A guest post by Loren Whisenhunt,
I am on my second visit to Peru, Iquitos and the Amazones, on my previous visit I had heard of the possibility of cock fights being held in Iquitos, but just didn’t have the time to check it out. This story is not for the PETA members, you might want to hit the escape button now if you are of that persuasion.
After laying around all day at my hotel with a queasy stomach I was feeling pretty good by night. I went to the plaza to see if I might find Milagros or her cousin Diana a couple of kids/street vendors that I had got to know three years previously. There was no sign of them so I visited with my artesian friends on the Boulevard and mentioned that I wanted to go to the cock fights. My newest buddy is about 5‘6“ half black Peruano wearing a pair of cut off overalls, one strap holding them up, tattoos all over his body, multiple piercings on his face, gets excited and says he wants to go, he’s never been. We ask a motocarro driver and there are matches tonight near the soccer stadium. S2 motocarro ride and we are there, no sign, just a dimly lit hallway down an alleyway to the entrance. There is a lady at a small wooden table that sells the entrance tickets S5, but the coliseo de gallos doesn’t start until 9:00. A quick ride back to the Boulevard and wait at a restaurant/bar. I get to buy the cerveza of course while we wait and visit with a couple from Australia and Canada that had just arrived in Iquitos. They are going to do the reverse trek that I did coming in, back up river Iquitos to Yurimaguas and over the Andes to Lima.
Nine o’clock arrives and we are back to the arena, pay our S5 entrada and enter an open air courtyard with cages of cocks everywhere, there are also permanent cages locker style on the wall. The arena is a padded enclosure about two foot tall and maybe 10′ across with a circle of bleachers six tiers high around the arena. Hardly anyone is in the arena they are all milling about visiting and watching the cocks being weighed in. The first round of twenty is about to begin. We take a bleacher seat on the first level for a good view of the fights and perfect place to take pictures. Folks we are really off the tourist route here, mi amigo and I are defiantly the odd ones here. There were lots of well dressed Peruanos down to mi amigo in his short overalls.
The cocks have their natural spurs removed except for about 1/4“, a metal cap is then taped over the spur nub then a metal cap much like a dental crown with a sharpend fish bone is attached to the cap with glue and more tape, a few strokes of a sharpener and the match is ready to begin. There is a judge that sits in a box seat to over see the match. The owners hold their cocks and tease them just out of range of their opponent. By this time they are really pissed and ready to fight. The first round was sort of the beginner fight it went a full eight minute round without a real decision. Both lost a lot of feathers, but no deadly injury, not sure how the winner was determined by the judge, but money changed hands with no argument from the bettors.
Next was the real professional cocks, money is being waved all over the arena, I manage to put S20 on a fine looking black cock which was the favorite, the match lasted six minutes and the opponent got a lucky shot to the black cocks head with his fish bone spur and the match was over, gallo negro went down with hardly a flop of the wings and I am down S20. Next match I changes colors gallo rojo, S20 again, my luck this time goes until around seven minutes and gallo rojo is destined for chicken soup! I am S40 in the hole now. Ok, now it gets serious two gallo negros, one with white on his back, a good sign I think, S20 otro ves, about five minutes and gallo negro con blanco is chicken nuggets.
My S20 bets were just peanuts compared to the Soles being wagered, coliseo de gallos is a rich Peruano’s sport. The cock owners spend hundreds and sometime thousands of Soles for good fighting cocks. It’s a lot like horse racing except when you lose at horse racing you still have your horse to race another day! We watch one more round I have lost sufficient dinero and it’s almost 11:00 so we go back to the Boulevard, having experienced something very few gringos get to do.
Lunch today was at a little restaurante cerca mi hotel. Menu, sopa de pollo, pollo ala parrilla, arroz, frijoles ensalada, refresco maracuya, hum, wonder if the restaurant has a connection to the coliseo de gallos?
Cockfighting At The Coliseo de Gallos, Iquitos Peru
Guest post by Loren Whisenhunt
Bill Grimes wrote the popular article, You Could Love Iquitos Peru. Check it out…