Toros y ovejas (Bulls and sheep)

On Friday, we went to the bullfight at la Plaza de Toros.  Bullfights are arguably one of the most controversial aspects of Spanish culture.  While some people argue that they are a traditional art form, others believe it to be cruel and inhumane.  In fact, two of the autonomous communities in Spain (Cataluña y las Islas Canarias) have created laws prohibiting the practice.  We talked about bullfights quite a bit in our language and culture class, but I did not know what to expect.  Although I really wasn’t all that excited to see bulls get taunted and then stabbed to death, I knew that I wanted to go to este espectáculo (this show) to truly experience the Spanish culture and form my own opinion on this controversial topic.  We went to the “amateur” show, so the matadores (bullfighters) were younger than us (18 or 19)!

When we entered the arena, horns and trumpets started playing and I immediately felt as though I was traveling back to a previous era in time.  Men dressed in brightly-colored and glittery costumes rode in on horses and everyone started cheering and clapping.  They didn’t waste any time because the first bull entered within only a couple minutes of the ceremony starting.  The bull was much bigger than I expected and from what I hear, they use younger bulls during the amateur bullfights.  So, I cannot even imagine how big the bulls were for the professional ones!

Before the bull came out.

Once a bull enters the arena, a handful of matadores in the arena begin to wave pink and yellow sheets of fabric around to aggravate the bull.  Once the bull is aggravated enough, each matador uses large pogo-like sticks to stab the bull.  Additionally, men on horses use even larger spears to stab the bull.  After this initial stabbing process is completed, only one matador is left in the arena to finish off the process.  After continued taunting with the traditional red fabric and sword, the matador is left to stab the bull between the eyes.  Once the bull falls to the ground, everyone stands and cheers.  Blinded horses are brought out to drag the dead bull around and out of the arena.  This process is then repeated six times.  Basically, it is absolutely horrendous.  After the fourth bull was killed, my friends and I left feeling like Debbie downers.  Although I’m glad that I went, I know I will never be going to a bullfight again.

On Saturday morning, a group of eight of us took a train to Sierra de la Cazalla for a hike.  When we got off the train, we were in the middle of absolutely nowhere.  The train station was conveniently located 5 km. from the town that we thought we were going to be dropped off in.  We talked with the train conductor for about 30 minutes tyring to get a handle on where we could start the hike that we had originally planned out.  Without any clue as to what we were doing, we started hiking next to about a million sheep that were being herded by a young sheepherder who was smoking weed.  This first part of our hike was really flat, but enjoyable.  We finished the loop in a little less than two hours, including our stop for a lunch break.

When we got back to our starting point, we decided we would have just enough time for a quick hike to the town of Cazalla de la Sierra.  This hike was much more difficult, but definitely more scenic and mountainous.  Okay, maybe mountainous is a little extreme; hilly is probably more accurate.  Once we got to Cazalla, literally the ENTIRE town was shut down for siesta.  We asked the one person we saw on the street where we could get a drink and at first, she told us that EVERYTHING was closed.  After we started walking away, she flagged us down and told us that the one hotel in the town may have a cafeteria where we could get something to eat or drink.  Fortunately it was open and we all got a glass of tinto de verano (red wine and fruit juice), which is just what we needed for the walk back!

Beginning of the hike.

So many sheep!

By the time we got back to the train station, we were all exhausted and ready to get home to Sevilla.  We probably hiked about eight and a half miles!  My butt is still feeling it this morning! It was nice to get out of the city, “connect with nature,” and do something that wasn’t super touristy for once!

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4 Responses to Toros y ovejas (Bulls and sheep)

  1. Mark says:

    Grat pictures. I would not have the stomach to last through too many bullfights.

  2. Alberto Machado says:

    I love to read your blog. You express your feelings and observations very well and even though we are 6,000 miles a way, live what is happening with you. I laughed when I read “…a million sheep that were being herded by a young sheepherder who was smoking weed”. Have you thought about writing for young adults?
    Best, Alberto.

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