Inside the Tour Bus - by Lillian Seibert
Excited faces looked about as we boarded the bus and waved goodbye to the children in the schoolyard. There was a hum in the air as we sped through the streets of Hawassa and into the countryside. Ãdû, the man wearing the American flag pants cheered to the polyrhythmic music blasting from the radio. The motley crew of performers from the One Love Theatre chatted about the upcoming performances. Behulum, the theatre director, announced that we would be stopping for breakfast in Sheshmani, a village dedicated to the rastas by emperor Haile Selassie in 1948. Band of the Land was in Ethiopia and on tour for the first time.
It seemed like a long time since we said goodbye to our friend David at the JFK airport as he consumed a pot brownie and disappeared into a sea of people and taxi cabs. The rush of New York City was nothing like fields of corn from where we had come. Lillian, Eli, and I loaded our bags onto a trolley and filled our arms with poorly taped cardboard boxes. They were practically exploding with bubble wrap and second-hand instruments. Passerbyers seemed to be uncomfortable with our appearance as the boxes juxtaposed with Eli’s beaded dreadlocks. There was not much we could do to change the way we looked, so we pushed on to security. We were nervous once we approached the TSA officer.
“What's all this?” the officer said, seeming to inquire as much about us as the boxes.
“We’re musicians” Lillian replied politely.
“What’s in the boxes?”
Eli piped in, “Instruments man, you know, donations for a circus troupe, we’ve even got a letter from the Ethiopian
Band of the Land and The One Love Theatre perform in southern Ethiopia - by Lillian Seibert.
The officer looked at us for a moment, eyebrows raised, and then excused herself to whisper something to another officer behind a desk. The three of us exchanged nervous glances, but to our surprise, she beckoned us forward. We put the boxes on the conveyor-belt that carried them to the X-ray scanner. As the largest box stopped under the scanner, I could not help but cringe at the thought of what the TSA might mistake for the knobby mixing-board that was concealed by tape and bubble wrap. After an awkward pause and with an air of reluctance, the TSA tagged our boxes and sent us on our way. Somewhat proud of ourselves, we walked to the terminal gate and waited by the windows. The golden sun washed over us. The anticipation was surreal. We knew our notions of reality would be warped in a fusion of location, culture, and time. Click here: One Love Theatre — Band of the Land to learn more!