Leaving Ensenada, I continued south on Mexico 1 through a rider’s dream – a mostly empty two-lane twisty cutting lazily through open desert and flowing along the foothills of mountains covered in lush green scrubgrass and tangles of brush. Recent rains have washed sand, mud, and stones into low spots in the road. Fresh rectangular track patterns stamp the red soil where bulldozers have cleared away the small mountains of debris. Mexico doesn’t bother bridging these gullies in advance of regular rains. Just deal with it when it becomes a problem. In some places entire roadways have been washed out and traffic is rerouted into the desert.
With the sun falling fast, I’m forced to stop for the night in San Vicente. This small town has only a single paved road, Mexico 1. Cars creep along wide roads riddled with divets and navigate through giant mud puddles. Even the parking lots in the business district fronting main street are dirt. These one-story block buildings sell an amazingly disparate array of merchandise. Four dozen brown chicken eggs alongside a single napkin holder and three plastic cups. Art supplies and a 60 minute, high-fidelity, Sony cassette tape still in its cellophane wrapper. A few rat traps next to a single child’s shoe. Plumbing supply fixtures and fighting roosters. Fighting roosters?! Oh, I gotta see this.
Gill sells gallos. His name is Gill and he sells, breeds, raises, and trains fighting roosters, gallos. He was kind enough to show me his operation just behind his plumbing supply (and saddlery) shop. Dozens of roosters housed in crude makeshift wire pens awaited their turn in the pit. They were each placed with a gallina, female chicken, or two to. If they got along well enough to mate, she would lay her eggs in a crude nest made from an upturned five gallon bucket. Gill was proud of his chickens, the care he took in raising them, and the animal husbandry skills necessary to raise champion fighters. He gave me a flyer advertising a “derby” he had won just the night before. His winning rooster was recuperating in a sort of chicken infirmary just behind his office. The loser was killed in the fight.
Chicken fighting is quite violent. It exploits the birds’ natural tendency to fight – an instinct augmented by attaching a small rubber “boot” to the chicken’s left leg. This boot serves as a mount for a single razor sharp hook roughly an inch long. “Careful! careful!” Gill cautioned when he showed to me his small wooden box containing dozens of sharp hooks. “You don’t want to cut yourself.”