Friday, September 05, 2008

September 5, 2008
How primitive is Tommy's village in Peru? Well, let's just say when his host mother prepares dinner, she does so on a blanket, on the patio.

Yes, she's butchering a freshly killed alpaca (the head is at bottom, right). And that's her husband's 95-year-old mother, at left. I tell you, these mountain people have the right diet and lifestyle.

Meanwhile, after a week in Tommy's village we took a bus back down to Arequipa (8,000 feet above sea level!), where there was still snow on the mountains, although less than when we flew in. This in spite of the fact that it's winter. Hmmmm. This mountain range and a huge volcano (below) loom over the city of 800,000:

This is where I reported on the buzzing taxi cabs, which seem to be descended from the toy slot cars of my youth. They are tiny (more on that later). A ride in one of these is a terror filled carnival ride of the first order. They all speed through intersections, honking as they go, and at every corner, every car comes within a fraction of a inch of every other car. It is maddening (when we got home to Arizona and were driving up the Squaw Peak Parkway, both Kathy and I marvelled at the massive distance between cars!).

The first Sunday, after we arrived in Arequipa, we took a taxi 25 miles east to attend a bull fight. Man, was that a treat. As I mentioned at the time, in Peru, the bulls mostly fight each other!

The bull ring was way out in the country and as I sauntered up a hill to get a photo of the panorama, I heard some major bellowing.

At first I didn't spot where it was coming from, but in this photo (below), check out the dust along the closest wall, middle left:

Here's a close-up (below). It's one of the bulls who has merely SMELLED the presence of other bulls and he's going nuts. He's not even in the bull ring and he's kicking up dust, puffing up, bellowing and flipping all over the place—as men are wont to do in bars around the world:

Man, I thought, this is going to be exciting. These bulls are going to be fighting like crazy. So we got in line.

Check out these hats, Man! Great stuff. When we got closer to the gate, a guy cut in front of me (Tommy said it's one cultural aspect of Peru he doesn't enjoy. The natives are so shy, he explained, they don't call these guys out). The line cutter did have a great hat though:

So I leaned around to get a better shot of the dude and his hat. Doesn't he looked thrilled?

Inside, it was stone steps for seats and a sea of hats and beer. Check out the babes (of course one is on her cell):

Looking at the program, the bulls have wrestler names like, "Escorpian Negro" (The Black Scorpion), "Dragoncito" (The Little Dragon"), "Ali" and "Mister T" (I'm not making this up, it's in the program), and "Loco Rebelde" (crazy something). I kind of doubt whether any of these huge animals answer to those names, but just like the aforementioned men in the bars, these big, bad boys sang a different tune when they got in the ring—with other bulls.

Many of them got real docile all of a sudden. They wouldn't even look at each other. Or, if they did, they quickly looked away, as if to say, "Aw, sheesh, I know I was prancing all around like a jackass outside, but I didn't really mean it." And, so then their owners would come out and prod them, pushing them towards the other bull, but many times even that wouldn't work and one of the bulls would turn tail and run for the exit:

But as the day wore on and we moved from the Preliminaries, up through the Semi-Fondo to the Super-Fondo, just like on a fight card, the talent, the testosterone and the tenacity got bigger and better:

Like I said, when two bulls come out and they are the real deal you can almost smell it. Here for your viewing pleasure are two of these bad boys going at it at Cancha De Toros De Umapalca-Sabandia!

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