Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday

Well, Mom, Shirley, and all my other competitive athletic friends, we have found a new event for you. We think you are already in good enough shape to start the rounds and we know how you enjoy putting another notch in the marathon stick, so we’re here to suggest next year you come to Spain in the spring. Every year on Easter Sunday they hold the traditional “Running of the Bulls”. If THAT isn’t enough to get your athletic adrenalin pumping, I don’t know what is. I know you competitive types like to challenge yourselves to new victories. It really isn’t about the winning as much as the achieving; that sense of “I did it”. What an accomplishment THIS would be.

We had to get up at 6 am to drive the three hours out to Arcos de la Frontera to watch this. When we arrived, the streets were already closed so we once again parked outside and walked in. We could tell right away where the run would happen. They have huge metal bars that block the streets. They look kind of like the ones around farm pens to keep the horses or bulls in/out. The street we chose to wait on had a lovely top part that was enclosed looking down on the lower street where the run would take place. Many families were already there and the YOUTH that was out was amazing. We haven’t seen that many young people since we left Canada. If you were between 17 and 25, THIS was the place to be.

There were no front row spots any longer. We were only two hours early. We opted to stand near a family in the hopes they would let us peek through their shoulders. After an hour in the hot sun, they became very friendly and squished together to allow us a front row spot! What luck! They didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Spanish but we all got along very well. The hours leading up to the event were filled with raucous laughter and excellent people watching. Strapping young males swaggered along the lower road, hoping people would notice. They did. Nimble young females cavorted along giggling and whispering together. People leaned out of windows, lined the rooftops, crowded behind the bars and spilled into the lower road every now and then. Spaced strategically along the enclosed area were tubs filled with ice and beer. Bars nearby had pushed into the street using large counters to extend their frontage. People walked around drinking beer from tins or plastic cups. It was happy hour at 10am.

A band came marching through and everyone cheered a clapped. Firecrackers went off in varying degrees of boom, causing the crowds to grow more frenzied and loud. Finally, sirens blared from down the street and two police vehicles followed by a large truck with a huge blue box labeled “Toro” on it. People cheered and waved as the beloved bull went by in his sealed blue box. What that poor animal must have been thinking…

It turned out we were at the front of the run so we watched the box lifted off the back of the truck. The police vehicles left and we all waited the last ten minutes in growing suspense. The men lining the street had now backed up along the walls and their bravado was put to the test. Some practiced leaping up the side, others passed around cigarettes, while still others bit their nails. Their bodies told a story as the minutes ticked by and we waited for the bull.

Then the bull was released. He flew out of the pen at the men and they scattered. He stayed at the top of the street for a few minutes, charging men and hitting up against the sidelines. A few men sprinted down past us. Then the bull came running our way. He stopped a few feet before us and turned, looking around him for irritants. The irritants had all wisely stopped moving. They were behind him or in front, far in front. He charged past us and on into the narrower section of the run. The street becomes narrower as the bull runs until it is a slot-car race up the final strip. We weren’t near there so didn’t see the action. I was just as happy not to watch men trip over themselves and get trampled. It was fast. We barely had time to feel our hearts pound and it was over.

We strolled up to the old town and an ambulance passed us with its siren blaring. Every year somebody gets hurt. A few years back an American soldier was killed. We walked by the first aid station and saw a man with huge abrasions down his face sitting still while the medic looked at his scalp. Think of the story he’ll have to tell! If you go in the run, you get a nice red scarf. You can also buy a t-shirt. Several men were in groups wearing matching shirts.

Mom, Shirley, are you in?

1 comments: said...

That's a lot of bull. Great shots. I'll go back and look at the Picasa site again. Love Mom