Nicaragua culture

Trip Start Jul 21, 2009
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Trip End Apr 28, 2010


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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thanks to an early start, we found ourselves in Leon late on Sunday morning. This gave us some time to set out and begin to explore the town before our first activity. Leon is the former capital of Nicaragua, and it´s a very pretty, old, colonial town. Although there´s clearly more tourism here than in El Salvador, it´s still fairly non-touristy. After walking around the town a bit, we decided to sign up for a tour that had been recommended by another traveler.

This particular tour is a visit to a Gallera, or a rooster fight, in one of the ¨suburbs¨ of Leon. On Sunday afternoons, one family in the neighborhood organizes the event, and people (primarily men) from around the neighborhood come to either fight their roosters or to bet on other roosters. The tour included information over the tradition, the training of the roosters, the rules, the betting and the actual fight itself.

The roosters are ´trained´ by taking them for walks and practice fights.  In training, the roosters actually wear boxing gloves to cover their claws, so as not to hurt each other, but during the fight these are removed.  The actual fighting involves an agreement between the two owners over the rules, the referees, the weights of the roosters, and several other things.  A small ring is set up, and surrounded by bleachers (it´s a small community event, so the bleachers are only three rows deep).  The roosters fight, but only until one ´gives up´ (as defined in a prior agreement) and not until one is dead or mortally injured.  A time limit is set so that an even match is declared a draw.  In this particular community, the bets are fairly small (fans can bet the equivalent of 1, 2 or 5 dollars, the owners can bet anywhere from 15 to 25 dollars against the other owner).  For most people, this is considered a relaxing Sunday afternoon activity.  There are also a variety of other locations around the area, varying from other small locations such as this, up to ´professional´ arenas, where the bets go up as high as $7500 US dollars. 

For me, the afternoon confirmed that I´m not a fan of fighting any animals for sport, but it was definately an interesting experience. As we´ve found in many places lately, the people were friendly and accepting, and nobody seemed concerned by the group of gringos who would have clearly been otherwise out of place at the event.  As part of the tour we were on, John was even able to have the chance to watch one match from inside the ring, beside the owner of the complex.  In all, we saw about 6-8 fights, but we left before the evening was over.  According to the owner, the event can last anywhere from three to nine hours, depending on the number of roosters on a given day.
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