Wednesday, August 02, 2006

back to bikes

O.k. its my last day in mexico, and probably my last entry to this blog, so as promised more bike stuff, America (well the United States actually, someone told me in Guatemala that calling the States America, is like calling Europe, France, good point really) anyway, the U.S. way fuct up and confusing but one of the things that made it worth it was that there were two bike festivals going on the weekend I was there, they were two very different fesival, I will endevour to put video on to show you, but at the moment you´ll have to do with photos, the first one was sponsered by Fat Tire beer, they have a wind powered brewery and seem keen to promote thier green image, this was a good event if pretty corporate, it was held in Golden Gate park, which is an amazing park, really old trees and lots of spaces left for nature to reclaim, lots of joggers, people with model boats, all kind of activities going on, there were family picnics galore, its says alot that how organised the family picnics were, the picnic tables were fully loaded with food (american like big portions) various ball games set up in each area, and barbecues roaring, and this was at ten am in the morning!, all the picnic tables were taken, the ones with no people were full of food covered in plastic, which makes me wonder how early they have to get here to claim their spot.... anyway back to the bikes, there was a little circuit set up with some amusing mutant bikes that their are photos of here, there was a stage set up with amuzing family orientated entertainment, and all was lovley, many family enjoying bikes, which cannot be bad, lots of folks as well with shiny super bikes, low rider bikes, old new bikes, new old bikes, trikes, tandems and all sorts, great to see so many people enjoying bikes in the sunshine, I did kindov feel that it was another part of consumerism, ad not something Í was really part of, but some people need to but shiny things to contribute to the world, and fair play to them, but I knew a festival far more fitting in with my princibles was going on at the other side of town, CycleCide bike rodeo and bike powered funfair!, ( it took me a long time to get to the other side of town, ironicaly due to the lack of having a bike, this was the hottest day of the year in San Francisco, and it was HOT, so I arrive, and they give me a map of all the near off licences (nice), as they can´t sell beer, and I wonder round with mild sunstroke open jawed at all the veihicles, the photo above hear is of a super high high bike in action, that is about five bikes welded on top of each other, very dangerous looking, and various bike powered funfair rides, much fun in exhausting claustrophobic and fuct up U.S.A, I feel now i want to travel further south as its seems the further north I went things were more about money and less about community, so i wonder if i trave l south the opposite is true, well thats for another blog, so long and thanks for all the fish, much love, and thank you, Rob

Thursday, July 27, 2006

butt fuck ohio

Back in mexico after my fling with the american dream, walking over the border to mexico, I saw no police and no one even asked me my name, which was a strange contrast to the questions, queing and general hastle it was walking in the other direction. i'm glad I spent some time in the place that had so shaped my reality as youngster, from great tv shows such as the a~team and Mcqyver to great literature such as On The Road, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainence, Even Cowgirls get the Blues, and the like yup it was enlightening indeed, on thing that struck me hard though was all the crazy people living on the street, I decided to sleep out for a couple of nites as california was undergoing an extreme heatwave and anywhere inside was too hot anyway, but the feeling of paranioa that takes over you when looking for a place to sleep almost sent me crazy, as its illegal to be outside you have to hide from the police, and as theres so many people already sleeping rough its an edgy situation indeed, luckilly i found a nice place hidden away next to the beach where i bedded down.

I spent a brief time trying to suss out the Oakland art scene, Oakland is a place just over the bay from San Francisco, alot of artists have moved into warehouses there , as san francisco is too expensive, and warehouses provide a cheap a spacious place to live and work, typically they are in a pretty run down area, so the police don't mind they are living in a warehouse. I rocked up in Oakland to see the punk circus act the_orkestra, the opening act for them were some young kids called 'shaky bones' they were kindov anti folk and totally rocked the place. the drummer had a little snare drum with two cymbles tacked on and a old beat up box he was sitting on, with these he managed to beat out brilliant rythems with an old spanner, as the charazmatic sing warbled out such great hits as 'buttfuck ohio' then it was 'one man banjo's turn to get the place jumping which he did, he was one man with a banjo, but that was definanly more exiting than it sounds. The_orkestra gave us a clown tragic comedy love story with small tall bikes and kidove gypsy music, they were very shabolic but funny, at this point i was drunk, and realised I needed somewhere to stay, so after some paniky asking around were I learned that shaky bones were homeless and living in there truck, oh to be a young homeless anti folk band, it all sounds so romantic, anyway, a luvley man called Rich came to my rescue and I ended up in a super plush warehouse which was divided into rooms were people lived, I slept in the biggest hammock i've ever been in, and I slept the sleep of kings and queens.

