Local performer Enrique (Soriah) Ugalde is back on the road to Tuva—the southern Siberian republic that hosts a competition of Khoomei throat-singers every five years as part of an International Ethnomusical Symposium—and he's agreed to share excerpts from his journey with Willamette Week.
Well, there aren't many quicker ways to fling yourself into the heart wrenching bureaucratic nightmare of air travel than missing your international flight. Yeah, that happened. As a seasoned traveler, I've dealt with a plethora of airline screw-ups, cancellations, delays because of weather, and technical problems. Hell, I've been to Russia three times now. You wouldn't be blamed for thinking I'm some kind of masochist just attempting this most obscure of grand endeavors. Even Muscovites aren't familiar with where I'm going.
The thing is, fault usually manifests itself in those twisted Gods of chaos that pull the fine strings of a desk clerk—or the slightly over-zealous throw by a baggage handler; or the weather system that stalls the plane in mid-air forcing us to land and refuel, only to put us back in line to land hours later—when, before our eyes, the white dream of a shiny path to the connection vaporizes and morphs into dark torture chambers. We mutate into helpless, frustrated lemmings standing in line to yell at walls dressed as people.
This time, however, squarely lands on my dumb ass. Oh travel gods, forgive me for I have sinned! This was, not surprisingly, a very costly mistake. My cash buffer has evaporated. I'm now looking at three months on the road with a shit-ton less money. And I’m on my way.
My grand gesture to this life? Initially, to travel through Europe as a virtually unknown artist, preaching my obscure form of music to the cultural choirs in London, Manchester and Stoke on Trent, and then, off to a massive Goth Festival called the "Wave Gotik Treffen" in Leipzig, Germany. Afterwards, back to London, through Moscow, then another five hour flight to (Siberian university town) Abakan where I’ll hire a car to take me, finally, to return to my beloved TUVA: the birthplace of the ancient art of "KHOOMEI", more commonly known as Tuvan throat singing and home to my heart.
I plan to participate in the sixth quinquennial (every fifth year) throat singing symposium at Kyzyl, the Tuvan capitol city and geographic center of the Asian continent. This symposium, where I won third place in 2008, has been the centerpiece of my dreams and aspirations for half a decade. Funny now how I should miss my flight. I certainly can't afford any more mistakes like this.
But things could be worse. It is happy hour, and I'm at PDX restaurant Beaches, a tropical underwater escapist paradise shrine to "Anywhere but this place" where my server, Jojica, and I are suddenly old friends. After missing the overbooked standby flight I was hoping to catch, I returned to where I'd eaten an hour earlier. Now it's like we've know each other since way back when, like breakfast. I hope to meet her again. Maybe I will, if I luck the fuck out.
Well, I'm on my way. Eki oo ruk as the Tuvans would say.
More stories of this adventure to come. Let my Khei-aat (spirit horse) be my guide, for better or worse.
Yours at the crossroads,