The Bullfight

Kids posing in front of the event poster

Well we lucked out this evening and were able to spend our Halloween evening doing something we’ve never done before.  We watched real blood and gore at a bullfight in Torremolinos.  It was an experience we won’t soon forget, albeit not one that any of us are going to rush out and repeat.  Except probably for Edmund, who kept saying, “Man, that was awesome!  But me not want to be a bull.  Or the guys fighting the bull.  But it was awesome!!!”

Just in case you’re not quite familiar with a bullfight, it’s rather shocking the first time you see one in real life, and it would be sure to set PETA into a frenzy.  It’s quite violent and there’s a decent amount of the bull’s blood shed for the entertainment of the crowd.  We actually found ourselves rooting for the bull.  So much so that when one of the junior matadors fell down and the bull was right on top of him, Peter couldn’t contain himself and yelled out, “yeah, get him, GET HIM!!!”  Quite a few of the other people in the crowd started chuckling and turned around to see who was publicly cheering for the bull.  I shhh’d Peter down and told him that even though we were cheering for the bull, we didn’t want to upset any Spaniards in the crowd if that was taboo.

So just to highlight the process – the bull is let into the ring where there are 5 or 6 junior matadors all waving their capes (for lack of the proper word) at the bull and then running for cover when the bull comes flying in their direction.  I guess they do this to tire the bull out, which is probably wise as those things can actually move pretty fast.  Then they just basically taunt and harass the bull for the next 5 minutes, until they bring out the spears.  4-6 barbed spears are then thrown into the back of the bull, causing it a good amount of agony and pain.  The matadors then harass it for another 5-10 minutes before breaking out their sword and plunging it into the back of the bull.  And I mean “plunge”.  As in, you can’t see much of the 3 foot blade anymore, as it is now inside the bull’s innards.  This causes the bull to stumble but not usually die right away.  The bull is kind of  in a stupor now, with 4-6 spears hanging from its flesh and a sword inside.  Then once the bull has pretty much exhausted all of its energy and just stands there with the matadors all around it, still taunting it, they plunge a knife into the base of its skull, right at the spine.  Yeah, pretty graphic stuff actually.

But it was interesting because there was this one junior matador who just had no luck tonight.  There were 4 bulls in all that were killed at the bullfight, and each bull managed to get a run at this one junior matador.  He had a pretty rough go of it.  The 3rd bull managed to step on this guy’s ‘cape’ that he was waving in the bull’s face, which prompted the matador to drop it, and then the bull chased him clear across the ring until the guy did a flying handstand over the perimeter rail to remove himself from the ring.

This same guy wasn’t so lucky however with the 4th bull, as the bull got him pinned against the wall and started goring him.  It was the real deal, no Hollywood special effects involved.  This dude was getting mashed by this enormous pissed-off creature, until the other junior matadors could distract the bull enough to get him away from the fallen matador.  Then the other guys had to pick up the fallen matador, as he was unresponsive, and rush him outside to the waiting ambulance.  God only knows if he survived the night…  man, that was some serious stuff.  But when you play with gasoline and matches sometimes things go boom.

Not quite sure exactly what turns the Spanish on to this sort of entertainment, but it is a sport WAY older than anything North Americans play.  However we’ve read that Barcelona is the first province in Spain to ban it as it is inhumane treatment for the animal.  There is a very real chance that this sentiment spreads over all of Spain over the next decade, so it was probably good for us to see one while they are still around.  Not that I’m sanctioning the whole process, but just from the point of view of experiencing things.

Brian

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9 Responses to The Bullfight

  1. Pingback: A Look Back: My 7 Links | At Home in the World

  2. Ignacio says:

    You have an excellent Travel-Log/Website.
    Allow me to post a few extra comments regarding bull-fighting. Although it occasionally gets referred to as a “sport” by foreign visitors, it really has nothing to do with sports but is rather a traditional spectacle that’s been a part of Spain’s culture for centuries. You’ll notice on any Spanish newspaper that bull-fighting is never covered in the “Sports” section (soccer, etc..) but rather in the “Culture” section along side with music, theatre, painting /sculpture galleries, etc..
    Bullfighting goes back to the Roman Empire, where it was related to Gladiator spectacles. Lions were in short supply in the Roman “Hispania” but wild bulls were plentiful, the rest is history but the spectacle evolved over the centuries to what you have today.
    Did you see anyone on horseback at the bull ring? You didn’t mention the “Picadores” which are lancers on horseback that stab the bull with a long lance? They sort of look like a medieval night… This is also part of the full spectacle and if they didn’t do that, then it was probably a lesser spectacle that Torremolinos runs for tourists.
    Nowadays, bullfighting’s popularity has much decreased, and over 70% of Spaniards (count me in this majority) have no interest in it. In 2009, it was not only banned in the province of Barcelona, but also in the complete region of Cataluña (that is Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Taragona).
    Stay safe and happy travels!
    Cheers.

    • Hello!
      Thank you for such an informative comment! I especially liked the historical context you shared involving the Roman Empire related to Gladiator spectacles. I think our children will be very appreciative of the information you shared. We didn’t see the Picadores, which would indicate that the bullfight must have been for tourists. We read that Bullfights usually ocurred in the summer so we were pleasantly surprised to be able to attend one as late as October.
      Thank you again for taking the time to share these interesting gems of information. We wish you well!
      Jennifer

  3. Renee says:

    Oh I always knew you were a poet…my sister did read me some of those early letters when you were “just friends” … not going out but just”kindred spirits” lol..

    it was nice to see your face yesterday!

    Did the girls hate it when the bulls died? I can remember them crying a lot with the mouse you caught. And I can totally hear the boys say those things! haha.. It’s great that when this is banned, and when the kids are older, they can tell their kids that they witnessed a bull fight! How awesome!

  4. Linda says:

    Well written Brian, I cannot imagine sitting through an experience such as a bullfight, I would also be cheering for the bull …..

  5. Lisa says:

    Well written Brian. Thanks for the details about the Bullfighting as we didn’t have the chance to see it while we were in Spain. It’s one of those experiences that you experience at least once (since your there). Did you have to prep the kids before you went?

    • Thanks for the comments. I was known as Brian Hemingway in another life. As for the children, no we didn’t prep them. I didn’t even prep Jenn. She was a little taken aback when she learned that the bull was going to die in front of our eyes. It was expensive to see, 130 Euros for us all to go, but we figured it was likely going to be the only time we could see one.

  6. Gerard Hagan says:

    Sounds like football. A defensive linemen sacking a quarterback…

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