I had been waiting for some catalyst that would allow me to show a few of the rooster photos I had taken of Paquito on Avenida Central in San José and thanks to a terrific article in our biggest, most respected newspaper La Nación, I can now use those photos.
Martin says that the roosters are intelligent, quiet, and prefer to be alone. Because of this, Paquito is his faithful friend. Their daily journeys through the capital of San José have converted them into a picturesque, living landmark.
Paquito was born next to the bed of Martín de la Trinidad Herrera. Since that day they have been inseparable but in order to live together they had to learn about each other. Martin practiced for hours so that Paquito could sit on Martin’s shoulder without falling off and, Martin learned how to hold him without pulling on any of his feathers.
Paquito is temperamental. He knows very well what he likes, and what he does not.
Most of the time is passed in silence, observing. He has the ability to stand for hours staring at an object or a person. Paquito is also spoiled. He lives in a parallel world to the rest of many other roosters and chickens.
“He broke out of his shell on the 4th January 2014,” Martin told me in the house he shares with his brother in Tres Ríos. A home surrounded by thousands of plant and very tall trees that provide oxygen to loads of roosters living in the back.
“The first rooster I had was called Coco. It was the the same, he was always with me. So that Paquito would behave well, I had to train him for 17 days straight,” explained Martin.
For Paquito to know how to behave I had to educate him for 17 days in a row,” Martin explained.
Martín is 58 years old. He is tall and thin. He gets up early every day, and sleeps little. His favorite sport is the perilla (slang for playing with the buttons and watching TV). “How I like to watch TV!” He told me.
Many years ago when he was 26 years old he worked in Matapalo in Quepos where he taught English in a school. He had learned English by studying through correspondence with a program given by a university in Seattle, United States. The course lasted two and a half years and “he did it in three months.”
Now Martín works translating documents, so he earns enough money to feed himself and to feed Paquito.
But before leaving, he had to dress the rooster in one of the many styles that Martín has created with carefully selected pieces trimmed to cover the rooster’s breast. Inside another bag Martin keeps candy for the road.
In the bus we were standing so Paquito can see through the window.
“If I climb on to the bus without Paquito then everyone asks me if anything has happened to him.”
“Paquito is my friend, we have learned to communicate, although I know that many do not understand this, but he is my partner.
Over time, the Central Avenue in San Jose became an important space for the relationship of both. Almost every day they leave early to take a walk and say hello to everyone.
“Paquito is famous, and many people stop him for pictures.” He also enters the clothing stores, they let him get on the stands of street vendors.
Martín understands the behavior, and for that reason he can enjoy it. His love for the roosters is not a rarity, he knows the name of all the roosters he takes care of. “Pepe, Pablo, Chumeco, Tocoro.”
But his eyes are for Paquito, he gives him his food, he’s is in love with the gold of his feathers, and he did not have to learn to walk slower to keep up. “We’re both going to the same rhythm.”
Costa Rica’s Most Famous Rooster – Paquito!
You can see some more exceptional photos by Jeffrey Zamora in the La Nación article about ‘Paquito el del barrio’ here.
Our thanks to our friends at La Nación – Costa Rica’s largest Spanish circulation newspaper for their written permission to summarize their articles in English.
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