Ban's hosted a big party this evening, which they held on the beach in front of their bar-slash-restaurant. They put on a wicked show: live DJ; cheap drinks; and an awesome display of fire juggling. Alex and I were pretty exhausted from today's diving, but we somehow managed to stay up for a fair bit of the party. As well as the juggling, they also doused a large hoola-hoop in petrol, and ignited it to form a ring of fire: then, they tied it up in the air, and they invited anyone and everyone to try their luck at jumping through it. Check out the video.
I was bored this evening, so I went to one of the many cinemas in London's Leicester Square, and watched "Michael Clayton". This is a new George Clooney film, and it's based on the true story of a lawyer's battle to bring down an unethical agricultural company. I don't want to give away any more than that. This is very different from Clooney's usual style: he seems to be increasingly moving away from his traditional "action man" and "romantic thriller" genres, and chasing down roles of more serious, intellectual substance. This is a deep movie, and not one for those seeking a quick laugh or a constant blast of gunfire. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I highly recommend it.
Last night's Flamenco was so good, I just had to go see it again. The fact that it was still free, and still next door, also provided plenty of incentive. My friend Deanna (and her buddy Jenny) left this morning; but I had a new crowd to take along to teh show tonight, including my mate the Sicilian. Tonight's show was very similar, but somewhat different: about 2 of the 5 performers were new; and most of the songs and dances were also new. However, the style and the ambiance were identical to that of the first performance. Once again, great fun and a very impressive show.
This evening, Deanna and I went to see a Flamenco show here in Barcelona. Flamenco is that most famous of Spanish dancing: you know the one, with the Riverdance-like foot-tapping, and the women in long flowing dresses, and the hairy guys twiddling cheesily on their guitars. It was very convenient — it's right next door to the Kabul hostel — and what's more, the show is free for all Kabul guests! The performance was beautiful, dramatic, stern, and yet fun — a combination that nobody can pull off quite like the Spanish can. The jug of sangria that we ordered wasn't bad, either. We caught the 9:30pm show, which was just as well: because the 10:30pm one was totally packed-out.
I haven't been to a huge amount of live entertainment, thus far on my trip. But tonight, I was in for a treat: Max and Joel took Jack and myself out to a club in London's West End, which is famous for its all-star line-up of Monday night jazz music. Apparently, the place is crowded and sleazy (and the music sucks) on other nights. But every Monday, they have this setup where a great band — comprised of some of England's best-known jazz musicians — play for an hour or two; and then, they hand over the floor to amateur musicians, which is anyone who's walked in the door (with their instrument, preferably), and who is willing to get on stage and to join in, improv style. No cover charge, either. This is a great show, and it's also clearly a huge opportunity for aspiring musicians to get themselves heard. Anyone's welcome, but the night is certainly first and foremost "by musicians, for musicians".
This evening, Patrick and I went on the popular night tour up to Tungurahua, the volcano that looms over Baños. Tungurahua was erupting last week, and we heard first-hand reports from people who'd seen lava coming out of it. Very cool! Although a bit crazy, since a large eruption is fully capable of destroying the entire town of Baños. Sadly, we didn't see any eruption tonight: but we still got a great birds-eye view of the town, lit up at night; and we had fun drinking a very strong distilled sugar-cane spirit, and watching some top-class fire-juggling up on the mountain. And a fun ride on the roof of the tourist truck, too.
For the first time so far on my trip, I went to the cinemas tonight in La Paz, and saw Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (the third and final instalment in the trilogy). Great movie, and an interesting experience going to the cinemas in Bolivia. They're screening movies until 10pm, but the last decent ones are at 7pm. They have numbered, reserved seating; but when you get inside, you can't see the numbers, so you just sit anywhere (then someone comes and moves you). And they turn the movie off as soon as the credits start rolling, so that you get out of there faster. Crazy place.
Two crazy Danish girls grabbed three unsuspecting guys from the hostel (one of whom was me), and took us to the crazy bar called Cabaré Tito, in Mexico City's Zona Rosa district.
Only in Cabaré Tito can you watch a transsexual singer performing live. It's that kind of place. The performance was disturbing, to say the least.
A group of 8 of us from the hostel went out to see a Mariachi band tonight. Entry was free: they were counting on making up for this by selling us plenty of Corona, and that they did do!
The Mariachi is the quintessential, stereotypical Mexican entertainment. A bunch of señores, all wearing their fancy suits (with their metal-adorned pants) and big sombreros. Playing guitars, trumpets, and violins, and singing old-skool Spanish love songs in operatic voices.