When the Circus Comes to Town


See that picture up there?  That’s my friend Phyllis checking something off of her bucket list.  I unfortunately was not there to see her do it, but I’m happy for her and proud of her nonetheless.  And also excited that she didn’t have to do it by traveling to Egypt or the Middle East.  She was able to do it right here in my hometown of Jocotepec.

A couple of times a year, the circus comes to town.  I’ve not yet been to one because I’m just not crazy about them, but I do love to see what will appear here in Joco when the animals arrive.   A few years ago, when my son, Steve, came down to visit, I was on my way to the airport to pick him up when suddenly this appeared through my driver’s side window as I came into Joco.

And then I saw this:

I had to laugh.  It’s things like this that you don’t see much in the United States.  The circuses there are huge and the animals are pretty much hidden.  When Steve and I were returning from the airport, we had to pass this spot again and the camels were still out there.  I told him to glance out to the right and tell me what he saw.

“Holy crap,” he said, “you have camels down here???”

I wish I had had my camera with me when I pulled up behind a pickup towing a trailer one day in Ajijic not long after I arrived here.  The driver of the pickup seemed to be carrying a load of hay.  At least that’s the color I saw until a LION stood up in the trailer and either yawned at me or decided to try to eat my truck!  Either way, I almost freaked out!

I mean, who the hell takes a lion for a ride in a trailer behind a pickup??  Well, the answer is, the folks who run the local circuses.  But I sure didn’t know that then.  Their publicity people drive through and around our pueblos when they are here in pickups with speakers on the top of the cab.  And it is common to see a few animals in the back of the pickup with their heads up there next to the speakers, seemingly enjoying their ride around town.

Now I’m kind of used to seeing llamas riding around in the back of trucks, either with their chins propped up on the cab roof or nestled down in the bed.  But that doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t thrill me just a bit.

When I first considered moving to Mexico, I spent a week in a little village in Baja California Sur called Mulege.  During the week that I was there, apparently they were having a horse parade of some sort.   So almost every time I drove into el centro from my lodging, I saw horses in the back of pickups.

Nothing really unusual about that; right?  Except that these horses were literally in the back of pickups, not in trailers drawn by pickups.  And as far as I could tell, they weren’t really restrained by anything.  They were just riding around in the back of Nissan short-bed pickups like mine.  And apparently having a mighty fine time.

On that same trip, I came upon a do-it-yourself car wash in Mulege and I was astounded t0 see the horse’s owner giving his horse a wash!  The horse seemed to be really enjoying the power washer loaded with soap that his owner was giving him and I have to admit that the horse was beautiful and glistening in the sun.

And, yes, the next time the circus comes to town, I’ll probably go!

About Barbara

in april of 2008, i moved from the united states to mexico. during my working days, i held lots and lots of jobs....almost all chosen because they were fun or interesting instead of how much they paid. when i started thinking about retirement (in my 40s), i realized that i would never be able to retire to a country where english was the native language. and although i had traveled to every state in the US -- and lived in lots of them -- i had never been outside the country with the exception of canada and mexico. and since you now know that i could never afford to retire in canada (even to the french-speaking area), mexico won by default.
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9 Responses to When the Circus Comes to Town

  1. vsvevg says:

    I am, not fond of circuses either, but i do have to admit the small mexican shows have a certian appeal, with thier pacaderms grazing in the roadside with the local cows. I doubt I will ever attend one though. In my neck of the woods the locals sell thier old cows and horses to the circus to feed the lions. I suppose it’s more human than starvation. Nice post amiga, a

  2. gped2 says:

    Like you, I am not a great fan of circuses (boy, it just thundered like hell), but I have often lived in this area – near, or not far from, the John Ringling Museum and the winter grounds of the Ringling Brothers Circus. I have even seen photos of lions and tigers playing on the sand at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, but have not gone to the beach to watch! About the only thing you see riding in the back of a pickup around here is some poor wench preparing her mates tailgate dinner (and I don’t dare comment on anything else that I regularly see riding in the back of a truck around here). I think circus clowns used to be (may still be) trained in Sarasota, and while the animals were often on display in the Venice, Florida, winter grounds, the grounds appear to be derelict now.

  3. K says:

    This particular Circus, Ayala, is a family. They start the kids out young and the whole family travels and performs together with the animals for months at a time ….or maybe all year. This family is based in Michoacan, they said.
    Really sweet young folks doing what they do best…..entertaining folks.
    I wonder if they ever dream of running away and joining a regular family living in a house in a town forever??? As a kid-dreamer of runnig away and joining the circus, I kind of doubt they want to leave their wonderful life style.

    • Barbara says:

      thanks for more info, koko, and why do i think the kids dream of living in a house and going to school in one place??? (i hope not!)

  4. Heather Krause says:

    A couple of years ago (before moving to Mexico) we were shopping in Tonala when one of the small pickups came through with a pony in the back, advertising a circus. Shortly after, we were inside a shop when a ruckus kicked up outside and we went to see what was going on. People were running around and fussing, so we finally found somebody to explain to us in English that a Yama had jumped out of a circus truck and was running through the streets of Tonala in heavy traffic. At our confused faces, the translator kept emphasizing that a Yama was loose. Yama, Yama!! It finally dawned on us that in Spanish, a double “L” is pronounced as a “Y.” So we got a good laugh about the circus “Yama,” stuck in traffic, hopping out of its truck bed so it could make better time through Tonala with an entourage chasing after.

    • Barbara says:

      i have seen some weird things around tonala! you know how the guys pop out of seemingly nowhere to wash your windshield? well, once in tonala, a fire-eater popped out!! gotta love it!

  5. Sandy Gottmer says:

    Barb, I loved this column. I laughed as I imagined you in your truck that day. Keep em coming!!! Hope all is well with you and that things are going really great right now Sandy

    • Barbara says:

      oh, honey, you have no idea how big my eyes got! and, yep, things are well here in jocotepec. if you ever wanna come down, let me know!

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