Thursday, October 8, 2009

29th September

After breakfast this morning we went to see a motocross race. The course was set up some distance from town, so we took a mototaxi partway and then hiked another mile. We were one small part of the exodus from town. This was the first time motocross has come to Santa Cruz and it seemed like everyone wanted to see it. There were three races; starting with some very young kids and the other two races were run by older kids/adults but differentiated by the size of the bike's engine.

After lunch the first of three bull fighting events took place. There are three matadors; one from Peru, one from Mexico and one from Venezuela. They will compete for top honors over the three days. Before the actual bull fighting, there was an exhibition of marinara dancers and folk dances by school kids in the region. The costumes are so festive with bright colors and elaborate embroidery.

After the first two matadors, I began wondering what the attraction was. The stands were overflowing with spectators, but I didn't get the draw. Very shortly after the bull ran into the ring and the matador and his assistants had teased him, a large draft horse came in looking like a medieval horse in a lance competition; his belly, legs and body were wrapped in rubber and draped over that were heavy blankets like the ones we use in moving furniture. The horses eyes were covered and I don't hink he could see anything. The rider has a lance that he jabs into the bull's upper back, presumably to weaken the bull. Then the matador teases the bull with his cape with much posturing and showmanship. The basic idea is to get as close to the bull as possible and then have the bull chase the cape while the matador stands still. Once the bull passes, the matador will reposition himself for another pass. At some point, the matador, or one of his assistans will stab the bull with the picadillos. Generally there are two sets put in to further weaken the bull. The picadillos are about 24"long, brightly decorated with a viscious barbed point at one end. The matador returns with his cape and teases him further; weakening him further. When the matador judges the time to be right, he uses a sword to hopefully deliver the death blow. The best strike would into the animal's heart. Once the strike is made, the matador's assistants, two or three at a time, tease the bull with their capes hoping the bull with collapse. Once he has collapsed, another stab is made into the brain to finish him off quickly. If it's a good fight with the cape, style, crowd appeal and a quick kill, the matador may be rewarded by being given the ears cut from the bull. A lesser performance may earn the matador only one ear, or nothing. A great performance might earn the matador the two ears and the tail.

The first performances were not what I had expected. The matadors didn't stand while the bull passed and often just ran away. The kills were long and drawn out whilte the bull suffered. No great attraction.

The third matador from Peru, was very young but is very famous in Peru. He is know as a "rock star". He came into the ring with tons of confidence and very smooth moves. He was definitely entertaining without beign outrageously pompous and arrogant. His kill was clean and quick. He was awarded two ears and was carried around the ring on someone's shoulders; the champion for this night's performances.

Putting aside the cruelty of it all, (no small thing), if it was performed well, it was entertaining.

We stayed in the stadium to let the crowd dispurse and were soon drawn into a group drinking beer. We probably stayed and talked for a couple of hours.

For dinner we met Tony and Franco, two brothers from the village that now live in the US. Tony manages a hotel in South Beach, Florida. Franco is a graduate student in Texas studying diplomacy.

Then after dinner we went to the dance. The organizing committee had hired a band from Trujillo for this event. It was very loud and well attended. And as is typical in Peru, you don't stay standing around watching. They will draw you onto the dance floor in not time. Small groups fromed around cases of beer and most everyone danced and drank until the wee hours of the morning. Many stayed until 5 or 5:30 in the morning. We wimped out at about 1:00.

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