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24 Balsas

In the "Cult of Escapism": 24 Balsas

Friday, April 20, 2012

24 Balsas

I discovered the Untouchable Rabbit Technique just in time. I began with the Scissor Technique and got pegged in the legs four out of the first five throws. After a quick calculation, I realized that if I maintained this ratio of dodging to getting pegged, I would end up getting pegged 19 times*. Gauging my overall toughness, I further decided that that would hurt a lot and I probably wouldn't be able to walk. On either leg. So I switched it up.

Getting pegged - pre Rabbit Technique
Last week, I went to my third and likely final balseria in a town two hours walking from my site. There, I did what I normally do at balserias, which is: watch people fight, watch people throw four foot balsa sticks at one another and accept extremely questionable containers full of fermented corn liquor (chicha fuerte). (I literally once drank chicha out of a kerosene bottle.)

I also decided to play again and found someone from the visiting town willing to throw (you can't play against someone from your own area). The guy I talked to turned out to be the 'Local Chief' of the visiting area, or a politician serving mostly as voice of the people. I proposed 10 throws each and he haggled me up to 24. And by 'haggled up,' I mean he said, “We should throw 24 instead” and I agreed because I didn't want to look like a wuss. That means I agreed to have 24 balsa sticks thrown at me and then throw 24 balsa sticks at someone else. The chicha fuerte may have had an impact on this decision.

This picture is so sweet - classic Rabbit Technique here
My other concern with the agreement was that the Chief appeared much more sober than I. This goes against my first rule of agreeing to have large sticks thrown at me, which is Do Not Play With Anyone Less Drunk Than I. Luckily, the Chief turned out to be only a facilitator in the process and chose a different balsero from his county to throw with me. And that dude was drunk.

My courage thus returned, I took the field and was almost immediately given a hat with a bunch of feathers sticking out of it. Awesome. So I danced and tried the Scissor dodge, which, as I mentioned, didn't work at all, and thus switched to the Untouchable Rabbit Technique.

My challenger - is it obvious he's been drinking?
This Technique involves jumping over the big stick that's being thrown at you. The advantage is that one is not allowed to throw above the knees, so if you can jump above knee level fast enough, you can only really get hit in the feet, if at all. The risk is that the other guy can just feint, wait for you to land and then drill your planted legs. Luckily, my companion was too inebriated to figure this out and I almost entirely dodged 20 straight throws.

My turn.

He seemed a little tired – most likely from being drunk for almost 20 straight hours (I don't know that for sure, but that's how they do) – so I decided not to give him much time between throws.

I kicked his ass. After twenty throws and a particularly solid peg, he was sitting on the ground and gave up. My first instinct was to yell, “KING KONG. AIN'T GOT SHIT. ON ME.” But that seemed a bit unsporting, so instead I shook his hand and accepted more questionable containers of chicha.
Cool hat huh?

So I have a new skill, but how to use it in the future? Today, one of my host moms told me about how balseria came to the Ngäbes: long ago, a wizard named Üro traveled to another dimension and learned the sport balseria, which he taught to the Ngäbes. I'm Üro, currently in another dimension but soon to return to show you white people how to throw sticks at each other.

So you better study up on your Rabbit Technique.

*Actually 19.2 for you sticklers out there, but I don't calculate fractions that quickly, especially after drinking several paint jars of fermented corn liquor.  


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