We bought tickets for this event two weeks or so ago and were willing the days to fly by so that we could see our first bullfight. I should clarify that it was Toni and I willing the days, the guys, eh, not so much although they did want to go.
So today was the day! Our plan was to pick up something we could eat once we got there for lunch. This worked!
We had to drive about an hour to La Gloria where the Santa Maria Bullring is located.
As you can see it was a cloudy day but we’re thinking that was a good thing. It was just the right temperature and if the sun was out it would have been a tad warm.
To say we were surprised at the arena would be an understatement. I think we all had it in our minds that we we’re going to an arena much like a major league baseball stadium. Bricks and mortar at the very least. We were expecting a much larger place, perhaps big enough to hold thousands of people. Where these ideas came from I have no idea but what we envisioned and what we actually saw were two completely different things, worlds apart. We’re glad we were wrong to tell the truth. This setting gave us a close up of the action. Oh, did it ever, but more about that later.
When we arrived we gave our tickets and proceeded in to check out this totally new experience for all of us.
The first thing we noticed was the Matador’s Chapel.
If I was going to be facing these bulls I’d spending some time in here too!
There was food available to buy and beer and sodas and much to Toni’s chagrin there was no ice cream available.
A close up of the painting in the above picture.
Toni and I had to make a visit to the restroom. The bullfighting posters were unexpected.
We decided we better find our seats since more people were starting to arrive. We bought these box seats at forty bucks a pop since we figured if we only do this once we want to make sure we have good seats. Did we ever!
Here is our view from our seats.
We all agreed the ring was about 150’ – 175’ feet across, side to side and front to back. Think half a football field or so.
Shortly after we sat down the platform for the flamenco dancers was brought out. We had to wait for a little while past the scheduled three o’clock time for the dancers to begin. It seems the woman was very sick but being the true performer she is her mantra was “The show must go on”.
Sonja Chapa and Ray Duran put on quite the show for us.
Their show was over and now we waited for the bullfights to begin. Toni and I decided a walk around the area was a good idea to help pass the time.
I caught this cowboy’s boots through the benches.
The bullfighters in their colorful costumes which is known as a "suit of lights” were starting to gather at the front gate. The matador on the right, a banker in Houston Monday through Friday.
Did you know that matadors wear pink socks for a reason? No, well sit right back and I’ll tell you why. Actually, there are several reasons. One is for visibility, bullfighting is a very mobile sport with the matador constantly twisting and turning and constantly engaging in some very fast footwork. The bright pink allows the spectators to keep a watchful eye on his moves. Pink is also considered a lucky color.
Back in our seats again it was time for what we had been waiting for.
This lone cowboy made a run around the arena. The second picture shows just how close our ring side seats are.
The matadors waiting while announcements are being made.
Their costumes were so elaborately decorated. Take note of the the matador in the center. He is wearing a cape de paseo which is worn during the ceremonial ring entry. The matadors costumes consists of a silk jacket heavily embroidered in silver or gold thread, skintight pants, pink socks and black slipper like shoes.
The first matador is presented to the crowd.
And then the bull was presented. He came into the arena looking for a fight!
He just tore around the arena.
……and once again you can see how good our seats were!
Now before we get into the actual bullfight pictures I want to explain that this was a bloodless bullfight. The bull was not killed or harmed in anyway. The worst thing that happened was that he got tired.
Take notice of the red, white and blue thing on the bull’s back. That is velcro-ed to his back.
Take note in the picture of above that cape is yellow or gold on one side and pink on the other. In the first two acts of a bullfight, this cape which is called a capote is used. Why these colors? Pink because it’s considered lucky and the yellow or gold to signify the playing field.
We learned when to yell “Ole’” and one of our party, I won’t mention any names, really got into it. I thought for sure she was going to end up yodeling for the crowd with her Ole-le-le-le-le.
This was a perfect Ole’ moment.
More than once the matadors ended up behind the protective barrier.
The box seats were just perfect for taking pictures. Wouldn’t you agree?
In these pictures the cape has been changed to the red one. This cape is called a muleta and signifies the 3rd and final stage of the bullfight. It is a red felt material that hangs from a stick as you see above. Also being held in the matadors hand is the sword with which to kill the bull, if this wasn’t a bloodless bullfight. The sword will come in to play later.
Throughout the bullfight the matador will twist and turn and swirl the cape in an effort to make the bull agitated and angry which ultimately makes him charge. It is during this dance between man and bull that the matador tries to get the bull as close to him as possible without being gored so that a lance and barbed sticks can be plunged into the bulls neck in an effort to weaken the animal for the final act. Of course this is all done during a regular killing bullfight, not what we witnessed.
This matador got the “prize” from the back of the bull. When it comes time, he takes the sword he has and drops it in the dirt as a symbol that he is ready to “go for the kill”. He then stands several feet in the front of the bull with his hand outstretched in front of him. He then walks towards the bull and of course the bull then moves to either side of the matador and the matador has to grab that flower/streamer thing-y. It isn’t as easy as it looks but when he gets it the crowd goes wild.
He was awarded two ears and tail for this fight. The best you can do. Ole!
This matador is up next. I wonder what’s going through his mind.
These are the biggest bulls ever fought here in the U.S.. I believe they were brought here from Spain.
Once again the matadors are behind the barrier but this time…..
…..the matador kept flashing the cape and bull didn’t like it! He kept trying to get through the barrier.
Back out on the field.
You see in the picture the matador has the sword in his hand, it will be dropped soon.
Going in the for the kill.
He didn’t get it right away, it took several tries but he did manage to get it. Ole’!
The first matador returned to the field next.
A little to close for comfort for me!
There’s a misconception that the red color of the cape makes the bull angry. That’s where the term “seeing red” comes from. The truth of the matter is that bulls, like all cattle, are colorblind.
It was on the move above that the matador got the bull so close to him and so close to the ground that the bull literally went down on all fours. He stayed for the longest time (count: one, one thousand, two, one thousand, up to five) murmurs went through the crowd that its legs were broken, its neck was broken, when in reality he was just tired.
Then they were at it again!
You know, in my opinion, you just have to have brass ones to do this! There is no way I would kneel in front of a bull like this.
So this was our day at the bullfights. Thrilling? Oh yeah! Would we go again? You bet! In fact, next month on January 8th we’re going again to see one of only three female matadors in the world.