Sunday, August 12, 2012

Catching Up: Ruins & Bull Fights

A few days ago our ISA group took a trip to the ruins of a sort of fortress here in Málaga called the Alcazaba. It turned out to be a really neat mix of Muslim and Roman architecture, since it was inhabited by the Muslims and then later by the Romans, who adapted and added to it.

A model of the the way the city and the Alcazaba used to look - higher up on the hill/mountain is a castle.

Some views of Málaga from up in the Alcazaba.

The architecture and design of the place were all really cool. There are orange trees growing all throughout the place, which apparently is a Muslim tradition.

A keystone! : )

Most of the trees and other green stuff wouldn't have been growing there long ago... supposedly the place where the garden is is where the soldiers used to train. But it still looks really beautiful nonetheless.

There were lots of slots carved into the ground all over the place for water to flow through, and some of them even had water actually flowing through them.
Farther into the Alcazaba, we got to go into the palace where the Sultan would live during times of peace, and there were plenty of pools and fountains, since they considered water to be so valuable and important.

We only got to spend a couple of hours there which wasn't nearly enough time to explore everything and take pictures, but instead of staying longer, Mary and our friend Genesis decided to go to some bull fights instead.

There's a bullfighting ring less than five minutes from our apartment, and every year around the time of the Feria de Málaga, they host bull fights for a couple of weeks. Last week all of the bull fights were free since the matadors weren't professionals, and we decided to take advantage of that. (Some of the prices for the really good seats get close to nearly 200 Euros.)

The toreros were all decked out in some incredible outfits, and their sheets as you can see are bright pink. These guys would rile the bulls up before the matador came out a little bit later. The reason the fights are free was because the matadors that week were all students, and they turned out to be really young. Apparently to people like us who were just seeing a fight for the first time, it would be hard for us to really appreciate the differences between a professional and a student fighting a bull.


There was also a guy who would ride on a horse covered in armor, who would try to stab the bull somewhere near the back of the neck. The three of us stayed for two bull fights, and the first bull (the one that I have pictures of) actually knocked the horse over and pinned it against the fence surrounding the ring.

The matador! The way he held himself was really cool to watch.
After the toreros stick the bull with as many of those sticks as they can (they were barbed on the ends), this guy would come out and dance around with the bull they way they did earlier.

Apparently bulls are colorblind. The matador shakes the red sheet, which catches the bull's attention, and it charges.
Both of the matadors we saw got knocked over and beat around a bit by the bulls, but both of them just got right back up and within a couple of minutes were going right back at the bull again.
Once the matador was out, the toreros hung back most of the time and only came out to help if the bull got too out of control (like when he got knocked over).

Unlike the bull fight that I saw a couple of years ago in France, the bull fights here in Spain are like 100% more violent. Overall it was pretty difficult to watch, especially the first match, even knowing what to expect. We were sitting next to a Spanish family who seemed to think it was really hilarious at how upset we were at how the toreros treated the bulls.

Unfortunately the student matadors weren't able to kill the bulls very quickly. Both of them needed to stab the bulls at least twice with their swords, and even then it took a while for the bulls to die. They more or less had to wait for the first bull to bleed to death, and the second bull had to put up with being stabbed five times in the back of the neck before the matador hit the right spot to kill it instantly.

It was a unique experience but I'm glad that we went. The "dancing" between the toreros and the bulls could be really interesting to watch, but once they began to prepare to kill the bull it was just heartbreaking, even if they were trying to do things with grace. These fights are becoming more controversial and have been banned in a city in Spain (I forget which one though), so it seems that it's a pretty current and heated topic for the Spanish.

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