Terceira, the island of bull fights

The idea of the street bull fight is the coolest part about this island. Starting in May and running through October there are many of the bull fights. I have seen estimates that there are more than 400 of these each summer. Many weeks there are fights Wednesday-Sunday nights.

If the fight is in your neighborhood chances are your are throwing a party and all your friends will be at your house. The first step in preparing is boarding up the front of your house. many houses have high up walls, but others don't. It is important to use wood, or cardboard at least to cover up any windows, doors or gates. We have not had ours in front of our house yet, but we should have one in September.
We have been to 4 of these. Since none were in front of our house we had to find a way to safely watch these. Often times you just need to search for a high up wall and climb it.

There is a family that owns the bulls around here. They have the fields (and there is a bull ring there too) and they will load up 4 bulls in crates, load them on a truck and take them to the location for the fight. They will also be responsible for holding the bull during the street running and taunting.

There are street vendors selling a variety of foods. It reminded me of a baseball game. There is ice cream, popcorn, corn on the cob, candy bars and sometimes there are stands with traditional foods.

Then a firework will sound. A single blast denotes the bull is being set free. The bull is attached to a long rope where the men will hold to control the bull. Other boys and men will taunt the bull using umbrellas. I want to mention that no bull is intentionally hurt or killed. In fact they let them rest and then use them again. No, not the most humane activity to poke and prod and make it angry, but it is a local custom so I go along with it.

The bull will run up and down the street and the men will put on a "show". this goes on for 10-15 minutes and then you will hear a double firework. This signals that the bull is back in the cage. After a short break the second bull will be released. After bull #2 there is a 30 minute break which is sufficient time to safely leave the area if you do not want to stay. After this intermission there are 2 more fights and that is it.

Overall it is a very interesting custom. Boys and men will chase the bull around in a display of their manlihood or just to show off for the girls. Sometimes stupidity takes over and people do get hurt. It is dangerous, bulls can jump walls, and there are a lot of people around which is always cause for concern (people can stampede too!). In the end, I think it is a really cool tradition and makes for a good cheep evening out. I am looking forward to when the bulls run in front of my house.

This is the special summer activity here on the island. What is your favorite summer only pastime? What about the coolest custom you have seen while traveling somewhere?

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