The first time, about a month ago, I went with Shanette. We really enjoyed the show. She'd made the bus trip from Moshi in the rain. It rained so hard that morning, I didn't think I could get my car through the mud out near my house, so I'd walked partway and taken a taxi to town. When I met Shanette at a restaurant near the circus, my hiking boots were caked with three inches of sticky red clay. The circus was not a big, glitzy affair as I might have expected in America. It was better! The big top wasn't all that big, but it was waterproof, so at least we were dry.
After the show, I asked Shanette if it'd been worth the bus ride, and she said, "Oh, definitely." And then added some comments about a dearth of entertainment in Moshi. We parted in a downpour, she in a taxi to the bus station. She called me about 3 hours laters, around 9:00 pm, saying, "Barbara, I just have to vent." On the way home, she had gotten one of those developing-country-kind-of bus rides. And she was in the front seat, so she saw everything. First, just outside of Arusha, the bus driver couldn't see too well in the dark and he just drove off the road! The bus didn't tip and nobody was hurt. He drove back onto the tarmac, then lied to the passengers and said it was because someone had passed him improperly and forced him off the road. Next, the conductor passed among the passengers to collect fares. The night fare is 1000 Tshillings (about 75 cents U.S.) higher than the day fare (maybe because it's hard to stay on the road after dark). This was a surprise to some of the passengers, and they refused to pay. So the driver pulled over and threatened not to move the bus until every passenger paid. After 20 minutes, everybody but one woman had paid. The driver relented and continued to Moshi. But when he reached Moshi, rather than head to the bus station, he announced he was taking the entire busload of passengers to the police station where he would, by God, get that last fare. At this point, Shanette had had enough and demanded to be let out of the bus, and caught a taxi home. I asked her again, "Do you still think the circus was worth the bus ride?" We both just laughed and reflected on how what seems like hell at the time makes a good story later.
Last weekend, Anna's mum and aunt were finishing a visit to Tanzania and they invited me to join them at the circus. I'd enjoyed it the first time, and I wanted to spend some time with them, so I went again. Plus, the first time I went, the ringmaster announced that photography was permitted, and I hadn't brought my camera. I brought it with me the second time, so here are some pictures of this fun African show.
And then he stuffed himself into a little glass box.
And came back out smiling. Eeeewww!
Twirling multiple hula hoops.
Another splashy dance number, complete with polar fleece zebra print for the guys.
...and a very short unicycle.
To warm up the crowd after intermission, the dancers invited many ring-side audience members to join them in a circle dance. Three young men asked Anna to come out and dance (because she's a pretty young blonde), but she refused (maybe because she's a reserved Brit). These Tanzanian ladies were into it, though!
This dancer on tall, tall stilts roamed around the ring, danced a bit, fell down (on purpose, part of the act) and struggled back up twice. He approached the children sitting on the floor ringside, and they jumped up and ran up the bleachers to get away, then laughed at themselves and came back for high-fives. High for the kids, low for the man on stilts!
The stilt man made a final, dramatic fall and lay on the floor as if dead. Then this sort of envelope creature came out and scurried around the ring. One of the contortionists was inside and moved it around the floor very smoothly and quickly.
The envelope creature moved across the stilt man and shook its tassles and brought the stilt man back to life. He struggled back to his feet, scared the kids one more time, and made a grand exit.
Oh no! More contortionists.
Really! This is just not normal.