Thursday, May 22, 2014

Una corrida de toros

Sunday, May 18th

Okay, as you might know, if you read my last blog, I went to a bullfight on Sunday. But I guess before I get to that I should talk about the rest of my day. I did nothing, I think. I chilled at home and I did some blogging! :) Then, the evening rolled around and I met Esther at the metro so we could go to the bullfight. First things first, I will say that the Plaza de Toros is really pretty. And I will say that if you ever go to a bullfight, be prepared. I was not. I mean, I was mentally, but be prepared in the sense that you have food, water, a hat, a fan, and something to sit on. We got "sun seats" because they were the cheapest, but it means that you are in the sun the whole time and that your seat is fried. Luckily, I had my jacket so that kept my butt from burning and I had sunglasses, but I had no water and no food, which was a pretty big mistake on my part. But yea, let's get to the actually bullfight.
I'll first start by telling you the structure of a bullfight. There are three toreros (bullfighters) and each torero "fights" two bulls. I know what you're thinking already or I know what I was thinking at least.."Okay, that's six tortured and killed bulls." Okay, so all of the fighters and the helpers (each matador has seven assistants: two picadores (lancers), three banderilleros (flagmen), a mozo (sword servant), and the ayuda (the sword servant's helper). The whole team is called a cuadrilla)...Anyway, they all enter at the start of the fights (paseíllo) to the sound of trumpets and they acknowledge the presidente (dignitary) and then exit or take their position if they are the first ones up. A guy comes to the center of the plaza with a board that has the fighter's name and the weight, age, and breed of the bull. Also, did you know the bulls have names? I can't decide if that makes it worse or better.
Then, the bull enters. There are three tercios (thirds/parts) to a bullfight: tercio de varas (the picadores third),  tercio de banderillas (the banderillas third), and the tercio de muerte (the death third). All of my pictures are from the first third. I may include some Google photos to illustrate the other two thirds, but before reading on, I guess I should advise that there is adult content. Ha. I'm not really sure what the rating on a bullfight is...maybe R due to violence? I don't know. Anyway, the bull, I feel like I should just direct you to read the Wikipedia page...nah, whatever..I'll tell we're back to where the bull enters. Ha.
The first part consists of the bull coming out and the bull charges at several different banderilleros. For me, I just saw it as a way to tire the bull out and I thought it was unfair that the banderilleros get to run and hide behind these walls. I would want to hide though too if a bull was charging at me.
It also kind of reminded me of when you have a laser pointer and a cat, but imagine 5 laser pointers and one cat. According to Wikipedia though, the torero uses this time to see "how the bull charges, any vision problems he might have, unusual head movements, or if the bull favors a part of the ring called aquerencia, or territory. A bull trying to reach its territory is often more dangerous than a bull that is attacking the cape directly." After this, the bullfighter (matador or torero..I will be using all three of these words) shows off his skills in during the suerte de capote (literally translated--luck/fate of the cape). He just gets the bull to charge at him and he moves the cape. I have a video of this, but actually the one video I got, the bullfighter kind of messed up a bit. It's supposed to be flawless, but the cape gets caught on the bull's horns briefly:

Next, the two picadores enter the ring on horses with their vara (lance) and they get the bull to charge at the horse. When it does, the picador shoves the lance into a specific point on the back of the bull (morrillo) to weaken it and to make it bleed. "If the picador does his job well, the bull will hold its head and horns lower during the following stages of the fight. This makes him slightly less dangerous while enabling the matador to perform the passes of modern bullfighting" (Wikipedia). I didn't notice this, but I was mostly paying attention to the heavy breathing of the bull.
The next stage of the bullfight (tercio de banderillas) is when the horses leave the arena and the banderillas come out with these colored barbed sicks that they have to get in that same point on the back of the neck. They do this by get extremely close to the bull, then stabbing it, and then backing away quickly. I think there was a total of 6 banderillas, two per person. Once the matador has a little bit more "fun" with the bull, the third part starts (tercio de muerte).
The third part involves the matador with the infamous red cape (muleta) and a sword. Again, the matador just shows off his skill and control by attracting the bull, but avoiding injury. Wikipedia fun fact: "The red colour of the cape is a matter of tradition, as bulls are actually color blind: they attack moving objects (the real reason that a red colored cape is used is that any blood stains on it will be less noticeable." Nice, huh? The crowd claps and yells for the wonderful show. Then, the helpers come out with their capes and they kind of surround the bull and use their capes to disorient it until it lays down. Then, the matador uses his sword to perform the final blow (descabello) to around that same spot on the back of the neck. There are cases when this isn't successful, which is not good for the bullfighter's reputation or the bull, in my opinion. In these cases, the bullfighter uses a second sword to cut the spinal cord, then a helper further destroys the spinal cord with a dagger.
The matador wearing his traje de luces during the descabello
After the bull is dead, a group of horses, or mules or whatever, come into the ring and drag the bull off. According to Wikipedia (I have such a great source, huh? Ha.) Sometimes, but very rarely, a bull is pardoned if it has shown an exceptional performance during the fight. It seems like the crowd decides this by waving handkerchiefs in the air before the bull is stabbed by the matador. The matador stops what he is doing and the presidente decides whether the fight will go on or not. If it does not, the bull is "freed" in the sense that he retires and is raised as a stub..I imagine after a healing process... Oh also there is a crew that "cleans" up the ring quickly, kind of like a raker taking care of the long jump pit at a track meet.

