And we’re off to a roaring start! From boot camp we rolled over to El Berrinche Ambiental Festival, where we performed our first shows, taught kids and met many fellow artists. Now we’re living in the colonial city of Leon, teaching and performing pretty much every day. The impact is already palpable. At the orphanage we go to 3 times a week, the kids are already preparing their show, one to be performed at a school for their community and one to be performed in the town plaza! They’re going to be our opener! But I get ahead of myself…
Super Hooper at Chavaladas!
El Berrinche as they call it is the only circus arts festival in Central America. It’s aim is to creat environmental awareness, provide free shows and workshops for the communities in Granada , and to connect and empower artists. It achieves all of these goals. We went to support the festival, debut our show, promote awareness of PWB, and have a little fun too.
On the day we arrived, which had been our “day off” there was a scheduling issue (these happen alot in Nicaragua) and they asked if we could do our show in 2 hours time because another group that was scheduled had not arrived. We talked for a second and then settled on the age old adage… “The Show Must go on!” So we crammed into a little bus full of a other performers they had last minute asked to join, and we headed downtown to debut our show!
Sam on his unicycle with a bowl of cereal on one foot
The plaza in downtown Granadais massive and beautiful, with an old cathedral on one side, and businesses on the other, the show was set up under a giant arch and bell tower of the Cathedral. We were the closer and headliner, if there had been headlines. The spontaneous enthusiasm from our group, combined with 10 days of rigorous training at boot camp led to us absolutely rocking the show! Hundreds of people cheered us on, both from the town and fellow circus artists. When we nailed the double two high passing finale at the end of our first successful show we erupted in smiles and cheered along with everyone else. There’s nothing like the feeling of hard work paying off. And we all know, it’s on now.
The next night they had an open stage at the palapa at the festival venue. I opened the show with my LED glowballs and Sam closed the show with his truly amazing unicycle act. It was a blast to continue performing and participating in the festival, but also in our own way, by showing our solo acts as well. The next day we headed to a community center and taught the first large workshop. It’s all happening!
On the final day of the event they had a huge parade with everyone from the festival marching through the city to downtown. It was so fun, we got all sillied up and headed off with 300 beautiful freaky artists to proliferate joy! Everyone in our group juggled or hooped and Sam unicycled along. I juggled in the back of a pickup truck driving down the road with clowns and bubbles, out the window of a cab while sitting on someone’s lap, and rode on the back of a cops motorcycle with my propeller hat spinnning in the wind! Life goals, check!
Juggling in the back of a truck, in a parade, with bubbles!
We made alot of great new friends and helped spread the word about PWB. When the group went last year, they connected with Rodrigo, a dancer, fire spinner, and community organizer from El Salvador. And now he is on this years tour! He’s great to have along for loads of reasons, but it is especially nice to have a Central American on our team, (since we are in Central America.) Plus now we know how much Plaintains really cost. Anyway, we said our goodbyes and made the journey to Leon, where have been for about nine days now.
Tour coordinator Bea, with the pink clubs, parading down Grenada. Berrinche sign in green.
We are teaching everyday, primarily at two locations. One is a school called Los Niños del Fortin, with slightly younger kids of both boys and girls. The other is at an Orphanage called Chavaladas with boys in the age group of about 10-16. Our presence, patience, practice, persistence, and mostly just presence is deeply valued here, and it is very apparent. The kids look forward to our arrival, come running out the door with hugs, and start joking around with us. Pretending to switch names around, including with us, “no I’m not Ali, I’m Eli!” “Your not Bea, that’s Bea!” And such. I am impressed with their dedication to learning circus. I suppose it’s that much more powerful when you have nothing else going on. We are working on juggling, stilts, diabolo, poi, staff, hula hoops, acro, and clowning with these kids. Alot of them have previous skills from when PWB visited previously, and left donated props. It’s frickin special, and I can’t wait to actually see them perform a real show.
Planning the show at Chavaladas
Since arriving in Leon, we’ve done three PWB shows thus far, and now have one scheduled almost every day until we leave. It’s nice to get into the rythm of performing so regularly. Three of us, Sam, Esther and I also went and did a show at the plaza downtown last night. Upon arriving we noticed a small crowd gathered around some musicians. It was our friends from El Berrinche! I asked them (in Spanish) if they wanted to do a show together, and they said yes! So the six of us teamed up and put on a street show with live music, hula hoop, juggling and unicycle! It was so spontaneous, organic and fun.
Sam teaches club balancing at EL Proyecto de Niños de Fortin
We’re having a blast, but the challenges are vey real too. Communal living: Doing almost entirely everything as a group can be difficult for a 3 month period, but we are doing as well as any group I have worked with. Language barriers: Of the six of us, two people are fluent in spanish (Bea and Rodrigo), two have basic conversational skills, (Ali and myself) and two have just been learning since arrival (Sam and Esther), although they are picking it up quick! Nicaragua communication: It’s just different here, Four o’clock usually means any time after 4 but probably before 5. Another time, when arranging our ride to Grenada, we made a plan with a cab driver. Two days before leaving, he calls and says “That days is not good so I’m going to take you tomorrow instead.” Uhhh, no… New driver found. Little things like that are very frequent, and sometimes annoying, but they always work out just fine. Heat: It’s been averaging in the high 90’s most days! And for everywhere else in the world that doesn’t use some obscure system of temperature based on numbers with no relevance, that’s in the high 30’s! Aka centigrade! But I still prefer it to the cold snow and rain.
Well I think that’s about an update for now. The show is rocking. Then kids are learning alot, and super stoked. We are working hard, playing hard, and getting it done. Also, for the record, we laugh ALOT! That part is super important, innit.
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