El Toro

This is what I like to call our “once in a lifetime experience”-we did it once in our lifetime and will never do it again.  While vacationing in Madrid, Spain, we took it upon ourselves to witness a bullfight, or several for that matter.  When traveling anywhere, Paul and I like to do what the locals do and try to steer clear of what the tourists do.  It’s not that we don’t ever do the tourist thing, we do, and its sometimes difficult to avoid.  However, we feel if you really want to get to know a place and its culture, you should immerse yourself in it.  So we did just that while visiting Madrid.

Rene's reaction.

On this trip,we took our lovely mother’s along with us.  We could do a blog just on them and their excursions together in Spain, but that’s for another day.  They weren’t so sure they wanted to join us for the bullfight, but after some coercing, we got them to come along.  It was an experience none of us will ever forget.

The bullfighting arena in itself is worth seeing.  When you walk up the stairs of the subway station, an immense building of grand proportions towers in front of you.  It’s old and its craftsmanship is extraordinary.  However, what goes on inside is another matter, of which, I still cannot understand.

Walk inside this building and its like going to a baseball game.  Purchase a beverage, some popcorn, even a t-shirt.  One bit of advice, the concrete seating is not comfortable,so rent a cushion for a small price.  Trust me, its worth it.  Hand over your ticket, find your seat, adjust your cushion, and wait.

Wait until you see this beautiful animal run out into the arena, full of energy, full of confidence.  It has no idea its running into a death trap.  It has no idea its going to have to fight for its life in just a few seconds.  It has no idea, its death is, in my opinion, a sad form of entertainment.

Then comes the matador.  Brightly dressed, waving his cape, he approaches the bull apprehensively only to run and hide behind a small wall when the bull gets too close.  They play this game of hide and go seek for a few minutes before the actual slaughter begins.  The bull has no chance at this point.  The matador himself does not get close to the bull until after he is assisted by friends on horses, the picadors.  The picadors poke at the bull with swords and “prepare” him so that the bull really doesn’t have any fight left in him for the final matador-bull face off.  The bull is weak by this point, its tongue dangling from its mouth.  The matador approaches its horns and plays a game of “wave the cape” before finally doing him in.

I could go into more detail about what we saw and what the ending is really like, but I don’t care to.  Let’s just say, the matador stabs the bull, the bull falls over, the end.  Then it happens all over again, another bull, another matador.  Do I understand this spectacle?  No, not at all.  Will I judge?  Its kind of hard not to.  I want to be respectful of Spain’s culture and of its values and ideas.  I just wonder how many Spaniards value the bullfight today?  I wouldn’t describe the arena as crowded on the day we attended.  How do the animal rights people feel about this?  I need to educate myself more about this, read more, and maybe I’ll understand more.

In Madrid, we had a favorite place we liked to visit-The Bullfighting Bar.  Before I attended the bullfight, I saw the bull’s heads adorned on the walls of the Bullfighting Bar and really didn’t give it much thought.  No different from seeing a deer head on the wall of a local tavern.  After I attended the bullfight, those heads on the wall took on a whole different meaning.  I looked at them and felt remorse and pictured how strong and gallant they probably were before their untimely death.

We did like Spain, a lot.  If anything, they value time spent with friends, eating, and mingling.  We could totally live with having a siesta built into everyday and tapas hopping from one café to the next each night.  But the bullfighting?  Perhaps we’ll visit a soccer arena next time instead.

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