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An Afternoon at the Guinea Pig Races

They're a common sight along Bogotá's Sunday Ciclovia near the San Francisco Church: Several guinea pigs lined up on the sidewalk facing some colorful overturned bowls.What are they? Surprisingly, they're trained athletes, participating in what must be one of the world's most eccentric contests: the guinea pig races.


After lining up his animals, the pigs' proprietor animates the crowd by announcing that this is 'a novel and healthy activity,' and that by betting 200 pesos bystanders won't lose their rent money. He also observes that these animals, called cuy, are a favorite meal in Nariño Department.

One by one, the hopeful place coins on the bowls. When there are enough coins, the guinea pig owner lets one go. If he runs into the bowl you bet on, you get five times your bet - usually 1,000 pesos.

That's a guinea pig race, Bogotá style. It's true that you won't lose much - or win much. But you'll have a few minutes of silly fun.


Ready to go!


He's off!


Come on, let's go there.


Almost there...


We've got a winner.


Collecting the take.

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Guest Monday, 20 October 2014


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