March 8, San Jose: International Day of the Woman

The plan, extracted from H during the long dinner last night, is for him to come by the hotel on his way to CENAC around 11 or 12. There, I will calmly work with technology and rehearse in the space for a couple hours before the start of the workshop. I’m still translating like crazy—a process which requires internet, so not only am I not surprised when H doesn’t appear at 11 or 12, I’m not disappointed either. But I know I’ll have to get myself there by 2PM, so at 1:15 I print my notes in the hotel lobby and ask for directions to CENAC.

Once there, I realize it is the same cultural center I came to with Tattiana and Micheala the other day—I just hadn’t known the acronym. I find H racing around an open lobby, A few of Megan’s pictures have been propped along a piece of molding on the wall, and Megan and Michaela are standing near them looking perplexed.

“Ah Indy!” H says, and before I can ask any questions he pushes me to Vali and a woman I hadn’t yet met, who seems to work for the center. “You need to listen to what she says,” he tells me, and runs off in the direction of the attached theatre.

The woman then tearfully tells Vali how much she enjoyed the last night’s performance, and how much it meant to her. It is touching, rather personal, and completely awkward for me to be listening to, as it has nothing to do with me.

I sidle away and find Horacio again. “Where should I be?”

“I have a situation, he says, stressing the last word.”

He speaks to another woman, who leads me out of the lobby and up some stairs. She show me my “room”—an open air area lunch area with round cement tables and benches. No projector. No whiteboard. Either would be difficult, understandably, since there are no walls.

I explain to the woman about the DVD player and the whiteboard. She sees another woman and talks to her. The three of us wander and end up at an office called “VideoTeca.” That sound promising, but it is locked and empty. We go to another office to enquire, and are informed that the lady who works there has just returned. I don’t know how the person in the second office knows this, but we go back, and indeed the employee is in her little office.

Upon hearing what I need, she turns and pulls open a sliding door behind her, revealing a room with rows of chair, and a projector hanging from the ceiling. Perfect.

“Whiteboard?” I ask hopefully.

She thinks then points to a stack of boards in the office, one of which is a white board.

It has no mounting or stand, so I pull a table over the wall, prop it up and start playing with the AV equipment. Only one of the remote controls has batteries, so it takes some swapping, but both my DVD’s play. Things are definitely looking up.

I arrange my notes, and write the title of the lecture and my name on the board, and wait for my participants to arrive.

No one.

At 2:30, I wonder if my location has been passed back to Horacio and Amber. I’d heard H tell Amber she should announce to the incoming people where the workshops were, but the area below is rather chaotic—how will they know to approach her? Does she have a sign of some sort?

I go down to investigate and found H on stage talking to the half-shell amphitheatre about international day of the woman. He sees me and calls me to the stage. He made a big deal of introducing me, says something about workshops and then says some other things in Spanish as I stand awkwardly on the stage. Blah blah Spanish blah. Then he shoves the microphone in my face. I have no idea what would make sense to say since I’m not sure what he’s just said, but figure it can’t help to tell people where the workshop is,

En la oficina de videoteca en Segundo piso.” I supply. I hand the microphone back. If he expects me to say anything inspirational about the spirit of the wild woman, it’s not going to happen.

He adds “En vente minutos.” Twenty minutes.

So we’re starting at three, now. That’s not bad.

I’m trying to figure out the best way to sneak off stage when he turns to me and asks in English… “Do you want to do a workshop on auto-care?”

He has mentioned this before—and I thinks he means self-care. But I’m not exactly sure what that means. He had at one point asked if if I would have coffee with two other cancer survivors while I was here, to which I of course said, yes, but I haven’t prepared in any way to give a workshop—and I haven’t translated any statements about nutrition, juicing and exercise. Plus, at this moment, I’m supposed to be giving the workshop I have been preparing for over a month. My eyes narrow. “When and where would that be?”

He shakes his head. “Nevermind.”

He resumes talking to the audience and I stalk off the stage, not caring if it’s timed with anything he’s saying. I find Amber. She’s too busy rushing around doing multiple tasks to be announcing anything to anyone. I ran into Runcel, the production designer. He is from Costa Rica, but has lived for ten years in German, and has traveled from Germany for the festival. He tells me that this morning he traveled to a distant suburb for one of his workshops only to have H call him after he had already arrived to say that there were no participants.

“Here is Costa Rica, I know the chances for anything are only fifty-fifty,” he gesture with his hands to show the uncertainty, “Still, it is disappointing… Maybe you could make some signs.” I corral poor Amber and we make a couple of signs, to put at the CENAC entrance and the door of the Videoteca office, but in my heart, I’ve already given up.

But then, at 3 o clock, a woman actually showed up! Thrilling. I chat with her and Amber—whom Horacio has sent to be my translator, more because she’s here than because she’s equipped for the job—but that’s okay. Her presence is comforting. I’m ready. My video clips are cued, my translation is passable, and now apparently, I will have a class as well.

Fifteen minutes pass. No one else arrives.

Feeling sorry for the woman who has been waiting, I get started. I ask my first question: “Why do we go to the movies?”

My one woman audience blows me away with her thoughtful answer. She talks about seeing other worlds, and other people’s lives and learning about humanity. When I launched into structure, she is super-intelligent. Amber seems interested too. After another fifteen minutes, another three women wander in, as well as a photographer who seems to be listening. I show them the first sequence of Legally Blonde, and everyone laughs and seems to be enjoying themselves. For a few, brief, shining moments, it’s like a real workshop. But after half and hour, the three women have to go—we’d given no indication how long this workshop would be. I talk until after 4:30 with my remaining two participants until the woman had to go, and then it’s over.

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