INITIAL WARNING: Animal lovers... beware!
I hate this thing. I dont consider it an sport, but venezuelan from the plains = "los llanos"... our "llaneros" = cowboys, talk about it as the "NATIONAL" sport. A bit exagerated. I would rather say: they REGIONAL sport. And I dont consider it an sport either, but we must respect traditions and not argue with this llaneros.
This is a wild thing... and men stuff. One poor non agresive "Toro" (bull) starts running in the track = manga, manga de coleo. All of these crazy horsemen have 5 minutes to grab him by the tail = cola, and knock him. "Oh, Wow!!!" is what many beautiful women who go watch say about this macho men. (I cant stand them, nor them, nor everybody else). Poor Toro.
Cola = tail, Toro Coleado or Toro Coliado or Toro Coleao means: bull grabed and knocked by the tail.
Oh... how brave.
There is a whole dictionary in this "sport":
* Manga: cancha donde se realiza la competencia.
* Coso: extremo de la manga donde están los corrales e ingresa el toro a terreno de competencia.
* Tapón: extremo final de la manga.
* Saque de puerta: habilidad del coleador que gana la cola del toro a sus rivales al entrar el toro la cancha.
* ¡Toro cogío!: grito más usado por el coleador cuando toma la cola del toro.
*Coleador “apretao”: dícese del coleador aguerrido y competitivo.
*Buena rienda: cualidad del caballo que obedece las ordenes del jinete. Cruza, retrocede y frena con facilidad.
*Bueno en la puerta: virtud de los caballos que se destacan en la disputa del toro al salir del coso.
* Cintas: premios que entregan las mujeres al coleador destacado.
*Adornos artesanales que se prenden en la espalda del coleador.
*Toro volantón: dícese del toro que entra a la manga con mucha velocidad.
*Toro “jachao”. dícese del toro que cuya carrera es lenta o sencillamente va caminando.
* Echando cachos: toro que deja de correr y se enfrenta a los caballos embistiéndolos.
*¡Cacho en la manga!: Toro en la manga, comenzó la competencia.
Equipment: Dress cowboyish and confortable...
And if you are a woman, and like mucho-muy-macho men, come dreesed informal (jeans) but very femenine and everything very tight (2 sizes smaller than what you usually wear). Dont be afraid to show the begining of your breast, wear lots of make up, perfum, "fantasy" jewelry, try to have a Farrah Fawcett Majors hair do... and PREPARE for a toro coleao experience.
I dont want to hear about it, thank you.
What do we, venezuelans, have in common with ancient Egypt from 5000 b.C., or with Sir Frances Drake, or with king Henry the VIII, or with George Washington?
Well: "bolas criollas" (creole balls). A sport that can be found in many other civilizations, cultures, countries: Le Bocce (Italy), Bolla (Sajonia), Bolle (Denmark), Boules (France) y Ula Miaka (Polinesya), Lawn Bowls (England).
Each player has four balls, and you have to throw them in order to touch or get extremely close to the "mingo" (Jack).
I love the "icy" version of this game: the Curling from Scotland.
Equipment: Our balls:
We play "bolas criollas" in a rectancular square called "cancha de bolas" (but pronounced: "canch'e bolas").
Four red balls and four green balls. Very heavy. And the little
The players can go from two to eight, divided in two teams. The winner will be the one that gets closer to de "mingo" during many "matches" (until 15 points are acumulated).
In Venezuela, the team that looses is encharged to pay for the beer...
The "bolas criollas" game is taken very seriously. There are all sort of state championships, and regional ones, and national ones... and even international one. This is serious. Fun, but serious.
Everybody, at least once, has played "bolas criollas" and felt 100% venezuelan trully deep inside.
I found out -very recently- about "APNEA"...a sport... a non traditional sport not known by many-many-many people. I also found out, with great pride, that the venezuelan ingenier Carlos Coste (30) is a World Champion with two records in 2006.
But, what is "Apnea"? Is a sport -or an state of mind and body, I would rather call it- in which you stop breathing... and then you go down down down the water for I dont know how much time.
