Something was happening on the other side of town, 0ver by the stone court that’s used as a soccer field in our little village that’s sprinkled on the side of a collapsed volcano. So Mikey and I did what raw curiosity had us do, got in the truck and bumped over there to check it out. There it stood in a dry rocky field, a dusty, truly sky-blue tent with a huge banner painted the one-two-punch of cotton candy pink and alien vomit green. In electric blue it shouted “El Circo CASSIO” and, as if suddenly remembered by the sign painter, in small letters tilted sideways : “ESPECTACULAR“. The circus was in town!!!
A crooked hand-lettered sign blowing in the daily afternoon gale announced an 8:30 show. This was Friday. Intermittently for the rest of the afternoon, a booming voice giddy with high decibel promises enticed all listening ears within our time zone that we were in for the experience of a lifetime and so was our whole familia.
You didn’t have to tell me twice. But he did. Dozens, maybe hundreds of times at an auctioneer’s pace.
No Child Left Behind
You know how, when you were a kid, something big would happen and it seemed the whole world was in on it, but you couldn’t go because you didn’t have the money? Fun fairs, festivals, pony rides, you name it. Well my husband has memories still keenly felt of such occurrences in his personal history.
These days we live in a lovely Mexican village. A tidy village. A friendly village. A village just a bit different from all the rest in this area. They say it is due to the efforts of the lady who spent her life bringing books here and sending kids out to bigger schools. Even so, it is still a town where many people struggle to make ends meet. Mikey knew that not every kid in this town was going to be able to go to this circus.
So he sought out and handed an honest young man we know, enough money for a whole slew of kids to attend who otherwise couldn’t. This young man was instructed to not disclose who gave this money and it was to go to the neediest kids if possible. And this is a good example of why I married Mike.
Little traveling Mexican circuses aren’t allowed to have animal acts, which is probably best for most of the creatures. But this is a bit of a disappointment, because such work would make excellent career opportunities for some of the many underemployed canines around here. But knowing we wouldn’t witness sad animals and that we’d be embedded in a raucous crowd high on delight we went to the Saturday evening performance.
Mikey and I cautiously ascended our way into the midsection and found what felt like a safe-ish space on the rickety benches creatively assembled out of thin planks of wood delicately tied to a questionable metal set-up. (Note: what passes for adequate safety here in Mexico depicts a more gentle society untainted by rampant litigation.)
The space filled with a good half of the whole village. We sat in the darkened expanse, the crown flapped mightily by the nightly zephyr. Lanky kids, circus performers as it turns out, politely hawked baskets of popcorn with hot sauce, cucumbers dipped in salty chili powder and hotdogs inexplicably corkscrewed and wound onto wooden skewers.
A Tent Full of Fun
And then, at exactly 8:30pm, the ringleader with a majestic mustache sitting at a colorfully lit sound and light kit in the center aisle, launched into his spiel and off we went! The ensemble took us into an imaginative world created out of raw audacity and spirited follow-through balanced on the uncertain foundation of minimal resources.
Let me describe my personal favorites of the dozen or so acts.
The guys on the swing thing from which the more agile of the two leapt into an aged rope net with gaping holes held by two guys with somewhat worried looks on their faces.
The four girls in red leotards who recreated something we might know as dance but looked like it had possibly been choreographed with crayons by a moderately visionary toddler.
And the piece d’resistance, at least in my opinion, the kids in trunk shortening costumes who had trouble balancing their oversized homemade paper maché cartoon heads while busting some moves to Mexican rap. I laughed like an idiot hyena to that one. With them, not at them, lol. I’m still laughing.
And there were clowns, a whole bunch of them all mercifully minus the makeup favored by the more frightful of their genre. They engaged in much ballyhoo and banter most of which went right over Mikey’s and my heads I’m ashamed to say. There was a joke that featured some English language buffoonery that caused a little girl in front of us to turn all the way around on her sliver of bench and worriedly scrutinize my face for a bad reaction. I offered a grin meant to convey no hard feelings. Mollified, she swiveled back around and got back to her snack and laughter.
There was a hoop with a passably limber adolescent girl in hot pink hot pants cavorting about near the apex of the quivering bigtop. Then, some more clowns with a routine that involved a lot of hitting of the buttocks with a smart smack of a plastic baton of some sort. And there were the guys who did comical, though worrisome, flips on a crooked trampoline whose bounce limit had probably been surpassed a decade ago.
We finished with an act I think can only be described as Mexican hillbilly. It pretty much brought down the house when the tallest one holding a guitar made out of a toilet seat went into an animated feminine sashay and the one with the topless sombrero accompanied this dainty flouncing with loud farting noises. Good stuff, people, but maybe you had to be there to really absorb the nuance of this hilarity.
I think we all got our twenty peso’s worth, every last one of us.
Sweet Dreams Are Made of These
And that’s the inspirational, even enlightened thing about Mexican people. They cobble together careers built on the merest spun sugar fluff of resources and with sheer determination and lots of hard work make it happen. They labor relentlessly to achieve their dreams.
And those dreams? Having enough money for simple meals they still cook for themselves, financing the materials for their own hand-built little houses, buying a new outfit for a child or the ceramic baby Jesus they bring back out at Christmas. Not second homes, multiple late model autos and trucks or the latest, greatest high tech gadgets they stare at during vacations in four star hotels. Oh, I know not every Mexican leads such a simple, non material-centric life, but many, many of them do. Certainly most of the folks who live in Cabras in rural San Miguel de Allende live this way. We love, and learn from these people who have welcomed us here.