I'm in quito for work, but I escaped
from the office for a few hours to go see
La Corrida in the plaza del toros. It's a
very brutal thing to watch, but in this
age of political correctness and eliminating
all possible risks and dangers, bullfighting
is none of that.
The stadium isn't that big, smaller than a
typical basketball arena, so the bullfighting
is a lot closer than it looks on TV or on a
bugs bunny cartoon. It's far enough away
that you can pretend to not see something
if you don't want to, when they kill a bull
that isn't fighting anymore, it looks like
they stab him in the back of the neck with an
ice pick, but if you don't look closely it looks
like they are just tapping him on the top of the
head with their hand.
I took these pictures of the first bull with my cell phone, then the battery died, so I have no other pictures of the
5 other bulls that were killed. The camera really
doesn't capture the speed and grace of all the men
First, guys with pink capes that are toreador trainees,
but who function like rodeo clowns face the bull when
he is completely fresh and bravo. I'm not sure what
they are actually called, I was calling them Mareadors,
because their job is to get the bull tired and dizzy.
Each time one of them will face the bull until the bull
chases them, they run to an exit and if the bull is too
close then a different Mareador will wave his cape, the bull will change directions and chase
Then come the picadors on horseback, which seemed like the most unfair part of the
show. They are riding horses wrapped in padded armor, which looked like a giant
quilt, and the horses are blindfolded. The bull attacks the horse, attempting to gore
him with his horns, almost lifting the horse off it's feet, but the picador leans into it
and stabs the bull with a 10' long spear, the head of which has a guard so it can't go
too deep. The picador leans into it, putting all the weight of his body and the weight
of the horse into shoving the spear into the bull. After this, the bull isn't fresh anymore
their tongues are lolling, and in the case of the first bull they occasionally trip and stagger.
The picadors ride out and the toreador comes out, throws down his hat and starts the
real action. He stabs the bull with short spears or knives that have flags on them.
But he doesn't do it the easy way, which is from the side, he stabs the bull in the shoulders
over the horns, curving his body and stretching his arms so that he has the form of a "C"
holding the flags pointed straight down...then he stabs down. It all happens so fast that
even the bull can't tell what happened.
Now the bull is streaming blood from the picadore and from the flags hanging down.
The first toreador was most impressive here, he did the spearing from horseback,
and was able to curve horse and rider in a giant "C" and stab down. All the while
controlling the sideways and backwords with elegant steps. (the horse was the best
trained creature out there)
The last part the toreador takes a red cape and sword from assistants behind the wall.
He then makes the bull charge the cape, just like in every cartoon you've ever seen
(yes, the source of most of my knowledge of history and culture comes from bugs bunny)
But the toreador doesn't do what you or I would do when playing bullfight, holding the
cape at arms length as the bull (or my brother) rushes by. He attempts to let the bull
pass as close as possible, with the sharp horns almost scraping his back.
One of the last bulls was the most "bravo" or angry. He still had a lot of energy and
fight at this point and knocked down the toreador twice, cutting an 8" gash across his
back. The most impressive thing was the toreador kept fighting, facing the bull and
letting him pass even closer than before. lots of guts there.
Then the toreador attempts
to stab the bull with his sword
between the shoulder blades,
apparently it scores more points
if the sword goes in to the hilt, or if
he stabs and pulls itout and hangs
onto it without getting gored in the
process. Almost all the bulls just
kind of sit down at this point with
fatigue and pain, and the toreador
stabs him at the base of the skull
with an icepick. Only once out of the
six bulls did a matador kill
a bull with his sword, he stabbed
him at the base of the neck and the
bull fell like a ton of bricks (or a ton of bull).
After the bull is down it looks like they do a magic trick to distract the audience.
A guy wheels out a big handtruck looking cart while a group of workmen gather
around the bull, and one of them (who looks like he works as a butcher in his day
job) piths the bull with an icepick. If the bull was still alive, it's dead now. The cart
comes running out while a team of gaily decorated horses are slow marched out to the
bull. The bulls head is tied to the cart, the team of horses attached to the cart and the
dead bull is run off the field by the horses.
I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought. I'm sure it's cruel to the
bull, but less cruel than just murdering them in cold blood for food.
At least the bull gets a chance to fight back, and some part of human
culture faces danger with elegance.