We spent days taping hoops hundreds of hoops and getting ready to go. There were a few shows in between (which were amazing stories in themselves), and a few days spent ill. The team had started to become ill and go down one by one. Our team leader, Jo, had to spend a week in Bed, and Ariel who shared a room, lost her voice for a week. My illness was the least of the bought, possibly because I was able to catch it early. I spent a night home, so I could properly prepare to go on the long trip driving the windy, narrow, mountainous roads affectionately called the road of death.
These roads are composed of hair pin turns on steep cliff faces and are well known for its bad drivers often taking the wrong side of the road when coming around corners. It is the most treacherous part of our journey indeed. The 20 of us packed all our gear, got into 3 songtaos with our comfy blankets and pillows, and set off. Jonny, April, Fleassy and I were in the smallest songtao, but we had the least amount of people, so it was quite cozy. We were only 1/4 of the ride up as I vomit out the back of the truck. Thank god songtaos are open air vehicles. I did feel better, if not for slightly embarrassed. Lucky for me it allowed me to sleep for the next 4 hours, not having to deal with the absolute terror that my fear of heights brings me as you watch the valleys pass by underneath you.
The heat of the day is hot hot hot, and the grounds are dry, red sand dunes that stain your face and lungs with every breath. Clouds of dust form under every step you take. The whole team looks like they’ve entered an apocalyptic Mad Max film with their dust masks, goggles and hats. We arrive to a group of locals who have obviously been cooking lunch for us all morning long. Everyone stumble out of the trucks, doped up on travel meds, groggy and sea legged. They place matts out for us as we sit in a large oval and they place various local dishes in front of us. Most of these dishes are mostly mild, mostly vegan and awfully strange looking.
We feasted on a beautiful meal all together, with some kindness of these people who had given us this luxury. Plain versions of local foods, it was quite delicious and tasty. The chickens walk around us, our drivers sit at the table next to us, it was a serious family moment of us all enjoying time together in a relaxed manner before our next show. We had actually had that satiated look of fullness in our laid back posture. We carried our bags to the church that we sleep in, and we had 30 minutes to get make up on and began to join the town to start playing with the kids.
A cold crowd, it took us nearly all day to get these children to warm up to us, but by the fire show we really had them. Jonny and I had really started to create an act out of our MCing with some epic lighting of the torches and a stilt walking piece that included me stealing his fire and him running after me to get it. This was a particularly nice show, no dangers, no problems, just nice times with good people.
When we bowed the crowd all at once got up and walked away simultaneously. The only people they left behind was 20-30 men with ak-47s in uniform. The Thai army had come; we were on the boarder of Burma after all, spinning flaming balls around our head. They began speaking with the Thai drivers as we packed up our kit, and Andrea thought maybe we were in trouble. She decides to go investigate. She speaks to them in Thai and they tell her that they believe what we do is scary and then they ask her if it hurts! They meander away after a time. We go back to the locals who fed us a lovely meal for a second time, and batten down the hatches in the Church, getting ready for the early morning in Burma.