Sunday, April 7, 2013

'A Novel, Healthy and Curious Diversion'

The athletes are lined up. 
And he's off. 
After months of absence, the guinea pig races, with all of their drama and excitement, are back along La Septima. I'd wondered whether misguided animal rights folks had gotten them run off (the guinea pigs seem healthy and well-treated), but Juan, the pigs' trainer told me that he and his dad had been racing their animals in Barranquilla.

In fact, Juan said that he and his father are the only ones in Bogotá, and perhaps the world, who do public guinea pig races. Juan said his father invented the sport about 20 years ago. Juan himself has been doing racing the animals for six years.

Which bowl will he choose?
Juan carries on a constant, repetitive refrain, pointing out that this is a "novel, healthy and curious diversion" which won't break your bank. He also informs the public that guinea pigs, known as cuy, are eaten in the Colombian Department of Nariño. (They are also food in Peru and Ecuador.)

The races, of course, aren't really races. Bystanders put coins, usually of 200 pesos, on the overturned colored bowls, each of which has an entranceway cut into its side. Juan urges one of the animals to advance. The animal is supposed to race into one of the bowls, presumably attracted by the darkness. Sometimes, however, the pigs stop halfway, or apparently can't decide which bowl to enter. So, Juan urges another animal forward. When a pig enters a bowl, whoever placed a coin on that bowl wins five times the amount bet.

Nobody's sure how guinea pigs, which are rodents, got their name. Perhaps Europeans once thot they came from Africa, instead of the Andes. Or, Guinea may be a corruption of Guyana.
An undecisive guinea pig. 

There he goes. We have a winner!

Time to line back up little guy. 


By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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