Earlier than the fight begins, the residents of Zitlala break up into two teams and dance underneath the extreme solar alongside steep streets, to the rhythm of banda, a sort of Mexican music.
First, the male contestants enter the battleground – the city’s basketball courtroom – to fight for about 5 minutes at a time, watched by crowds of spectators.
“Come on! Come on!” a burly, bare-chested man says, difficult his opponent.
Minutes later, he raises his arms in victory, blood beginning to seep from the injuries inflicted by his rival.
Referees stand by prepared to separate the fighters in the event that they break the foundations.
The musicians of each side play concurrently, including to a chaotic ambiance.
Quickly the air is full of the aroma of mezcal, an agave spirit that the contestants drink and use to moist their whips to make them more practical.
EQUALITY REPLACES MACHISMO
Three hours later, it’s the girls’s flip. They greet and hug one another earlier than and after the fight, not like the lads.
Inside minutes, Vicente’s opponent removes her masks in defeat after some well-aimed lashes.
“I felt good, proud!” Vicente declares, savoring her victory.
The ritual ensures the wet season begins punctually — a lifeline for a neighborhood that depends on corn and different crops, says resident Cleofas Cojito, 60.
She welcomes the participation of girls within the custom, which was as soon as so brutal that some contestants even died, Cojito says.
“Now there’s equality. There is not a lot machismo anymore,” she provides.
This yr, round 30 girls fought – in contrast with three at their debut in 2019 – and 200 males.
The following day, Vicente feels sore, however motivated.
“I am going to fight once more. We have now to take care of what we have already gained,” she says with a smile.