Morocco – Sun, Sea + Capoeria !?
2013 after returning from the Native Sun Tour http://nativesunmuzik.com
I was so inspired about the by the experience of touring as independent artists, I also recognized, I had a lot of changes to make on self. The changes were important so I could truly capture the essence of my being. This required some self-reflection and making a commitment to myself, I would not travel unless this work had been complete. I’m ecstatic with the transition so far. Sunday 18th 13:33pm. I’m sitting on a cloudy beach looking out to the sea, as a surfer is dislodged off his board.
This is the 6th Day of my “break” and yesterday I had the fullest day of holiday that compelled me to write. My formula for travel avoids the hotel experience, with its sanitized version of the country. I love to travel in a way that connects with people within the limits of my language, country of origin and time.
On this occasion, I really wanted a break from work but more importantly the physical space of the may project, which also is my home. Leaving the space of this occasion felt like a betrayal, as if I was removing the umbilical cord. I was also aware, of the passing of 2 elders. I’d become so enmeshed in the space, I felt anxious about leaving. However this feeling, was the same reason I had to refresh my environment. 2015 is going to be a great year.
I use travel as a metaphor for life or more apt, a reflection of your journey in life. The people, places and experiences you encounter are usually a reflection of self its no surprise to see so many wanting a comfortable trip abroad.
The 1st person I converse with on my departure is a gentleman who works in oil, wanting to leave the business to pursue his passion, which is NLP.
Within the hour it feels like we known each other intimately covering topics such as family, politics, community and culture. The likelihood of me seeing him is remote. However I’m meting more people that I know in the corporate world leaving to pursue their passion. I’m also equally aware the converse is also true. Due to my tiredness and his will to work. Our conversations draw to a natural stop? In short, he is really excited to read my book saying I should do more talks about my journey so far
The hotel is a plush 4 stars I’m fascinated to know what a 5 star looks like. The only requirements on this holiday were beach and sun. I was pleased to say after settling in. I did just that.
Day 1 – Trained, Read, Sun Bathed
Day 2 – Eat, Internet in my room + Day 1
Day 3 – Became restless + Day 1 + 2
Day 4 observed someone playing capoeira on the beach + Day 1+2
Day 4 is when the magic started. My observations concluded that he was an acrobat but as each moment passed. I knew it, capoeira. I also forget to mention, the other stipulation of the holiday was the opportunity to physically train.
I observed him for another 30 mins before moving closer and closer, as he repeated his moves over and over again. It was obvious that he had been playing for some time, I estimated at least 4 years. He was oblivious to my presence. I hoped at some point, he would have noticed me, so I could converse with him. However even as his finished training he was completely absorbed. I decided to introduce myself.
Capoeira like music, is a portal to the other worlds. Although our conversation was sparse, I learnt his name is Youssef and he has a teacher whom taught him capoeira. We exchange details and begin to play. Having watched him, I knew he was a better player, added to the fact that I have trained sparsely for the last 4 months. However I also hoped he was slightly tired from his previous expression. We played for about 30min; his style was gentle which in turned encouraged me to become more expressive. The confident capoeira was called Youssef and he could have played for another half an hour but I decided to call time, he also acknowledged he had his full of martial arts today. We confirmed details to ensure they were correct and off we went on our separate ways.
As night fell, I relaxed in my hotel room, with a satisfaction that the universe had guided me again, ensuring I needed everything on my trip. I started a conversation on FB with teacher called Dhafer Hafidi, whom true to the spirit of capoeira and African hospitality, arranged to meet at a local hotel. As I would be training in the evening I decided to switch up my routine. Ironically we never connected. Should I have improved on my communication? Should have I written his name down? On return I discovered in my FB other messages a change of plan.
The following day he promised to collect me to ensure, we met. I waited outside the hotel. He arrived slightly than he suggested, it was expected. I already sensed he had a big heart; he appears to be doing so much for his community and capoeira. He arrived in a big brown Mercedes Benz; his smile was warm, genuine and authentic. I hopped into the car, and we made our way to the other side of town, where his classed took place.
In the front seat, right hand side was a young women called Fatima, one of his students. We talked gender politics, economics, religion, food and of course, capoeira. I’ve not been to Brazil, yet one thing I’m certain and the thing I have consistently seen throughout my years of travel. People that have the least, give the most and their appetite for learning is the greatest.
There seems no rush to start the class, despite the presence of several students. There is no stress, no rush. The building is humble, consisting of two levels and a terrace which I never had the opportunity to view. The class starts and the energy reflects that of the teachers. The stretching I manage but find the moves more challenging. After an hour or so we complete the class and head outside into a forecourt to form a roda. Having seen all the students play, I’m cautious. I’m not sure what it is about martial arts. Is it as someone described, “ I have a big presence” or as my capoeira name suggests, “The spirit enters”. I always appear to play the most advanced students, today is no different.
I discover that my partner is one of the longest serving students. Having not played capoeira for some time, I immersed myself in the memory of last game when I was at my most playful. It was magical, which seemed to last an eternity. What was special about the class, group and teacher is their embodiment of the spirit of capoeira. There ability to play and sing, homage to the history, there humility was very reminiscent of the group in the UK called Awakened Spirit https://www.facebook.com/AwakenedSpirit.uk. Even with the constant interruptions of a drunken man, the joda continued.
Let the circle be unbroken.
After my game I was tired, although I was offered another opportunity to play, I know how unfit I was and how mistakes can enter the game, I declined as the other students continued for another hour or so. They could have played forever.
I’m tempted to stop the blog at this point but it seems premature. So let me transport to the next highlight of the day, the evening where I perform TRU (Trees R U). From the capoeira class and roda, we ate at a local restaurant then headed to a underground music venue.
From the outside looked like an everyday side entrance to a building, descending downstairs everyone was squeezed into venue on the floor with cushions its called Jazzawiya https://www.facebook.com/Jazzawiya
I noted a huge graffiti murial of Akala to my right; I knew I was in a great space. The 1st act …was my favorite, having seen gnawa musicians in the UK. I was aware of this genre of music. True to form the magic continued, the music was ancestral. Without dismissing any other of the groups, I think the energy would have been sustained, if the 1st group were last. They were a tough act to follow. With this in mind, I persisted to remind a few people I would like to perform a piece in closing. I knew I had to bring the energy a full 360. After much chaos of trying to translate my verse into Arabic, securing some musicians. I encouraged the sitting audience to rise up and wave their hands like trees. The band kicked in “Plant More Trees so that we can breathe”