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| p.1 #1 · Bullfighting with a twist, Cotabambas - Peru |
As I've said many times to my friends and family, the ability to travel is a privilege. It allows you to connect with fellow travelers as well as make new "local" friends; gives you a chance to visit popular sights and if you're lucky enough to go off the beaten path to discover things that most will never see or experience.
Roughly four months before my trip to Cusco, Peru, I heard about an event that took place on Peru's Independence Day (July 28) that sounded pretty unbelievable: bullfighting with a condor strapped to the back of the bull. What?
Yes, you read that right: a bull with a condor strapped to the back of it, challenged by a bullfighter (i.e. a torero). That made no sense to me at first, but given the fact that my in-laws are Peruvian, getting more information and context was pretty easy.
The main event, steeped in tradition and history, takes place on Peru's Independence Day in a remote village called Cotabambas in the Apurímac region. The condor, caught several days prior to the event in the nearby mountains, represents the Incas while the bull represents the conquering/invading Spaniards. The event itself is a metaphor, depicting the fight held many centuries ago between the Incas and the invading Spaniards.
During the event, the revered condor is the bull's tormentor as it pecks away at its back and uses its claws for balance while it attempts to also free itself. The pain infuriates the bull who continually bucks and in the process, faces off against many toreros who spontaneously enter the ring (the spontaneous toreros are audience members who jump in to take part in the event). The overall symbolism is pretty clear but it is important to note that neither the condor nor the bull are killed during the event. Like every other bull that participates in the day's festivities (the main event is bracketed by "normal" bullfighting), this bull inevitably tires and is freed of the condor before being escorted out of the arena. The condor is set free a little later-on amidst music, dancing and some drinking since a healthy condor is a good omen for the villagers.
Given the back-story and what could be a pretty incredible photography opportunity, we organized the trip with the help from of some Peruvian friends who had all the right local contacts.
Below are a handful of pictures from the photo essay. Feel free to stop by my site to take a look at the rest of the story and many more pictures.
Have a great day everyone