Today wrapped up the anniversary celebration of Ollantaytambo. The celebration initially started on Thursday with a party in the streets of a local neighborhood, which was a celebration of the newly paved streets. I didn’t join too much in this fiesta, but I walked by and saw some live music playing with some people dancing in the street.
The next evening was the big kickoff to the weekend with live bands playing all night in the plaza with food vendors, beer, and enough people to pretty much fill up the square. I went up with my host family to enjoy the evening and was surprised by the amount of people here. I stayed until about 11:30 before I was exhausted, but supposedly the music went all night until 5am. How is that for some late night music.
On Saturday, there was a parade that lasted about 4 hours total. Participants included all of the surrounding schools in the area (and the kids wore their school uniforms) and many area organizations (for example, construction workers, hotels, etc). As always, cool to see the people in their traditional dresses and I was able to snap a few nice pictures. During the parade, I ate some of the traditional trout with potatoes and corn. Trout here is extremely popular during special events and is always served. During the parade, I also went up a bit on the mountain overlooking the town to get a few more pictures and to watch from a distance, since crowds can get kind of old.
A bit later was the cockfighting. This is something I was pretty excited about since I’d never seen one before, even on TV. We eventually found the place, which was in a local guy’s farm tucked back in between some buildings. This is pretty much how it all works: people bring out their roosters, they tie on a very sharp knife on the back of one leg of each rooster, bring the roosters to the middle and let them go at it for a second (kind of like a warmup I think), let everyone place their bets, and finally let the roosters free to fight. Some of the fights lasted as little as 20 seconds, while others lasted 10 minutes since the roosters just weren’t feeling the fighting. While watching them prepare the roosters for a fight, I noticed my host brother was holding a rooster. A few minutes passed, and I realized “This is one of the roosters that woke me up at 5am every day!” Unfortunately, this rooster lost its match and was a bloody mess afterwards, but I believe it survived. My host brother brought 4 of the roosters to fight, but I think only had time for the 1 to fight. Of course, each fight had plenty of betting. After one cockfight, a human fight almost broke out; apparently one guy bet 50 soles, lost, and then said he didn’t have 50 soles. I think he deserved what he got.
Later in the evening, there was more music in the plaza. However, the rain started coming down pretty hard around 7pm and never stopped. I didn’t have it in me to try to dance in the rain this night, so I ended up staying in. I heard, though, that the music continued until 4am again this night.
Finally, on Sunday was the bullfight. We heard it was to start at 2 or 3pm, so we got there about 2:30 to get a seat in the small outdoor stadium. Since we’re in Peru, naturally it didn’t start until 4pm or so. But it was worth the wait. The small stadium was full of people, and finally the matadors, a band, and other people entered the ring. After making a circle around the ring, the people and band found their seats and the matadors prepared.
The bullfight by far exceeded my expectations. I don’t know why, but I didn’t really expect a lot from it. But when you’re there watching these guys maneuver around these huge bulls, it is quite exhilarating. All awhile with the band playing “Fight”songs. They started with smaller bulls at first with smaller horns, but by the end, the bulls were huge with horns about a foot long. The most exhilarating part is that one false move by the matador and this bull is going to have its way. The most entertaining part (and also most nerve racking) was when drunk guys jumped down from the stands to try their luck. Some were better than others, some were drunker than others. One guy was absolutely drunk and was stupid enough to try his luck (keep in mind that he was already having trouble walking). First try, he gets pushed up on top of the bull and falls to the ground. Second try, he’s running away and gets trampled by the bull. He’s already bleeding but wants more. The matador is telling him to get out, but the guy starts to fight the matador (smart guy, right?). The guy’s 10 year old daughter jumps into the ring to try to argue with the matador also. At this time, the crowd was a bit nervous. Finally, the police come and escort the guy out (as he’s also trying to push the police away). We could finally breathe a sigh of relief that we weren’t going to see a bull rip apart this guy.
Overall, it was extremely entertaining to see this. In a way, it’s sad to see them torment the bulls. But for this reason, it’s even more entertaining to see the bull get its revenge (especially on drunk guys). This ended the weekend of festivities. However, apparently there are two more days of festivals this week. Tuesday is the day of the Saints, so there should be more fiestas in the towns. Wednesday is the day of the Dead, so people spend the day drinking beer and chicha in the cemeteries to remember the ones they’ve lost. Nice idea for the holiday, right?! Only in Peru!