We’ve been having fun with our niece Summer and her boyfriend. We were at Pollo Tropical and they asked his name for the order. He said “Brandon” but they couldn’t understand him and put “Brandom” instead. So that is his new name and I am sure everything has been very Random for Brandom seeing as this is his first time to Puerto Rico!
The mustang is still out of commission so we had to pick them up in the truck!
Fun in Ponce at the famous Parque de Bombas
We’ve shown them around Rincón a little and took a trip to Ponce because Summer enjoyed it the last time she was here visiting us. Today we are off on more adventures with them, so stay tuned!
Beautiful Church in Ponce
Pinchos and Piraguas
Checking out the tourist shops
Lions, but of course
Enjoying his pincho
Summer and me in front of the Castillo Serralles
The cross was closed but we still wandered aroundthe area
And jumped the fence to see the Japanese gardens
It’s a really cool view up top
At the Japanese gardens
They even had koi, water lilies and a pagoda!
Then we went down to La Guancha for a bit and hung with our friend Hector La Voe
This weekend we attended the annual Fiestas Patronales in Rincón as we have for the last couple years. It’s a fun weekend of carnival rides, live music, fried foods and sugary or alcoholic drinks, people watching, dancing, games and gambling and more. This year it was a bit wet and muddy due to some tremendous afternoon aguaceros (downpours), but we still had a great time. It always reminds us a little of the Greeley Stampede back in Colorado and the summer fun there. For these Fiestas Patronales this year we met up with a few friends and enjoyed the festivities. Here are a few pictures and a video of our time.
Bright lights, loud music, swirling rides and fun times!
Learning and playing Pica
I finally learned how to play pica. It is essentially roulette. Instead of betting where the ball will land on the roulette wheel though, you bet which little wooden horse will come in first place. There are 24 spots and you win 20 to one on a number. Like roulette though you can bet on the line or a quadrant and earn a little less. Not very good odds, but fun to play for a while.
The bets are placed with a domino
Britton, me and our friend Lichi
Carnie food like pinchos and arañitas which translates to little spiders. A nest-like bowl of shredded and fried plantains with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and bbq chicken
I had as much fun as any kid could!
We also really enjoyed the live music! It’s always so impressive to see these bands perform.
Yesterday we saw our first official cockfight in Puerto Rico.
Announcement for the tournament
A while ago we had seen an announcement for a torneo de botas de pollo and our friend Papo said he loved cockfights and that we should all go. He said this was a sort of mild version of a cockfight because they put ”boots” on their spurs making the fights a little less lethal. This piqued my interest because I sort of already had some opinions about cockfighting without ever seeing it so I wanted to know how close my assumptions were to reality. Having Papo as friend has really opened up a whole different world of Puerto Rico that I’m not sure we would see otherwise.
Cockfighting or pelea de gallo really is THE sport of Puerto Rico. It is also considered a ”gentleman’s game” (de caballeros) though there was no problem with women or even children being there (still it was about 30 to 1 male/female). While things are changing a little, judging from the popularity of this event, it is unlikely that this tradition will be leaving the island any time soon.
When we entered the cancha area there was a cacophony of roosters crowing and pounding sounds as people cheered and rooted for their gallo of choice. We noticed two rings. One that was a little larger than the other. There were a lot of roosters but in between, they still had time to play dice.
In between cockfights they played “topos” or dice betting games.
According to Papo, in a botas fight like these, the time limit for fighting is only 3 minutes unlike in a fight with espuelas (spurs) which lasts about 12 minutes or until one of the roosters dies. They keep track of the hits that each of the roosters take in order to determine the winner.
Even with the botas, the roosters were pretty ruthless and needed no encouragement to fight
It was almost like watching a miniature boxing match. When they bring out the roosters they have them “meet” and their neck feathers get all ruffled up. Then they start the clock and they fight non- stop. Not in one match did a rooster back off from the others or run away. Even the roosters in the cages on the ground looked like they were ready to fight. But they were also strangely docile when a human would pick them up. I suppose any bird that started fighting at a human would not last long in this environment.
Having chickens and roosters ourselves I can tell you that roosters do fight and it’s not a hard concept to see where this tradition came from (though our rooster nearly always runs from the other in order to avoid the fight). In the country in times before internet and television it would be something to do. It brings a bit of excitement. There’s people, there’s food, there’s drink, there’s entertainment, there’s gambling.
The cocks are paired up based on weight using this scale
Britton eating a taco picanteand a tiny 8 oz Coors Light
And then there’s what happens to most chickens: food. Pinchos with Papo
I enjoyed looking at all the chickens. There was really one breed of rooster that was preferred over the others. Papo wasn’t sure what it was called. Some of them had single combs, some had rose or buttercup combs but the majority were a reddish color with beautiful orange and green feathering.
Me with one of the larger birds
I really don’t like seeing animals suffer and “forced” to fight like this, but I can sort of understand it (I don’t think I will ever truly). In Mexico I also went to a bullfight and I felt that that was far more cruel because of the human involvement in invoking pain on those huge bulls. I also know that most roosters are killed (discarded) when they are just baby chicks because they are unwanted in egg production. So in a sense, this “sport” gives them a little longer of a life and possibly a little better care than they would receive otherwise.
Trophies to the winners
The losers. Even still with the botas a few of them died and were just tossed out
Up close and personal at a cockfight
I don’t think I would pick up cockfighting as a personal hobby of mine and I certainly felt a little out of place. But I found it extremely interesting from a cultural point of view and I am glad I had the opportunity to see it if only to understand it a little more.
This weekend was the 37th Annual Fiesta del Acabe del Café or the Festival of the Coffee ’End’ (Harvest) in Maricao, PR and our friends Ben and Missy invited us to go with them there on Sunday.
Britton and I have been to quite a few festivals around the island, but this one was by far the biggest. There were lots of venders of all sorts, live music and nice people.
One of the coffee vender displays
There was also lots and lot of Puerto Rican coffee. We love the coffee here. In the mountainous areas where it is slightly cooler like in Maricao, coffee grows extremely well and with a great flavor. You won’t see Starbucks any time soon here! This stuff is the real, local deal!
Coffee berries in various states of ripeness
We walked around and checked out most of the booths and had a little of the carnival style food and drink.
Enjoying some chicken pinchos and fresh-squeezed Maricao orange juice with our friends
An agricultural display showing various coffee varieties
As we were walking around we even stopped to enjoy an impromptu group of drummers, singing and swaying to the beats. It was pretty cool.