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Colombia: Cockfighting 3

The show is on. The cages have been lifted, and the cocks have been provoked to get going.

During this Friday night, there were about seven fights. By applying some simple math, that sums up to 14 cocks. Seven of those died in the ring, or shortly after.

The longest fight lasted for some nine minutes. The cause seemed to be that both cocks were rather lazy, and not too keen on fighting. The shortest fight might have been as little as a minute or two. That cock won thru a knock-out, one could say.

Well, this is one of many pictures of Bogotá on a common Friday night. It’s a diverse city.


Colombia: Cockfighting 2

Moments before that the cockfight erupts… The judges, in red jackets, are taking care of the last preparations.

The cocks have arrived in their cages, being brougth in place over a miniature aerial cableway. Just before they were both trimmed, cutting of feathers that could trouble them while fighting.

In the ring the owners and some other important guys have gathered, while people are placing their bets. I didn’t really figure out how that works, but it’s for sure a lively process…


Colombia: Cockfighting 1

Cockfighting is popular in Colombia and much of South America.

In Bogotá there are said to be quite a few cockfight rings, but they are not always easy to find. My experience was that only those interested in this traditional game know about the places. However, most people have never seen a cockfight, and never thought of going to one. Maybe it’s different in the countryside?

On this pic you see the principal cockfight ring (gallera) of Bogotá – Gallera San Miguel. It’s just minutes before that the cruel show is going to start.

I got the impression that the proud bird owners were peasants coming in to town on this Friday night of late October. My friend and I arrived at 6.30 in the evening, paid the ticket, 13.000 pesos (some 4 euro) and then strolled around in the combined entrance hall and pub for some time, while waiting.

The room was filling up with spectators, with a few exceptions middle-aged and older men. One could feel expectation and tension in the air, as the somewhat nervous cocks were being put on the scales. Some 3 – 3,5 kg seems to be the weight for a good fighting cock.

Owners sat down at tables, using candle wax to attach the knives on the cock’s legs. Meanwhile, spectators were scrutinizing the birds in order to determine how to place their bets. Shortly after 7 the crowd of some 150 people entered the cockfight ring…


World’s best hamburgers (2)

El Corral – with the best burgers I’ve tried anywhere, the U.S.A. included.

Scrumptious, delicious, outstanding – it’s hardly impossible to find the right words for El Corral’s many hamburgers: ”Mexicana” topped with guacamole, ”Italiana” with mozzarella and parmesan, or maybe ”Al Carbon” double meat with for example American cheese, bacon and BBQ sauce? Take a look at the menu.

I got curious about the history of hamburgers and found some interesting stuff at Wikipedia. Anyway, some emigrating people from the German city of Hamburg were involved, as an old dish started to develop itself on the American side of the Atlantic.

But how come that Colombia now can pride itself with the best burgers in the world? I don’t know. Anyway, why not combine a visit to Caribbean world heritage city of Cartagena with a visit to El Corral in that same place? Life could be worse :)


World’s best hamburgers (1)

El Corral: The logo

Originally uploaded by Anders L. Hansson.

El Corral – the most outstanding hamburger chain in Colombia, offering the best burgers I’ve tried anywhere, the U.S.A. included.

I had been told about this place before going, and my interest in good food of all categories made El Corral a primary objective for the journey. And yes – it’s a hit!

The company was founded in 1983 and now runs more than 60 restaurants in the big cities of Colombia. Most of them are in Bogota. There and in Medellin you also find a few Corral Gourmet restaurants that offer a more fancy setting than the typical fast food Corral.

But a plain El Corral place is fancy enough! By the way, dear Corral management, when do you come to Europe? Please?!


A hole in the street

A hole in the street

Originally uploaded by Anders L. Hansson.

This ain’t no common pothole. What you see is a far too typical phenomena in Colombia.

In Cartagena as well as in Bogotá I found plenty of potentially very dangerous holes in the streets and sidewalks. Sometimes small and square, sometimes big and round – like the one on this pic from the shopping outlet area in an industrial zone of Bogotá. However, this one is quite unique since it’s actually been marked.

Maybe you guessed… yes, there are people more or less systematically stealing the lids from the sewage and cable systems! According to a Cartagena newspaper the market pays some 5.000 pesos, that’s less than 2 euro, for a nice metal lid. And then the city has to replace them for some 300-500.000 pesos, i.e. up to 190 euro.

