As bureau chief I must apologize to my faithful readers for taking so long between posts. I just didn't have anything I wanted to comment on. But now the second set of negatives and slides from my 1979 trip to Ecuador has traveled to Bangalore and back, by way of Burlingame, and I have the scans from them in hand. I realize now that I lucked out with the technician who scanned my first set of photos. He or she was an artist. This time I got a journeyman although, in her or his defense, a lot of these photos were more marginal in terms of exposure than in the first batch.
Cockfighting was legal in Ecuador in 1979 and I think still is. These photos were taken in a small cockfighting arena in the jungle town of Puyo. The owners show their birds before a match so the crowd can decide which one to bet on.
The birds wear sharp metal spikes over their natural spurs.
The handlers exploit a genetic tendency of gamecocks to become extremely aggressive just at the sight of other males.
When the fight begins the birds meet in a blur of beating wings, pecking beaks and kicking feet. They actually rise a foot or two above the dirt but can only sustain this level of activity for about a minute. If neither bird has mortally wounded the other they settle into a avian Sumo match where they circle, facing each other and trying to get their head under their opponent's wing so that they can flip him onto the dirt and finish him. This can go on for tens of minutes as they weaken from their wounds. Finally one prevails.
An owner with his losing bird. Hardly any of them recover so it's most likely the stew pot.
Much more direct and human-scale than OTB.