Posts Tagged ‘Clan Be’

The Cat Is Out

May 7, 2014

This has been two years in the making. I have always been terrified to sing anywhere else than in the shower and only dared to hum in places far from any fellow human being doted with ears. And in spite of sporadic efforts the guitar remained for long time an awkward instrument requiring contortions of finger bones and even more so of my mental images of musical scales far too elaborate for my simple soul. But then the piano, my musician’s home turf, is simply not appropriate for a tireless wanderer, so about two years ago I decided to hone my stubbornness towards what had always seemed impossible: Learning to sing and accompany myself on the guitar.

Patience and persistence has paid off for me many times before. It has brought about this magnificent functional structure of maritime architecture that is Aluna, our ever wandering floating home. It has brought about the softening and slow but steady weathering away of the stiffness I have grown up with. Now I put my bet on it again and in countless hours within the safety of Aluna’s cocoon I worked my way through the limitations of body and mind, loosened up and learned again and again to let go of the old. And here is a first humble milestone presented to your judgement. It is still miles away from where it needs to be and from where I wish it were, but I oblige my nagging self to accept it as a step in the right direction.

For Beatriz too the mandate of transformation meant that coming out of the shadows of our artistic inactivity over the last couple years was a daring step. Her youthful flight of yesteryear had been curtailed by a series of injuries putting a stopper on her daredevil stunts of pure and raw energy through which her performances used to thrive. Now the focus had to be on the imagery that can be conjured up through controlled muscle tones and on motions illustrating guided thought. Again, all this is still at a very basic level of crude sketching, but the brutal contortion of birth lies behind us and now the arduous task of educating and developing the newborn weighs on our shoulders. Figuratively speaking that is, of course!

Here are two excerpts of what we proudly and maybe a bit pretentiously termed the ‘world premier’ of our new show ‘Not For Consumption’, presented on May 3 at the cozy Community Hall in Opua. I’m aware that the lighting is not spectacular, which gives a hazy flair to the video, but the atmosphere was gentle and intimate.

The first song is titled ‘Vístete De Rosa’, which translates to ‘Dress in Rose’. Its lyrics grew from a poem Beatriz wrote shortly after we had decided to settle in San Francisco and thereby brought our transcultural expedition from Colombia through Central America to an end in the land of California. It contemplates the uncertainty of life as an immigrant and the fragility of the feminine side of mankind.

Then follows a rendition of an old German folk song that played a crucial role in the resistance movement during the Nazi years: ‘Die Gedanken Sind Frei’. The song’s lyrics celebrate the freedom of thought.


Yet Another Giant Step Towards Civilization

April 27, 2014

Paid work has kept me busy over the last couple weeks and as already said, that means that time for reflection is frightfully scarce. But under the hood the concoction of an ever-changing future has been brewing. I’ve been scratching the guitar in every free minute I’m able to extract away from the call of economic duty to practice for our two upcoming shows. “Not For Consumption” is their pretentious title and we’re wandering into new artistic territory. I’ve been honing not only my finger picking skills, but also my voice to the point of daring to sing my heart out in public. The show will feature a program of songs in different languages, each one carefully selected to shed light onto a particular human issue with the hope of providing food for thought and seeds for change. Beatriz with her elaborate set of non-verbal skills will dance to illustrate the points made in the lyrics. A warm-up show will be held amongst friends up here in Opua’s Community Hall this coming Saturday, and then we’ll travel down to Whangarei to throw ourselves in the lion’s den of the general public at the Old Stone Butter Factory, a thriving and throbbing hub of youthful entertainment right in the center of town. We’re doing all this under a new name, since it is in many ways a rebirth of our lately so neglected artistic activities. After much thoughtful deliberation we decided to christen our new ensemble name as Clan Be, hoping once again that through these playful words solitude will transform and grow to become family!

Over the last couple days the air outside has dipped into the cool. It always seems here in New Zealand that the transition from summer to winter happens within a single week. As soon as the merry month of May approaches brisk Southerly winds wipe away the easy comforts of summer, leaves come flying off the trees in yellow, gold and red, sweaters come out of drawers in the evenings and it feels like the typical Kiwi woolies are next in line. For us feeble tropicbirds this means the scent of departure is in the air. But wait! This year the plan is drastically and dramatically different! We will depart, because depart we must, but not on the watery ways and not towards warmer climes.

