Let the bull fight season begin!!!

Around here the big thing is the bull fights of the summer.  These run from May-October and are different from what you might be thinking.  Here is how it works...

There is a large bull farm owned by a family, located in the middle of the island.  On the day of the bull fight, the bulls are selected from the fields, and the public goes to watch.  Four bulls are selected for each night.  Some nights may have 2-3 villages hosting a bull fight, so 4 bulls are selected for each village.  The are placed in crates, lifted on to a truck, and driven to the location of the bull fight.  The street will be closed down, white spray painted lines will show where the bull can't go past, and the police will be there monitoring.  If this is in front of your house, you will be responsible for placing cardboard or other barriers up over your windows, doors and gates.

The fights begin around 6 or 6:30.  The start is signaled with one fire work.  There will be 4 men (often 2 sets of 4 men) holding the rope that is attached to the bull.  These men work for the bull farm (it is very much like a business with many employees).  They control the bull.  

What makes this different is that the bull is actually fighting the locals.  This is more of a running of the bulls as he is set loose in the neighborhood (or sometimes the beach).  There are some semi-professional matador types that will taunt the bull and get him to perform.  Then there are amateur guys who do this a lot, but are still not as good as the other guys.  Then you have your flat out idiots who taunt the bull but really have no game plan.  Lastly, you have the guys who are out there running with the bulls to show off for the ladies.  Americans are not allowed to run and are supposed to be 5 feet off the ground to watch.

This is a major cultural tradition here and the locals are very proud of this.  They really want the Americans to come and watch.  Often times you will wind up in the yard of someone you do not even know.

 When the time is up, after 15-20 minutes, there is a double firecracker, and the bull is put away.  After a 10 minute break, the second one is released and when finished, he is put away.  After the second bull there will be about a 30 minute intermission.  If you need to leave the village, this is the best time.

The bulls here are NOT slaughtered after they run.   They are taken back to the farm, checked out by a vet, and allowed to rest for at least 7 days until they are eligible to be run again.  They take this very seriously.  I have seen some bulls slip and scrape legs up, but nothing life threatening.  More damage is usually done to the men down with the bulls.

This past Saturday night started the bull fighting season.  We were lucky enough to have the first fights located in our village.  It was walking distance and very nice because people were parking a mile or so down the road.  

You can see from my front yard how busy it was and there were even porto-pottie brought in.
Since we were so close, we invited people over to park in our driveway and enjoy some beers at our place.
Here we are walking down the street.  Turns out the bull was loose at this time.  Oops!
Down here you can see one of the white lines I mentioned.  The bull will not be allowed past here.  That is because there is a food cart at the end of this side street.  Look at all the people waiting for beers and food.
This man is a street vendor.  The all carry the same things: potato chips, popcorn and candy.
We decided to check out the food before finding a spot to watch the bulls.
It is party central where ever these fights are going on.  These are mobile carts and go to where the fights are going on.
This man is serving the food.  I will show you later what food item everyone is waiting for here.
This was bull #2 for the evening.  He was a lighter color than most.  You can see the men who are controlling the rope in the background here.  The wear the same clothes, like a uniform.
This is one of those guys that would be semi-professional.  He is getting the bull to show off by running in a circle with this mat.

Here the bull is getting ready to charge.
After the second bull we headed back to the food carts.  I loved the wine and other alcohol hanging from the wall.
This is a bifana.  This is the food everyone is waiting for at these carts.  This is a traditional food for the bull fights.  It is a pork sandwich with a special sauce, on a fresh baked roll.
After that, we got some of these cute ice cream sandwiches.  I believe these are from the ice cream shop on the island that makes homemade ice cream.  Them the ice cream is placed between 2 sugar wafers.  You can only really get these at the bull fights.  The have men who walk around with ice cream coolers, almost like the guys you would see with beer at a baseball game.

This was bull #3.
You can see that many people hang around in the street.
I think he is thinking about jumping into these people's yard.

Like I said earlier, more often the people are the ones getting hurt.  There was a man here from another island (as my landlord told me) and he got caught up with the bull.  He then tripped over a piece of wood and the bull trampled him.  I just happened to be video tapping at this time and did catch it on tape.  It was awful.  In the end, the man was taken off in this ambulance.  Good thing they keep one on hand.
I have many more pictures from the second night (both Saturday and Sunday were on our street) to share with you, and I will also answer Gina's question about why I became a vegetarian.

Do you have any questions for me about these bull fights?

QUESTION:  Have you ever been to a bull fight?


Mari said...

OMG what an amazing experience...

being that you are a vegetaroian, do you find this to be animal cruelty?

FoodFitnessFreshair said...

This definitely sounds interesting! I can't say I've ever experienced a bull fight...oh my!

Special K said...

IDEA!Make some your baked good and sell them to the participants. You could mingle with them, and have fun participating in the local culture.
Definitely write about how people in EUROPE really honor animals, and especially the bull fighting industry. There is an almost diety aspect to it.

I am in Egypt for the next week, and I'll miss you! I am in need of a good nutrition plan hen I come back. I am in a BIG rut. Three nights a week I ammaking this tahini sauce with a veggie dump truck, and it is losing its allure. Can you perhaps email me a few 30 minute recipes that you LOVE???

Gina; The Candid RD said...

What an exciting event!! I love all of the cultural traditions I learn from your blog. And, I want one of those wafer ice cream cakes, yum!

This kind of stuff scares the crap out of me. Have you ever seen the picture of that guy with a horn threw his leg? It's DISGUSTING!!

Lele said...

That sounds so awesomely dangerous. I can just picture my neighbors getting drunk and chasing bulls around. Yikes!

Thank you so much for your sweet sweet comment about my little kitty.

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