April 10, 2010
After rehearsing two whole days at Stef’s house last weekend (4/3 & 4), we came up with a pretty great show with lots of music and umbrellas, which keeps changing daily. Monday April 5 we started our tour here in the northwest highlands of Guatemala, we headed off to Panajachel, Solola, a two hour drive, and a 45 min boat ride to Santiago where the Mayor, Chico Coche waited ready to take us to our final destination, the village of Chuk Muk. Chuk Muk is a fairly new village where the families that were left without homes after hurricane Stan in 2005 finally have a home five years later. We performed for 340 students at the town’s one elementary school. Our background, a volcanoe of overwhelming beauty. This was our first show and I always forget what it’s going to be like when we get there. We got there and there are lots of children and big smiles and anxious to see us and play with us. Kali gets poked by a 6 year old boy then she extends her hand expecting the boy to poke her back but instead he gently puts his her hand over hers and lets it sit there for what seems like a long time, looking at kali and smiling and then runs away. Two worlds meeting is very powerful, that’s what I love about being here now, it’s the conversation we begin. We have been overwhelmed!! With the place’s beauty and people’s generosity.
After another boat ride across the lake, our second show took place in La Laguna in Solola. Coming up into the town through winding roads on small red tuk-tuks with all of our stuff, we finally arrived at Pronada Elementary School where the children immediately surrounded us and spoke the language of Sutujil. While, waiting when and where we were to start we were tickled, played with, poked at and all shared a lot of smiles… people shouting and pointing – “payasos!”
We had noticed how nice the boys were to each other earlier in the day, but now were also realizing that the boys were picking on the girls. Kali thought about this a lot throughout the show… there were only a few people watching at first so we sent John out to play and milk it. He gave us a look of “Okay… here I go!” but he soon found liberation in play with the audience and took much more time in meeting them and finding what made them laugh… soon there were tons of children on the steps, many adults on the second floor balcony of the municiple building, and people who had just been passing by stopping to see what all of the commotion was about.
Right behind us there was a group doing construction. Amidst the laughter, Kali noticed a small girl carrying tons of wood to this site while trying to catch some of the show. All of a sudden… a basketball bounces in (forgot to mention we were doing our show on the town basketball court) and was an instant opportunity grabbed by all of us to go off our plan and just see what could happen. John ended up dunking a clown nose in a hoop, and the “owner” of the ball (hesitant at first) ended up coming on stage and being involved in the next juggling routine. Our first audience member to join us on stage. Now, 200 people surrounding us… Connections in the eyes. Joy in the faces. Working, if even for a moment pausing for a breath. We sang and danced and laughed along with everyone straight through the end. Then in a moment of absolute surprise and improvisation about how to finish, John sat on the truck not wanting to go, and Kali (still thinking about the girls being picked on and working so hard) – not knowing if she could do it – picks John up. The looks of astonishment on the audiences’ faces was hard to describe. It was worth the work, the play. The heat. Our sickness. Our tiredness. We all keep going into the dressing rooms. A sense of relief and disbelief of the gratitude and connection we experienced. Laughter is not all these communities need, but it does provide something that nothing else could.