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JonM

Nov. 30th, 2008

09:15 pm - Guatemala, Day 0: A whole lot of waiting around

My flight from Seattle departed at 8:20 am; early, but not butt-crack-of-dawn early. Despite being just after Thanksgiving, the airport was relatively uncrowded and easy going. I ran into Matt and Sari checking in, but they were on the earlier flight to Houston, so we parted ways to reconvene in Houston for the leg to Guatemala.

The flight itself was uneventful, and an early arrival only meant that I would wait in Houston for five hours instead of four. I wandered around, ate some crappy pizza, perused the "Religion" section of the local paper, and wandered around some more.

About an hour before the flight left, I ran into Matt and Sari, who had apparently been rather busy; Sari had forgotten her passport on the plane, and had been rescheduled for a morning flight while her passport took a round trip to Las Vegas. Matt wasn't feeling very well, so he decided to spend the night in Houston with Sari.
I sent an email to Camino Seguro letting them know of the change, and boarded the plane.

The flight to Guatemala was quite turbulent, with dinner served in a rush during a smooth lull. Lightning storms look very cool from above. We landed just as I finished reading Shackleton's account of his failed expedition to cross Antarctica by land. I was surprised when the airplane made a U-turn on the runway immediately after coming to a stop. Immigrations and customs were non-events, although a guard did demand to see my baggage claim ticket.

I was greeted by an older man holding a sign stating "Circus Group", who went and fetched a rickety microbus. We barrelled through Guatemala City at the blistering pace of 60 km/h (~35 mph), and proceeded up into the hills on a series of well engineered but twisty highways. Well after 10pm, the cities were mostly shut down, with small pockets of activity here and there.

As we pulled into Antigua, I learned why the microbus was so rickety; the rough cobblestone ways slowed us to a crawl, through several blocks to the Hotel Uxlahil, our temporary lodgings for the extra days we had arrived early. As we pulled up, an inebriated couple were in the midst of a drunken spat, so the driver got out and made sure that someone from the hotel would come out and let me in.

The man led me to a room with few words, handed me a key, and bid me adios. The room was sparse, but nice, clean with a TV and a small bathroom.

You know you're in Latin America when there are four channels of futbol on the TV, and they don't censor the breasts out of the TV movies.

As an extra bonus, as I was lying in bed, I reached over and grabbed my phone off the nightstand to set the alarm clock. In the process, I noticed that there was a silver dollar sized spider crawling up my arm. I quickly brushed him off, scanned for compatriots, and tried to go to sleep.

I'm not sure what the plan is for tomorrow, but it'll be nice to finally meet the folks from SF and Denver...

Nov. 3rd, 2008

12:54 pm - Fall, in full effect

Yesterday I had a couple hours of free time, so I wandered around and took some pictures of the new season. With the rain and the previous night's wind, fall was in full effect and the ground was blanketed with leaves.

I started off in Fremont, and then headed down to Alki to get some evening shots of the city. The skyline shots still need some work, but the city shots came out good.
Cut for your safety!Collapse )

12:46 pm - Ghost Games

The show went really good. As typical, the first showing on Friday night was a little shaky, but we had things down solid for the Saturday showings. The Cabiri is always a fun group of people to work with, and this was no exception.

Saturday I brought the camera and took pictures, mostly backstage. I did manage to sneak up and get some good pictures of the first three acts on Saturday evening, though.
Some of the better shotsCollapse )

Nov. 2nd, 2008

06:15 pm - Pure torture!

What good would cats be as child facsimiles if you couldn't dress them up in embarrassing costumes?

No good, I tell you!Collapse )

Happy (late) Halloween!

Oct. 30th, 2008

11:13 am - Guatemala Circus Camp

Yes, I made it back from Morocco alive. I'm still working on writing up the travelogue (I've got a Moleskine literally full of notes). In the meantime, you can browse my unedited pictures. The short is: we had a good time, but don't get juice from stands, and hurling accusations rarely settle arguments, especially when there's a language barrier.

But, on the to the new hotness:

For the past several years I have been involved with a group of artists and performers who have put on all-volunteer performances to raise money for worthy causes.

One of these causes is Camino Seguro, an organization which provides education and a safe environment for
children in Guatemala whose families live off the city dump.

We now have a last-minute opportunity to give these kids something extraordinary: A week-long series of workshops in circus arts. As someone who's been teaching circus arts to children for several years now, I know full well how it can benefit children's confidence and
outlook on life.

The camp will be from November 29 through December 6. Nine artists and performers will be travelling to Guatemala to give lessons on
subjects as varied as juggling, music, aerial dance and artistic metalworking.

This isn't a small undertaking, and there are significant costs involved. I'm personally investing a large amount of money to make this happen, but most of the other people involved are artists without such means. To make this happen, we will need the support of people like you; we're
working through Circus Contraption, a 501c3 non-profit, so your contributions are tax deductible.

You can contribute now, by going to https://www.networkforgood.org/donation/MakeDonation.aspx?ORGID2=911997108, being sure to note that your donation is for the "Guatemala Circus Camp". If you'd like to send a check, instructions are on the project information page.

