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Thread: Circus

  1. #1

    Default Circus

    On our way through Tipitapa to Roger and Magali’s house, we passed a circus. Vanessa’s eyes lit up and she declared that she was going to the circus that evening. Her elder son Jensel (of about 7) looked even more excited by this declaration than his mom.

    There was a trailer painted with a clown, a horse, and an ostrich along the street with a blue big-top tent setup just behind.

    I’ve passed many ratty looking circuses in all my time in Nicaragua, but I’ve never before gone to see one. Someone told me how seeing the kids in a circus on the outskirts of Granada had depressed them, and I’d let this one review color my outlook.

    Once Vanessa has made up her mind about something, she’s like a boulder rolling downhill, so I decided to keep an open mind and just go with it.

    Since my last visit, Roger and Magali had removed a car from the side of their house (in the shop) and replaced it with one of those plastic kiddie pools about the size of a hot tub. Julia, who just turned 14, and all of the kids went swimming that afternoon.

    I considered joining them, but as I was just recently crisped from Corinto, I decided it’d be unwise. Later that evening, Vanessa’s mother and sister Magali took a dip. They were in the shade by this time, and I thought of joining them, but Vanessa was gearing up for the circus, so I held off again.

    It might seem odd that a full grown man would look forward to sitting in a blue kiddie pool, but the truth is that after even just three weeks in the heat of Leon, Chinandega, Corinto, Mateare, Managua, and Tipitapa, any opportunity to be in water seems like the sweetest of luxuries.

    Vanessa had declared that she was taking Julia with her to the circus. Julia had other ideas, but predictably Vanessa brow-beat her into coming along. Julia took her little brother Javier with her and Vanessa took both Jenel and Josuar.

    Julia complained about being forced to go to the circus against her will the entire 8 blocks. She talked about how if she’d stayed home she could be watching TV and listening to music and using the computer and texting her friends while on the sofa (presumably all that the same time).

    It turns out teenage girls are the same the world over.

    I teased her about being stuck in a routine and not getting out experiencing life. She countered that there were always new shows on TV, her friends always posted and texted new things, and there were countless different ways to lie on the sofa.

    When we got to the circus, we learned that we were between shows. It was 7:00pm, and the next show wouldn’t start until 8:00pm.

    Julia used this fact to try to get Vanessa to let her go home. They argue about it for ten minutes or so and finally compromised by deciding to walk to the
    park to wait for the next show instead of just standing in the street.

    It took Vanessa another five minutes to pry Jensel away from the entrance. His young mind was convinced that if we left the circus now, we’d never return.

    On our way to the park, Julia persisted in her attempts to convince Vanessa to let her go home by arguing that there were clowns all over the place, and so it was meaningless to go see them in the circus.

    I see clowns sometimes in the inner-city buses in Managua or at the heavily trafficked intersections of the same. They are always in full clown makeup and attire. Sometimes they do juggling acts, and they almost always tell the same jokes when they climb onto the buses.

    Vanessa countered that clowns weren’t that common outside of Managua, and she asked me to back her up.

    I told her that while it’s true that I don’t see circus clowns outside of Managua, I do see clowns (payasos) all the time.

    As if on queue, Vanessa and Jensel (I was carrying Josuar) walked through a broken part of the street and tripped. They both went down.

    Julia and I had seen the broken up cobblestones a long way off, and we’d skirted to problem area. For some reason, they’d decided to go directly through it, and they paid the price in the most comical way possible—as nobody was hurt.

    Julia laughed uncontrollably and their “payasadas,” and I’ll admit I let a few laughs escape me—when Vanessa wasn’t scowling at me.

    We passed an Eskimo (ice-cream place) at the corner of the park, and everyone else decided I needed to buy them some ice-cream. Around the Eskimo, there were small mechanical rides for little kids.