For three times now we have been trying to nurture our cruising kitty here down under and bring it to the point where we could dare to depart for the next leg of our journey, the long haul towards Southeast Asia. While we have been fortunate enough to be able to crawl under many tables and earn a bit of cash here and there, the fact that this all had to happen on the dark side of legality made it a slow and cumbersome affair. Some money comes in but lots of it goes away. Everything is ridiculously expensive here amongst the Kiwis.

Funny enough it turned out to be officialdom itself that gave us a hint in a different direction. Just as we had entered New Zealand for our third summer of slaving away back in December of last year, we heard that New Zealand Customs had adjusted their rules about the temporary importation of yachts to fall in line with the regulations in the neighboring countries. While before a visiting yacht could only stay in the country for the period of twelve months, before her owners had to deposit a considerable sum of money towards the duty payments securing an eventual importation of the vessel, that period had now been extended to twice as much. Today a visiting yacht is allowed to stay in New Zealand for two full years. While this deposit was due to be returned if the vessel was to leave the country within a reasonable amount of time, it kept us, just like many other yachtsmen with limited financial resources, from being able to “jump” a season, leaving the boat to become green and moldy during the wet winter on a mooring in Northland and jet set to the Northern hemisphere summer and take care of a fruitful and prosperous business somewhere in our homeland. This bureaucratic change provided us all of a sudden and at the perfectly precise moment with the opportunity to consider this option for ourselves. And consider we did, long and hard! It does not make sense, we first felt. We considered some more and it still did not make sense. Even today we still feel it does not make sense. In fact in our mind there is no doubt that in a perfect world, it really does not make sense. But in the wacky world of human greed and grumpiness it sadly does.

Consider this, if you can: After living for pretty much exactly five years the life of austere and almost absolute simplicity on our small but very cozy floating home, with our consumption of worldly goods reduced to a fraction of what even the most progressive thinker and tinkerer in the developed world absorbs, turning every penny twice or thrice between our fingers before hesitantly exchanging it for some needed merchandise, we will now on May 19 sing the John Denver song “I’m leaving on a jet plane”, hop happily on just such a jet plane somewhere on the tarmac of the Auckland International Airport and within 48 hours will have participated in burning enough jet fuel to annihilate the environmental savings of all our careful living over the past couple years, our carbon footprint exploding with the fury of a megaton nuclear warhead set off by a slight wobble of political misunderstanding. In fact we will fly half way around the planet, back to my homeland that is, with high hopes to be able to serve the Swiss in one way or another in exchange for a reasonable amount of money, that will not only return to us the considerable expenses of this fancy travel experience but furthermore provide us the longed for savings needed for continuing our maritime adventures once back down under.

I’m hoping to make myself useful in the profession I was initiated in at the very beginning of my career as a responsible and responsive member of the economic community of modern mankind, as a schoolteacher. I plan to duly reinsert myself in the Bernese educational system and have already sent out applications to some schools that highlight my very best sides and omit most of my shortcomings, looking for relief teaching positions for the period we plan to stay.

In a hasty bout of shortsightedness one could easily say that this looks to be the sad and premature end to our adventures, which always lived by the notion of wanting to escape civilized life and run as far away as possible, but that is definitely not the case. We have long ago come to realize along the winding ways of our journey that there is no running away from anything, much less from the grip of the corporate economy. It has like a terminal stage cancer growth infected every last little corner of the globe. We have also learned that the fancy dream of a shady coconut palm on a blinding white beach overlooking azure waters of a reef is nothing more than the construct of cheap calendar photographers. I’m therefore going to Switzerland with my eyes wide open and with exactly the same intention we ventured out to the lonely isles of the Pacific Ocean: To study humankind’s various ways of coping with the perils of living on a fragile earth and to share our treasured experience as wanderers amongst the sedentary folks.

It will be no doubt an adventure of a very special kind and I promise to take you along in spite of sidestepping and in a certain way undermining this blog’s declared purpose of documenting Aluna’s Travels through the World. While living on land high and dry and miles from the salt of the sea, Aluna will continue to be in our minds. She will continue to do what all boats do, cause us enough worries about her wellbeing half of Earth’s diameter away from us to rob us of our sleep. But she will also be eagerly awaiting our return tied to a sturdy mooring here in the beautiful Bay of Islands, ready to continue anew the journey along the routes less travelled and the ways less trodden. She will give me strength to tackle the onslaught of the distant memories of my youth that will most certainly lurk at every twist and turn of my way back to the nooks and crannies of my homeland.