The next day I stumbled around the neighbourhood full of homeless folks with shopping trollys pilled high with belongings (this was to become a commen sight) strung out prostitutes and dodgy looking geezers, I took to be their pimps. After much wondering I found ABCO ( and was told the general set up, but that there was nothing going on right at this moment, but a luvlee lady came to my rescue and drove me to Lobot ( were there was an exhibition curated by six artists who curated six artists who curated six artists curating six artists to result in 1556 pieces of art being shown ( gettit expedetial growth) a contructed virus, I liked the idea you could make a cultural virus and let it spread into a community, it was intended to only affect oakland artist, who i came to realise there are quite alot of. But one woman decided to mutate the virus and apply it to non oakland non-artists, it was very interesting show, and I loved the idea that are can CREATE community, its something i've been thinking about for a long time as a different approach to community arts.
My favorette piece was a box on the wall which you could stand in and just look at the exhibition through a slot (pictured) this created a feeling of intence piece in an exhibition that quickly became extremley overwellming, you could view the exhibition through the slot, while inadvertantly becoming one of the exhibits yourself. The overwhelming feeling was the only weak point of the show even if you only concentrated on the lower pieces (there was a ladder or binoculars to view the higher up ones) its was so much and i only saw a fraction of the show after several hours, the high up pieces created a kind of pecking order i though, a obviosly the eye leval pieces would get the most attention. I don't know how these criticism would be resolved as there is only so much space I suppose. Criticisms asside it was great to see a show created by local artists in a space created by local artists, probably for local artists as i kind of feel these spaces are visted by a certain clique of society, but it was great and unlike anything i'd seen before, my overwelming feeling was inspiration and hope for creation outside corprate restrictions.
The photos here are kindov confused, as i havn't fully worked out how to edit html, when blogger has an error i just have to let it fly with it, as you can see by previous dodgy postings anyway they include some smartass graffiti from the mama buzz toilets, a cast baby head, some hitler eggs dripping wax, the view of the exhibition thru the 'hide in a box exhibit' and a picture of a bike at a warehouse in san fran, where i returned a few days later for a bike rodeo, which will be the subject of my next blog when i can get the photos out of it. I fixed my camera after the insides of it moved after too many drops, i used this brilliant stuff called plastico loko, where you mix two pastes together and make your own plastic, I was very pleased that I fixed this very cheap camera that was designed to break, and felt it was my small victory over a wasteful consumer society, it now is starting to produce pretty blured photos, but hey lifes not perfect, until next time, be brave, be afraid, live life, love vegetables and each other aiiii xxxxx

Friday, July 21, 2006

hey there

ok heres some random pictures, soon, i will get back on the bike theme as i'm going to two different bike festivals in san francisco, recently i've been checking out the artists living and working in warehouses scene in oakloand, which i'll do a write up about shortly too.
So in no order; here is me riding in the back of a pickup hitching thru baja california, hot and desserty, me being sliced up by chucky on hollywood boulavard wierd and sureal, sum nice graffiti, yes those are 8 tracks this is california, am losing my mind what going on, why does everyone seem to be in a different time zone, oh yeah and some excellant d-i-y road markings at the end of the cycle path. Talk to you soon virtual world, dance thru the world and treat everyone with love, even if that guy over there IS smoking crack and has a gun, TV is a powerful thing, walk away from the computer, look the suns shining xxxxx

Friday, June 30, 2006

mayan cultcha

well i´m in Mexico, finally left the lake and passed on my puppet duties to the next teacher, I think i´ll be back there. I had quite a few revalations working on that project, one of them that giving oportunity, hope and a view of a different way of life than that represented by the corporate media scum to the next generation, is a real and practical way to make a difference to the world by letting the future evolve and grow beyond the contraints of buisness interest. Another one, that by creating positive conections between different communities artound the world, connects people, creates understanding and tollerance and brings us closer to a world where war is ridiculasness to be condemed to history (his story?).
Also that by working with groups startying projects that can carry on and enrich thier lives long after their finished is exactly what I want to do, acting as a creative spark as it were. Working for the Cambalacha gave me an empowered me in a new way, twas great, twas.

yup so goodby to guatemala for now, hello San Cristobel, Zapatistas, small beatiful villages, slightly more comfortable pick up trucks and palencie, wow mayan ruins, swimming in rivers almost drowning, meditating under a waterfall, and thinking.

