The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly - Cowboys in Glória



Every Friday, late in the afternoon, local cowboys sauntered into town on their horses, driving a small herd of cattle in front of them. In Brazil, the cowboys were vaqueiros, but in Glória, they were usually called gauchos.  

The gauchos who drove their cattle past our house on a dusty dirt road wore leather chaps and leather jackets. They often had holsters with guns strapped to their thighs and dangerous-looking knifes in leather sheaths on their belts. Their leather gaucho hats had brims that were turned up at the front and back rather than at the sides. Many also wore small decorated leather purses at their waists, the precursors of fanny packs.

They were rough men, hardened by harsh conditions.

The herd of cattle passing our house would be kept in a small corral outside of town, then slaughtered in the wee hours of the morning and be sold at the market on Saturday morning.



A family from the neighboring state of Alagoas moved to a farm outside of town. There were a father and four or five sons and one daughter. I never saw the mother so I'm not sure if she had died, left, or if she stayed on the farm when other family members came into town.

On the outskirts of Glória, someone would see the men heading toward town on their horses. Dressed in usual gaucho garb, they were dirty, unshaven (would have been designer stubble today) and, of course, were missing a few teeth much like many of the local cowboys. Their faces and arms had been roasted to a leather color to match their chaps.

Someone would yell that the Alagoanos were coming. Mothers ran outside to grab their children from the streets, dragged them inside, and quickly slammed and locked their doors and shutters. It was like a scene in a Western movie when gunslingers showed up in town.

As far as I know the Alagoanos never caused any trouble. They never hurt or threatened anyone, nor stole anything, but they were feared. Perhaps it was just the fear of the unknown.



Once when we were in the crowded market square on market day, we heard a gunshot. The wife of a local man had been aiming for her husband's mistress. The wife was normally left outside of town  to live on the farm while her husband had a mistress in town. Luckily no one was hurt.  

After the gun was wrestled from the shooter's hand, she was reprimanded by the mayor and handed over to her husband who promised to keep her out of town.          


Cowboys. Cattle drives. Horses. Gunslingers. Shootouts. No wonder there were times when I felt like an extra in a Western movie. I didn't play a big part in the plot, but there I was in the background, watching all of the dusty action.


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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.