From the Journals… Baracoa, Cuba. February 12, 2017
Final RoundCockfights, south of Baracoa. Guantánamo, Cuba. At 9 I met Dignatario as planned. We negotiated for a taxi, and soon got underway towards the south of town. We drove about 5 miles on the paved road, then headed west for about a mile on a rough dirt road. We got dropped off at a stony river bed of the Rio Miel. The only way to cross was via a coconut tree trunk that had been laid across the river. The water wasn't too deep, and I contemplated wading, but Dignatario just walked right across, so I attempted the same. I was losing my balance after a few steps, so tried to turn around to recover. I managed to get back on the stones, but lost my balance and fell. Embarrassing! There was a young guy there who helped me cross the log.
Dignatario led us on a trail along the river's edge. I could hear shouting and roosters crowing, so I knew it was close. It was a chaotic scene, with small groups of men all over the place, prepping their roosters, gambling, selling food, and of course, gathered around a big ring to watch the cockfights. We found a spot where Dignatario could sit and I could stand so as to be able to move around. It was overcast, and that really helped me tame what could have been a contrasty scene.
I got a bunch of shots of the fights and of people's reactions. They do this every Sunday, and it is definitely Guys Day Out. Of the 800-1000 people gathered in these clearings, about 99% were men. There were a few women staffing the concession stands, but I only saw 2 women actually watching the fights. It's a bloody business, with fights lasting from 10-45 minutes, until one of the cocks is down. Fascinating to watch and see how wrapped-up so many guys get in this, especially when they have bet on a fight. It was my first time attending one. I am glad I did to see what goes on, but I won't be in a hurry to go again.
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