Thinking alot about my grandad Wilf who I found out recently died, he was a great man and an inspirtation for me my whole life, always full of beans all ways ready for a dance which he often won prizes for in his ´Wilf from Walsall´t-shirt, always busy making something, the last thing he said to me was to keep busy and keep smiling, i know he did, and i´m sure he´s dancing away somewhere, much love to him and Nelly my Nan who´s mourning is pulling me back home. But not before more puppet shows and a taste of america, the land of freedom. mmmm.. we´ll see.
love to all my friends and family, infact to everyone.

oh and a spiky tree and a mayan skull from palenckie thats it as my camera seems to have gone short sighted after i dropped it one to many times ooops

Monday, June 05, 2006

Father its been a long time since my last blog...

O.k. hello virtual world, i'm not sure if anyones reading this but if feels good to get my thought out once in a while.
Well i'm still living in San Marcos, preparing a puppet show and making puppets with some kids training to be clowns at a local childrens project. Its funny living in such a transient place for a little while, you start to notice the little things that as a transient you don't get chance to, alot of people regard San Marcos as a place to go and meditate and little more, but theres actually an amazing local community, it does seem though a place of two worlds, this is effect is amplified by there being two time zones!, when the clocks where turned back for daylight saving the local population refused to change their routine, as this would mean taking their children to school and hour earlier, and that would then effect there work as the schools are set up in such a way so the kids go early and leave early so they can still do the neccesary work they need to do, for thier families, in shop, on the farm etc... so the result is two time zones, in the town everyone works on 'old time' and in the hippy village everyone works on 'official time' which obviously causes some confusion. In a nearby village they call old time hora el dios, (hour of god) and new time hora la diablo (hour of the devil).

Thats not to say theres not alot of intergration between the locals and vistors, there is much, one amazing example is this german woman who's working with youngsters in schools educating about rubbish, making things from rubbish, as rubbish is a major problem here, many families just throw it out into the wilderness as they have for generations, but of course unlike generations ago, plastic now exists, and continues to exist for a long time, this is a problem, one solution which is being tried, initiated by this womon and working with local people is to rebuild houses that were destroyed during last years hurracane, with plastic and plastic bottles as the main building material, brilliant! I will be performing a puppet show this coming saturday at a fiesta para los ninos, to celebrate the finishing of the rebuilding the houses after the huricane, heres a photo of one of the houses

and heres a photo of the amazing local community moving rocks as they rebuild the school, it seems that the women do all the carrying of things around and the men dig things, its funny you never see a man carrying anything on their heads

Last week I visted the local grave yard, (top photo on its side) it was definatly different from the usual graveyard i've seen, the first thing I noticed was all the tree's, for when ever anyone is buried a tree is planted on top of them, giving new life, and an immediate visual indication of how long they've been dead, I was talking with a friend about the day of the dead also, a day when everyone goes to the graveyard to hang out with their dead ones, have great feasts and parties, to celebrate death the same as life, as there no point in getting upset about death because it is there, as real and beautiful as life, part of the whole big movie we're in. Set me thinking about my death, how i'd like to have a big party and have little oak planted on me. But enough about death, back to puppets.

