Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bull Fight

Bullfighting in Spain is like the NFL in the USA, except bigger. Most of the bigger cities have bull rings plus there is tv coverage. When one of the favorite matadors is killed, it is mass mourning and a memorial statue is built over the grave. Thursday night, we got our chance to see a bullfight in person. (My wife, Kathy is a better photographer than me and she provided most of the photos below. Click on an image to see an enlarged view.)

What do you think girls? Hot or not?

The event started at 7:30 pm and it was incredibly hot. Here are Reese and Stephanie slowly melting (Lauren is in there somewhere, too).

It all starts with a parade onto the field (just like a football game). There are even some matador warmup exercises.

I don't know what goes on in back but when the bulls come into the ring, they are already primed for action. The typical bull was 1200 lbs. For me this was the best part. The bull is fresh, has not been damaged, and is charging at anything that moves. During this phase, the matador works with the full size cape and is learning the bull's characteristics.

Then things start to get tough for the bull. The next up is a picador who comes in on a padded horse. He stabs the bull in the hump of his neck as the bull charges the horse. The objective is to weaken that neck muscle so that the bull will charge with his head lower. The picador gets two chances to do the damage. The horses are blindfolded and don't seem to be hurt. Prior to the 1920's, the horses didn't get the padding and more horses would die than bulls. The picadors get the least respect from the crowd. Their job seems to be the most cruel and least dangerous.

Next come the three banderilleros. Each of them try to place two barbed sticks about 3 ft long into neck hump to further weaken it. The catch is that they don't get a horse or a cape. This further weakens the neck muscle.

Next, it is the matador's turn again. This time he uses a much smaller cape and works incredibly close to the bull. As you can see, the bull still has plenty of fight.

Finally, it is time for the kill. The matador must stand in front of the charging bull, insert the 3 ft sword over the bull's shoulder, and let the force of the bull's charge drive the sword in. The bull drops within seconds. One of the assistants comes in immediately after the bull falls and severs the cervical chord at the base of the skull. It was more than a little gruesome. (These are my pictures. Kathy didn't save hers.)

After the kill, the matador soaks up the appreciation from the crowd.

So that is how a bullfight goes. This night there were three matadors and they each killed two bulls. The bulls are sold as meat the next day and the proceeds go to a local orphanage. The bulls are raised for this one purpose and have a good life except for that one bad day.

We all agreed that we were glad that we had seen it, but none of us felt like we would need to do it again.

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