Published: October 15th 2008October 15th 2008
Bomas of Kenya
part of the show
well here I come with another update!
Last time I wrote, I was meant to have a meeting with someone from Dance4life that evening, but regrettably that person never made it, his bus from Mombasa arrived later then expected, and didn't have my number of the hotel to call me so we missed on it.
The next day he was meant to meet me, as he went to a HIV/AIDs conference in town, but as I had not heard from him, I just waited to find out and decided to call him on the afternoon, on Saturday to meet in the evening, which we agreed to for 7,30, at 8,30 still no news of him so I called again and he said 9, which didn't happen either so I got really angry as I was by now 3 days here and no one had made any move to meet me.
The main Nairobi manager was out of town, and also due to miss understanding didnt send any one to pick me up at the airport, and so as it was a long bank holiday week end, I have ended up not seeing anyone till sunday
evening, at which I met Kasena Evans in charge of dance4life Mombasa. I did get very angry about it all, so I wrote an compalint to main office of dance4life about the whole situation.
When I met Kasena, I told him about the idea of the project and he really would like it to happen in Mombasa instead of Nairoibi! and to be honest me too, as I don't fancy spending much time in this city!
The next day I had a meeting with Oby from USAID, who is working in a theatre project here in kenya to bring HIV awareness, him too is very interested in collaborating with us, and wanting to make it happen, as he sees it as a sustainability project! I met him at 10am near the SHELL/BP house where he was going for a fundraising meeting. From there I left for another meeting with the Dance4life manager for nairobi who apologised for the lack of communication. Here agin the whole project was explained and he also would like to to happen, but obviously he wishes it to be nairobi, so that'll be a thing to discuss futher along.
So all in all
landscapes on the road
working on the dry land of the savanah
I've had 3 meetings over 2 days and it sounds as there is much chance that this project might be worked on to try and bring it to realisation! Circus is a totaly unknown art-form in kenya, so it'll be a double challenge!
Any way, on Saturday, as I was free all day, I decided to go and explore, so I set of by matatu ( local van that carries people around in a bus system but picking up anywhere for a set price!) to Carnivore, which is a very famous restaurant 10 k out of nairobi where you pay a fee and eat as much meat as you want, it used to be bush meats, but that is now outlawed, so the wildest thing on the menue was crocodile and ostridge! but all the other meats where nicely BBQ'ed and suculent, with many sauces, desert, salds, jacket potatoes, and juices included in the proce! so even is expensive for kenya prices about 10 sterling, it was worth it, very ambientfull.
I met there a couple of guys, who are working for the mexican embassy developping an internation computer program for passport control, they will be traveling for
6 months around the world to set it up, and as they were looking for someone to take their pic at the restaurant I offered and we ended up talking, Spanish obviously... they had all their expenses and transport paid for and their next destination was same as mine "Bomas of Kenya" which is a circus like building, where kenyan traditional dances get displayed, and also the typical kenyan acrobats!
These mexicans offered me to travel with them, as they made up an excuse to the driver as that I was another embassy staff memeber, and so I got a free ride in luxury private van with them.
Bomas was actually rather good and a perfect space for us to showcase our work if ever Cirque Nova gets developped here in kenya, so I spoke to the manager, and exchanged cards, he wants me to write to him about the project to see where it goes. But...to my surprise, I found out in my meeting with the Nairobi Dance4life person that the event at which I will be performing with Penny on the 29th of November, will be a live internet show on D4L, where all the countries
Talking to the kids!
The HIV/AIDS centre in Mombasa, JM talking to the kids that want to take part in out project
of this organisation will be linked by internet and TV to whocase the shows of each country and the one in kenya will be actually performed at BOmas, so that meanst they are already in contact with this organisation, and they envisage our opening night for VIP's to heppen in the very building, if and wehn our show with HIV+ Kenyan kids are finaly ready to be show cased!.... What is goo about it, is that the actual kids who will take part in the kenya project will actually see my performance live on giant screen in Nairobi, the night of the 29th of November, and we will get to see their dance show! as well as all the other country events!!! sounds cool to me!
I got a ride back from the Mexican guys, as well, dropped of close to my hotel, and never saw them again although we were meant to go for a drink that eve.
It had rained very strongly during the show at Bomas and the roads were really wet! the wheather is much cooler than I expected, the level of humidity is not as high either, in the eveings/nights it tends to
workshop with the kids at the centre for HIV/AIDS
well surprisingly they look as heathy as myself, as the kenyan government suplies with free drugs to its population as well
clowd over and get really chilly at night! one needs a long sleeve tshirt in the morning. apart from that, day times are sunny and warm but I see no sign of mosquitoes, and apparently the malaria rates here are alsmost non-existant!
The city is getting to me now, am a bit bored, I have also started chatting to this gorgeous Italian man, Gianlucca, who arrived here with no cash, and got himself to the hotel just with what he had in his pocket, to find that his bank card maestro is not accepted here in Kenya, and as he arrived same day as myself, he got stuck with no money, no food, nothing for 3 days as it was a bank holiday! his luck was that the staff of the hotel kind of adopted him and paid his hotel bill for him, his food, his water and even beers!
When I found out about it, as he told me at the internet caffe, as he was trying to get money sent from italy, we had a chat and now we're meeting up regularly! he is a lovely openminded moodern italian heterosexual man, a bit NaiVe, but very
sweet, I have paid him a couple of beers, and we have decided to travel together for a while.
