Sunday, October 09, 2005


I always thought a bullfight was one matador against one bull. Flapping a big red blanket, the fight would be just that, a fight, and it would take trickery and stamina for man to win.

At 5:30 this afternoon, at the Plaza del toros, I saw the systematic, ritualistic killing of 6 bulls. Plaza del toros is a perfect circle, 27 rows up and around, and 2 small covered tiers of 6 rows each at the top. There are no advertisements, every seat was filled.

As Werner and I walked through the halls toward section alto 25, we passed the man renting small blue and grey seating pads, and the fellow hawking cans of beer from a small red tin cooler. As we entered the seating area, an unamplified band played traditional music from the top of section 16. We settled into our hard stone bench seats and looked at our feet resting on the white tile and jammed between the base of our own seats and the top of the seats in front of us. The man behind to me lit a cigar.

Next, a man walked out into the center of the 2 concentric white chalk circles hoisting a large sign with the number 541 over his head. Clapping began as the 6 sparkly matadors emerged from the tunnel under section 16 and did the procession around the ring.

They each settled behind small wooden safety panels against the side of the ring, as the bull came charging out of the tunnel. For 3 minutes, the men peeked out from the panels and shook their yellow and pink blankets. The bull ran from one to the next trying to butt the toreodors with its horns. Then l long shrill toot from the trumpets and the gates open revealing 2 men on 2 blinded, armored horses.

The 2 horses go to opposite sides of the ring. Both men sit upon their horse, long pointy poles in hand, as the matadors begin creeping from their safety panels. They continue to bate the bull back and forth around the ring until one man on the horse calls out. The bull looks in the direction of the sound. Head down, it charges the blinded horse. Just before the bull strikes the horse, the man on the horse raises the pointy pole and jams it smack into the back of the bull's neck. the bull continues to butt into the horses armour as blood begins flowing down its coat. A matador bates it away, exposing the bloodied neck to the jeering crowd.

The horse man stabs the bull again, and leaves the ring to the sound of trumpets. His idle companion from accross the ring leaves too.

One matador appears with 6 long swords covered in peppermint stick colored wraps. he gives the first pair to another matador who runs to the center of the ring. As the man in the center with the 2 swords calls for the attention of the bull, he raises the swords above his head, points down, ready to stab. He runs toward the bull. The bull runs toward him. As he passes the bull to the side, his arms descend, slamming the 2 swords into the back of the bull's neck. He runs to safety jumping over the wall out of the ring.

This happens 3 times. Blood continues spilling down the bull's coat.

Now the bull has 6 swords sticking from his neck. They are flimsy, and a few fall out. Allbut one matador leave the ring. The solo matador stands in the middle of the ring waving a special red blanket. He leads the bull in a dance: vexing and tiring it out, getting it ready to die.

He gets a special sword, hits it against the side of the ring, and re-engages the bull. He raises his arms, decends the sword into the bulls back and steps away as 2 others begin to distract the bull from side to side. Quickly, its legs buckle, and 600 kilos fall bumping the ground. The final matador snaps the bulls spine with a knife, and the bull lays motionless legs sticking strait up in the air.

The audience rises. 3 mules emerge from the tunnel and are led by 3 men to the bull. They strap the bull to the mules. The mules pull the bull to the tunnel leaving a trail of blood that is quickly raked over by the groundskeepers. The audience sits as the bull disappears.

Each time, the dance is the same, in 2.5 hours, no men are hurt and 6 bulls are killed.

hmmmmm, not a fair fight.


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