Friday, May 9, 2014

San Juan, Puerto Rico: Cock Fight


Some people go to Puerto Rico for the beaches, some go for drugs and some go for girls, others go because the age of consent there is sixteen. Me? Well, I'd come to see a cock fight. I flew into San Juan on the first flight of the day and the plan was to leave on the last flight that same day. "What! You're only going to San Juan for a day?" the lady seated next to me exclaimed excitedly. "No, I'm only going for about six hours." I replied nonchalantly. The round lady in a flowery dress and her equally round husband were just starting their two week vacation to the island getaway. "Oh, you have to spend more time in San Juan that six hours!" said the lady. "The place is amazing, the beaches, the Spanish Castle, the historic downtown filled with cobblestone roads and beautiful buildings. It's Paradise!" No matter what I said to the woman, she couldn't seem to understand that paradise was not my cup of tea. "Listen lady" I finally said out of desperation. "I'm just here for a cock fight." A look of horror quickly shot across the woman's face. Her husband turned and looked out the window. The rest of my flight went by in relative silence.

I hopped off the plane, onto my folding bike and rode. Once I got to the cock fighting arena I locked my bike up to a chain-link fence and walked towards the entrance. I passed a beat up Toyota as it pulled up to the curb. A man jumped out of the drivers seat, ran around to the passenger's side of the car and pulled a large cage containing a colorful rooster out of the front seat as his friends got out from the back. What a strange place I thought to myself, a cock in the front and friends in the back. I would soon find that in this world of birds, the rooster was king.


I watched a few fights full of wings flapping, beaks pecking and feathers flying. I couldn't help but marvel how healthy these birds were compared to their fat farm raised counterparts. These roosters were absolutely radiant. They were fed a healthy diet and had room to run. Their owners took pride in them and treated them well. In the United States, cock fighting is illegal, it's considered animal cruelty. Now if you ask me, the U.S. has it backwards. To me, the industrialization of the poultry industry is where animal cruelty takes place. It takes place in massive buildings stacked with thousands of tiny cages stuffed with birds who are kept alive and unnaturally fattened with a grotesque blend of grain, antibiotics and steroids. 

Eventually, I decided to wager twenty bucks on a scrappy little guy named Angel. I've always been a sucker for the underdog. Angel fought a valiant fight but in the end, he collapsed in the middle of the arena legs twitching, unable to get up. Soon his legs stopped twitching and he was gone. As I watched Angel die, it occurred to me that that is how I would like to go. Not necessarily in a pool of my own blood, legs twitching, but with a fight. If I'm Lucky, I'll die with my boots on living life and not in a diaper with my mind gone.

But this isn't a story about death, it isn't a story about cock fighting and you've probably realized by now that it's not really about Puerto Rico. This is a story about us and how we live our lives. 

If you look around, you'll notice that many of us go through life like a farm raised chicken. We waste our lives away in tiny cubicles working for bosses we don't like and earning money for companies we care nothing about. We sustain life on an unnatural cocktail of McDonalds, Taco Bell and Burger King. We fill our lives with meaningless shit like Iphones, Starbucks and Candy Crush and tell ourselves that we're happy. Very few of us live life like the now deceased cock named Angel who lived like a king and then punched that final time card in the sky with a bang!

I recently read a story online about a man who went missing in Mexico. Harry Devert was on a solo expedition through Latin America by motorcycle when he disappeared. He was traveling through some of the most dangerous, cartel infested areas in the world. In all likelihood, Devert is now dead and will never be heard from again. Below the article, readers posted comments like: "What an idiot for riding a motorcycle through Mexico." and "What a tragic waste of life to die so young." I have to argue that Devert's life was anything but a waste. I would rather live a single day to the fullest than waste a lifetime as I've seen some people do. From what I read about Devert, I can only imagine he was the kind of person who lived more in a single day than many of us do in an entire year.


I'm not suggesting that anyone purchase a motorcycle and head to Mexico. I'm simply advocating that we spend a little less time on the thousands of meaningless, wasteful and frivolous things that fill our days. Call in sick and take a road trip, turn off the TV and pick up a book, volunteer at a food bank.  Maybe a motorcycle trip south of the border is what you need. It's your life and only you can decide how to truly live it. All I'm recommending is that you spend a little less time wasting it and a little more living it.


In the end, I was able to see much of San Juan on my folding bike. By the time I got back to the airport and the end of 6 hours, I'd ridden almost 30 miles. I saw the historic downtown, the Spanish Castle, the cobblestone roads and the sandy beaches. In the end, I had to admit that it was a beautiful place, the island was paradise and if, by chance you are into that sort of thing, I would highly recommend it!



video
I couldn't resist the local skate park but I should have.





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