Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires...courage.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, June 1, 2008


I found out that Madrid is currently celebrating the festival of san Isidor. One thing that is closely tied to this event is the Bullfight. Madrid is famous for its bullring, the Plaza del Toros at Ventas. This ring hosts bullfights form I think May through October, I believe every Sunday, but the period from the end of May through the first week or so of June attracts the most famous and apparently skilled Matadors in the world. And when do I just happen to end up in Spain? The Last Sunday in May. Seriously, who really thinks I’m letting that opportunity pass me by? A new friend of mine, Hironori, or Hiro for short, arrived early in the afternoon. He is a sales manager for one of our products that we will be demonstrating throughout Spain this week, and up until this evening I have only really spoken to him once, and that was about the business of this trip. He sent me a text when hip plane landed to let me know that he had arrived, and I immediately replied with “I’m going to a bullfight, care to join me?”

“Seriously? Sounds like fun” It was also his first time in Spain

When Hiro arrived we hopped on the Metro to Ventas and got to know each other along the way as we tried to navigate the tunnels. Hiro is a native of New Jersey and grew up just across the Hudson from NYC. He is very much American and sounds and acts lake any other New Yorker but he does speak Japanese, as his father was an immigrant from Japan.

Two things about this event that stood out to me in such stark contrast to each other were the simultaneous pageantry and brutality of the event. When these 3 mules were led into the ring at the beginning of the event I couldn’t help but wonder what logical purpose they served at a bull fight other than to be “pretty”.

It turns out they do serve a very important purpose, but I will leave it to the reader to determine what it is.

This guy was apparently the headliner in the event and seemed very popular with the crowd.

He did not exit the ring as confidently as he entered.

He took a horn in his leg and had to be carried off. I assume that this is a rare occurence, but after he was removed the contest resumed with another matador. Hero and I spent just as much time reacting to the crowd as we did trying to figure out what was going on in the ring. Whistling appears to be the crowd's method of showing thier displeasure with the matador's performance. The entire event lasted about 2 1/2 hours. And strangely enough, by the time it was over we kind of understood what was going on and found ourselves cheering for good performance along with the rest of the crowd. We never could bring ousrselves to whistle though.

All in all it was a remarkable experience, and one I’m glad we took the time to explore.

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