This year, in May, Carlos Coste stablished two World Records in Sham El Sheik, Egypt: 107 meters and 140 meters. You can check the Guinness Book of Records to know more about him. He has an Apnea School called "A Puro Pulmon" (Terrible translation of mine: "With all your lungs").
Equipment: Guts (I would say, since Im clueless about all the rest)... and I dont know what else: but here is Carlos Coste´s www:
So if you are an "apneista", like Martin Stepaneck (Check) adn Herbert Nitsch (Austria), you know that you can come to Venezuela to practice Apnea.
FIRST OF ALL: I hate cock figths. I´ve never been to one and never-ever will.
SECOND: Im placing this information here on the "sport section", because for cock fights lovers in Venezuela this is a sort of national sport. Yeah... a great one... to see two roosters getting really injured and dying in the most different, cruel, painfull and horrible ways. Yeah... a "sport". I dont agree, but I must accept the "sports tradition" in my country. Oh, and you should lnow this is totally legal.
Cock fight lovers, when harshly questioned, inmediately tell you about bull fights (which in Spain are even considerated an ART... yesss a bloody art in which the poor bull, badly lacerated, torn into pieces, is finally killeed very graciously by the TORERO, yes, TORERO and not, "toreador"). "That is between a bunch of men vrs one bull; this is just in between two brave roosters". That's what they say.
Two days ago I read a novel: "La otra isla" (the other island) writen by venezuelan Francisco Suniaga. EXCELENT BOOK, one of the best Ive read in years. The story, located in Margarita Island (a very turistical spot in venezuela) is seen through the eyes of a german guy who comes to live in the island and falls madly and insainly in love with cock fights and roosters. I learned a lot about this issue thanks to Suniaga's novel (which if full of intrigue, and passion, and love, and "the way we are" and the the way foreiners see us. Leet me tell you, a great novel and very very very interesting one.
Equipment: Dress down and bring money for the bets and the beers. But if you dont want to bet not drink, you dont have to. Ladies please stay at home or at the hotel. This is men bussiness. If a woman goes into one GALLERA (rooster arena), her presence there will be totally missunderstood. (And we dont want that to happen... dont we?).
The 2 black and white pictures are taken from:
Ricardo Jimenez's Portfolios
Black and white photographer from Caracas- Venezuela.
I will write about him and mountain climbing in Venezuela later. We JUST found out about his death in Nanga Parbat mountain, in Pakistan... after a 10 days search... In urdu language that mountains means: Naked Mountain, but is better known as Killer Mountain. Indeed. We have been expecting news from him since July 12th, but not this one.
But I must tell you about José Antonio`s and Proyecto Cumbre successes.
Next day: I just read that in mountain climbing there are rules and codes. If anyone dies above 5000 meters, he or she will be burried in the mountain, on the same spot where found. Right now the "cherpas", rescue members from Pakistan, are doing the burial. His widow, kids, family and friends will receive a personal belonging of José Antonio. Let me add that he lived -fully lived-, the way he exactly wanted, and that he will be remembered with respect, admiration and love.
In Venezuela, having part of LOS ANDES mountains, there has always been a climbing tradition. They were called ANDINISTAS, and not ALPINISTAS, because they were not climbing THE ALPS. But our climbers are now called MONTAÑISTAS (mountainists... mountaners?), because they have reached the Everest and gone to the South Pole... and everywhere else.
Right in Caracas, in the capital, we have the AVILA mountain. It looks easy to climb. But is not. I can be very tricky and dangerous. So, if you are not a real profesional mountain climber, stick to the paths, and roads in El Avila. Leave the climbing for experts.
Equipment: If you are a profesional climber, you will know what to bring. But I suggest you get in touch with PROYECTO CUMBRE, our own particular venezuelan organization of climbing heros.
José Antonio did so many climbings... in his top 40s, there are a top 5 (over 8000 meters):
1. Cho Oyu 8201 m. in 1994.
2. Shishapangma Central, 8008 m. in 1998.
3. Gasherbrum II 8035 m. in 2000.
4. Everest 8850 m. in 2001
5. Nanga Parbat 8122 m. in 2006. He made it, alone, to the very top. Coming down, due to the killer winds and blizzard, he was taken away.
