Anecdotes from the Road

14 Aug

no where now here

Dear ayllu,

For 3 weeks now, I have been on the road. Firstly, I spent 1 week at the JOJO circus school in Gschwend, attending the juggling module: the one module I missed because I was backpacking through Latin America last year, and without this module, my circus apprenticeship degree would have been slightly incomplete and therefore crooked.

It was a great module; it was interesting & lovely to meet the people taking the foundation year after my class; and it was heartbreakingly beautiful to be back at the JOJO school, to attend the rituals, to hug goodbye, to spend days in circus isolation.

Then I met up with my friend Marina, an aerialist, and we drove for 11 hours to Toulouse, France. Here we spent 1 week at the European Juggling Convention, the world’s largest circus convention which takes place in a different part of Europe each year. Last year it was in Poland, next year it will be in Ireland.

the Galactica Playground, where all the jugglers, poi swingers and hoola hoops artists played

the Galactica Playground, where all the jugglers, poi swingers and hoola hoops artists played

kite runner

kite runner

man balancing a contact ball while he rides from the campsite to the main festival grounds

man balancing a contact ball while he rides from the campsite to the main festival grounds

main juggling site

main juggling site

There was acrobatics, aerials, juggling juggling juggling, and a lot of drinking & dancing. I met incredible circus artists who travel the world performing; who just began training at circus schools; who were kind, lovely, and crazy.

I saw beautiful people with long dreadlocks, with feathers. Muscular, wild-looking, living in their vans, living from day to day. Everyone spoke French, English and Spanish. There were 5 shows on every day, from Open Stages to fire shows to galas.

The heat was intense. If you moved a finger, you poured sweat.

aerial tent

aerial tent

The training standard of these people varied from incredibly high, to improver, to beginner, to “I just came because I love the atmosphere”. It was some peoples’ first EJC (I was one of those), some peoples’ 30th.

After 1 week, Marina and I drove another 11 hours to Brighton, England. Here we attended the European Aerial Dance Festival, where we improved our trapeze & silks techniques, we did aerial yoga, and we learnt vertical wall dance and harness.

our training space

our training space

vertical wall dance

vertical wall dance

IMG_2811

IMG_2815

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counterweight and harness

counterweight and harness

IMG_2861

it happened on the spur of the moment!

it happened on the spur of the moment!

After 1 week in Brighton, Marina and I said goodbye. I took my backpack out of  her car, and she took the ferry with it back to Germany. She should be back in Ulm by now.

on the road again

on the road again

But wait!

Before we said goodbye in Dover, I have a ridiculous anecdote to share with you. This is from an email I sent to my parents. Have fun:

“I am sitting in a cafe in Dover, waiting until my bus leaves for London. I just said goodbye to marina, who is now taking the ferry to France and then driving to Germany.

In the UK I’ve been driving, because she was worried to drive on the UK side if the road. I was a bit nervous about it too, but I adapted quite quickly. All went really well. I’m a bit proud!

So she asked me to drive her to Dover today. I could have taken a bus from Brighton to London, but I agreed to drive her and bought a ticket from here to London.

We made it to the ferry port safe and sound. I explained at the check in that I wasn’t getting on the ferry and would like to leave the port on foot. The guy at the check in was nice and young and said okay. So we got in, parked, and set off on foot to find the pedestrian exit.

Turns out that was breaking the law!

When I asked someone where the exit was, he panicked and said I had broken several laws and needed to leave immediately. I said sorry and thank you and yes I’d like to leave, actually. So then we were surrounded by a bunch of official port people, all confused abs distressed because a “clandestino” had somehow smuggled her way – accidentally, at that! – into their super secure system.

I explained and everyone was understanding (if a bit in panic) and I was escorted out. My farewell to Marina after 3 weeks on the road together, was through the fence, feeling like one of us was in a refugee camp! I felt a bit deported…!!!

Luckily everyone was nice. I apologized and explained that we had explained everything at the check in. They said it wasn’t my fault, and in the end I was driven to my bus station!! Of course that was them making sure I don’t continue smuggling myself places, but I didn’t mind, as I got a free ride across the city of Dover. The lady who drove me was lovely; she pointed out the sights and told me some history, and now I’m having a coffee and will head to the bus station in a few minutes.”

Dover from afar

Dover from afar

I am now in London, staying with my best friend Rose (who I travelled with through Peru 2 years ago). I am here with the backpack me travelled with, which is my father’s backpack with which he hitchhiked across Europe in the 70s and 80s.

I may have to leave it here, because tomorrow I will get on a plane back to the south of France, and the backpack is too large to take on a Ryanair flight. I’m not keen to be separated from it, but I cannot think of a safer haven for it than in Rose’s flat in London.

By the time I leave tomorrow morning, I will have spent 2 full days in London. I met up with old university friends, caused mischief, and now the road is calling me again. I am returning to the south of France because I have met wonderful people there who I want to see more, who invited me back; and because I need some sunshine and ocean before I move to Scotland.

It’s my summer holiday. As soon as I return to Ulm, Mark and I will meet and see how far along he has come with the illustrations for Qayqa. He is in Morocco at the moment  – or perhaps he is back by now.

This is just a quick catch-up from the road. I’ve packed my Ryanair approved bag and am about to head out of the house. I’m going to visit the Museum of Natural History because I have never seen a dinosaur before. Then one last night in London and I shall spend the night at Stansted Airport. By this time tomorrow, I will be in the south of France.

And when I’m there, I’ll work out how to get back to Germany.

I didn’t plan this. My plans ended at Brighton. I deliberately left August open so that I could decide spontaneously where to go.

If you want a postcard, send me your address: either in the comments or over twitter @rittisoncco

I leave you with a song. It came on my iPod as I sat in the bus from Dover to London, looking out the window, up at the clouds, with my father’s backpack beside me. And I thought: I am happy. This is when I am at my happiest.

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