Me too I was this typical foreigner coming to a new country, to then judge its culture and thinking ‘people needed to be educated’.
Nowhere that was so true as in the corrida – the bullfight. Something I had not grown up in, not read about, not investigated its every step, had not visited a bull farm… was wrong. It seems I could see that from the first sight, it was cruel and horrendous.
Orson Welles was wrong, Mario Vargas Llosa was wrong, there was nothing noble or fair in a bullfight – I was right. Hemingway, the guru of courage and fairness, was wrong.
People sticking swords in an animal (they’re not, it feels like a needle and is meant to release blood-pressure), for no other reason than entertainment (it is not, just as people do not go to processions or a mosque for entertainment), by a person who has got all the advantages (nope) etc. etc.
Little did I know that I was not seeing a bullfight, I was seeing a reflection of northern city-person me, biased and disconnected from nature.
Today, 15 years later, I’m rather ashamed about that. Ashamed about the previous thoughts coming from a meat-eater (now that’s something that causes hell on earth for millions of animals each day, there’s a situation where an animal does not even get a life, and forget about standing a chance) and city-tripper addicted to electronics (now that’s a main trigger behind the mass extinction of species).
It took 10 years before His Highness The Judge allowed himself to visit a bull farm (ReservaTauro near Ronda) and actually met the ‘toro bravo’ – that animal 10 times my weight, that will outrun me, that turns on a tad faster than I can, and that is one of the only animals on earth that will not back off, will not give in, not run away… but will not stop until I no longer move. It’s his nature and character.
That animal that grows up in semi-wild conditions, with 10,000 sqms per bull, feels comfortable with horses, and on average lives 4-6 years (for the bull chosen to fight) up to 25 years (for the cows). Compare that to the 2-20 months your piece of meat is allowed to exist – well, we can’t call it ‘lived’. If the bullfight is banished, this toro bravo will get extinct. Apart from the few that might make it to a zoo.
Not to mention that other species that will go extinct: that man or woman who, in silk, on nothing but ballet shoes, steps into a ring with a 700kg beast knowing that it can very soon learn to attack him/her, and not the cloth. That man and woman who grew up with bulls, respects and fears them a hundred times more than you and me. And whose average lifespan looks shaky at the very least.
Should the bull really be killed at the end??
I’m not there yet. It’s a question that will nag me for quite a lot of time.
Whether he’s killed in the arena or not – he ends up in the meat industry anyway. With as only advantage over all our other steaks, eaten just for the delight of our taste buds, that he has lived, the way he has done for thousands of years, and longer than any other animal as well.