Merida, bullfight

The bullfight in Merida, Mexico

The only reason that I decided to stay on an extra night in Merida was so that I could go to the bullfight. The bullring is a short five minute walk away from where I’m staying. So although I do not support bullfighting in principle, I made a random decision to buy a ticket to go, which meant staying an extra night. I figured that this is the one and only opportunity I would have to go and it would be an experience I wouldn’t get elsewhere.

Merida, bullfight

I knew absolutely nothing about bullfighting before I went. It was fascinating, although I was taken aback at how close to the action I was.  There were six bulls in total, and three main matadors, or toreros in Spanish, who had two bulls each. One was clearly an old crowd favourite, El Pana, who at nearly 60 was still the real drawcard. The other two were so young it was hard to watch. Except for the fact that they were exceptionally handsome and wore very tight pants.

Merida, bullfight

Merida, bullfight

There was a real pomp and ceremony that went with the fights. From the beautiful costumes that the matadors wore, to the three distinct parts of the fight, it seemed to be following a tradition. At times it was could be likened to watching a rugby game – there was set play, heckling from the crowd, the odd drunk that everyone yelled at to shut up – but the main difference was that everyone was was cheering for the same thing, the bull’s blood. The first time the picador plunged the lance into the bull’s back I harboured some hope that the bull might live, however after the horrible moment later during the fight when it looked like the bull had indeed gotten the better of one of the young fighters I realised that I didn’t want that at all. I’m happy to say that the young fighter will live to kill another bull, although his pants certainly won’t. I don’t need to tell you about the bull.

Merida, bullfight

Merida, bullfight

The danger is obvious from the get go, but as the afternoon went on I began to see the sport, the drama and the suspense. One of the younger bullfighters, Juan Pablo Sanchez had a real fight on his hands during his second fight. At the end (because the end is always inevitable for the bull) the crowd cheered and to my bemusement whisked out white hankies which they waved vigorously at whoever was presiding over the game. Many yelled out “dos!, dos!” (two!, two!) and it wasn’t until later that I discovered that when the matador performs particularly well the crowd can petition the president to present the matador one ear from the bull, or if the matador has been particularly brave, two ears. In this case the president agreed, and young Juan Pablo Sanchez was awarded the bull’s ear.

Merida, bullfight

Merida, bullfight

Following their victories, the matadors each paraded around the ring, where the crowd cheered, applauded and sometimes even threw hats and sometimes jackets to show their appreciation. El Pana, the crowd favourite, went around the ring several times to much applause and hoopla.

Merida, bullfight

Merida, bullfight

After it was all over I was glad to have experienced it, but I won’t be going again. It’s a bizarre sport, and incredibly inhumane.

So my final night in Merida I enjoyed at a local Irish bar enjoying fish and chips. I could not face the steak.

Merida, bullfight

 

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