Thursday, March 25, 2010

Matt's visit part 1: The Bull Fight

Last week Matt visited and we had a wonderful time in both Madrid and Barcelona. I took many many pictures so this is just the first installment. However, to get you up to date, his visit schedule went something like this:

Saturday: 3:30 pm Matt arrived at the airport ... visitors are not allowed in Baggage Claim so I had to wait patiently outside of baggage claim behind a barricade for what seemed like hours. As soon as I saw him walking toward me I got so excited ... but then he detoured to the left and I had no idea where he went! true to form, he stopped at the ATM! before even saying hello! That night we enjoyed a traditional Spanish dinner at my favorite restaurant in town and the waiter, with whom I've made friends (probably a bad sign) decided to play a trick on us and handed us a bill for 100 EURO! i almost died. Matt didn't get the joke since he doesn't understand spanish, but luckily the real bill was underneath that one. Then we strolled down the main street of my town and stopped for an icecream. The next morning I had him up and out at the crack of down (his jet lag complaints didn't stop me!) and we headed into a fun filled day in Madrid.

Sunday: We started the day heading to a ticket counter to pick up our Bull Fight tickets and I got to impress matt with my Spanish. Looking at Matt in his American clothing and NAVY sweatshirt! the man at the ticket window immediately started speaking English so I kindly asked him to speak in Spanish because I needed to practice and matt was probably a little annoyed because now he was out of the loop but also impressed that I could understand everything! then we headed down to the Naval Museum. It was arranged by monarch, each room went chronologically by ruler and by the state of the Spanish navy at that time. We saw some cool ships, paintings, and old tools.

After that we were going to head to the Prado, the famous art museum but it was an absolutely gorgeous day outside so we decided to head to the Parque de Buen Retiro instead. We had packed a picnic lunch and Matt, of course, was already hungry even though we had breakfast 2 hours ago, so we strolled through the park and layed down under a tree by the pond and ate our lunch and drank our juice boxes. Everyone else around us brought bottles of wine ... wish I had known that was legal!!! then, jet lag kicked in and we took a nap in the park for about an hour and got a sun burn!

after that we strolled up Calle Mayor (main street) in madrid and stopped at Plaza Mayor (the main plaza .. i've blogged about it before) it was so beautiful out there were hundreds of tables set up outside so we sat for a while, watched the street performers and split a pitcher of sangria and a traditional spanish snack. Then we hopped on the metro and went to the Bull Fight. After the bull fight we headed back to Alcala to a birthday party for one of my chinese classmates. Since they don't really speak english we had to speak spanish for the whole party and poor matt was completely lost but he made the best of it and tried to communicate and they all loved him!

anyways, now here are the details for the bull fight, so you know what you're seeing in the pictures!

here's how it works:
1. there are about 6 assistant matadors (made that term up) who first tire out the bull. They have pink and yellow "towels" (dont know the technical term) that they wave to get the bull to run from one guy to the next. the closer they get the bull to their bodies, the more the crowd cheers. this goes on for about 10 minutes. sometimes the bull gets distracted and charges and then the little matadors run for dear life to a wooden wall they can jump over. that's kind of funny.

2. once the bull is pretty tired a big old matador (past his prime and can't run anymore) comes out on a horse. the horse is blinded and totally covered with thick padding. the assistant matadors direct the bull over to the horse and unfortunately the bull usually tries to ram the horse ... so it's good that his eyes are covered and he's blinded or he'd probably buck and get into a fight. the matador on this horse has a very very long spear and he stabs the bull between the shoulders good and deep. This is the main wound. I know it sounds terribly sad, and at first it was, but you cant help but get caught up in the spectacle of it all after a while.

3. once the bull has his deep wound, the assistant matadors distract him again so that the horse and big old fat matador can exit. then, a young, skinny matador ... THE MATADOR ... comes out with 3 sets of 2 furry hooks. They are about 2.5 feet long each, covered in pretty colors but have long hooks on the end. his job is to get the bull so close to him he can stick these hooks right in the wound ... 3 sets of 2 matching hooks.

4. then the assitant guys come back out and tire out the bull some more.

5. then THE MATADOR comes back out, this time with a sword. he throws his hat in the ring .. literally ... and makes a big spectacle about getting the bull extremely close to his body when he waves his red towel thing. One time, the bull nicked him and the assistant guys had to run out and distract him so the matador could get back up on his feet! then, after he puts on a good show he stabs the bull right in the open wound! if he only went thru the skin and didnt get a good stab, he is bold enough to pull his sword back out and restab him ... though this takes a while b/c by now the bull is VERY angry!

6. then, the assistant guys come back out and about rock the bull to sleep by waving their pink flags until the bull is too tired to stand. his legs will give out under him and he'll fall to the ground. then the matador comes back out and stabs the bull in the head to ensure that he dies quickly.

7. two very fancy decorated horses come out and the bull is tied to something that is attached to the horses and they drag him away. The bull is then used for meet and sold the next day in the markets. ... tongue, brain, testicles, and all! (bull testicles are a delicacy)

we saw about 6 bulls that night, ranging in weight and height but it was really quite a show. the first two bulls i had to watch die really turned my stomach but after that you sort of get into the roar of the crowd.

also incase you didn't know ... to kill ... in spanish is MATAR so Mata-dor translates to Killer.

well. I'm off to Rome for the next 4 days but will blog more when I get back!

have a great weekend!

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