After the whole fight, a trophy is given out to the matadors if successful. This may be a bull's ear, the two ears, or the two ears and the tail.

Okay, now that I have given you the whole low-down on a bullfight, I will explain my experience. So, you already know it was super hot and that I didn't have water or food and I wasn't anticipating enjoying it. So, I will straight up tell you that we left after two bulls. I knew that I would like it and I thought I could stay for the whole thing, but I guess not. After the second bull, I got super pass out dizzy and I was not about to stick around and see if my body was going to pass out or not. I don't know if it was the heat or watching the helper stick a knife in the bull and wiggle it around (because the matador apparently didn't do the job) or a combination of both. What I do know is that I got super dizzy, my hearing was fading, my stomach was grumbling, and I got really thirsty. So, of course, I put my head between my knees, Esther gave me some water, and we left after a few minutes. Part of me wishes that I could have had the whole experience and stayed the whole time, but looking back I'm okay with the decision of leaving. While there, I also learned some more news that I was unaware of before: the torture that takes place beforehand. Some argue that the bulls used for bull fights have good lives. They get to roam freely and live longer than a meat cow does and I'm not going to say how a meat cow gets treated because I don't know, but I will say that from reading, it seems that bulls undergo a lot before a fight even starts. A bull gets vaseline rubbed in its eyes to compromise its vision, cotton stuffed in its nose to mess up its breathing, its given laxatives probably to dehydrate it it and weaken it, it is kept in a dark place for a few days before the fight, among other things. I will say that these are just things that I found online and you can't always trust everything, but yea, there's that. Plus, the horses...I have no idea what kind of training they go through in order to remain calm and still while a bull is trying to get them. And I should add that the pads on the horse weren't introduced until the 1930s and before that, the horses usually died along with the bull. So there's that. I think I have said about all I wanted to about that. Obviously there is a huge controversy about bullfighting. There have been many protests and it seems to be a pretty common argument in Spain, but you can decide for yourself.
Spain bullfighting, 2012

Protesters against bullfights
Okay, one last thing and then I'm done with this... I read on the news that a matador got gored during a bullfight TWO days after I went! CRAZY!!!! Read the story here. Okay, now this is the last thing..why can't bullfighting just be the paso doble? Ha..
Wow, I had no idea that I would write so much about the bull fight. Hope you enjoyed learning about it as much as I did. Anyway, since we left early, we walked around for a little bit. I got some fresh air and we ended up running into the Atlético de Madrid parade! You know how the Chicago Blackhawks had that huge parade when they won the Stanley Cup. Well, it was like that. We got there just in time to see the players roll in on the bus. All of my pictures are of course blurry though.
Anyway, there are two fountains in Madrid, Cíbeles and Neptuno. Real Madrid (boo!) celebrates their victories at Cíbeles and Atlético (YAY!) celebrates at Neptuno, so that's where the bus was heading and this particular celebration was a big one because Atléti won the their league, becoming the first team in a decade to win La Liga that wasn't Barcelona or Real Madrid! And hopefully, they keep the momentum going because on Saturday they play in the Champions League (European Cup) finals for the first time in 40 years. And to top it off, they will be playing Real Madrid! A few weeks ago, I talked about this game and how exciting it will be to be in Madrid and guess what? I won't be in Madrid. I will be traveling to the south of Spain this weekend, but you can bet that I will be keeping my ears open to hear about the game. Hopefully, I will make it for some of the celebration, especially if Atléti wins! I wish I could be in Madrid, because they are even opening up both of the stadiums to watch the game (because the game is in Lisbon), but I am happy to be going to the south, too. It was just some bad planning and timing.

Anyway, since I have already talked about other serious issues here in Spain, I might as well add that on Sunday, Spain has their elections for the representatives of the European Union. So, the big game is on Saturday and voting is on Sunday. I've heard that a lot of people are not going to be voting, but we'll see. I honestly am not one for politics, but I may take this time to care for a little bit. Also, here's a political cartoon because I think it's a good one.
European weekend: Saturday to jump up and down! And Sunday to vote!
Wow, well I guess I will end it there. I feel like I talked about a lot this blog! Hope you enjoyed it, sorry if it was too long.

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