Monday, March 03, 2008

Pelea de Gallo - Chapter 3 of the Sayulita Chronicles

The hand written sign in the center of town reads “Pelea de Gallo 12:00 Domingo. Traiga su Propio Gallo” or in English: Cockfight, noon on Sunday. Bring your own rooster. No indication of where said cockfight will occur.
“Let’s go” I say.
“Are you nuts?” laughs Mac. He knows the answer, later confirmed by his best friend who asks his Mom " Has Carla lost her mind?"
“Okay, let’s do it.” Maclen shakes his head in bewilderment and laughs. I point to a man in a ten gallon hat, stringy moustache and a row of gold filled teeth – not rapper teeth mind you – just gold fillings with white tooth surrounding each one. He could be one of the dead guys or soon to be dead guys in No Country for Old Men. “He is surrounded by apparent extras from that movie.
“Go ask him where the cockfight is” I say.
“Okay then tell me what to say”
Mac fixes me with a look. He’s wondering how I will offend them if I ask. After all, I have been saying goodbye to everyone we meet by using one word – “enough!” I thought I was saying “later” as in "later, dude!"
“Fine, I’ll go” he says
Mac asks Gold Incisor “Donde la pelea de Gallo”
Everything in Sayulita is “that way”.
“Ask him to be more specific”
“Ju are luking for dee cokefight, Amiga?” Gold Incisor is joined by Jeri Curl man who wears a Corona muscle shirt and speaks a little English.
“That way.”
“I know, but exactly what does that mean?”
“To the freeWAY. Take a right. It’s on dee left. “
These directions, by the way are completely false.
We ask people along the way for slightly more specific instructions. NO one seems to know. Alvarro, the hotel owner says “ I don’t like cockfights.”
“I know, neither do we. It’s just sort of an anthropological excursion.”
“ I preefair dee bool fight.”
We ask the proprietors of the burger joint whose voices suddenly get much louder.
“Coke fight? Ju wan to go to dee coke fight?”
They raise an eyebrow and then: “That way.”

Maclen is getting a little nervous about the whole this-is –an-insane-and-potentially-dangerous-idea- thing. I point out to him that at no point has anyone said “Please Senora, do not go to the cockfight, it is too dangerous for your lily white ass.” Which I take as a good sign.
Alvaro has an idea where we should go and he drives us to the Pelea de Gallo when our cab never arrives – this happens frequently in Sayulita.
“I ask dem why they don come and they say the drivers, he is at they houses.” Apparently this is a compelling reason for not picking up a fare.
When we arrive, Alvarro goes and talks to the “proprietors” in Spanish. They explain that the “qualified cocks” haven’t arrived yet. I can relate. The fights will start “maybe one thirty.” An hour and a half late – what kind of cockfight are they running here!
Alvaro drops us back in town and we find a taxi later that day and show him how to get to the ring. We tell him to return for us in half an hour – plenty of time to indulge in the whole cockfight experience. We pay our money and get seats ringside. This is not recommended for those of you planning on running out to a cockfight after reading this blog. I could live the rest of my life quite content to NEVER have the dusty feathers of a nearly dead rooster fly into my face. A crusty older lady comes by and demands vente pesos. I explain that we paid already and she says louder VENTE PESOS. So I pay her. Courtside seats, I suppose. She returns with two beers and I explain that we don’t want beers and that Maclen is a “ninjo.” She says something quickly in spanish and huffs off with the beers. Apparently, according to Mac, she said “Fine, if he’s going to be a little girl about it.” Or something to that effect. We don't get the vente pesos back.
The weighing in of the roosters is a complicated process, which seems to involve a lot of discussion and standing around. One of the cocks is very aggressive and attacks when put on the scale. Who says chickens are dumb? They put a sack over his head to protect the officials and Maclen says “Oh my god, it’s a rooster Abu Graib!” Meanwhile, bets are being collected and it’s unclear how you know which cock you’re betting on. The inside of the ring has advertisements for local strip clubs and other ads with scantily clad women in extremely degrading poses. It’s a very macho scene and I know I’m officially old and crippled because no one is giving me the eye. Quite frankly it’s insulting.
Finally the fight begins. The cock to the right attacks. The cock on the left is on his back, feet straight up in the air. Feathers fly…into my face. I sputter. The man on the left looks at his rooster and puts him back on his feet for round two.
“You can do it Rock!”
“I can’t Mick, you gotta cut me.”
Okay they didn’t actually say this.
I know Amy Sedaris and Bob Barker are hating me at this point, but PETA aside, this is rather fascinating. I don’t eat chicken or turkey – I’m kind to animals - but this is really interesting, I’m sorry, okay?
Round two lasts about 5 seconds. Cock on the left continues to be cock on the right’s bitch. Cock on the left lies there feet in the air. His “manager” opens his beak and administers the breath of life.
Oh yes he does!!! I never thought I would live to see a man blow life into his cock to get it upright again.
Sorry, had to go there.
It’s the final round. Cock on the right doesn’t really give a shit anymore. This is insulting. He is meant for nobler fights than this. I think I speak for the superior rooster when I say I suspect cock on the left was taking a dive. Cock on the left just lies there. He seems to be saying “Hey guys, I ‘m like dead now so let’s just call it a day, okay?” He’s not dead but I wouldn’t be buying any roadside chickens tonight.
“Ain’t gonna be no rematch.”
“Don’t want one.”
The fight is over rather anti-climatically. No one even holds up a victory claw. Our cab driver reappears and informs us that he is more than happy to wait an hour or so and watch with us, no charge. It takes a bit of convincing to let him know that we’re done and ready to go home after one fight.
We return to town and to our hotel to our guardian angel, Alvarro.
“Did ju see dee cokefight?”
“Yes, we certainly did.”
“You don like?”
“no, we don’t like it much.
“I don like either. I preefair dee bools.”
Yes, you mentioned…..
I can’t explain this to Alvarro but truth be told, I went to the fights for one reason and one reason only. In case Maclen ever decides to be a writer I thought the perfect first line to a short story would be “The year my Mom got diagnosed with ALS, we went to a cockfight in Mexico.”


Anonymous said...

my hero.


Anonymous said...

That is quite an attention-grabbing first line to a story, Carla -- well worth feathers in the face.

Here's another possible story-opener: "I'm not sure which was more frightening -- the boy-headed tarantula, or my mother's Spanish."

Love you,

Anonymous said...

So, I'm sick with a fever and a weeklong cough, cold and flu and feeling very sorry for myself, when Jason reads this entry to me.

And, Carla, I can't remember the last time I laughed harder or longer than after your line, "They explain that the “qualified cocks” haven’t arrived yet. I can relate."

Oh, lady, you are too much, too funny, too great! Thanks for cheering me up in the midst of my snotty hellishly long week!

Love you