Running away with the circus

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Jo Emmers ran away with the circus fourteen years ago.  He has been at it ever since.  He is a performer of all kinds– a comedian, acrobat, puppeteer, vocalist, and a dramatist.  He, like others in the circus, are responsible for all aspects of the operation, both on stage and off.  Circus Ronaldo has been in existence for over forty years, with a familial history even more storied, which now includes current members that count six generations of circus performance.  The circus travels from city to city, in a caravan consisting of everything needed for their performances.

Jo caught us filling our water bottles in the park.  He wandered over to have a chat about traveling by bike, as he says he also enjoys riding and traveling by bike.  Shortly, he invites us to stay for the show.  And for a simple meal after the show. And for the night, in the back of the circus’ box truck.  Jo rides a nearly original Raleigh three-speed bicycle with a pair of modern canvas panniers.  The bike features an original sidewall dynamo and lighting (which works!), and a small leather tool bag attached to the saddle that suggests many useful years.  I parted with an official pin from the Society of Three Speeds, and suggested that he may be interested in membership.  Jo is one of the nicest people we have ever met, willing to offer anything to make our day better.  There aren’t words for the kindness that Jo exudes, but he inspires us to keep smiling and to remember to be kind– simple, but profound.  Thanks Jo!

Out of the woods and into the city of Lier.  Each city offers new sights, a different history and new opportunities.

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While filling water bottles in the park, Jo invites us to the circus.  The show is sold out, but he offers to sneak us in the back.  First, he shows us around.

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The tent is divided in half– one half serves as an entrance and a bar, with standing room.

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The other half presents an ornate, and portable stage.

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We break for dinner before the show.  After a week of rain, skies finally clear.

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Dressed as an Italian bartender, Jo serves drinks and hustles some extra business from behind the bar.  Below, he is dancing atop the bar and singing in Italian.

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Amaretto liqueur, per favore.

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Most people ride bikes to the show.  Belgium is not quite like the Netherlands, although it is still home to millions of bicycles and daily riders.

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Above all, the show is a comedy, while acrobatics, marionettes and drama are involved.

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As the show ends, we embark upon an evening ride to explore the city.

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We sleep in the circus’ box truck for the night which keeps us dry without the hassle of a tent.

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In the morning, croissant et café au lait.

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We say goodbye in the morning.  Just across the street, we are back on the route, currently riding GR12 towards Bruxelles.  The GR12 connects Amsterdam, Bruxelles, and Paris.

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Within a few minutes, we are out of the city once again.

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5 thoughts on “Running away with the circus

  1. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for circus people. I worked on a large three ring circus in the US for a year, and although it was objectively a terrible job, the people, at times, really made it worth the experience.

  2. Brilliant, loving all your European posts and all your old ones too. Hope the weather picks up for you.

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