Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cartoon 7: La Sema

La sema= El semáforo= The Traffic Light.

Tuesday morning I earned money jumping rope in front of five lanes of traffic as they waited for the light to change.  (I hurt my shoulder a little bit the day before so I couldn't do my usually speciality: acrobalance) My traveling partner Joaquín has been earning money doing circus in traffic lights for about five years and this week, I was inaugurated...

Here's how it went... Joaquín, Daniel and I went out at about 7 a.m. to a traffic light that takes a little while to change.  We warmed up a bit and then we were off. As soon as the light turned red, I would run out into the cross walk and spin and twirl and try to make eye contact with each person in their car. Then I would throw the focus to Joaquín and Daniel who would enter juggling.  Next we would all dance around a bit, each of them juggling and me jumping rope until we found ourselves in a triangle formation.  Then they would start passing the clubs back and forth and I would run through the middle of the flying clubs without messing up the pattern (Okay well sometimes I messed up the pattern).  Then I would run into the middle of the pattern and stop and they would juggle around me.  Then I would run out and pose and they would do some big finale trick and TADA!  Then you walk through the cars and see if anyone feels inspired to give you a peso or two.  Rinse and Repeat for three hours.   And don't forget to smile!  Who would have ever thunk that I would get paid to jump rope??

Okay lets go a little deeper...
As we worked, underneath my skin was a roller coaster of adrenaline, sadness, frustration, excitement, disappointment, determination, and enthusiasm.  The sun beats down and you inhale so much contamination that your boogars are gray afterward.  And thoughts and questions flew through my mind: I bared my soul (performance is always that type of experience for me) for 2 pesos? Whatt?!! What am I doing? I have too much to loose to mess around and get hit by a car.  My heart was filled looking into the eyes of Joaquín and Daniel as we faced this monster of a city on its own territory, baring our teeth in the form of a smile...                     

Immediately after we finished our days work I basically collapsed into the van in tears.  Joaquín and Daniel enveloped me in their arms and we sat.  I cried because I have other options for work but so many people don't. I cried because the people in traffic avert their eyes, they play telephone call, they won't look or laugh with you so they don't have to give you a peso when really even just a friendly face would have been enough for me.  I cried because I have averted my own eyes so many times. 

But mostly I cried because I felt like I was risking so much.  So many people who have poured their love and support in me.  So many people who are sharing this trip with me.  So many people who have invested their hard work and creativity into this trip.  I do not forget this as I make my decisions.  I will not waste that on taking unwise risks.  Don't worry mama luna, working in the traffic lights is not something I plan on doing often... 

P.S. Next week I will be in the Lacandona Jungle in Chiapas (the home of the Zapatista Movement) giving our first workshops to youth in a clown convention!! Unfortunately this means I will not have access to the internet so my next cartoon will have to wait a just bit...

P.S.S. A huge huge thanks to Faithy, Kay, and Donald whose super thoughtful and generous financial collaboration is putting gas in the van to take us to the workshops in Chiapas!! Thank you so so so much! You guys made it possible for us to spend less time in la Sema this week and focus on preparing really powerful workshops for the yoots [youth ;)]!


  1. So insightful. I'm amazed at your bravery. Experiencing what street performers in Mexico City go through every day must have been enlightening. Thanks for your posts because I am not brave enough to do what you are doing but by reading them it opens up my mind and heart. Buena suerte en Chiapas!

  2. "You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." - Kahlil Gibran

  3. oh Bear i am crying right now. you blow my mind thoroughly!! thank you for sharing all of this with us- for baring your teeth with a smile :) i love you n am there with you every.step.of.the.way.

  4. ...continue being a spark for all humanity to see.

  5. My peoples! Honestly, like I said, after this experience I wondered what the health I was doing but your responses make this worth it on a whole nother level.

    Carlos welcome yupi!!!!! im so glad to know you are with me! I cant wait to hear your perspectives!

    Jose of course your brave enough! Its all about priorities. This is what seems important to me right now, and I think we all do what we think is important. If you ever think its important for you to jump rope in front of a bagillion strangers in cars Im sure you would do it hehe

    Chels I feel you here! You taught me to take the stage girl!

  6. You are amazing!!! Keep it up! :)