Also last week I made the heads of the marionettes with the clown kids, we spent one session getting to know each other making paper mache and the next moulding the paper mache around plastic bottles on bamboo sticks to make the head, they came up with some great charactors, and seemed to really enjoy it, it one one of the best workshops i've done.

until next time over and out

Monday, May 22, 2006

very long bloooog

It was hard to leave Maya Pedal, such a brilliant, empowering project, but my spanish was cripeling me, so I made the decision to travel to
Monterico where I heard there was a really good spanish school, few distractions and warm sea to swim in. The journey down on the ever musical and chaotic chicken buses was great fun, as I travelled down the country I got hotter and hotter, until reaching my final destination, I collapsed in one of the many hammocks by my hostel and sweated, I contined to sweat, I walked down the beach, I got chased by a pack of stray dogs, I narrowly escaped attack by jumping a wall and running through someones garden, Hot and full of adrenaline I swung in my hammock drinking beer thinking about my next move, but I couldn´t think, the heat was unbearable, O.K. I thought i´ll go swimming, So I jumped off the hammock and ran across the black sand, which burnt my feet and jumped in the water, it was warm, but you couldn´t swim you just kind of got thrown around in the massive waves, back to the hammock, I can´t learn spanish in this heat, I can´t do anythink in this heat, so thats exactly what I did for the day, nothing but drink and swing, which was grand, but I had to leave, as Hunter S Thomson said in Rum Diary which i was reading at the time: "There was no reason to feel pressure, but I felt it anyway- the pressure of hot air and passing time, an idle tension that builds up in place where men sweat twenty four hours a day." and that what it was like twenty four hours a day of sweat and idle tension.

I had many thoughts about animals while I was there, its seems generally in Guatamala animals are let to roam freely, in Monterico pigs of all sizes walked around town cleaning up any organic waste and looking fairly healthy and happy, almost everywhere chickens peck around undisturbed, all the animals seemed fairly happy, except the dogs, who make it dangerous to walk around at night and necessary to wear earplugs to block out their insesant barking, I suppose a lazy way of looking after animals works well for the pigs, who are smart, friendly and can eat practically anything, and probably are living the closest a domestic animal can live to that ever elusive and often fought about equality. o.k. at some point they are killed to be eaten, but after a full and happy life, (which it seemed from observation) from a permacultutre perspective it would be seen as wasteful to bury them, I guess thats where permaculture and animal rights clash, in a society where food and resources are sparce it makes it harder over simplify the debate which in the past I perhaps have. Lazy dog care just dosn´t work, the dogs here look painfully undernourised and basically need humans to help them out, the guatemalen goverments solution is to sporadically put down dog poison, and if your dog, stray or not is out on that day, he´s not coming back. Nuetering and food are the obvious solution, but this isn´t happening as its pretty low down on peoples agenda and it sounds like a problem for the whole of latin america, and theres no money or intent to solve it.

The next day I arrived at "Earth Lodge" in the mountains outside Atigua, as I walked down the path many signs greeted me in different languages saying welcome to Earth, I had a nausious feeling that I was heading for some kind of rainbow establishment and was about to be surrounded by lost souls with spirals in their eyes or generally ignored for not having reached the correct leval of enlightenment, but no, I was happily surprised, It was run by a really sound canadian couple, they kept goats for milk and a had the whole place covered with advacado trees, which I learn´t give fruit after as little as one and a half years of growth, the place was surrounded by trees, I could think, I could breath!, I could have a sauna and practice spanish with a really good teacher, yup i spent a really happy few days here, I would recommend the place to anyone, when I´ve sorted out my links, I will put their website down. This was the cabin I was living in, right next to the sauna, which was just about perfect fot me

So I´m back in San Marcos, struggling to speak spanish while surrounded by english speakers, and trying to organise a puppetmaking workshop with youngsters at a childrens project here.

Heres one of the stained glass creations, at an artelier here, where i´ll hopefully be contructing some puppets, the really interesting thing about all the stained glass is, that its using waste glass and instead of lead joints he use´s paper mache mixed with wood glue then covered in wax, very sustainable.

I met a really interesting russian american who was travelling around in his vegi oil bus while making a documentory about it, how in costa rica he had trouble with the authorites who said they needed a permit to collect the oil from fast food places, so he went to the mayor who thought what they was doing was great and wrote them a letter saying they could do whatever they wanted, It was great to see a vegi oil van that worked so well, heres a picture of the system; basically theres two tanks; a diesel one and a vegi oil one, the vegi oil comes straight from the chipper, though one filter into the tank, though another filter then through these two marine engine filters, which are wrapped in this copper tubing coming from the engine, this heats the vegi oil, and after about ten minutes of running the engine on ordinary diesel the oil is heated sufficiently to make it runny enough to combust the same as diesel the flow from the diesel tank is stopped as the vegi oil is let do its stuff, the marine engine filters can be taken appart and cleaned in about one minute when required, cool, seemed like a really interesting way to make a connection with the local people, most of whom where facinated by the whole project, and theres a film being made about it so watch this space. The only problem was when once they didn´t flush the engine out with diesel when they stopped to go swimming one day, and when they tried to start the engine again the oil had cooled and clogged the engine up so two days was spent taking the engine apart and cleaning it out, I suppose you learn alot from these experiences though.

