Bull Fight, Osuna , Spain
We were in Spain a little too early for the bullfighting season, which was fine with me, but Craig was keen to see some men in tight pants (I don’t judge.) In Seville, we saw some posters advertising a pre-season event to debut some new matadors in nearby Osuna, so we decided to make a day of it.
Osuna is a small town and as it was Sunday afternoon, there wasn’t much open except for restaurants. Fortunately, we were just in the mood for some lunch before the main event. It seemed like everyone in town had exactly the same thought at the same time we did, so it took us a while to find a restaurant with a free table. The fourth (or fifth) one was the charm and we were able to order without too much difficulty. After enjoying some cheese (of course) and prawns (for a change of pace), we headed back down the road to the bull ring.
By this time, a crowd had gathered and people were starting to trickle in to the arena. It was pretty chilly that day, so we scoped out a spot in the sun and got comfortable. Craig had been to a few bull fights before and knew to buy cushions at the gate. The arena was a stone amphitheater with no space between rows, so by the time the event started, people were trying not to sit on anyone’s feet. I would like to think that larger arenas were built with slightly more forethought… Anyway, it wasn’t that the place was full, but one section was sunny but without a glare, so 90% of the spectators were occupying about 20% of the stands. Eventually, we moved a bit further around and our feet were unmolested for the duration.
Craig had tried to prepare me before we went, but my prior knowledge of bull fights was pretty much limited to men in tight spandex waving a red flag at a bull and stabbing with a spear at the end. I wasn’t too keen on the stabbing part, but I didn’t think it would be too bad. I mean, people take their kids to these things. It’s a national sport, how gory could it be?
Um, pretty freaking gory, as it turns out. And the sweet, innocent children? The “lucky” ones were beside themselves to be presented with an ear freshly hacked off a bull. No, really. I spent a large portion of the event with my eyes averted, unable to believe what was actually going on in front of me. It’s not that I don’t eat meat, or that I think cows in slaughter houses are tickled to death with feathers, but bull fighting seems particularly brutal, with a man on horseback stabbing the bull in the back to weaken it from the get-go, followed by three pairs of spears being driven into its back before the matador does his strutting around the ring taunting the bull with the cape. In the end, he stabs the bull in the back of the neck and a finisher cuts its spinal cord with a short knife.
There were six fights and four of them went according to that plan. In one of the later fights, the finisher stepped in too quickly and thought he was done too quickly as well. The bull rose three times, gushing blood and in obvious pain. All the while, the matador just looked angry, because the bull had gone down too fast for him to make a big show of besting him. In the other fight, the matador didn’t get a clean stab with his sword, so he had to pull it out and try again, prolonging the animal’s suffering.
I can appreciate that it is a national sport, and an important part of Spanish culture and heritage, but I won’t be going back. To me, it seemed like a brutal, one-sided event in which the bull didn’t have a fighting chance. Honestly, I felt a little dirty even being there. And the little kids screaming with excitement after being presented with an ear (cut off to honor the matador for a good show) was beyond the pale. IMHO