We Will Fight (continued)2009
The former as far as I can say has been respected the latter not so much. I have seen dozens of people attacking each other at the same time. Are the fights a ritual, as the anthropologists would love them to be or are they just acts of senseless violence. They are both of these forms. But what is really impressive are the more ritualized encounters. Man that come as far as Argentina immigrant workers make the journey back to Macha every year to be with their relatives and community. If they are from lowland villages they will fight with highland villagers and vice versa. These men will challenge adversaries of roughly the same age and size. The public is made of people of all ages, children, adolescents, women married and not (this can be deduced by their dress) the elderly all attentively looking at the performance. Punches are thrown, noses and fingers are broken the occasional tooth flies around and there seem to be more people with a blue eye then not. Many fights end with the adversaries hugging each other in a sign of respect. Those that have already fought will try to convince others from their community to fight as well for honor and prestige. Women incite man to fight challenging their virility, other women are busy healing their mens wounds and other female fight each other like men do. The 30 police are sometimes getting a bloody nose trying to separate some of the 2500 villagers that fill Macha for the Tinku as soon as they fall on the ground, an impossible task. The rest of the non-filming and non-photographing members of the outsiders and international community opted for the only sensible alternative, that of staying on the balcony of the hostel as spectators. A few even made it to the church tower looking down. The fighting came and went like the high and low tide strong in the morning less so towards the evening with many of the men unable to fight, asleep on street corners with their pants pissed. Late afternoon I find a ride to the town of Cochabamba with a Berkley sociology student daughter of Filipino immigrants to the US, and her two kids. A very enjoyable 9 hours ride. We discuss our own voyeurism, the fascination with danger and speculate about how long it will take for the members of the international community to get involved in the fighting. In the next days I learn that in this years Tinku there has been no death, according to some this means that there has been no Tinku, and next years harvest will be bad.
Luca Zanetti May 2009