Colombia

A Change of Heart [Bullfighting]

I’ve changed my mind. I hope that’s ok?

Socrates once said, “All I know is that I know nothing.” I find it comforting to know that even the greatest philosophers of all time realized that we don’t really know or understand anything. It’s nice to know we can be free in changing our thoughts, because ultimately, nothing is right or wrong.

Maybe you were grossed out anyway, by what I had written in previous posts about bullfighting. My mom even admitted to me she had a hard time looking at the photos.

I have found that love pushes us to do things, which we wouldn’t have done otherwise. When we love, we love every part of that person. What they love, we are open to love, and  we try and understand. And for me that led me to trying to love bullfighting, as Santiago does.

I have to say, that I was able to see and understand what he loved about it, the art, the history, the culture. And I could appreciate that aspect of the event.

However, that was until I went to a quite atrocious bullfight. In such a tragedy of sequences, there a lot that potential could go awry. One can only imagine, with a wild, angry bull running around, trying to kill anything in sight…

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As I sat there, awaiting my 5th bullfight (yes, 5th…), I expected it to be like all the others. A well-drawn out sequence of acts, with the bull falling to its death at the end. But I was in for a very unpleasant surprise.

I’m not going to go into all the details, and I certainly didn’t take any pictures of what happened (here are some of the very graphic pictures if you want to see for yourself….). But I sat speechlessly watching, as the bull managed to find its way to the side of the horse, that was not well protected.

The crowd was completely silent, a women screamed, children shielded their eyes. Santiago grabbed my arm and told me not to look. I sat there motionless, tears welling up in my eyes. I felt warm, my arm-pits starting to sweat. I wanted turn off this horror film, unveiling itself before my eyes.

The bull kept at it. Stabbing the horse, over and over, and over again. Until the bull was whisked away by one of support team members. The horse fell to the ground, as the team circled around the horse to evaluate the damage.

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Starring at the Botero banners hanging from above, trying not to look at the horror below. Hot tears streaming down my face, I felt completely ambushed, in the ring, in the horror, and in this tragic life. And then, the event went on as normal, once the horse was brought to its feet and hobbled out of the ring.

I don’t know how I feel about bullfighting anymore. I have seen it all – the beauty, the art, the playing with death, and the absolute horror. I don’t think it’s something that I will ever be able to love like Santiago does, but I think I can at the least understand and appreciate all aspects of it, the good and the bad. Because that’s how life really is. Taking the good and the bad, the beauty and the horror. We can’t live a life without one or the other.

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