A predictable ending.
In retrospect, I didn't quite see the sport in the activity. The way I see it, the bull always dies. In my case, this waltz between "El Torro" and the "Toreador", while poetic, was marked with a gruesome finality that has left an unfriendly image in my mind for years. The Matador seemed to be toying with the bull. Confusing him while wearing him down and frustrating him.
I watched as the bull, dazed and bewildered, slowly moved from one stage of slaughter to the next. Ending up with several barbed spears sticking out of his shoulders. His thrusts and charges becoming less aggressive until finally, he was killed with the matador plunging several swords into the bull.
Here's something I learned later:
Apparently in these bullfights, the audience looks for the matador to display an appropriate level of style and courage and for the bull to display aggression and determination. For the matador, this means performing skillfully in front of the bull, often turning his back on it to demonstrate his courage and mastery over the animal. The skill with which he delivers the fatal blow is another major point to look for. A skillful matador will achieve it in one stroke. Two is barely acceptable, while more than two is usually regarded as a bad job.
I guess our matador did a "Bad job."
Anyway, I found myself cheering for the bull. Secretly hoping the bull would get at least one good shot in before he was slaughtered.
Gratification for the Bull?
It didn't happen. The bull kept it's date with destiny and was loaded up on at trailer and removed from the stadium. I was told that the meat was given to the poor and some of the proceeds from the ticket sales were given to charity.
I've never been back to a bull fight. But a few years later, I read the book "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemmingway in which Hemmingway described "The Running of the Bulls" in Pamplona, Spain. This coincided with a period when I was traveling to Madrid quite a bit. Madrid was one of my favorite cities to visit. The people, scenery, food, ..... All fantastic! I found myself wondering around to all the restaurants that said: "Hemmingway Ate Here." And while I never considered running with the bulls myself, I'd always thought it would be great to attend. You could say I fantasized about sitting on a balcony sipping sangria, eating tapas, and watching the running of the bulls!
I haven't quite made it there yet but each year after the running of the bulls I try to read the report and watch the coverage. This year, I was saddened to learn that the bulls got one back. Daniel Jimeno Romero, 27 years old, has died after being gored in his lung and neck during the famous running of the bulls.
Bystanders say that one bull, which became detached from the others, started repeatedly attacking runners and tossed one into the air and then attacked him on the ground before he was pulled away by the tail and horns. Romero, was taken immediately to intensive care but doctors were unable to save him. Fernando Boneta, who organizes the festival's medical services, said that the bull's horn pierced the runner's body "at the height of the left-hand superclavicular region" and subsequently took "a downwards trajectory that affected the left lung, the aorta and the vena cava".
This was the first death at the running of the bulls since 1995, when Matthew Tassio, a 22-year old American, was gored. As best as I can discover, 15 people have died during the running of the bulls in the last 100 years.
I wonder if a death like this casts a dark shadow over the festival? I'm certain the family and friends of Daniel Romero would gladly trade a thousand bulls to have him back. The irony of this story is that many more young men, now more aware of the danger, are preparing for their chance to run with the bulls. If nothing else, this year's story is certainly a harsh reminder that running with large powerful and angry animals can be dangerous and is not for the faint of heart! The consequences can be severe and permanent.
And That's no Bull!