By Kyle Petersen

Guillermo de la Kausa

Guillermo de la Kausa

Several weeks ago I wrote a piece titled Street Juggling in Latin America. While researching the article, I came across website of a street performer named Guillermo de la Kausa. A native of Peru, Guillermo makes his living traveling the cities of Latin America juggling under traffic lights. Guillermo also videotapes and photographs the other street performers he encounters and posts their videos on his YouTube page. Guillermo was gracious enough to talk with me about his life, his experiences and the reality for street performers in Latin America.

Kyle: Where are you from, how old are you, and how many years have you been juggling?

Guillermo: I am from Latin America. Lima, Peru, to be exact. I’ve been traveling for six years juggling, and I’m 30-years-old.

Kyle: Can you describe a typical day in the life of a street juggler?

Guillermo: The traffic lights of Latin America are very competitive. Many people make their living at the the traffic light, which we all share. I like to get there early in the morning and start working. By the time the street vendors arrive in the afternoon, I’ve already made a little bit of money and I leave the traffic light to them so that they can earn their living. The weekdays at the traffic light the drivers live very quickly. The weekends are more peaceful, the people are more relaxed and go out with their family. They watch us juggle with attention and admiration. You can usually make more money on the weekends. Remember: when times get tough, put on a smile and keep juggling.

Kyle: You mentioned that you like cigar box juggling. What are your favorite props?

Guillermo: Yes, I I love cigar boxes and I perform with them under the traffic lights. I juggle a little bit of everything. The props I like most are: knives, cigar boxes and devil sticks.

Kyle: What are your favorite tricks?

Guillermo: I don’t know the name of my tricks, I do what comes naturally to me. I learned to juggle in the street, not in a school. We perfect our tricks watching other jugglers. I juggle for common people, working people that don’t have knowledge about juggling. I don’t juggle for juggler or juggling critics; I juggle for the people. The people enjoy it when I practice my art.

Kyle: You’ve traveled and worked in different countries in Latin America. Which countries have you visited? Which cities are your favorite?

Guillermo: Traveling is very natural for me. I know several different countries: Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, all of Peru. My favorite place is a place where I feel comfortable doing the things I love.The places I’ve seen are beautiful. In every city there is good and bad. I would say that there is no such thing as an ideal city.

Kyle: You mentioned that it can be dangerous to work in the street, and that you’ve been robbed. What is it like working on the streets?

Guillermo: The street is very exciting; there is a little of everything. It is also very difficult. Juggling at the traffic light I was hit by a motorcycle. It was very painful and I couldn’t juggle for a while. When you juggle and you leave your things in a backpack next to the traffic light, they will steal your belongings if you’re not careful. This has happened to me and my friends throughout the years. In Lima, Peru the municipal police don’t let you work. They took my props and my friend tried to resist and they beat him. When you travel from one city to another you have to look for cheep motels to reduce costs. There are always inexpensive hotels. There’s always a place to sleep, at the very least you can sleep in a church or an abandoned school; I’ve learned this from the other jugglers I’ve met.

Kyle: You’ve written and recorded a lot about street juggling in Latin America. What is your goal in documenting street jugglers? Why did you decide to do this?

Guillermo: I am a juggler, and I am involved with and committed to what I love. Some years ago I photographed a fellow juggler in the street. The photos were great; these photos gave him life. I put together some money and bought a video camera so that the jugglers on the street could express their art through the images I recorded. I always record artists on the street who can’t afford to buy a camera of their own. Yes, I have goals, dreams and aspirations. One day I want to make a movie about jugglers in Latin America and because of this I am in Buenos Aires studying a cinematography course to perfect my art. I hope all goes well; obstacles always pop up when you’re in a foreign country.

(Continued below)

Guillermo in action

Kyle: How do you think street juggling in Latin America is different from street juggling in the US?

Guillermo: I don’t know street juggling culture in your country but I know that there are many excellent jugglers. In Latin America, many people juggle out of necessity. They are children or fathers that juggle to bring home some rice and beans. I’ll tell you that in the city of Quito, Ecuador, at a traffic light I found some African children from Guyaquil without shoes because they were poor. Their feet were all cut up. They juggled three home-made juggling balls at the traffic light and collected money to by bread and milk to bring to their younger siblings. In Peru I met young people that juggled in their school uniform until midday and from there they ran to school with the money to buy a notebook. In Colombia some husbands juggled and did pantomime while their wives would collect the money and go to the market to buy food for their children. This is the reality for Latin American jugglers.

Kyle: Guillermo, thank you so much for your time. Good luck with your travels, and if you’re ever in New York, please stop by and say hello.

Guillermo: Thank you my friend, good luck!

Editor’s note: interview was conducted via email in Spanish and translated by the editor to English. Watch Guillermo performing below:

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