After all this talk of unheathy and agressive dogs heres a couple of picture of some very heathy and happy ones that I met on my travels, ok for some reason blogger won´t let me download them so you´ll have to imagine them.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

more random pics

Ok i'll take advantage of this 'free' internet in this overpriced hostel in antigua, its a bit of a shock to the system to be surrounded by white americans taking about all the groovy things theyve done, after the relative calm and reality of san andreas izapta, well best grin and bear it, soon i jump on another chicken bus, destination Monterico, it sounds very posh, but apparently its very cheap, run down and this time of year practically deserted which suits me fine for figuruing out puppet shows in spanish and getting myself together, theres turtles nesting there too. The most exciting thing that happened last night was a massive thunder and lightening storm, whenever lightening struck all the electricity went off for a few seconds then back on again, I took shelter in a nearby chinese greasy spoon had a masive plate of mushrooms, and tried to figure out my next move. Funny thing about Guatamala is its really hard to get good coffee, I suppose all the good stuff is exported overseas and were left with the crappy stuff, that says alot about the politics of capitalism. mmm yeh. The thing with posting photos on a blog, I'm begining to realise is that it takes a really long time for them to load up, so i might develop my describing gene, and keep photo to essentials in future, well anyway here are some photos; Firstly of the bikibomba the bicycle powered water pump, which seems amazingly usefully, basically its a bicycle with the drive going to the front wheel; which is a contrete disk to act as a flywheel, with two car tire rims attached to it, to act as a pully, around this is wrapped a cord with large wooden beads knotted at intervals, when the bike is pedaled the cord goes up to a small bike wheel pully mounted at the top of the systyem, round and down a pvc tube that goes deep into the well, back up another tube, carrying a column of water trapped between the beads, up to a large water container to store the water, then round the pully and back down the other tube to collect more water, apperently this has the potential to pump, between 5 to 10 gallens of water per minute!. The next photo is some bikes made out of bamboo (!), then details of the prototype bicycle powered washing machine (bicilavadora de ropa) which is basically a rotating plastic drum with holes in, and tubes with holes in fixed inside that, this is rotating within a fixed metal drum, with pedal equiptment fixed at one end, and a half open door at the other end, to throw in fresh hot or colds water at intervals, and theres a exit valve at the base of the metal drum to let out the dirty water, very simple, but no-one knows if it works yet as it was still being built as i took these photo's. The next photo is a totally unneccesary sunrise at san marcos shot. peace out, love n trees Rob

Saturday, May 13, 2006

bikes bikes bikes

Well, phew i just spent a week working for Maya Pedal mostly fixing up donated old bicycles to be sold cheaply to create funds to sell the machines they make, very cheap so rural familys can afford them, its a wonderful project. Arriving in San Andreas Izapa on a super crowded chicken bus, something trikes me straight away after being around lake Atililan for two weeks, no gringos!, I sit at the nearby cafe to catch my breath and the women asks me if i'm here for Maya Pedal, yup were the only white folks in town, but are so welcomed by everyone in the village, and it seems everyone has a great deal of respect for what Maya Pedal do, I guess that because they work very closley with the Mayan women who keep the project running, maya pedal make everything from pedal powered water pumps to washing machines, it seems their most popular model is the pedal powered corn extractor and grinder, as most of the mayan diet consists of corn meal tortilas and beans, they soak the corn in lime which breaks down the protien and makes it more easily absorbed, which is how people have and mostly still do, survive on a diet of torlilas and beans.
It seems life here is very simple, most people even children carry a machette for chopping wood, and everyday horses pass my door loaded up with wood to be stored before the rainy season kicks in proper. Its nice and refreshing, its simple and it works, the kids here are amazing, from first arriving they asked me my name now whenever I pass they repeat Roberto over and over again, and fling themselves at me like i'm a human fairground ride, which i supose I am.
I was sharing my basic quarters with 3 americans; Sam, Laura and Sara, all very nice if abit loud, I learnt to play hot dice, which is a great game
Yeh It was fairly hard to leave Maya Pedal, but my bad spanish wasn't improving and i spent the week fixing up bikes, which i was glad to do as Maya Pedal is a great project, but I felt if i stayed longer I might start to resent it as it looked like there was no bike machine making for quite a while, so i learnt what i could from studying the ones already there and made my plans, tommorow i go to monterico, to plan puppet shows, workshops, relax(!) and learn more spanish

