Bernd and I went to a bullfight on Sunday. I’m glad I went, since it’s such a longstanding tradition in Spain, but I don’t think I ever need to go to another. We left after four out of the six bulls had been killed; that was enough for me.

I was hesitant to go because I don’t want to watch anything die, but I think I was expecting something different: a guy and a bull in a ring, maybe. It wasn’t like that at all. When the bull first comes into the ring, the matador and his assistants are standing around with bright pink flags which they use to provoke the bull. When the bull charges them, they jump behind the wooden walls so they don’t get gorged.

After the bull is sufficiently riled up, two horsemen with long lances come out, riding some incredibly laid-back horses. The horses have their eyes covered (if you’ve ever seen a horse freak out at the sight of blowing leaves, you’ll know why this is a necessary precaution in a ring with an angry bull). The matadors continue to confront the bull with their bright pink capes. A few times the bull tried to charge the horses, but they wear very heavy armor, and the riders also have their lances to stab the bull in the back.

When the horses leave, the matador’s assistants approach, each carrying two short, colorful spears. They wait for the bull to rush at them, and then stab these into it’s shoulder muscles as they jump out of the way. By the time the main matador is left alone in the ring, the bull has several of these spears hanging off of his back.

The matador continues to confront the now wounded and angry bull, with his red cape and a sword. Near the end, he switches swords (for a stronger one, perhaps?) and stabs the bull through the heart. Even fatally wounded, the bull continues to try to charge at him for a few minutes before collapsing, at which point an assistant stabs him through the back of the head? the neck? …I’m not exactly sure, because I had trouble watching at that point. I don’t even kill spiders because I don’t like watching them twitch and die, and a bull twitching is worse.

After the matador stabs the bull through the heart, the crowd goes wild and waves white handkerchiefs.

When the dead bull has been dragged out of the ring by two (different) horses, the matador walks around the ring and does his rockstar thing…. people cheer and throw flowers and hats at him, and he tosses the bull’s severed ear in the crowd. I was very glad Bernd and I had the cheap seats, far out of bull-ear-throwing range.

I wasn’t very impressed by the matadors. Like I said, I was expecting something different. You’re in a ring with a huge angry animal, but you have half a dozen friends, wearing the same fancy embroidered pants as you. You have a cape, a sword, several horses, spears, and wooden walls to jump behind if the bull tries to impale you against the side of the ring. I’m not going to scream and throw flowers at you for that.

Another thing that surprised me is how quiet the bull was. I don’t know, exactly, what kind of noises I thought a bull would make…. but it seemed like it was the only quiet participant in the whole thing. Everyone else was yelling or cheering or playing in the band. (Except for me… I didn’t feel like I could clap, and a lot of the time my hand was over my mouth or my eyes anyway.) I’m too much of a wuss to be Spanish.

Still, I also don’t think it’s as horrible and barbaric as some people do. Anyone who has ever been cornered by PETA has heard about the way animals are treated in the United States. In Spain, they have an entire culture that likes to antagonize and kill bulls in stadiums full of cheering people. But we have an entire culture that is okay with dying animals… we just don’t want to see them die. I know full well that if I had to go out back and kill a chicken for dinner, I would be a vegetarian. Many people would. But if someone else kills it, chops it up, and makes it look like meat instead of just dead animal, it’s okay. In Spain, it’s just all out there.

One time at the DEMF I was cornered by PETA, and they were telling me about how cruel the chicken farms are, and I asked them what they knew about the boneless/skinless chicken farms… how do those poor suckers even walk around? Seriously.

Anyway, that’s the news from Spain. Yesterday I walked up to the cuatro postes, broke my sandal, had to shlep around in the rocks and dirt and glass with bare feet, watched a creepy movie, explored an abandoned house, and almost died by pigeon attack… but I’ll show you those pictures later. 🙂


4 Responses to Toros

  1. D.Cous. says:

    Wow. I don’t think I could’ve stayed, good for you. I’m pretty squeamish around blood and stuff, and not such a big fan of killing animals. That said, I like eating animals an awful lot, and I voted in favor of shooting doves in MI based on the question “what would Ted Nugent do?” Still, I don’t think I could handle the bullfight. I like your haircut, sorry it was such an ordeal!

  2. Nach says:

    Everybody can find the beauty in bullfighting (as the same in raw life): the dance begins with the torero being the female and the bull the male. The bull has the power, and the torero dances playing with this power close to death. As the corrida goes on, the torero transforms on male and the bull in female. Finally, the transformed male (now as matador) kills the female, the death incarnation, conquering it.
    This dance has its standard movements, and the perfection in the execution reflect the “tauromaquia” quality.

    But a lot of people only see BLOOD:

  3. Pingback: 20/365 « Me importa. Me importas. Me importan.

  4. Pingback: 20/365 « Me importa. Me importas. Me importan.

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