15 July 2008

Cock- and bull-fights.

I was just looking back at my previous e-mails and realized that I entered the country code wrong for my phone number, giving 001... which is the US. So here goes another try:

011-593-9-575-8041

That... should do it.

As far as what´s been going on, not much. Two days ago we started teaching the students how to do excavations, lay out units, select an area to dig, draw maps and catalog artifacts. My team is great overall, but the two lovebirds I mentioned from the hike had an issue yesterday when the fella found out the lady has a boyfriend back home. He sat and drank in his room listening to Purple Rain. He´s over it now, though, and is in high spirits once again.

My team´s unit started out with finding some plastic tubing [not very exciting], continued with finding a one sucre coin from 1978 [more exciting], and finished yesterday afternoon and this morning with lots of charcoal and animal bones and a fire pit made of mud and bricks. Ours was also the only unit in the area with red soil, which may or may not be partly a result of the burning that went on there. These training sites are being done at the Hacienda Guachala, and because of this they are likely from the colonial period and later. We didn´t find some ancient Inka cooking pit, but it is still neat and great for the students.

Last night the town of Cangahua officially invited the project staff and students to a cock fight being held in the Casa del Pueblo. Some students declined to go citing animal cruelty or sour stomachs, but I didn´t want to offend my hosts. Several of us were a bit nervous, not especially keen on seeing a rooster die in a fight, but we went anyway. We waited for 3 hours after showing up 2 hours late [welcome to Ecuador time!], watching perplexedly as 15 tiny Ecuadorian men waved roosters around in the air, argued with each other and asked one of our tallest gringos to change a light bulb.

Eventually, they settled on two contestants that were of similar size, taped razors onto their talons and let them loose. One rooster weighed more than the other, so the agreement was that if the fight lasted 15 minutes it would be declared a draw.

The fight commenced, hats were thrown and curses were shouted. The contestants jumped around and flapped their wings for several minutes, and after about 13 minutes one succumbed and put its head down, and the victor strutted around, knowing himself to be the cock of the walk. But the clock kept running, and when 15 minutes were up and one of the roosters was not dead, the judge declared the fight a draw and nobody won any money. A huge argument followed, yelling and throwing things, and I left because it was about midnight and I had to be up for breakfast at 7.

This weekend was Cangahua's Inti Raymi festival, the ancient festival of the summer solstice that lasts for weeks around these parts. The plaza fills with dancers, there are parades filled with local bands and dance groups and rose plantation representatives, and our project even had a spot in the parade. And, of course, there are the bullfights. I may have talked about these bullfights with you before, but in case you aren't familiar, these puebloan bullfights are not quite what you'd expect if you're familiar with the Spanish or Mexican version. Around here, anyone in town drunk enough to brave the beast hops into the bull ring with a cape or t-shirt or rag and runs away from the raging bull let loose into the ring. Another important fact: the bulls are not killed. ...generally. They gather several bulls from the country side, bring them down in a truck, and let one out at a time. When one bull gets tired, they wrangle it and let a new one out.

Shoot, I can't finish now. Have to go do work. But I will finish sometime, I promise, and I'll talk to you all soon.

1 comment:

Sylvia said...

Wow, who came up with cockfighting? I didn't realize they equipped them with razors; I thought it was just claws. It sounds so sad to watch...