Posted on January 1, 2018
First, as you land in San Juan, Puerto Rico, you notice all of the blue roofs in the city belo, an interesting and beautiful choice But why? As the plane decends, however, you begin to realize those roofs are not roofs but blue tarps covering walls. You can't help but imagine the fear one feels when the wet whistling wind would rip that roof right off.
The mainland contingent of the Emergency Circus, Robin, Karla, and Clay, all arrived within hours of each other and were picked up in the evening but Arturo in the big white van. Our local clown host showed a tiny ceviche shop as we talked of our plans for this month.
Half of the people even in this city are without power. Arturo has only had his for three weeks. The streetlights shine darkness, the traffic signals, blank. People have to just try to make eye contact at intersections and have been for months. We've only seen one accident because of it so far but we've only stayed here one night. The cops are on strike from not being paid.
This morning we woke and hit the phones hard, solidifying our shows. We walked through San Juan, and surveyed much damage. The palms all have one to no branches. Even McDonald's remains battered and broken. Other stores seem perfectly fine and bandas play loudly outside colorful alleyway cafes. Woman control the drums with their large and quick dance moves. The people, still friendly and lively, seem ready to move forward.
We walked with Chicle (means gum), our other local clown member who's joining the tou, down the steps of a cliff right next to downtown. La Perla, the pearl. It's seen as the most dangerous part of town. Tourists are advised to avoid it but we want very badly to book a show in this barrio because we know it gets little circus and the storm hit it hard.
We skip speaking with the stumbling man with a dog on our narrow staircase entrance. But a little further in we find two little girls, each with twin babydolls in double decker carriages and their accompanying adults. Chicle pops out his eyeball halfway out of its socket, one of his super powers, and proceeds to speak with the parents. I put on my blue clown nose and those little eyeballs that turn my hand into a puppet. The little girls laugh as the puppet hand sniffs and kisses their baby dolls. They keep telling me to put my fake teeth in and make funny faces. It turns out the first person we meet is Vice President of an organization that works in la perla. They are excited to have us back and we book a show for the 14th.
Explosions and celebratory gunshots fill the streets of San Juan tonight. It's a brand New Year for Puerto Rico. It's time for the people to be recognized and held as a valuable aspect of the world and this country. Tomorrow all the clowns train together and build our show. Then we'll take to the hospitals, shelters, and rural pueblitos of this rich port world.
Oh thanks for getting us here btw. We have almost reached our goal. There's just a couple days left in our campaign If you know anyone who wants to invest in infusing this new year with circus joy and loving empathy.