The Baiuca group arrived on Sunday night, October 24, at the airport in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. From the city they only saw the landscape pass from the window in the transfer to the residence of the Spanish Embassy. The next day, before he could set foot on the street, a military coup had upset Sudanese politics. They were waiting for a driver who did not arrive when one of the Spanish police officers who work with diplomats in that African country went to warn them of what was happening. They were five days of confinement. The news, Guillán says, came to them from the Embassy staff and from the information they saw on two television channels.
One day, to pass the time, they started to set up a kind of music studio, but they had to collect everything: they had to be ready to leave the moment the airport reopened and they could get on a plane. Guillán emphasizes that their experience was not “traumatic” and they felt protected. Almost a week later, he and the rest of the musicians he was traveling with landed in Barajas: the singer Andrea Montero, the percussionist Xosé Lois Romero, the person in charge of the audiovisuals that accompany the concerts Adrián Canoura and the sound technician Alfonso García.
What is it like to arrive in a country and find yourself in a coup?
It is an adventure to tell because, luckily, everything went well.
Where and how did you find out what was happening?
We were going to play the Sama festival, which they have been doing in Khartoum for a few years and in which several European institutions participate, including the Spanish Embassy. They were the ones who contacted us to go. The idea was to collaborate with Sudanese musicians and see if some music would come out. We arrived in Khartoum on Sunday [24 de octubre] at night and we went to sleep peacefully. On Monday morning the idea was to leave the residence of the Embassy, which was where we stayed to sleep, to go to rehearse with these Sudanese groups and prepare for the concert on Tuesday. But the driver who had to pick us up didn’t get to go. The next person who came was a member of the Embassy Police Corps to warn us that there was a coup d’état, that we remain calm, that we were in the best possible place. At no point did we get out onto the street and we stayed there until we could leave. They closed the airport and cut mobile connections. It was a few days of being disconnected from the world.
Did you see any agitation or any signs of the coup?
No, what we saw was on TV. It was a quiet, residential area. Other embassies are in a more central area, but the Spanish woman’s residence is in a slightly more secluded and quiet area.
You were incommunicado.
Yes, the only time there was a connection was on Tuesday, when there was an hour that we were able to speak with our families directly. Both Monday and Tuesday the communication was through the Police. They went to the Embassy and there they could call. I guess they had a satellite connection. The families knew at all times that we were fine.
How did you spend those days?
We stayed until Friday and from Wednesday night and Thursday it was already much quieter. In there at no time do we feel fear. We were very calm, simply with that feeling of not knowing how long we had to be there closed. It was almost like when it was the confinement of COVID-19 and we had to stay at home without knowing how long. Here it was only five days, but we already knew what this confinement thing was like. In addition, the five of us who were there are all very calm people with a very positive attitude. The relationship between us was wonderful. You have so much time to talk that one of the things we said was what would happen if it was another group that stayed there … chaos. We understood that everything was going to be solved well and there would be no problem.
How did you entertain yourself?
From the third day we took the instruments to play something. One day we started to set up a kind of recording studio and one of the policemen came to tell us that it was being announced that the airport was going to open and the best thing was that we had our suitcases ready in case there was a flight. And we had to go back to collect everything. We were in that process that we knew that at any moment we could leave.
Were there other Spaniards with you?
The day we arrived we were alone. Right now there is no ambassador because he was promoted and the successor has not yet been named. On Monday night we were alone, then the embassy policemen and their families stayed there. In the last few days another Spaniard came who was just working there. He assembles machines for companies all over the world and he caught him there in Sudan.
Who kept you informed?
They told us about everything they learned at the embassy and we also used to watch television, a French channel and a British channel that we followed to see how everything evolved. We spoke with the policemen and with the consul, who took care of us so that we were well. He and my office, Raso Estudio, are the ones I thank the most for everything went well.
How did you make the return trip?
We had to change the plan and go to Ethiopia and then to Rome. The worst thing was having to spend 12 hours in Rome without being able to leave because of the COVID-19 issue.
Is it an experience that marks?
It is a very curious thing that one does not expect to live when going anywhere, but if you can take it like us, it gets along. It was not a traumatic situation. I don’t think we are left with a negative memory of all this.
Would you go back to the festival next year?
Maybe not next year [risas]. Or maybe our families won’t let us go. But in a few years, if the political situation ends up being resolved in a democracy, which in the end is what the Sudanese expect … We are left wanting to know the country and the people there. The Spaniards who were there spoke wonders to us. We landed and couldn’t see anything. The only journey we made was from the airport to the residence. We knew that there was an attempted coup a month ago, but going with an institution like the Embassy gives you security.
What are Baiuca’s next plans?
I’m really looking forward to playing. For the week we have three dates in Santiago. Galicia in theory has no restrictions, but the fact that the capacity is 100% is a bit contradictory with maintaining the safety distance. We are faced with the situation of having to relocate part of the Friday public to Capitol by Saturday. It was either that or cancel. It is always bad news and to look bad with your audience to have to ask them to change all the plans they had. It makes no sense for the Xunta to sell that there are no restrictions and continue to have them. I’d like to ask you to think about clarifying this. After Santiago, we have a concert on Sunday in Pontevedra and on December 2 I present the new album at La Riviera in Madrid. It is going to be the biggest concert I have done in a hall since the project started. Santiago is for me the most important place to play because it is a city where I lived and I have a lot of affection for its people, but doing one like the one on the Riviera, making music in Galician in Madrid, is very exciting.