Photo of the Day (8.30.09)

Mongolia remains one of the world’s last great uncharted territories, a country of seemingly endless grassy steppes, herds of grazing yaks and wandering nomadic villagers. One of the country’s unique traditions is Mongolian wrestling, a sport that has been popular here for hundreds of years, dating back to the days of Genghis Khan. Flickr user AprilWang2009 took this superb action photo of two Mongolian combatants locked in the midst of struggle. I particularly like the sense of the movement and the soft focus blurring of the audience behind them. It has a very theatrical arrangement to it.

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Bodyslammed in Bolivia – the female wrestlers of El Alto

Our friends over at Intelligent Travel pointed us to this awesome video slideshow feature on female wrestling in Bolivia, put together by the team at National Geographic. Lucha libre, for those who are not familiar, is a style of pro-wrestling popular in Latin America. Its popularity extends all the way to South America, where in Bolivia, a feisty group of women have adopted the sport as their own to show their toughness, demonstrate their passion for lucha libre and just simply to let off a little steam.

Called cholitas luchadoras, these wrestling women are typically Aymara, one of the main ethnic groups of Bolivia. Taking stage names like the “Amorous Yolanda” and the “Evil Claudina,” the women take to the stage in the town of El Alto each Saturday night, dressed in their full traditional regalia of petticoats, bowler hats and braided hair. These girls don’t play nice either – attendees can expect to see all the bone-crunching body slams, flying leaps and folding chair weapons they have come to expect from their male counterparts.

It was only 7 years ago that Bolivian entrepreneur and diehard lucha libre fan Juan Mamani had the idea to introduce women into his weekly wrestling events. Attendance was dwindling and Mamani wanted to find a way to bring a new audience to the shows. Several years on and the women have become one of the event’s most popular draws. More interesting perhaps, is that many men come not to gawk at the “pretty ladies” but seem to genuinely admire them for their skill and passion for the sport.

I can’t say that I’ve ever been much of a fan of wrestling, but these women might have won me over. Anybody up for some lucha libre on their next South America trip?

Derrie-Air, an airline that’s just a dream

A few days ago, Grant posted about Derrie-Air, a new airline that is to charge passengers by the pound–not just the baggage weight, but the passenger weight as well. “The more you weigh, the more you pay.”

As Grant noted in his post, and Daily Travel & Deal, the L.A. Times travel blog, reported yesterday, the airline isn’t real, but was created as an ad campaign study by Philadelphia Media Holdings to see how effective print advertising can be. There was enough of a buzz that it’s clear that people, in general, have problems traveling on the same plane with people who are overweight. Feeling squished in an airplane seat next to a person who is taking up more than his or her fair share of space is annoying at best and anger producing at its worst.

When I read about Derrie-Air, before I caught on to the hoax, I flashed to my high school friends who wrestled in the lower weight class. They barely ate for the season and told tales of how they worked on getting their weight down before they stepped on a scale before a meet to see if they qualified. If people did have to pay for their airline ticket according to their weight, I could see there might be some who would do the same thing wrestlers do about a week before their travel date. There they would be in their neighborhoods wearing sweatsuits, walking around the block over and over again, just to loose the water weight.

I also imagined the arguments couples would have at the airport, blaming each other for the extra weight one of them packed as their souvenir money was eaten up by the cost of the seat. “If it wasn’t for you we could have that extra day at Disneyland.”

Tijuana, Mexico: Real Mexican Wrestling

WrestlingAs a child I would watch the WWF on television side-by-side with my kid bro and punish him later with some killer wrestling moves of my own. As a young girl I towered over the little pip-squeak and made him plead for mercy. I showed none. You could call me the ‘Macho Woman Adrienne Savage.’ These days I wouldn’t dare. In fact, I don’t even watch wrestling anymore. Whatever became of the WWF? It’s something else now, right? Through Nacho Libre it has worked its way back into my life. I want to be a kid again. I want to root for the underdog and for him to be a victorious champion and hero. I want to go to a real live wrestling match.

Tijuana. Jim Benning tells a tale of the real Nacho Libre in Tijuana, a popular Mexican border town outside of California for the Washington Post. Great fighters bounce from the ropes off each other’s chest sending the crowds into cheering mode. Few gringos are amongst the fans of El Hijo del Santo, Blue Demon Jr., and Rey Misterio. This is a better side of Tijuana. I suggest fans of the film click into this for a real taste of the wrestling scene.

In the mean time is there anyone who’d like to go? I promise not to use any sleeper holds and I don’t bite – anymore.