Thursday, May 25, 2006

El Palenque....

Despite already having purchased my $80 ticket, when last night rolled around I was seriously debating declining the affair. I don’t know what’s wrong with me; sometimes I just get moody and don’t want to do anything. But, I managed to somehow drag my ass in the shower and be ready by time Vero and her sister got to our house. At about 10PM, Keith oh so kindly drove us to the fair, which was about a half mile (hey, I was in heels, and it was dark!) and after walking around the huge fair area and seeing HUGE bulls, tiny ponies, a plethora of mechanical games and rides, lots of food, and purchasing a really cute blue straw cowboy hat, we finally made it to the palenque area.

We walked in, and I was impressed at the size of the place for a cock fight, and then again impressed at the smallness of the place for a concert. I guesstimate about 3000 people or so. For a big name person, that’s pretty intimate. We didn’t get the best of the best seats, but we were pretty damn close, only about 10 rows up from the floor. We started ordering our beers (seat side service, beer, food, tequila, brandy, whatever you wanted right to your chair! No lines!) and settled into watch the cock fights.

I really wanted to bet on one of the chickens, but for some reason the minimum bet at this place was $500 pesos – way to rich for my blood. Here’s how they took bets: The screens above the cock ring (hehehe) displayed the line for the upcoming fight. You could bet outright who would win (red side or green side) or take the points. I never really figured out how that worked. Anyway, the bookies stayed down in the ring area, and looked for people to signal that they wanted to bet. Then, they would throw a hallowed out tennis ball at you, from which you would withdraw your betting slip, make your bet, stuff both your slip and your money back in the ball and throw it back down. Then the bookie would throw the ball back up with your ticket. After the fight, if you won, you would find a person walking around and they would cash your ticket.

This was all pretty wild to watch. While the bets are being placed the chickens are in the ring “getting to know each other”. The owners stretch out the cocks and try to get them all riled up. Then, before the fight begins, they tie the razors on to their legs, as well as a band defining them as the red or green side. They then clear out all the miscellaneous people from the ring, and let the cocks go.

I must admit, it was a pretty impressive sight to see those birds flying around. And really, you can’t even tell they are killing each other until they stop and you notice that one bird doesn’t seem to be moving anymore. Or if you see a big chunk of feathers or bird meat flying through the air. Or if they happen to stop the fight for whatever reason and one rooster is bleeding through his mouth. The part I didn’t like is if the rooster wasn’t killed quickly. I really don’t like to see suffering. If it was a swift, quick death (i.e. either spinal cord sliced or neck broken) it was actually kind of fun to watch. They are brilliantly colored animals, and the crowd really gets into it – a pretty cool site to see.

Veronica said her brother Roberto’s roosters (he’s got a team of like, 30) fought at a fair in April, and they won! I asked what exactly do they win – she said a chicken that’s not dead. Apparently the rooster gets a nice meal and a night with a good lookin’ Polla (girl chicken)…..and I would suppose that they get some cash too, which is less important to the rooster – he’s just in it for the pride.

In between fights they sold bingo cards, and since the betting was too rich for me I figured I’d get my wagering fix in by participating in that. I love bingo. When I would come home to visit my family I would take Grandma to bingo on Saturday nights. It was a good bonding time for us! Anyway, the pots were like $1500, $3000 and the final cover all was a $5000 peso prize. I didn’t win any, but the chick two rows in front of us won the big one, so I decided I am a winner by association.

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