Taken away, but not from our hearts.
And he always said: "Todos tenemos un Everest" = "We all have an Everest", meaning by that, that we all have a goal, a dream in our lives. He had many...and he reached them...
A Vt member suggested that I should post this in a travelogue (I dont know what that is and where to find it). But I'm sure that José Antonio would rather be in this page, in sports in Venezuela, in mountain climbing. So I will treasure him right here.
First of all: I LOVE HORSES and... I DONT LIKE HORSE RACES.
Venezuela is a horse racing country with a long and succefull tradition in so many Derbys (derbies?) and races and international BIG events, and breeding horses, etc... Oh, and the jockyes!!! We have a bunch of venezuelan riders all over the world!!!
In Caracas we have the HIPODROMO de La Rinconada. Hipódromo is the precise word (Greek origin, then moved to Clasic Latin, then to Vulgar Latin, then to Romance languages, then to Spanish), which means: "hyppos" = horse; "dromo" = track, racetrack. So... Hipódromo = horse racetrack.
In Venezuela we've got other important hipódromos, but the one in Caracas is called "La Rinconada". I went once, for socio-cultural reasons. Didnt like it. I dont like races.
Instead, in Paris, Kentucky, U.S.A. I went to a luxurious race-horses breeding farm and I got to meet a son of the most famous venezuelan horse of them all: CAÑONERO (no, is not canonero, but caÑorero; pronounced like the "gn" en jalapegno = jalapeño). And "Cañón" means "canon". I met his son, a very old horse at that time, not in shape for reproducing purposes anymore, but he was treated like a retired and beloved monarch. I was sooooooooo happy for him.
Equipment: If you really are into horse races, you need to bring money for the bets. (I hate that too...), but dress down and confortable when you go to the hipódromo (this "aint" Ascott, honey...) and dont count your money open in public in front of everybody. Low profile, please. Take care, please.
Several crapy-paper little magazines or booklets (all in Spanish, sorry) are sold in the newspapers stands. They tell you all the information, all of the horses pedigrée, race, jokeys, etc. you need to know for the next Sunday at La Rinconada. Even though I speak Spanish, I dont understand anything of what is written there. Let's say in "La Gaceta Hípica", the most popular one, I think...but Im not sure. The only thing I understand are the names of the horses: "MIREINABELLA", "BOLERO", "CANDELITA", "FOGONAZO", etc.etc.etc.
I cant help you more... but if you really know about races, you will know exactly what to do.
Its a very popular game in Latinamerica. But the game varies a little from one country to another. Although some women play it, this is a man's game (and I find it trully boring, because I dont know math and, when Im playing and relaxing and having lots of fun, I rather not think, I rather dance unleashed).
But if you know math, have an excelent memory and deduction (deductive) power... and love to be sitting down during hours and hours with 3 palls drinking some alcoholic drink, then "el dominó" is the right game for you.
And this is trully venezuelan. I close my eyes and remember clearly my great grand uncles Miguel and Felix playing with their friends. But men keep playing this all over. In any ocasion.
Equipment: The dominos are little rectangle "fichas" or "piedras" (stones). 28 of them, 7 for each player. In one side (the one that faces the other 3 players, there is nothing. On the player side you can see the "ficha" divided in the middle and the some dots or not: 2 dots in one half, 5 dots in the other. Or 3 dots on one half, no dots on the other (equivalent to zero).
These fichas, long ago, used to be made out of ivory (veeery expensive), but now they are made out of wood, some sort of plastic or other resistent material.
The player that starts the game is the one to have "la cochina" (the she-pig... awfull name) which is the doble six (six dots in one half, six dots in the other half), the next player, the one at his right hand, has to place one of his "fichas" with a 6 dots in on half next to this first one. If he doenst have a 6, he passes. Some players say: "Paso" (I pass), others just hit twice the table with one on his "fichas" (meaning the same thing: "paso"). Comes now the turn of player 3, who is the partner of player 1, who is right in front of him on the other side of the table.