    Vanessa asked how much they were, and the woman told us they’re C$5 a ride if we buy something first, otherwise they’re C$10. This annoyed Vanessa, so she said, “Pues, no entonces.”

    Inside, the same woman served our ice-cream cones. She made one without any trouble, but she ran into trouble with what must be some serious old ice-cream from a nearly empty tub. The stuff wouldn’t stick together, so it kept falling off the cone and breaking apart.

    We watched to woman try to make it work for a while, and then Vanessa changed her mind and asked for a different flavor. The woman seemed irate, and after serving the second cone told us that unless we ordered five cones we had to take them a leave—that we couldn’t eat them in the shop.

    I have no idea how this woman is still in business…

    We found a concrete bench in the park, and we hung out for about 15 minutes before they became bored and decided that we should head back.

    I’m the kind of man that usually has a plan, an agenda, or some focus direct me. So, it’s usually difficult for me to be patient with the erratic whims of children, teenage girls, and (some) women. It’s strangely liberating to let myself just get carried about of their current. I never know what we’re going to do from one moment to the next.

    We got back to find a long line into the trailer. They waited while I went to buy the tickets. I’d heard them say it was only C$20 for two adults and C$10 for two children, so I figured the most I’d have to pay was C$50 for three adults and three children (if I consider one child an adult).

    However, when I got up to the ticket window, I was told it was C$50 for two adults and C$40 for two children. She saw my skin tone and called an audible.

    I was able to talk her back down to C$100 for all of us. Normally I don’t stand for this kind of treatment, but I had to consider Vanessa and Jensel’s reaction if I told the ticket woman where she could shove them.

    Inside, there was a skeletal framework of metal around the center with planks for seats thrown on top. The planks were questionable thin and old for the amount of people sitting on them. Julia insisted that the best place to sit was to top level of planks, so I picked a spot directly over one of the metal supports.

    We had a half an hour to kill before the show started. Normally, this would be nothing, but my companions don’t have much of an attention span.
    A toy car was dropped through the planks at one point, and I circled around and under to retrieve it from the think sawdust.

    There were constant cries for circus snacks. I took Jensel down to the front to get a C$15 hotdog that he only nibbled before declaring it unfit. Vanessa ate some of it and shared the rest with Javier and Josuar so it wouldn’t go to waste.

    Everyone complained about the lack of back support, so they all moved down one row to use the highest plank as a back-rest.

    Loud music made conversation near impossible as we waited.

    Finally, the lights and the music dimmed and the show began—although by this point both Josuar and Javier were asleep.

    The circus acts were as follows: women dancing in skimpy outfits, an acrobat with long strips of cloth, clowns, another woman dancing, a balancing act (quite impressive) by a young boy, clowns, a female acrobat on the flying trapeze, trained horses, a dancing competition for young boys from the audience, a strength act with two brothers, clowns, another woman dancing, an ostrich, and clowns again.

    I was impressed by the balancing act, the feats of strength, the comic material of the clowns, and how well some of the boys danced in the competition.

    I was less impressed by the woman dancers. They seemed like cheerleaders at a basketball game. They aren’t why people are there, but I suppose they’re pretty to look at.

    All in all, I’m glad I went. I was much closer to the action in this small circus than I’ve ever been at the larger venues in the States. It was more intimate. I felt connected to an old traditional form of entertainment in a way that has been lost in “Barnum and Baileys.”

    Julia laughed along with Vanessa and I at the clowns and the boys’ dancing competition, and she was duly impressed by some of the acts. She was forced to admit that she was glad she’d come as we existed the circus.

    I would reference the acts by mentioning where they were from. For example, the announcer said the boy with the balancing act was from Costa Rica. In fact, most of the performers seemed to be from other countries.

    Julia laughed and told me that they’re all Nicaraguans, and that the announcer gives them exotic homes and back stories to make them more interesting. She went on to say that she knew the bothers with the impressive strength act and that they joined the circus to pick up on women.