Oh here are some photos too, the Maya Pedal sign, which was made with much drama while
I was there as there was much debate whether to glue of weld the chain lettering to the sign, a picture of Carlos in full flow, a typical view from our door, the famous bicycle corn extractor, the bicimolino, and a dog on the street.

All the hot showers in Guatamala have an electric element perched on the end of the shower head, which to me looks dangerous, but who am I to question these things, but yesterday while taking a shower I put my had closer to the head, only to get little shocks though the water if i put my hand too close!!, only by the time the water hits my head the electricity has disipated enough not to have an effect, this revalation shocked (hehe) and amused me and gave a who new meaning to the phase electric shower, i'm glad we only have 110 volts here.

Monday, May 08, 2006

chill week

A week spent in San Marcos, VERY relaxed place, except for last tuesday, a week after the last fiesta, they have a mini fiesta to celerate the end of the last one, this involves blasting out marimba music, very loud all over the village all day and all night, theres no excaping the marimba, or so i thought, as curiosity got the best of me, and with two hippies zonked out on mushrooms i wander towards the marimba, only to find a techno party in full throw, funny no ´gringos´ but all locals in full traditional dress getting down to cheezy techno, all ages too, nice to see, thats one thing that really strikes me about guatemala, is the strong family ties, they do everything together, like i was sitting i a field the other day reviewing my bad spanish, and in the field next to me a family had just harvested a crop of onions and were sorting and bundeling them, but the whole family was there from little babies to grandparents all helping each other, you can´t help but think thats the way it always should be.
Ahem anyway enough of me family values rant, so a week spent in san marcos, well i was staying with fellow marionetista, arancha in a nice but very noisy house, surrounded by dogs and cockrells who have no sence of time and crow at any time of the day of night, i guess 24hr marimba music must throw them off too, there are pictures here of my neighbours the cockrell and some great kids, over 50% of the population here is under 16, which is why projects like cambalacha exist (see links) a creativity emowerment project for local youth, which I will be doing puppet making workshops for in the near future.
Also here are photos of an impromptu puppet show in the back garden and a detail of a typical wall here, most of the buildings here are built out of bricks from cob, that is mud and straw, often stuck in a framework of concrete and steel, now studying permaculture for the past two year, I´ve learnt that cob is good and sustainable, and concrete is bad and unsustainable and to mix the two jarred slightly with me, but still i thought it was good that as standard cob was used, untill i talked to a local about it and he said that its not good, its only done for cheapness, and with the flooding last year, alot of the buildings just got washed away, Well i suppose travel is all about challenging your perceptions, ok time for me to leave now to Maya Pedal ....... oh yeah i forgot to mention the two days of sleeping from tropical fever, and VERY strange dreams, well i´m not going to mention everything

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

puppet show

So, thrown in at the deep end i have to do the show myself, i worked out a little rountine and wrote some vocabulary in espania, tried to memorise it, and did a little show for 25 ninos n la taberna in san pedro, muy gusta, los ninos mucho feliz, heres some pictures, Skretec malovat on holiday, in his box, painting a little girl, and los ninos.....

marionetista revolution

Saturday, April 29, 2006

schools out for summer

my school, with one to one spanish lessons under traditional guatamalian huts, and my day bunking off in nearby san marcos, very good day MUCH SWIMMING, hanging with me muchus buena amigo del irelana, janet, and meet with fellow marionetista and plotted to perform puppet show in this little bar, para los ninos, domingo, marionetista resistencia aiiii