" was still in the vocabulary of a college student in 2011, and I was doubtful that Delgado had actually seen a cassette tape recently. I was wrong:
I actually use cassette tapes all the time, although all three of my Walkmans are broken, so I need to find somewhere to buy another one. My dad got me started on them when I was much younger. I remember the first time I taped some of my favorite songs, I was worried that the tape player would pick up the sound from Rugrats-- that's how young I was! My dad was really my biggest influence as far as music and technology goes; he would come home and show me how to use Napster and introduce me to all this new music (until we had to delete it, of course) or bring a miniDisc player and teach me how to record the radio on it. But the tapes are really what stuck with me. I like scrunching up by my stereo for a couple hours, taping and making covers. I like that it takes more time and effort to really get it right because it seems more meaningful and permanent that way. And I've never thought that I'm very good at expressing myself, so I like to let the music do it for me.

I honestly can't remember why I decided to write about my tapes online. I come up with a lot of random ideas and this one just stuck. Honestly, I probably just thought the phrase "Pretentious Mixtapes I Made In High School" was funny, ha! I make mixes about pretty much everything, but if I had to pick an overarching theme, it'd probably be "the little moments" --or "angst," I was in high school, after all. You check out the Moovers & Shakers mix here: It starts off with a spoken word poem by Hayden, my business partner.
With a love for tunes, and a knack for bringing a conversation about her hobby back to the business plan, Delgado should do just fine selling milkshakes in Music City.

Follow Ale Delgado on Twitter at @IAmAleDelgado

To read more stories about Nashville and Nicaragua, click on the Nicaragua link in the Index to the right.

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