Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cholita Fighting 12-2-2012

After the Amazonas incident, shawn loosing her phone, me getting a stomach bug in salar de uyuni and the bus crash, we decided that we deserved another visit to Hotel Rosario.

We were about to grab a taxi, when Moises from Todo Tourismo offered us a ride. He was appreciative of my "accident" photos and Shawn had gotten chummy with him when she lost her phone, so he gladly took us to our hotel.

On the ride we asked him what his plans were for the day. He told us that he was attending a "Cholita" fight. Cholita is the semi-derogatory name for the native Bolivian women who wear the traditional dress. Over the past couple years it had become popular to pay to watch them go at it in a rink. He asked if we would like to join. We decided that it was a unique opportunity and accepted the invitation. The thought of a day of relaxing was soon replaced by the anticipation of watching a fight between two Cholitas. We were headed to El Alto!

Getting to the venue:
Moises and his wife picked us up and drove to El Alto; which is the neighborhood that sits 1000 feet above La Paz. It seems like the higher in elevation you go in South America, the lesser the property value and the poorer the area. It is the opposite in the states. As we drove above the city center I began to notice more and more trash in the streets, wild dogs and unfinished houses. Turns out here there is a poor recycling program, dogs don't get spade or neutered and you get a tax break if your house isn't completed. We arrived at the stadium, payed our tourist prices (4 times the local price) and got ready for the fight.
The Fight:
In Bolivia you need to imagine it is 1980, be flexible and remember you are in the third world. The entire event was almost as comedic as it was entertaining. The MC played rocky music from a tape player that was hooked up to a microphone, the image of the projector screen showing real time footage of the fighters was washed out because they placed it in the view of direct sunlight, the costumes looked like hand me downs from goodwill, the fighting rink tapestry was torn and faded and the sweet smell of sweat and urine filled the air. We sat in plastic lawn chairs in the tourist VIP area. We were separated from the locals.

The locals definitely had the better deal. This was the kind of fight that the further back you sat the better. Up close you could see botched jabs, fake hits and evidence of poor choreography. But you had to give them respect for getting slammed on concrete. We saw memorable characters such as Unico, Chico Malo, Jason, Spongebob and of course the Cholitas. It was an entertaining show with memorable fighters. We left with smirks and smiles.

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