Here I am, explaining to the police in broken Spanish that we are only taking video of the beautiful setting, hanging from an aerial silks in a tree, and we are not busking without a permit. I’m contemplating the set of circumstances that have led to this moment.
We are raising some cash to pay for food as we had only withdrawn enough money to be in Guatemala one more day. Our ride is due to arrive in Nicaragua in two days, but our vintage 1965 GMC Superior had other plans for us and decided to strand us on the Pan American highway in the middle of the night. Six of us decided to leave the bus to perform our circus arts in the nearby historic town of Antigua. We hitched a ride with the police who sped up the process by bypassing the traffic with their lights and siren. They dropped us in a nearby town where we boarded the local Chicken bus and we found ourselves wedged between local travellers, tortilla sellers and livestock for the remaining ride to Antigua. We heard that there was free camping at the local Tourism Police carpark, so we made our way there, set up our tents and hit the streets busking.
I’ve never busked in my life, so this was an eye opening experience. A short two years ago I was working as a commercial Interior Designer in Sydney, Australia. A series of life altering events saw me pack my bags and head for the hills, or this case the volcanoes. I moved to Nicaragua to live in an ecological off-grid community and made connections with a circus troop that would soon become my new family. This year we piloted a self-funded humanitarian project. 15 movement artists from all over the world aboard a bus. Travelling, living, training, skill sharing, collaborating on the road to deliver workshops and performances to communities throughout the USA, Mexico and Central America. Despite the odds, we walked towards the light and followed our calling to be on this mission.
The mechanical problems started as soon as we entered Mexico. Many would have given in, but the power of the collective mindset saw us push through the obstacles. We have been towed down mountains, collided with the face of a cliff, experienced an on board engine fire, pushed our GMC up the hill of a highway ramp, and experienced endless band-aid solutions from mechanics with good intentions but lacking specialist skills. The kind of stuff nightmares are made of.
The biggest lesson I have learnt throughout this experience is expressed in a quote by Victor Frankl:
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
In every obstacle that was thrown our way, we collectively took a breath. We came together and looked at the opportunities. While waiting for mechanics we have been swimming in freshwater springs, we have been bringing circus to local communities who have never experienced performance arts like ours, and we have discovered invaluable things about own spirit. We have found that space between stimulus and response, and discovered not only that it is one of life’s most valuable lessons, but its one that money cannot buy.
The past two months have unfolded in a way that no-one could have expected and to say that we have taken the road less traveled would be the understatement of the century.
So, after our busking efforts were brought to a halt by the police, we decided to return to the bus. Two days and no word for its progress. When we arrive, we discover that the mechanic who was working on it had “repaired” the radiator but had forgotten to top up the coolant which led to overheating and a blown head gasket within 15 minutes of driving it. $400 later and a complete denial of responsibility, we are again stranded. In a worse situation.
We need to move forward and we need help. The show must go on. Our artist must move to Nicaragua swiftly, and the bus needs to stay for a thorough repair job from the right mechanic. This is a plea for help for contacts, parts, network sharing, sponsorship or monetary donation.
Our tour is run off good intention, and spreading the energy that we want for the planet.