Cock Fights and Riots Spice Up the Days

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You never know what a day will bring you. When I left Cuzco the day wore on like any other with long climbs and long descents. Traversing the Andes proved to be alot of hard work. At the end of the day I had been ascending for about 4 hours when I arrived in the small town of Curahausi with a flat tire when I got an unusual invite.

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I´d like to say it´s enjoyable to coast for 30 miles through narrow valleys watching the foliage change from highland scrub to lush green with cacti and palm trees. That in and of itself is fun indeed…but of course it´s not in and of itself. Every time I descend for over an hour I pray it will end, and lessen the elevation I will inevitably have to climb again.

I want to make it clear that once you get into the Andes its not a nice rolling ride until you descend on the coast. It is a constant steep rise up one mountain side followed by a steep fall into a valley on the other side. Each time thousands of feet are gained and lost. You kind of have to go mentally numb when you finally stop coasting at 30mph and have to start huffing and puffing uphill at 3mph.

When I nearly walked into Curahuasi I stopped at the first roadside stand for a coke. There were two men there, a boy, and the woman who ran the counter. I chatted it up with the men when they asked if there were roosters in the US. Then they asked if we have cock fights. Nope, it´s illegal anyway, I told them.

Well it was my lucky day for in just 45 minutes Curahuasi was hosting a cock fighting extravaganza with competitors from all over this part of Peru. They told me to head over to the stadium to see the show.

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There were maybe 20-30 fights lined up and taking place in this arena made just for cock fights. The birds would come out tended to by their owners and briefly displayed for the crowd. Then large barbs were tied to one leg of the bird while the crowd made bets amongst themselves based on which bird seemed stronger when displayed (usually between 20-100 Soles, divide by 3 for dollars).

When the birds were ready the owners would briefly hold them close enough so they could peck each other and get riled up. Then they were placed on the ground about 4 feet from each other and everyone was made to sit down so as not to obstruct anyone’s view (the host made sure everyone was sitting still and the band was quiet before a fight could start).

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Sometimes the birds would just peck around on the ground and ignore each other until forced together. Once the fights began they were over quick, usually in less than a minute. A bird would fall to the ground with its feather bright red with blood and that was the end. The owners took the birds away and the crowd went back to chatting and drinking beer. To be honest there wasn´t much enthusiasm about the matches. On TV people always shout and shake fists full of money at the cage. I wanted to get the crowd to show a little more pizazz. I watched a few fights, had a chicken and rice lunch (I breiefly wondered if I was eating the losers), and took off once the rain rolled in for the night. I had to prepare for more climbing the next day.

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At times I´d take a minute to look back at what I had been climbing all day. Sometimes it looked more like a mini-golf course than a road, with pavement going in every direction. Leaving Curahuasi I would climb for three hours and still see perfectly where I had started the day´s ride. Once I got to the top I would take a minute to eat something and dress for the long cold descent. The pass before the city of Abancay took me a total of 7 hours to climb, four hours the day prior and three the following day.

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Usually the drop from a pass is somewhat treacherous with hairpin turns, rockfall, rain, and traffic. As I fell into Abancay I noticed quite a few hazards in the road. The further I got the less they seemed to be from natural causes. Eventually I was certain I was headed into some sort of trouble in this city.

The streets were filled with broken glass, smoldering tires, trashed cars, and lots of broken glass. Great, I am wet and exhausted and now I am in a war zone… I don´t want to be repairing flat tires from all this glass damnit (this would prove to be quite a problem later on).

Every window in the city courthouse was completely smashed and laying on the sidewalk. Military police, federal police, and city police were lining the streets in full riot gear with shields and machine guns. Almost everything was closed with the protecting metal doors pulled tight over store fronts and restaurants. This was Paro… a district wide protest for better wages and human rights. Signs were posted in front of businesses stating “Closed for Paro.”

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I rolled up and down the streets with glass crunching underneath nodding hello to the various armed personnel. I found a Chifa, or Chinese restaurant, with the metal doors closed only halfway down. People were eating inside so I climbed under and had an interesting Peruvian take on Chinese food.

Strong rains had forced everyone, even the police, inside by nightfall at the city was a ghost town. I enjoyed the surprises at the end of each day.  Something completely unexpected had spiced up otherwise arduous days behind the handlebars.

6 Responses to “Cock Fights and Riots Spice Up the Days”
  1. Interesting places and events! A cock fight and riot in the same day! I don’t know where else you could see that? Peru seems totally different than Brazil. Stay well and safe.

    by Dad
    on 27. Nov, 2009

  2. Please boycott the cockfights. Thank you.

    by kathy
    on 28. Nov, 2009

  3. good update…

    by John K.
    on 29. Nov, 2009

  4. Your journey has been a good catalyst for juxtaposing some cultural differences between North and South America, especially with the social structure and strife – at times things look familiar and similar to how life is up here, and at others, still showing that there is work to be done in quality of life is progressive, though the glass in our streets is from people breaking in cars more often then rioting in the streets.

    by Ken
    on 01. Dec, 2009

  5. yes there are cock fights and game roosters in the us i know because i have done it so get your facts straight!!!!!!!!!!

    by dmn 283
    on 16. Aug, 2011

  6. Congratulations…. you’re still an idiot.

    by Doug
    on 18. Aug, 2011

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