The original Vagabond II

Last week our tiny Spanish village received spectacular guests. Travelling blood in its purest form flow through their veins, and they have fascinated me since I was a little girl. Zirkus Berlin settled right next to the river, and man, what a sight!

There were tigers, elephants, caravans and those emblematic light bulbs dangling from the top of the circus tent. What a welcome contrast to everyday life on a hot, sleepy afternoon at the outskirts of the world! It made me think of the ‘good old days’ when the arrival of the circus was one of the main events of the year.

My husband asked if he could hang around with his camera, and they said yes. Frank Bugler, the circus director, is one of these people who comes across as cold at first. But once you spend some time with him you realize that the man is genuine.

A genuine clown…

A genuine elephant trainer…

And a genuine family man…

I don’t know if you can tell that my sentences aren’t quite coming together right? As a travel writer there’s no excuse for not being able to convey the experience… But the thing is that Frank and Esmeralda (his wife in the image above) and the other circus artists evoked something in me – call it a sadness if you like – for a dying lifestyle. And truth is, my feelings are getting in the way of writing about this in an objective manner. But then again, objectivity is no aim for a blogger, so bear with me…

The circus no longer holds its position as unique entertainment for kids. There is tv, dvd’s, computers, cinemas, ice skating rinks, aqua parks and an endless array of other options. Then there is the fact that animal’s rights groups have stained the traditional circus with blood on their hands.

I too have issues with tigers kept in small cages and elephants being trained to do stuff they would never dream of doing in the wild. But then there is the spirit of the circus. The magic, the smells and the people. Their vagabond blood has kept them on the road for no less than five generations (in Zirkus Berlin’s case). This is the only way of life they know, and the only life they want. When asked what he would do if he could no longer work the circus, Frank’s silence said it all. Thirty, long seconds later he looked me straight in the eyes and said:

- There is no plan B. There never has been. It’s the circus or nothing.

So whilst I take my hat off to these dedicated, passionate people, I put my trust in Spencer’s images, and hope they can tell the full story. The one I lack words to describe…

Born and raised in the circus