Following on from my recent post To Watch Or Not To Watch The Bullfight, it was encouraging to get lots of comments on what is clearly still very much a contentious issue here in Spain, both for the Spanish population and the expat / foreign / immigrant (pick your own adjective as I know that can be just as contentious) population. Since that post, a couple of people have since asked whether I had been or not as the feria in Granada when the most recent bullfights had taken place was more than a couple of weeks ago. So, what happened?
In short, as one eloquent pro-bullfighting friend put it I ‘bottled it’. Or as another anti-bullfighting friend said ‘I’m glad you saw sense and didn’t support this primitive savagery.’
But why the change of heart?
Well, initially, I had every intention of going as I mentioned in my original post to ‘find out for myself’ and had in fact arranged to go with a Spanish friend on the main day of the feria when there were to be at least 6 ‘fights’. As had been recommended, I thought it would be a good idea to go with someone who enjoyed going and was knowledgeable on the subject to make the most of the occasion by understanding what was actually going on.
In his wisdom, a week or so before the Granada feria and bullfights, my Spanish friend suggested I watched a live broadcast on TV to see what I thought. As it turned out, I could only manage 10 minutes before I had to switch off. I just couldn’t watch anymore. But what surprised me more was the fact that however awful it was, it wasn’t just the blood and gore of the bull being tortured and its ears being sliced off that sickened me, but once the deed had been done, what shocked me even more was the stomach-churning machismo of the matador encouraged by the almost baying crowd as if in some kind of weird out-take from ‘Spartacus’. I also learned that some people really go to town getting dressed up for the bullfight as it’s clearly a place to not only see, but also and perhaps more importantly, to be seen. And in the ‘sombra’ and not the ‘sol’ naturally.
The other thing to consider of course was that I was only watching this on TV. I can’t imagine how much more graphic it would have been ‘live’.
I love living in Granada, Andalucia and Spain and am always up for trying and seeing new things wherever I am, however I’ve now realised that I have a line which I can’t and won’t cross and fortunately, I no longer feel guilty about it whatever my guiri sensibilities may be. I guess these experiences are part and parcel of living in a new country with a different culture to your own. I may not like it at times, but vive la difference anyway.