    I laughed at this.

    I didn’t sleep much that night on the lower bunch of a small bunk bed. The next morning, I decided to take a dip in the kiddie pool (at long last) to cool off and help me wake up. It was cold, but not uncomfortably so—at least not until I got out of the water.

    As I sat, ate breakfast, and air dried, I had to fight the compulsion to shiver. I was covered in goose bumps (piel de gallina). Still, I’m glad I got to sit in the water. It was refreshing.

    Vanessa slept in, and she didn’t get a chance to swim until after noon. We didn’t get away until around 2:00pm, and given how long it takes to get anywhere is buses, I was worried we wouldn’t get to the Israel Mercado (and bus terminal) until after the last bus had already left for Mateare and Leon.

    Our bus from Tipitapa to Managua took a long time to finally leave, and then it stopped often to wait for passengers. We didn’t get to Managua until around 3:30pm, and right after we passed the airport the bus broke down.

    We waited for them to fix it until they declared it unfixable and told everyone to get off. We grabbed the 169 ruta just to get far enough down the main drag to where we could grab the 114 ruta which would take us all the way across town to Israel.

    I ended up standing in the 114 for over an hour, and we didn’t get to Israel until around 5:30pm.

    Vanessa considers herself above riding buses. She thinks of herself as a woman who rides in taxis. So, as I stood over her in the 114 for all the time, sometimes when she’d meet my eyes I would see tired affection but other times I swear I could see her thinking, “Pinche Gringo.”

    I made sure they all got onto a bus before I left them and went in search of a bus to Leon. They ended up on a bus to Nagarote. The driver agreed to drop them in Mateare (even though he doesn’t usually), because the last bus to Mateare had already left.

    I was able to find an “express” to Leon. It didn’t leave until after dark, and it stopped at every stop. It turns out an “express” is not an “express” if it’s the last bus.

    It was an adventure taking the night bus from Managua to Leon. I’m used to the way bus drivers weave in and out of oncoming traffic in the daylight, but it’s even more engaging at night. They kill the lights inside the bus too, and there are no street lights, so it’s completely black except for the oncoming headlights.

    I was so tired that I almost dozed off on this bus, and that’s saying something. Luckily, the show ended, and the curtain closed on this last adventure, and I made it back safe and sound.
    Soy el chele mono.

  2. #2
    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Circus

    Quote Originally Posted by drlemcor View Post
    I swear I could see her thinking, “Pinche Gringo.”


    I have 22 years on ya for this one... !!!!!
    Dude !!!.... Its a Canal !!! Can you Dig it ??

  3. #3
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Default Re: Circus

    Quote Originally Posted by drlemcor View Post
    However, when I got up to the ticket window, I was told it was C$50 for two adults and C$40 for two children. She saw my skin tone and called an audible.
    I love this post and the above was my favorite piece.
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  4. #4
    Viejo del Foro bikingo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Circus

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Corn Tom View Post
    I love this post and the above was my favorite piece.
    Nicas are better at audibles than Peyton Manning

  5. #5
    Junkyard Dog randude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Circus

    Quote Originally Posted by Little Corn Tom View Post
    I love this post and the above was my favorite piece.
    That was a good one, but the whole story was good. Your character definition and social dialogue were perfect. Great job.

    What is so funny is that although the story is exotic I could relate to the social interaction to a tee. A teenage girl wanting to be the center of attention while trying to alter the family plan, then, in the end, enjoying it after all. This reminds me of my own daughter who is now 22, and Laura's daughter, who is 17 (and currently living with us). As we go through our daily plans with her in tow, she demands to be a key figure and a deciding party in every breath we take. She always tries to get us to alter our plans and she doesn't take no for an answer. I then have two women fighting and looking at me as the tie breaker when I don't want to really do what either one of them wants to do.

    This weekend I said I am going golfing and for some reason I think that is going to fall through.

    A very funny read, thanks.

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