Begun Thursday, Oct. 14
A week of departures, arrivals, celebrations and milestones.
Sunday, John headed home to prepare for the next two months in Calgary with Alberta Theatre Projects. We will continue fittings with photo emails and the occasional Skype session when we can, but he will be sorely missed. At least we had one fairly complete "look" for each of the two classes of characters before he left, so we know we're on the right track.
Monday - one more try with the ladies - only Gloria shows up and puts in a full day (bless her) - no word from the rest. At this, I have to make the decision to take everything to Escuela all week, as I have eleven willing bodies there who are actually committed to the project. I talk this over with all concerned in administration, who agree that this is the best course. I ask that it be made clear to the ladies that I was grateful for the help they had given me so far and would have liked to continue on to more challenging or interesting pieces, as they were all excellent sewers, but I could not afford to lose whole days waiting if they weren't willing to keep to their agreement, as there was so much work to do. If any of them would still like to come on Saturday, I would be happy to see them, but Monday - Friday would now be at l'Escuela, and unfortunately, the limited amount of equipment there could not accommodate any more than the class.
Mark Smith, scenic carpenter from Stratford arrives to join the team and begin construction of all the wood-related bits of the set with the carpentry class at Escuela. Frank, Eric and I quickly bring him up to speed on our favourite eating and drinking spots and what to expect of wildlife, WIFI, and "spandex time", and he is welcomed to the fold at Es Artes by Tito, Mario et al.
Tuesday - work begins in earnest at Escuela with the added incentive that if the girls complete all the petticoats by the end of the week, so that we can give them to the actresses for rehearsal, John has left money to take them all to Villa Balanza for lunch on Friday. Excitement reigns; John is a saint! Away we go!
Two official celebrations of Tatiana's birthday occur: a planned lunch with all the regular staff and senior students at Es Artes with a fabulous fruit-covered cake from Pan Lillian, and an impromptu dinner with just the Stratford crew at Harlequin in the evening. Much laughter and story-telling and a good time had by all.
Wednesday - work continues, progress is made; looks good for making this week's goal. Still trying to get back on the blog - my gmail account shut me out on Sunday, citing 'unusual activity' (five !@#$% hours of trying unsuccessfully to post multiple pictures in some coherent order...), so I start a new account, notify Mel to re-invite me as an author, and try again - no WIFI till the morning..........
Thursday - great day, roaring along, girls really getting into it. Started the day with Skypes from John, and Linda Pinhay - the dyer at the Festival, with whom I shared my enthusiasm for the work of our local dyer, Zoila. Managed to get the next block of patterns drafted before the bugs started dive-bombing me under the lights as the dark descended at six. Opted for an early night.
continued Sunday Oct. 17
Friday - so much for the early night! "Travelers' tummy" hits in earnest, keeping me up all night and not in any mood for food or society in the morning, but the day and the deadline and the promised reward beckon. We head for Escuela where I have only half the class available to finish their work, because the other half have to go somewhere with Abigail, and the little time we do have is interrupted for the better part of an hour by a visiting group talking about job placement strategies after their course finishes - all very important, of course, but never communicated in any time or way that I can plan for - so much for the deadline! However, goodwill and good effort were evident all week and after the usual confusion and delays about transportation arrangements, we all make it to Balanza for the promised lunch.
We are joined there by the rest of the team (both Stratford and Es Artes) as well as a new CUSO-VSO arrival, Jane, from Victoria - not from either the theatre or the ScotiaBank contingent, but here to work with the entrepreneurial side of the project, developing job options for youth and the community in general through the arts. Pictures were taken of the whole group, but haven't been forwarded to me yet, so I'll try to give you some earlier shots of some of the unique and eccentric artistic decor of Villa Balanza:
Aaaarrrgh!!! Three more attempts and no pictures posted - somebody help me!!!
After lunch (liquid only, for me), I give in and head back to my room to try to sleep and recover some equilibrium, while Koky and Abigail head back to Escuela with the girls to finish what they can and pack everything up to return to Es Artes for the weekend. A few hours of napping with air-conditioning and more liquids makes a slight improvement, but at about five, when I have a knock at the door from one of the ever-vigilent waitresses asking if I'll be wanting dinner there that night, I plead mal a estomac and am promptly offered green tea brought to the room! This seems to help and I manage a full night's sleep and am back on track by morning.
Saturday - a leisurely breakfast and another Skype chat with an old friend (loving Skype!) brighten the outlook. I arrive at Es Artes to find my improved health status already reported (!) and Amalia and Morena ready to dive in, so we attack the pile of bags and boxes now at my table, sorting everything out for fitting and finishing to send as much as possible to rehearsal in San Salvador on Sunday. Koky is seconded by Mark and Mario for more carpentry shopping, as well as getting provisions for the barbeque Eric and Frank are throwing tonight, so I am left on my own for communication. Thankfully, Jane arrives to chat and offer a hand, while waiting to meet with Tatiana - she not only has a fairly good command of Spanish from an earlier CUSO posting in Costa Rica many years ago, but she can sew and readily pitches in to help get us through the day.
Through her I am finally able to have some more personal contact with the ladies, as she is able to ask them directly (which I can't do through Koky) about their families and their interests - and I learn that Amalia is Morena's daughter-in-law, has two children in school, comes from San Rafael, and just lost her husband in January - he was a policeman and was shot in the head (after revelations like this, what can one say, even in the right language, but at least I could offer my shock and sympathy by expression). They heard about the project through one of the Suchitoto ladies, and seem to be happy to keep coming for the next couple of weeks, hoping that it may lead to more income sometime in the future.
Zoila also arrives and dives in to good effect. Later in the day, Tatiana brings the terrific news that she (Zoila) has been offered and happily accepted the position that Mabel abandoned and will soon join me as First Hand and Wardrobe Mistress for the production (and, hopefully, for future productions)! I think she is the perfect choice, having a strong position in the community and with the Casa de la Cultura, two children in the Es Artes program and a great deal of interest and support for the project, as she was involved in it from the beginning. She had other commitments that prevented her from becoming more involved until now, but she will be clear of them by Thursday, and will be happy to take this on!
Our only glitch with this is the omnipresent language barrier which I continue to curse my inadequacy to overcome in a more timely fashion, but I have to trust to the continued goodwill and support of all concerned, which is astounding.
The day closes with the barbeque for everyone back at Frank and Eric's digs at Balanza, where we also meet Tatiana's sister who is in town for a visit, and Skype Frank's wife, Sandie, at home in Stratford to meet the whole crowd. Another great evening of laughter and stories - as I was telling Jane earlier in the day, although we (the Stratford crew) know each other in varying degrees at work, we are learning much more about each other and socializing much more readily here because we are all away from home, facing and commiserating about common obstacles and celebrating daily achievements, and the Es Artes crowd is so incredibly hospitable and inclusive.
Oh, and all the petticoats, rebozos and panuelos made it to the rehearsal...