Moonshine turns Mayan horse race in Guatemala rowdy

Mon Nov 2, 2009 4:17pm EST
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By Sarah Grainger

TODOS SANTOS CUCHUMATAN, Guatemala (Reuters Life!) - Despite a drinking ban mayhem erupted at a traditional Mayan horse race on Sunday with riders falling off their horses and drunken spectators stumbling through the mountain village.

Hundreds of tourists and locals gathered for the annual spectacle in Todo Santos Cuchumatan on Sunday to cheer the dozens of riders charging back and forth along a 330-foot (100-meter) length of road for up to seven hours.

But the macho test of stamina was marred, as it has been in the past, by the copious amount of homemade spirits the riders consume, sometimes for days before the race.

At least two Mayan riders fell off their horses during this year's race, and one was carried away by bystanders after being trampled in the mud. Another man walked away from the track with a bloody face.

"People here aren't able to hold their drink, if they have one drink, they just continue until they're so drunk they want to hit someone," said Modesto Mendez, the mayor of the village.

Mendez banned the selling of hard alcohol in the village in May of last year to cut down on accidents, deaths and fighting.

But 18 months later, on the Day of the Dead celebrated throughout Mexico and Central America, drunken people were seen staggering through the village.

Sometimes the dead body of a drunken villager would show up the next morning, the victim of sub-zero temperatures in the cloud-covered mountain ranges.   Continued...

<p>A rider takes part in a traditional horse race on All Saints Day in Todos Santos, Guatemala November 1, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel LeClair</p>