Monday, June 29, 2009

The Weekend Fiesta: Cockfights, Bombs, and Sports OH MY!

This past weekend I stayed in San Pedro, and I am pretty happy with that decision. This weekend was a festival celebrating the birthday of the town, and also the time in which they crown the Queen of the pueblo (Miss America, Guatemalan style). The festival ran all throughout the weekend with many activities. Below are three of the most memorable that I need to share with you.


On Saturday everyone in the town takes to the streets for the parade put on by all the regions of Lake Atitlan (in Spanish parade is spelled desfile). Each school entered there band and a float into the parade. The floats consisted of a small display on the back of a pick-up truck. Usually that display was a little girl throwing candy into the crowd. One candy distribution ended in a brawl between little boys on the street. A policeman had to break it up. The video below speaks better than any words I could describe about this parade. The video is pretty long, but the most interesting part is with the fireworks. Fireworks are set off here like mail is delivered on a week day. Last night, fireworks were set of consistently the whole night. They are set off in the center of town, and since my house is directly at the center, I got no sleep. It would be one thing if the fireworks were the type they shoot off when Ken Griffey Jr. hits a homerun, but of course not. Guatemalan fireworks have no color, only sound. They do not call them fireworks; they call them “bombas,” bombs. Rightfully so as every night I go to bed I feel like I am at WAR! They will slow down when the festival ends, but they will not stop. Anyway, in my video you will see a man walk out into the middle of the parade standing proud with his bomba. He is about ready to light off this bomb, but the location he has selected for this bomb to shoot up into the air is right where I would call telephone pole central. If he set this off at this location it would be like the end of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; they escape through the window tower, but not without breaking the glass. Finally, all the women in the crowd start whistling (signal for something bad) and yelling at him to move. He finally moves the location. I follow him in the video for a while. Safe to say that in the end Charlie gets the factory and all the chocolate safely. (Internet kept cutting out where I am to upload the video, so I put a picture of the parade for now. You can see in this picture the telephone pole wires I am talking about).


Somebody back in the United States please call Michael Vick and tell him I found a sport that he can play, and it’s legal. Saturday afternoon two of the older boys in my family took me to a cockfight. The event was held in the same place that the kids play indoor soccer. Admission was $1 to sit in the stands, and 2$ to sit around the ring. I bought courtside tickets.

The event was sponsored by the leading Guatemalan beer producer, Gallo, which in Spanish means rooster. There were ten fights, the same amount of races at horse race with about 15 minutes of preparation before post. Preparation includes “the weigh-in.” The roosters strip down to their underwear and are placed onto scales to make sure that there is not outright advantage (see picture below).

After the weigh-in, the manager puts on its gloves. By gloves I mean gives the rooster its weapon. The owner will strap on a Swiss army size knife to the right leg of the rooster. From my experience the rooster does not know how to use the knife, but I guess the owner is hoping that the knife will act like Aladdin’s magic carpet and fly. As they bring the birds into the ring people begin to stand and cheer for their “team.” Before the first bell the referee brings out the heater. The heater is a rooster that comes out to warm up the each cock. They let the bird get some punches in, and they also hold it while the heater takes some pecks at the bird, to get him angry. Each fight goes three rounds, and if one bird is struggling you will not see Kramer jump into the ring and throw in the white flag to protect “Little Yerry Seinfield” (if you have seen that episode). Directly after the end of each fight, the owners approach and exchange money to the winner. I have left out the gore and action, but if you are into that part of Guatemalan culture, please email me.


That night we went to the basketball game to see San Pedro play Guatemala City. It is hard for me to explain exactly what this league is, but it is basically the Lakers of my city. The San Pedro team was had yellow uniforms and was sponsored by Banrural, the Development Bank of San Pedro. Not one player looked to be over six feet tall, and they were much younger then the other team. The Guatemala City team, wearing green jerseys, are sponsored by And1 and have players over 6’5’’ tall. They also had a few guys that looked over the age of 40 and a few guys that were not even Guatemalan.

The game was played on the one court in the town, which is outdoors. It had just rained, of course, and the court was wet. It was a pretty sad sighting for San Pedro. They got dominated down low. Both teams ran a 2X3 zone, and the wetness of the court seemed to add another defender. There were about 500 people in attendance that all stood around the sides of the court. The announcer talked during the whole game and half of the time was not even talking about the actual game. The half-time show was a band that played much louder music then they needed to be. And you wouldn’t believe it unless you saw it, but when the second half began the band kept playing. I stayed for about eight minutes into the second half, and because the band did not stop I left. Overall the game was quite a show. The most amusing part was the few times when a homeless dog from the town ran out onto the court and not one person even flinched. They just kept playing and within a minute or two the dog went back into the locker room I guess.


  1. Belcher, you should probably think about playing pro basketball.

  2. hey brian its cole i hope you are having a greaqt time in guatamala. your blog is cool, and here are my answers to youir quiz.
    1.20¢ 2.25¢ 3.$2.00 4.50¢ 5.$3.50 6.$1.00 7.10¢ 8.$5.00 9.$1.50 10.$2.00