The other night there was a celebration of India at Roots Cafe. There was music, food, and community. We sat out on a patio behind the restaurant, stars appearing overhead as the sunset. There were about ten music makers and thirty listeners. Many many children ran underfoot. I was really hoping for chana masala but we had to make do with yummy lentils and cabbage salad.
Vilcabamba has a sizable and a growing white community. Walking through the fruit juice cafe and you would swear you were in *super crunchy hippie American city*. I don’t know how things got started but amazingly enough, I met a German girl writing her Bachelors on that very topic. Maybe I’ll have a better idea after my next chat with her.
Around the fire it was almost all white faces, and mostly American English was spoken. It was a familiar and fun vibe. I saw at least two men wearing long skirts, dreads pulled up into a bun, a Willie Nelson for President t-shirt, a MacBook Air, and a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. And it reminded me that summer solstice is quickly coming.
So there were drums, a sort of table accordion, and a lot of chanting. Having grown up in a fairly traditional religious community, I am always pulled when seemingly nonconformists find comfort in the very things I understand to be what make religion religion–music, food, and community.
It got me thinking about what community looks like in an ex-pat community and how that must change depending on the country’s common language and the strength of your currency.
There are plenty of young American families around Vilcabamba, I met one guy about my age who said he came after the nuclear meltdown in Japan. I just don’t know what they do besides drink fresh fruit juice, play drums in the plaza, and sell homemade jewelry on Sunday. And I wonder what my community in Johannesburg will look and sound like.
There’s not a sound clip below. Too bad it ends just before one girl starts yelling at another about bananas and then they get into an argument about who is older. Kids are pretty classy that way.