Friday, 25 November 2011

The beginning and EJC

The beginning
Let me take you back a few months. The 5th of august 2011; After working three and a half year for the Red Cross in Danish refugee camps (in Denmark, yes, we have such), I had happily and definitively quit my job to embark on a journey without any planned return. I had some savings as well as I advantageous had not finished my master thesis yet, allowing me to extend the state scholarship all us privileged Danes receive for studying. So with my backpack packed with clothes, juggling and fire equipment, snorkel and diving mask (for when those times would come), my netbook, my tent, three jars of mom's honey and my guitar over my shoulder, I set out for my first destination, the EJC2011 (European Juggling Convention) in Munich, South Germany. I took the bus to Folehaven from where I easily caught my first ride south towards the border. I was dropped off at a gas station around Tappernøje where ironically my top boss from the Red Cross coincidentally appeared. She was going south and took me all the way to one of the ferry crossings, and granted me my final chance to whine about the Red Cross bureaucracy to the very person in charge. At the ferry crossing two men were kind enough to pick me up so I could cross for free. None of them had ever helped a brother this way before, “what if it was a Roma” were their exact words, and I strategically chose not to comment on that.
It took me one more day before I arrived in Munich on the 6th. From there I made my way through the city with a fellow female juggler I had met (they are always recognizable from the clubs attached to their bags). When we were about to register she confessed to me she was only 14 and actually not allowed without a parent. Kind as I am I signed the legal parent papers, taking responsibility for her and hoping she was not a violent psycho or any other kind of trouble maker. We made it in, her being very excited for this grand event about to unfold, and me feeling a kind of fatherhood for the first time! First I dropped her off at her friends, raised my finger and (half) jokingly told her to be good, then I made my way to the camp of my “Anesia Flames” fire crew (my Copenhagish fellow jugglers), Toby, Morten and Anton and put my tent up next to theirs. The next day my Portuguese friend Clara, who I know primarily from juggling meetings in Copenhagen, showed up and I found a spot for her tent next to ours.

The EJC2011
It was an excellent nine days, in spite of some unstable weather and the conservative Bavarian state police causing some problems; slack lines not allowed in the trees, no sleeping in the supposed to be 24 hour open Olympic gym (so they started closing it at night), no outside noise after 10pm as it would disturb those neighbors that were not there (imagine thousands of jugglers not allowed to cheer up their fire performing friends... it did not happen neither!) and arresting people from smoking some natural herbs! But as I said we had a good time, meeting with old friends, making new ones, lots of workshops, nailing new tricks, watching incredible shows, getting inspired, party party and all that other awesomeness that constitute the yearly event.
Among old friends I met with Jean-Hicham, a very talented Frenchy with half Moroccan origins, long dark dreadlocks and a fast mathematical brain that have him juggle seven balls (for those of you who understand this kind of difficulty). I also met with Ina, an incredible sweet German girl with naturally occurring standing up blond curly hair somewhat resembling a cauliflower and very gifted within the arts of contact ball. I knew both of them from last year's convention in Finland and the then closely by occurring Rainbow Gathering, from where we (and a fourth person who apparently has chosen the way of the damned by not showing up at this year's convention) hitchhiked together all the way to Sweden.
I met with other old friends as well, worth to mention was the one night with guitar jamming on a high hill under a full moon with Czech Disa who beautifully mastered the concordian. Among new friends I made there was a beautiful German girl named Jasmin, with half Indian origins. She hung out with us a lot and were both an adept poi and staff spinner as well as a guitar player and singer. So we had a lot of fun together. Some time after the convention, upon me being tagged on a picture with Jasmin in Facebook, my Chilean friend Enzo (who I know from my time at the Galapagos Islands some years ago) wrote me “if that isn't Jasmin I'm with?” - I just love how small this world is sometimes...
During the final days at the traditional gala show, while waiting for it to start Toby initiated me in how to do this neat kind of paper plane. We did one each, but by taking proper care in the creation process, I surpassed my teacher. Proof of this follows here: I stood up on a chair and threw the plane hard and high. It did a downward spiraling circle and in front of hundreds of jugglers cheering and applauding it landed perfectly right back in my hands. I bowed gracefully and sat down again.
The gala show was quite amazing and on our way home from there, Toby, Anton and me went in a pizzeria. It was late and the owning family was sitting down at a table and talking. I overheard them speaking in Farsi (Persian), and from my time working with Afghani and Iranian refugees in the camps, I happened to have picked up a bit of Farsi. So I introduced myself in their mother tongue and ended up singing the one song I had learned from the refugees. It earned me a free pizza and beer, but more importantly a lot of very surprised faces and warm cheek to cheek smiles from my new Iranian friends. I promised to come back next day with my guitar and give them the full show. So I did and the whole family had turned up and I found myself playing for children to grandparents and filming cameras. A Dane singing Soltane Ghalbam, a fifty year old Iranian folk song - they could hardly believe it. Afterwards the family went with me to the convention to watch the open air and free for all fire gala show. How some music and a bit of a foreign language can connect people is truly amazing...
Later that night I met Swedish Erik. He was adopted from Peru and though he completely lacked any of the language or culture, he visually appeared as a full blooded Inca. Should be mentioned his poi technique was literally in world class. We had fallen in conversation after some fire dancing, and he asked if he could join me on the road after the convention, as he always had wanted to go to a Rainbow Gathering and there was one in Portugal where I wanted to go. “Of course you can, brother” was my reply.
The convention came to an end and I said my warm goodbyes to my many new and old friends, especially my Danish fire crew as I knew I would not be dancing with them for a long time to come. Next stop would be Portugal and the European Rainbow Gathering, and with me and ready for the road was Erik, Toby and for the second year in a row, Ina. The four of us had barely made it out of the convention grounds with all our bags and newly purchased juggling equipment when we ran into two Frenchies. They were going to Aurillac in France and we decided to share the way and bought a group train ticket. On the way through Germany the Frenchies had us convinced to come with them directly to this famous street performing festival happening every year in Aurillac. And so, the Rainbow Gathering in Portugal would have to wait a bit, street performers in Aurillac it was.

~~~ To be continued. Love and light everyone ~~~


  1. Thank you for your story-telling -you give an air of magic with your words :)