Friday, October 23, 2009


I am not sure if I feel quite right about bullfights, but with free tickets to three days at the Plaza de Toros, I felt it was important to take advantage of the opportunity. I had not been to a bullfight in years, the last one was in Mexico over ten years ago and was horribly disappointing because the matador was not very skillful and the bull just would not die after several attempts.

Man Against Bull

We were told to arrive an hour early, but there were still seats available much later. The performance would last about two and a half hours with three matadors fighting two bulls each. It is not fighting, or at least it is not a fair fight for the bull, who is going to die no matter what, either slowly or quickly if the matador is skillfull.

Youthful Matador

There is much ritual and ceremony associated with the event. The band strikes a tune and the whole audience sings along to a song about 'San Franciso de Quito'; the trumpets blare and the group of matadors and their assistants (who are remarkably skillful with the bulls and are there to save the matador and help him look good) strutt across the arena to applause and musical accompaniment.

Matadors' Entrance

The bulls are almost 300 kilos each, and charge out nostrils flaring and ready for a fight. The matadors are young and bold and dressed in brocade and gold and pink stockings. Their movements are provocative, and it is clear that they are playing with the bulls, enticing them, preparing them for death. I am impressed with the men who help the matador,whose job it is to irritate the bull, to deflect his attention when necessary, to entice him when the matador needs a moment to change his sword or his cape or when he gets into difficulty. The bandilleros dance when they plunge the colourful spikes into the bull's shoulders. The matadors dance too, as do the bulls as they charge and turn and run and charge again. It is a brutal sport, especially when the matador is unskilled and fails over and over to kill the bull.


The first matador was either very unlucky or unskillful and had a horrible time with both his bulls. I think he was scared and lost his confidence and simply could not recover. The audience whistled in disappointment and the young man looked more and more unhappy. It was painful to watch him each time. The second young man appeared to be a child, but was far more skillful and the crowds cheered him with 'ole' over and over again. It was the only the third one who earned an ear. He played with the bull on his knees and killed him cleanly, and the crowd came to its feet and cheered.

First Matador

Second Matador

I cannot say I truly enjoyed the experience. It was compelling, interesting, horrifying, and I am trying to understand the sport, if that is what it is.

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