There are lots of gestures and body signs and secret words that partners develop through out his life in other to tell the other: I'm running out of 5s, I have too many 3s, I think they have all the 4s. Is very funny to watch men play and scratching their left ear, scratching their head, scratching one testicle. All of this is a secret code. And they look awfully ridiculous. (But they are having a ball!)
Wins the game the player that gets rid first of his 7 "fichas". All of the other "dots" left in the table are added. The team that wins is the one that gets the first 100 points.
Venezuela is the only Latinmerican country whos oficial-most loved sport is NOT, fúbtol. That´s the way to write it in Spanish: fútbol. Why? As I wrote on my béisbol (Baseball) tip: Venezuela, placed on the top of South America is a caribbean country. We have the Caribbean sea from coast to coast. In sports we have been always related to other countries that play the béisbol: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico and U.S.A. In the Big Leagues they have outstanding venezuelans players: Omar Vizquel, Andres Galarraga, Magglio Ordoñez, Johan Santana, Oswaldo Guillén...etc. The baseball tradition started in the early XX century and was reinforced with our oil-petroleum boom. Specially when oil workers and U.S. enterprises stablished all over Venezuelan and lived in "campos petroleros" (oil "camps", little towns in the middle of nowhere).
But back to FUTBOL... we have our own team "La Vinotinto" ("the Wine Color") which is begining... lets be kind and have compassion adn do not talk about it. But we have this FUTBOL TRADITION every 4 years, with every "MUNDIAL DE FUTBOL" (World Championship). We, a country that doesnt care too much for FUTBOL, parallize our lives during a month to see all the games (even on work hours...). The last one ITALY-FRANCE was a... rather... sour one. Nope. An extremely sour one: the victory of the most good looking players of them all... and the heart-breaking issue of Zidane. "MUNDIAL DE FUTBOL 2006 IN GERMANY"... Will never forget it...
Equipment: The funny thing about Venezuela (among so many other funny things) is that beeing futbol-less, since EVER, we root for no matter what other foreing team with crazy-fan-life passion (not a "Hooligan" kind of madness, but a tropical-loving-fun-Bambi one). A passion that only starts and restarts every 4 years, because when the Championship is over, we cant care less about this sport.
Foreineirs find this really odd and ridiculous... HhahaHAahahhaa!!!! WE DONT. We are just having a ball -a fútbol ball- every 4 years. You can see venezuelans with brasilian or italian or german or spanish-from-spain or portuguese or you-name-the-country T-shirts. Many many cars display a flag from England or Holand or France or Ghana (the main trainer and his asistant are venezuelans; yessssssssss 2 venezuelans in Africa!!! So "there"!).
I couldent care less about the sport, but there I was rooting for Burundi from the very begining... until I found out that Burundi had no fútbol team on the World Championship... Then I discovered Fabio Cannavaro, the Captain of the Italian Team, I fell madly in love with him and the rest is history.
If you are a Formula 1 fan-lover... we, venezuelans are too. So, if by any chance you are here, you will be able to watch the Pole position on Saturday, and the race on Sunday. TELEVEN, channel 10, transmits it "live and direct", that means, almost all the time, we have to wake up at seven am. But it you want to sleep, you can see the whole re-run, re-race, at MERIDIANO TV, channel 39: at 11:00 am and, again, at 5:00 pm.
In Venezuela we are big fans (dont pay attention to the following order, please) of ALONSO, RAIKKONEN, (MONTOYA who unexpectedly left the Formula 1 and is in Nascar), M.SCHUMACHER, FELIPE MASSA, RUBENS BARRICHELLO, FISICHELLA, TRULLI, BUTTON.
And we have our own venezuelan HOPE for the near future. His name is Ernesto Viso, currently running in GP2 (2006). He is really young and we cant wait to see him in Formula 1.
Equipment: A confortable bed, blankets and pillows... after 5 minutes of t.v. racing, you might fall aspleep (Formula 1 can be soooo relaxing...). I always wake up at the end, with the National Anthems... and I realize I had an hour and a half, sunday morning, extra nap. I just love Formula 1.
