I have not written for many days because on Friday evening after two shows I came down with an awful stomach bug. Luckily we had the weekend off and I spent Saturday in bed and Sunday on the warm sunny roof of our hostel. The other clowns and the sweet people of the hostel took such good care of me. Jasper brought the curandara (healer) to the hostel for me. She brought traditional Mayan herbal remedies and massage for my tired body. The ladies of the hostel made me soup two nights and surrounded me with laughter and love. Monday I wrenched myself from bed to do the shows, made it through the day and by Tuesday I was much better.
On Friday we went ventured the furthest out of town yet. This community was built on occupied land. The hacienda from many years passed lay crumbling in the school yard. A symbol of a power structure that they let crumble as well. We drove on the ridge, a precarious dirt road, looking down upon tightly woven metal roofs, surrounding corn fields. Along the rode a small child sat with a shovel and a large pile of rocks, “helping”. Though, the parenthesis probably only apply to children from the states. I am surprised daily by the work ethic of the children here. I ponder if it’s sad or if our culture could use a little more of this.
We arrived at the school and could feel the uniqueness of this experience. The pace of life was slower here. They had built their lives from scratch. The children were so full of joy from our show. They were so excited yet not pushy or pushing boundaries, like some other schools. People we talked to about coming to this community were intrigued. I feel so grateful to be able to get a peek into this world and share in laughter with these children. We are clowns as ambassadors, clowns breaking down barriers, clowns offering their gifts to the world.
Every schools culture is different. On Monday we performed for a secondary school and those kids were really interested in all the romantic parts of the show, which is normal for middle schoolers. There were even a couple of kids on their phones after the show. Otherwise we have seen very little phone usage or even TV watching by adults or kids. At one of the schools on Tuesday the kids were so into us that after the show they literally chased our truck down the street. At another, a few children left their seats during the show to search for the cookie of death after it flew from Geoff’s hand. They peak into our changing room with curious and intent eyes. They surround us with hugs and touchy fingers. They ask us when we will return. The rules of the schools seem much loser here. After the shows the kids are often eating sweets they can purchase on site or from vendors who come by. None of the schools we’ve been to have had playgrounds, though they always have a basketball court, eve for that’s where we do our shows, even at the rural schools.
Our show’s fell through at Tapachula, the border town where Guatemalan kids come over to get a better education. This is totally allowed and supported by Mexico. I am relieved to miss the 8 hr. bus ride through the hot and sweaty jungle, but sad to not get to experience a different part of Chiapas. Instead we have a lighter schedule for the rest of this week including one show that we set up at Wapani, a local cultural and performing arts center near our hostel. We’ve been to a couple of shows there already including Butoh, Kamishibai, circus and musical acts. Who knew that San Cristo had such a thriving arts scene? We are excited to do our first show for primarily adults and share it with this community. We will pass the hat at the end to support clown without borders.