I had two roomies for the most part, in Seville. One nicknamed Miguel (from England), because each time he went to say his name during our introduction, the pneumatic drill outside would start up and what I had heard was Miguel. The other was Oreo Cookies from India; because quite simply, I really need to clean my ears out when I meet new people.
It is quite random meeting beings who are sharing your sleeping quarters. Usually there would be a “Hi, I’m… “ when someone or yourself is entering the room, but this was purely a post siesta salutation. I had mentioned an advertisement of a bullfight posted up on a pillar to Oreo and we decided that we’d go together under the guise of being the most Spanish thing we could possibly do. So off we went to buy ringside seats for that evening’s match. When Miguel awoke (I’m not the only foreigner that had cottoned on to the art of siesting), we threw the idea out to him. He too, happily caught it.
Oreo and I sat down at a street side restaurant and grabbed a large pile of homemade croquetas with a couple of tinto de verano, while Miguel queued up for his ticket. The leftovers were doggy-bagged for our new mate. With no sign of him, we bought a cushion each and wormed our way through the colosseum arches, where he was found just two seats along from ours. A little bit of shuffling I was the sandwich meat wedged in between two pieces of man bread.
Oreo and I had rocked up to this event under the naive impression that bull fighting was essentially a guy dressed in an interesting outfit, swishing around a red cape, dancing around a big fiery bull, shouting “Ole!” When the posse of matadors poked elongated piñata coloured spears between the shoulder blades of the first el toro, Oreo and I both winced. Miguel saw our distress as the bull was danced to its death in a show of masculinity, before the final spear was thrust in.
“I had no idea, this happened.” I said through the finger cracks over my eyes.
“Didn’t you know? ‘Mata’ means death.” said Miguel.
Both Oreo and I shook our heads in disbelief.
Throughout the first round there was an American family sitting in front of us, with the kid’s heads bowed down in handheld devices as the father’s outstretched arms filmed the spectacle on his tablet. Security had noted this and interrupted with a shoulder tap and wagging finger, when the bull was about to cede.
“Why are we even watching this?” The mom exclaimed, grabbing the hands of her children and stepping them over the seats, as soon as the white hankies of the audience danced like marionette ghosts.
A small army of men with rakes waltzed out to the tune of the brass band playing a pompous victory tune, as a white equine decorated with brightly coloured pom poms came in to drag Ferdinand away. Oreo and I looked at each other, wide eyed. We’d paid a packet for some decent seats and no clue.
There were six bulls in total that night; with three third string matadors, six lots of hanky waving to the brass band, and one standing ovation. The most handsome matador, I suspected thought he was the main attraction. This didn’t work in his favour when his ego seemingly became the better of him. Oreo and I didn’t care for his continuous falter, for we had secretly started cheering for the bulls.
At one stage a grey haired distraction matador had stumbled to the ground and el toro trotted across his back. Old Grey stood up and tried his best not to limp off. Mr Handsome, who had fumbled on his first bull, couldn’t mark his target and was like a young boy trying to aim into the toilet bowl. I had hoped it was a piece of his conscience that kept dropping the sword. The battling beast managed to stand his ground and jabbed Mr Handsome’s back, Mr Gorey Handsome. Still, Gorey won.
While out grabbing a break and a beer, Oreo and I hadn’t come back to our seats in time before the next matador; we were stopped by security at the top of the stairs, right in front of our seats. The crowd was erupting for the local boy wonder that we weren’t allowed to see. So we took ‘I can’t believe we didn’t know what a bullfight actually was’ selfies instead.
My six weeks living as a vegetarian in Andalucia had been reconfirmed. I couldn’t get over the dance of death, the children cheering, and the happy ‘deedly doodle doo’ musical accompaniment. I now have some mad respect for my big bovine buddies.
In recovery, I’ll walk you around stunning Seville, before filling you in on one of the best two degrees of separation stories that I have ever come across. Until then, X