The Urban Circus

Travels with Mexico's Malabaristas

by Catriona Rainsford 

£2.99 £2.69

Urban Circus – Holiday reads and travel literature by Catriona Rainsford exploring the world of Mexican malabaristas or circus performers and her journeys with them. Also a discussion about hand-to-mouth travel, this narrative includes stories of the Mexican streets, its urban poor, indigenous culture and ancient wandering entertainer traditions.

eBook (ePUB)
ISBN: 9781841629032

Published:  25th Feb 2013
Edition:  1

About this book

The story opens in Chihuahua, North Mexico, with a chance meeting with a group of itinerant Mexican street performers. Entranced by their stories and free-roaming lifestyle, author Catriona Rainsford decides to go with them on what becomes a two-year, hand-to-mouth journey across Mexico, learning to live off nothing more than a few performance skills, initiative and the kindness of strangers.

Compelling, humorous, sometimes violent, and full of wonderful descriptions of life on the road, this is also a discussion of the morality of hand-to-mouth travel. Packed with stories of the characters she meets on the Mexican streets, the book offers an insight into the day-to-day experiences of Mexico’s urban poor. Above all, it is a tale of the struggle of Mexico’s youth to transcend the country’s current climate of corruption and violence and create a new identity for themselves, inspired by aspects of Mexico’s surviving indigenous cultures and the desire to make people smile in the most unprepossessing of places.

‘They were travelling malabaristas – itinerant circus performers who wandered the streets of Mexico, hitchhiking from town to town and surviving by whatever means they could. They saw themselves as a modern take on the ancient tradition of the wandering entertainer, taking their art to the people, and taking whatever the people were prepared to give them to help them on their way.’

About the Author

After travelling to India on leaving school, Catriona intended to make a life for herself in Asia until an injury forced her to return to the UK. A promise made at closing time in a Cambridge pub then took her to Mexico, where a chance meeting began her journey with Mexican street performers. Catriona is currently living in London while she studies for a degree in politics and anthropology. She continues to practice circus, talk to strange people on the street and speak Spanish in a strong Mexican accent.


‘A wild and extraordinary book…Highly recommended, but I’d rather read than live it.’

‘I wouldn’t be surprised if this fast-paced, vivid description of an otherwise closed world wins her another award’

‘Rainsford writes like an angel and there are lovely touches throughout the book…Beautifully writen account of a traumatised country’

Additional Information

Table of Contents

1. The Millionaires 1
2. The Disappeared 10
3. Aluminium Flowers 18
4. The Patron Saint of Lost Causes 27
5. Señor Talón 37
6. The Five Rules of Master 48
7. The Wheel of Fortune 61
8. The Missing Half 71
9. Wirikuta 81
10. Playing the Semáforos 96
11. La Migra 106
12. Deportation 119
13. Borderlands 126
14. Saint Death and the Ball Game 136
15. La Chaparrita 149
16. Topes 164
17. Welcome to Chihuahua 172
18. The Silent Zone 181
19. The Letter Z 189
20. A Delicate Equilibrium 199
21. The Layered City 208
22. Three Mornings 220
23. Barbed Wire and Scissors 236
24. The Sacred Mountain 246
25. The People Who Love you 259
26. Kinich’s Message 271

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