Of course this bad habit of some thieves can have mortal consequenses. Going to the airport in Bogota before leaving, I noticed a missing lid in the far right lane of the six-lane-highway. Even though most locals seem to be well aware, a serious accident is bound to happen, sooner or later.

In Cartagena, the newspaper one morning topped with a photo showing a yellow cab stuck in one of those holes… But a solution is said to be underways – lids of fiberglass are cheaper and not as attractive for thieves. Till that’s implemented – drive with care!


Back in Europe – but more on Colombia to come!

Hola amigos!

Monday last week I got back to Barcelona, delayed by a little more than one day. Supposed day of departure from Bogotá was Saturday 29 October, but obviously the Colombian airline Avicana had suffered some serious problems: there was an over-booking of some 25 people! Well, they rewarded me with another roundtrip-ticket Spain-Colombia, and on top of that I got another Saturday in Bogotá.

The night was spent at a Halloween party with costumes, drinks and dancing. Previously under much more European influence, Colombia nowadays has a lot in common with the U.S.A. Halloween is one of those things. According to my very reliable sources, the children of Bogotá have been halloweening at least since the 1970′s, knocking on people’s doors begging for candy:

”Trick or treat, Halloween, quiero dulces para mí. Si no hay dulces para mí, se les crece la narriz!”

Anyway, Sunday afternoon I was back at the airport. After one last Colombian coffee, it was time for boarding and take-off. The trip went just fine, till arriving in Madrid… Avianca is quite an ok airline, but unfortunately they cooperate with the Spanish flag carrier Iberia. And Iberia seems to be a plain disaster. Since I arrived in Madrid one day later than originally planned, Iberia was lost in confusion about how to get me on the connecting flight to Barcelona. Especially, they were confused about where the luggage could be… Finally, I got on a flight two hours and fifteen minutes later than I should have been, after having suffered some rather insulting treatment by Iberia staff. The luggage finally arrived a few days later.

After all, I’m safely back in Catalunya. But the story doesn’t end here. There are still photos to post for you, and I still have some comments and thoughts on Colombia that I’d like to blog. So please stay tuned, and I promise to be back with more within the next few days.

Muchos saludos,


Bogotá: Lechona


Originally uploaded by Anders L. Hansson.

More pics for you animal and food lovers! Lechona is a traditional Colombian dish. Typically you have it for a big fiesta, or you buy it on the street.

So how do you do it? To serve 50 people you need a pig, no older than 1 year, weighing some 25 kilograms. Moreover, you need onion, boiled rice, potatoes and a few other ingredients.

Basically, you empty the pig before stuffing it with the meat etc. Then you put it in an over-average-big oven for a number of hours.

Or you just buy a portion at the street – at this pic from down-town Bogota you’ve got one serving on offer for only 4.000 pesos, 1.40 euros, with soft drink included.


Rooster 3: Almost done!

Sancocho 1

Originally uploaded by Anders L. Hansson.

OK, so where did that rooster finally go?

Well, as you may imagine the destiny was rather hot. This photo shows the rooster boiling in a big pot over an open fire in the garden. No stock cubes here – only natural broth! Other important ingredients were potatoes, yucca, plantain and corn on the cob.

From all this we got a considerable amount of an out-of-this-world sancocho – one of the most traditional dishes to be found in Colombia.

By the way: I also have to mention the tamal we had for breakfast. Tamal consists of chopped meat and veggies, folded in a maize dough, then wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. It’s served in the banana leaf. Awesome!


Rooster 2: Slaughtered and picked

Rooster 2a

Originally uploaded by Anders L. Hansson.

Getting a living rooster from the market place and home would have been a minor challenge without professional assistance.

Even harder than ”bringing the bacon home” is the stage from living rooster to a rooster boiling in the big pot. But the experienced lady who helped out in the kitchen took care of it all.

First: find a steady broom shaft. Second: Put the rooster on the ground. Third: Put the broom shaft cross the rooster’s neck and squeeze for a minute or so.

As soon as the rooster has stopped moving, you bring it in to the kitchen and put it in some really hot water for a while. Then it’s peace of cake to pick the feathers off.

On this photo: your own proud blogger presenting the result of the endeavours.