So on Monday, I had my last meetings with the people of D4L, had a couple of drinks with GianLuca, and on tuesday we set off early in the morning after a good Bfast to Mombasa.
The bus was OK, not great, but it would do the job, we thought it be fast, but it actaully took us 8 hours with a 20 minute stop only for food to get down here, no aicon and I got a big mama sitting next to me, pocking me friendily at every village to let me know what tribe lives there, and to show me when something unusual showed up!
we actually just on the normal high road going from nairobi to mombasa, got to see giraffe, zebra, and some diverse antilopes, as well as Meerkats and baboons, but not enough of this all toe make the journey worthwhile1 it was bloody hard going with no aircon nor fans and as we got closer to the coast the heat became heavier, humidity is huge, we were drenched in our t'shirts doing
nothins, and the land scape was often and much of it monotonous Savanah, just low laying bushes, some times hills and many poor villages, increadibly in the most remote aeras where all one could see was a few straw shacks, at school exit time we still could see all theese kids dressed in proper school uniforms and wondering where did they go to? as the school seemed really in the middle of nowhere...
We saw a few watering holes where women where filling cans and dragging them home to cook or wash, I imgaine as we see on tv reports, and some children bathing in the water! so it made it worth seeing that that way of life really is not just in some areas out in the far away bush! nope it is actually the normal way of life of most people here, cattle raising local people of Kenya!
Once in Mombasa, we set off to find a hotel, all the very cheap ones too dodgy and the middle level ones mostly full or too expensive! we finaly got somewhere for 1800 Kenyan shillings, which is about 15 quid, as the pounds has gone down and the
exchange rate is now 120 to the 1 sterling! Nort so good for my small budget! but I'll survive!
One sorted, we had a beer and I called Kasena again ( I had tried calling on arrival but also before leaving nairobi, but the telehones here are a nightmare! unless one has a mobilephone which I havent got here!)
So we arranged for him to meet us today in the morning. We set off with another couple of Kenyans tring to9 make a buck out of us to find a restaurant, but it all seemed very expensive where being led to, we, or rather I as gianluca doesnt speak much English, made the kenyan guides aware that we're very well able to make our way alone, so we paid them a beer and told them to leave us be!
We set off to look for some sea food, but what we found was dissapointing, but we found several places to get beers at a variety ofprices too, which was suprising as this place is really very Muslim! many veiled girls, and mosques and asian people.
What surprises us both is that we just don't see ANY"
tourists at all! if we see 8 white pople a day it is a lot! but that makes it even betterr to be honest! I am loving it here and yet agin no troubles at all, although a guy got chased away fronm our restaurant as he tried to approach us! it seemed a bit agresive!
This morning we were up and ready rather early, as the meeting with Kasena was at 9am, as he arrived we made our way by public transport again to his HIV/AIDs center and sat down to wathc this young people who were rehearsing a play, we wiate till 10,30 and then I made a presentation to these about 25 yougn people of a variety of backgrounds, religion and sex and sexualities about my HIV status, about how difficult it was to come out as HIV+, and telling them about my project, before I started I looked for a few ropes, that I covered in an old t-shirt cloth, and hung it from the roof of the stage where the yougn people were rehearsing.
As I made my presentation I got onto the ropes and explained what kind of work I ( and
other people) would be teaching them, how it would give them employment for the future, a new art-form to discover and a way to bring HIV awareness in deep kenya, traveling as a small local circus show!
at first they seemed not really ionto it, but as it went long, they got really exited! They now all want it to happen and llok forwards to a Kenyan Branch of Cirque Nova.
There was also a girl from an American NGO presenting herself, as she is staying here till September 2009 to teach them a variety of dances, from Ballet to contemporary and street dance, and she made the link between circus and dance, the kids showed off their dance skills and asked the USA girl to dance a bit too, we were really moved, I had tears in my eyes, and feel really exited about all this, I have seen the faces of these 17- 22 year olds brightening up as I am presenting them with a new choice for life and they made me feel emotional and happy to try to do this for them! I just hope we can now get the money together for them.
they are clever kids, and they asked very serious questions about insurance, security, and a gamut of issues that they worry about for the future! Also questions about my HIV status, my drug regime, etc. so it was really a good afternoon! I am not putting the pictures on now, as I want to enjoy some sunshine and beach now. I am stinking of sweat after doing my aerial tricks and teaching them some moves on the improvised ropes, and need a good bit of sunshine now!
tomorrow we will probably rent a car to go to a nature reserve to see the big 5! also maninly an elephant reserve with a beach as well, and then the day after we will be heading more north to go scuba diving!
So from tomorrow on the real holiday begins! today my last duty as director of Cirque Nova had been done.
Mombasa seems less a big city although nmore chaotic and more traffic! the humidity is increadibly heavy! it also seems to have more poverty and crime! drug use rates seem to be high due to many italins coming here on holiday and expecting to find a merket in heroine, which there is and which has increased the HIV infections through needle use a lot! so the HIV problematics are different in diverse areas, also many gay Italian men seem to come for male prostitution! whic is only happening here on the coast! Malindi seems to be a big italian area, they call it little Italy in Kenya and apparently the locals speak more Italina than English!
I just look forth to some proper seafood and some tranquil beach time and scuba diving!
hope you enjoy the read.