Ever since Ecuador I was positive that there could be no worse way to spend a hangover than to be knee deep in shark blood and semen, attempting to record their measurements and sex before fishermen hack them to pieces to sell as fish. Silly me, a bullfight is worse.
From the outside "La Plaza de Torros" looks like nothing extraordinary. Walking through the side door and up into the stands filled with shouting Spaniards, well...it felt like traveling back in time. The bull, tossing his head and prancing around the ring was a vision of strength.
I've watched as the pigs I raised from piglets were strung up by their feet and butchered. I've seen goats sacrificed to La Pacha Mama, every body part consumed down to the hooves and the blood. These experiences did not prepare me for the hours I spent watching El Matador provoke and torture these bulls, reducing them to suffering, vulnerable creatures. Proud heads hung in exhaustion, tongue flopping out to the side, bodies convulsing, their knees would finally give way beneath them. This was not a test of man v.s. bull. It took at least 2 men on horseback plus the Matador to bring these bulls to the ground.
Watching them stumble across the ring, the life literally draining from their bodies, was a heart-wrenching experience. I expected to have to shut my eyes, but I couldn't. I did not expect to suddenly taste tears on my lips, and I did not expect to lose my temper at the lady sitting behind me who was laughing hysterically at the sight.
There was some beauty in it all. The strength of the bull, the graceful way the Matador danced around him, the colors, the engagement of the crowd. Watching the life of the bull slip away was grotesque and horrible and beautiful. I do not agree with the sport, but I can appreciate it as a part of a culture that is not mine to understand or judge.