Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America








The bullfights started at 3:30 and I arrived around 3 PM. I had no ticket, no idea how to read the seating chart, and no idea what I was doing. Believe it or not there is a different price for just about every row in the arena. Ticket prices range from about $100 for the seats closet to the ring to $10 for the ones furthest away. I chose the $10 (22,000) seats because I didn't want to spend a fortune and I also figured the less people I had behind me the better. This turned out to be a pretty wise move on my part.

Buying tickets is not a simple matter as you can see from the pricing chart below. Prices differ by row, whether you are in the sun or shade, proximity to the bar, how close you are to the band, etc. The ticket lady asked me about 900 questions, none of which I understood, and I finally just pointed and said, "quiero una bolleta no muy caro por favor." In other words, just give me a cheap ticket please...



Tailgate Party

Tailgate Party

The Band

The Ring

The Crowd Is Building

The Ring

The Stands

Chicas Like Bullfights Too

2 Generations Of Fans

Before the bullfight they had a ceremony that involved throwing a lot of flowers at an old man. I'm assuming he was a famous bullfighter of the past but to be honest I wasn't real sure what was going on. After that the bullfighters enter the ring along with all of the guys on horses. I'm not sure what the guys on horses are called but they are a part of the bullfight that I was completely unaware of. The horses basically wear suits of armor and during the bullfight the matador makes the bull charge the horse. When it does the guy on the horse spears it with a giant pole. It's very violent, bloody, and many times the bull knocks down the horse. At that point the horses have so much gear on them that they can't get up on their own.


Ceremony

Ceremony

Hot Chica

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Right before the bullfight starts the matadors get in a little practice. After their warmup is done 2 guys carry in a giant sign with the name of the bull on one side and the matador on the other. If you notice, the entire event is sponsered by Ron Medellin which is the local rum. I swear everyone there except me had a wine sack filled with rum and they certainly weren't consuming it in moderation.


Pregame Warmup

Scorecard

Charge!

Almost Got Him!

Spear Guy

The Other Spear Guy

Spearing The Bull

The Horse Goes Down

It Takes A Team To Get The Horse Back Up

After the bull has been speared and is good and upset the matadors take turns spearing the bull some more. They do this 3 times and each matador has 2 spears. They get the bull to charge them and as the bull goes buy they leap into the air and drive the spears into it's back. This is truly insane to watch.


More Spears

More Spears

More Spears

Angry Bull With 6 Spears In It's Back

Time To Fight

Ouch!

Ole!

Ole!

Ole!

Ole!

Ole!

Ole!

Once the matador has toyed with the bull for a while he draws his sword and the end is near for the bull. Generally they face off with the bull with their sword drawn and once the bull charges they stab the bull and kill it. At this point the bull staggers around for a minute or 2 until it finally collapses. Once the bull falls the final blow is delivered by a guy with an ice pick. It's definately not an event for people with weak stomachs.

After the bull is dead they bring out a team of horses and they drag the bull from the ring. The matador then walks around the ring and the fans through flowers and whatever else they have to throw. This is why it turned out to be a good idea to sit as high as possible. The drunker the crowd got the worse their aim...



The Sword Is Drawn

Finishing Off The Bull

The Bull Is Dead

A Team Of Horses Drag The Bull From The Ring

Tossing Flowers

The Fans Go Wild!

The day I was there there were 6 bullfights. By the fifth one I was getting a little concerned for my safety as the crowd was getting very drunk, very loud, and very rowdy. I figured I was pretty safe as long as there were bulls to be killed but once that was done I might be in trouble since I was the lone gringo in a crowd of 8,000 drunk Colombians.

When the fifth bullfight was over I decided to make my exit. I'm pretty sure this was a VERY good idea. I had a hard time just getting out of the arena because the security guys couldn't believe I was leaving before the final bullfight. I guess it's kind of like leaving a tie football game in the fourth quarter to beat the traffic. They kept saying in Spanish once you leave you can't come back. I finally got them to open the gate to let me out and when I got outside there were about 500 cops waiting in full riot gear. I would have taken pictures but they were carrying M-16's and I figured it was best to get out of there fast.

From my seat in the arena I could see the metro station so I figured I would just walk there and ride the train home. This turned out to be my worst idea of the day. I got about 1/2 mile from the arena and I realized the neighborhood was getting REALLY seedy. There were a lot of people rooting through trash piles and oddly I didn't fit in here real well. I was getting very nervous because I now had several people following me and I really didn't think I was going to make it another mile to the train station before I got robbed or worse. Thankfully a cab happened to roll by and I was able to flag him down and get out of there.



Packed House

Me Wondering If I'll Make It Out Alive...


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