I have never in my life seen anything like the “corrida de toros,” traditional spanish bull-fighting which literally means “a running of the bulls.” While here in Madrid, I went to La Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, the historical bull-fighting ring. I found out that the event is held about 6 times a day, 6 times a week, for 2 months out of the summer. It wasn’t until I saw the first round that I realized that if you do the math, it’s that number of bulls that is killed each season for the sport. Yikes! However, no judgment here as every culture has different norms and traditions. I do admit, I almost cried the first round as I didn’t realize this is what happened…a little naive of me I’ll say.
By the third round, I had gotten used to the intense, nerve-wrecking match but couldn’t help but to flinch when one matador got hit. Somehow, I managed to capture it right on time. It also must have been my “lucky” day because I was able to see a matador walk away with a bull’s ear – a symbol that he was awarded for fighting so well, an honor bestowed very rarely each season (normally only once or twice). Even still, I think the most edge-of-my-seat moment was when one large, raging bull hopped over the first fence (thank God, there are two) and started running around the outside of the ring until the banderilleros (“flagmen”) ushered him back into the center of the ring.
This was one exhilarating experience that I will not soon forget, and made me grateful that I actually did stop and buy into the deals the “hagglers” outside of the ring beseeched me for on my way into the city. Turns out to be a cultural excursion I would have hated to miss and those “hagglers” were cool, nice guys that hooked me up with great seats and prices ;-).