Please send this message along to anyone you feel may be interested in supporting our project.

So I get to go from learning French to learning Spanish. Oi vey.

In other news, jijikat is off cavorting in Canadia, and I'll be spending Halloween performing in another Cabiri show, The Ghost Game: Tales of 13 Witches (sorry for the late notice, but it's sold out).

Oct. 14th, 2008

10:42 am - Rained on in the Sahara desert

Yeah, I made it back alive, despite the best efforts of Royal Air Maroc (would not buy again).

On the whole, I'd say it was a positive experience, but there were plenty of harrowing times. I've got a journal full of notes to type up, and many gigs of pictures to process. I promise to get them sorted in some kind of reasonable time period.

-Jon

Oct. 3rd, 2008

03:06 am - Hold that thought...

"The plane is where?"
---
Sleep came hard and fitfully on the domed surface of the granite matress. At 2:30am the phone rang, and the voice on the other end informed me that our flight was delayed another 3 hours. Oh well, I could use the sleep...
---
And now, back through the airport beauracracy in the hope that, this time, our plane will be here to take us to Morocco. It remains to be seen how much this will affect our itinerary, but we may have to get a last-minute hotel in Casablanca.

Oct. 2nd, 2008

04:18 am - 4am Seattle: The journey begins

Far off plans of travel to distant lands turn into reality with the sudden impact of a 3am alarm clock. In two hours I'll board a plane. In 12 hours I'll board a second plane. I'll step off that plane onto the soils of North Africe, where local time in Casablanca will be 7am.

It should be a fun and exciting adventure; I'll try to make regular updates, but I'm not sure what the connectivity story is for the more remote areas we'll be in...

Sep. 16th, 2008

04:29 pm - What?

Uh, Red Hat, put down the crack pipe...

[root@localhost SPECS]# rpmbuild gcc41.spec error: Failed build dependencies:
        firefox-devel is needed by gcc-4.1.1-52.i386
 

Seriously?


12:32 pm - Hangin' with sis in Denver

In preparation for the upcoming trip to Morocco with my sister, Jiji and I went out to Denver to visit for the weekend. With no set itinerary, things were pretty mellow. I packed light, so I could test some of my travel strategies. I did, however, bring the big glass that Jiji got me for my birthday, a hefty 16-35 f2.8L wide zoom lens.

Saturday, we went down to Red Rocks Ampitheater, a cool bowl carved out of some amazing sandstone formations. Sadly, there was some mega alt-rock festival going on, so it was pretty crowded, and we couldn't check out the theater itself, but we did wander around a bit and look at some of the impressive geology.

 
 
 Leaving the rocks behind, we headed down the hills into Golden, CO, home of the Coors brewing plant. A quaint little town, it's definitely geared towards tourists and bikers on weekend rides. Feeling the heat, we ducked into a confectioner's to get some ice cream, and then wandered through the downtown area, ending up at a peculiar bridge with a park on the far side. Being the goofball monkeys we are, we simply had to play on one of the many stylized bike racks peppering the town.



Ice cream ingested, we headed back to Clare's house to meet up with Barry, the third traveller in our Morocco expedition, who happened to be in town for an interview, and was headed to the airport after spending the morning climbing with another friend of Clare's. We chatted for a few minutes about logistics and equipment, and then Barry was whisked off to the airport in a towncar. We convinced Clare's friend, Margaret, to join us in a walkabout of downtown Denver, where we moseyed along the 16th Ave pedestrian district until our appetites got the better of us, and we settled on a Peruvian restaraunt, which turned out to be an excellent choice. After dinner, we returned home and filled the night out playing Apples to Apples, an exceptionally entertaining game of wordplay.

Sunday we woke up early, as Dennis had an Ultimate league game that started at 10. Dennis took off on his own, and the rest of us joined him towards the end of his first game. As a spectator sport, Ultimate's pretty entertaining: lots of fast paced action, little downtime, and easy to understand gameplay. Dennis' team pulled out two close victories in a row, coming from behind to win the second game by a comfortable three point margin. The wide lens I had was completely unsuited to sports photography, but I managed to get some good action shots from the sidelines.


We went home for some nourishment, and then headed out once more to the town of Estes Park, the gateway town to Rocky Mountain National Park, most notable for the Stanley Hotel, featured in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. We admired the scenery a bit, stopped at the Stanley to take some pictures and mock a bride's choice of wedding dress, and then headed up into the park, where we stopped at a meadow that was full of elk, some which were trying to get it on.


We drove home through Boulder, had a nice home cooked meal and watched The Man Who Skied Down Everest in Clare and Dennis' slick basement theater.

The flight home was fairly uneventful, and the cats gave us the usual cold shoulder upon arrival. They seem to have forgiven us already, though.

In two and a half weeks, I get up at the buttcrack of dawn and fly halfway around the world. It should be a lot of fun; I do need to go to REI, though, and give them yet more of my money. :)

Oh yeah. Don't forget, upcoming performance on 9/27. I'll be in the matinee show, but both should be great, and the proceeds benefit a great cause.

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