Friday, July 13, 2007
Meeting a matador
It may not look really dangerous, but bullfighting certainly can be.
The recent bullfight we attended in Segovia, a lovely ancient city an hour's drive northwest of Madrid, was a case in point. Of the three matadors originally scheduled to fight, two had to drop out, because they were gored in other fights just days before the Segovia event.
The third bullfighter, Alejandro Talavante, 19, had been gored only last May -- he showed us the big scar on his leg -- and he missed two weeks of work, and the accompanying income. If you don’t face bulls, you don't get paid.
But Talavante wasn't alone in Segovia. The fight promoter found two substitute bullfighters -- each seasoned matadors -- but one of them, Juan Bautista, was thrown by his first bull, whose horn tore his matador's elegant "suit of lights." Bautista got up, the leg of his pants ripped, and finished the fight, to the delight of the crowd.
My favorite part of the fight is when the matador deftly works the cape as the bull passes close by and they twirl around. But I don’t enjoy seeing the "picador," on horseback, drive his lance into the bull's back, early in the fight, drawing first blood.
Nor the ending sword of death that the matador pushes into the bull, which by that time can be wheezing and bleeding profusely. A lot of Spaniards don't like the fights and never go. But some do, and the fights -- which are covered in the newspapers as cultural, not sporting, events -- do offer insight into the essence of the Spanish identity, or at least a fundamental custom for a part of Spain.
Watch my report
From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman
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