Ole! Or How I Became a (Gulp) Kind of Fan of Bullfighting – Day 23 – Terradillos to Sahagun

Other than Steve McCurry’s photographs, I haven’t reblogged another blog – but this deserves to be seen.

Kathy has beautifully expressed the dichotomy an outsider feels on going to a bullfight for the first time.

I attended a bullfight in Seville several years ago, and I found it both exhilarating and deeply disturbing.


Foote Loose and Fancy Free

Dear Reader, please don’t get your panties in a knot.

There are two things I know to be true about bullfighting:

a.) Bullfighting is growing in unpopularity in those countries where it is most popular – Spain, Mexico, some Central and South American countries.

b.) It is firmly planted in Spanish culture.

And I suddenly had the chance to see a bullfight in Sahagun.

I had arrived in Sahagun early. I had been hearing about the festival of San Juan de Sahagun and seeing posters about the bullfight for several days. In Fromista, a local resident had thrust a flyer in my hand, urging me to see the bullfight since I was heading for Sahagun.

My initial reaction was – Ugh! Bullfighting is a blood sport. The bull doesn’t stand a chance, doomed the moment it sets hoof in the ring.  Why would I want to watch someone put…

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8 thoughts on “Ole! Or How I Became a (Gulp) Kind of Fan of Bullfighting – Day 23 – Terradillos to Sahagun

  1. The idea of bullfighting horrifies me- cruelty for entertainment!!?.
    Then I saw that film ( Manolete?) With Adrian Brody playing in the bio-pic of this mans life.As an aside, Brody looked remarkably like him. It gave me some insight into the culture of the bullfighter, but I could still never watch a bullfight. My second name, Clare, is taken from the female counterpart of St Francis of Assissi, and I love animals deeply . Even the wild animals follow me home. I just can’t watch any living being deliberately inflict pain on another, ever.


    • I remember being very upset when I came out of that bullfight. I wasn’t expecting to be so emotionally affected – however I was not prepared to judge another culture for something that is part of their national identity.


    • Sister, What a treat to put a face with a name. I am like you. I can’t stand to see an animal injured, tormented or killed. I used to hunt. It is almost tradition to deer hunt in Texas and we also eat the venison. After seeing Shelley die in 1999, I knew that I could never be responsible for the death or injury of another. I think I had already quit by 1985, but this just solidified it. I have no problem with others hunting and it adds to the economy of many places and helps manage wildlife, but I personally don’t want to do it.


  2. I saw a bullfight in Cancun, Mexico years ago. The bull lost. I left after the first fight as I was sickened by the slaughter. But then I remembered that we (“civilization”) used to pit people with animals and people with people to the death. It was considered sport. In many ways we have come a long way from the caves, but in many ways, not so far. It was great to hear about bullfighting that was not about the bull being slaughtered.


  3. Hi Debbie –

    many thanks for posting this.

    I endorse what Kathy was saying in her blog – but there’s no doubt it’s a vexatious issue. Just as fox hunting is in the UK for instance.

    With fox hunting though, you have a “sport” that is practised by the elite. It’s exclusive and very much class-based. Unlike bullfighting, it’s not a popular activity – that is, attended by thousands on any given day. As well though, the movement to ban fox hunting has come largely from within its own country. It is sections of the general populace who are protesting and wanting it banned.

    I’m aware that there are some activists within Spain that want bullfighting banned, but it still a very popular and very much a part of the national culture, and identity.

    The definitive essay on this is Hemmingway’s DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON, which is an extraordinary treatise on bullfighting.

    Personally, when I attended a bullfight in Seville, I was very upset. I wasn’t expecting to be. I’m not squeamish, and I wasn’t ideologically opposed to bullfighting, and I’m still not. But I had quite a disturbing reaction to what I saw. It made me nauseous for a long time afterwards. And I had no desire to go back and see another one.

    However, I was glad that I’d seen the bullfight, because it is such an important part of Spanish culture and I needed to witness it first hand. And the reason I’m not ideologically opposed to it is for that very reason – however I am ideologically opposed to fox hunting, because I think its the vicious folly of the British upper class, and I am vehemently opposed to the Japanese hunting of whales, which I think is criminal.



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