Caracas is located under the Avila, a mountain that reaches 2600 meters (7800 ft.), where the Humboldt Hotel (currently out of service, undergoing arrangements) is located, which you can reach by cable car. Definitely for tourists, it is the best activity around the city, because of the beautiful view and the nice and cool weather. If you like hiking you can also make a three to four hour excursion, and return by cable car (or walking).
Believe it or not, we do play golf. Since always... I'm amazed of how many golf clubs we have in Caracas (Contry Club, Valle Arriba, La Lagunita) and in its surroundings: El Junko, Izcaragua, etc.etc.etc.
Of course, golf have never been a popular and masive sport. It is for privileged people who have a membership on a very chic and "defrost" private club.
Since I'm a BIG fan of Tiger Woods, I was invited to one of this clubs to play. I must admit that took me forever to get to the first hole. Then I walked back, sat beside the pool, and had a mango juice with a little green umbrella.
Equipment: You have to be a member or be invited by a member. And since you know about golf much more than I do, you know well what to bring.
Dont say you are coming to a tournament in CaracUs. Is Caracas. Not Cracus, not crackers... Is Ca-ra-cAs. Thank you. We apreciatte a little effort in pronuciation. That is about it. Caracas.
What is "vino tinto"? Is the way we say in Spanish: "red wine", which isnt red, is more purplelish. So, if we say that we are dressed in "vino tinto" color, that means that specific tone of purple-red.
The "vino tinto" color is the oficial color for sport teams in Venezuela (when we go to play in other countries: Olympic games, Latinamerican Games, any kind of intertational sport competition).
Our fútbol (soccer) team is called, with much pride, "LA VINOTINTO". The uniform is: vino tinto t-shirt, white shorts, white socks, black shoes.
We root for them and sing:
"Olé olé olá
La Vinotinto va!
Eh eh ah
La Vinotinto va!"
Today I'm wearing my vino tinto t-shirt, vino tinto pants, and grey,cream and vino tinto socks with elephants and mice.
Equipment: Dress down
DRESS VINO TINTO!!!
Yes. Baseball. Or as we spell it (and sounds the same) "beísbol".
Venezuela is the only South American country in which exists a very strong and entusiastic baseball tradition. In the rest of South America they play "futbol" (in English: soccer).
Baseball is our national sport. Why? Venezuelan, placed on the top of South America is a caribbean country. We have the Caribbean sea from coast to coast (not bad, uh?). In sports we have been always related to other countries that play the game: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico and U.S.A. In the Big Leagues they have outstanding venezuelans players: Omar Vizquel, Andres Galarraga, Magglio Ordoñez, etc.
The baseball tradition started in the early XX century and was reinforced with our oil-petroleum boom. Specially when oil workers and U.S. enterprises stablished all over Venezuelan and lived in "campos petroleros" (oil "camps", little towns in the middle of nowhere).
I belong to the newest venezuelan baseball team: Los Caribes de Oriente. The Caribes were the venezuelan indians that lived all along the coast and had to fight agains the spanish conquerors. Very, very fierce. (That is what the fish you call piranna, piranha, pirana, we call "caribe").
We just lost "the great final" against "Los Tigres de Aragua". The Tigers... They are the ones that are going to Dominican Republic to play "La Serie del Caribe" (D.R, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Venezuela). Now ALL venezuelans are rooting for them. That´s how it works.
The most famous teams, that didnt make it this year (HA!) are "Los Leones del Caracas" and "Los Navegantes del Magallanes".
Going to the stadium is a big FEAST!!! People sing, dance, eat, drink and venezuelan women show how sexy and beautifull they are.
2004 UPDATE: The Caribes de Oriente -my team- is on the lead, on the very first place. YESSS!!! We are on the middle of our béisbol season and is veeeery exciting!!!
Equipment: If you go to any of the baseball stadiums, dress down, dress confortable. Do not look wealthy. Do not count your money in front of everybody. And is much better if you go with someone else.
Be ready to sing, dance, twist and shout. And be prepared for a beer shower right after the last OUT. Everybody throws to the air (but far way from itself) what is left on their beer bottles or cups.
I've been told that restrooms are o.k. Somehow I dont believe them.