There is a sea of pale straw larger-than-life cowboy hats that only come out on occasions such as this. We purchase an umbrella from one of the dudes walking around which later inspires the occasional beer bottle caps to be thrown at us throughout the afternoon for we are obviously spoiling the view for some dickhead behind us. But when a charming young boy comes and says "Señoras, por favor...please put your umbrella lower" I rest it on my shoulders in aquiescence.
We sit and everything we could want comes to us. Umbrellas, hats, beer, softdrinks, corn on the cob with cheese (choloco con queso), deep fried pork fat...
We watch as a truck drives around in ever decreasing circles to wet the dusty playing field. We aren´t here to watch football (tho in this part of the world, thats what most other spectators are doing on a sunday). We are here to see el Pelea de toros: the bullfight.
I said no, straight out, when I was asked to come along, but on assurance that there would be no blood, I decided to come.
And so far it isn´t too bad: My umbrella is sheltering me and my Swedish neighbour from the sun, I have a glass of orangeade and some corn, I have been watching men in white with big hats and red scarves walk around in lines, listening to some fine charanga music that is being pumped out of the loudspeakers that competes with a band off in the far left corner and I stare at the snow covered mountain in the near distance. There is a fiesta energy that only many people gathered in an afternoon for food, booze and sport can bring, and I bask in it. (And try not to get burnt)
The first bulls are brought out with great ceremony. They are pulled in via ropes and then their owners stand next to them and use various techniques to makes them fiesty. YOu might think this would be some sort of violent affair but they seem to whisper sweet nothings in their ears and rub their head and flanks. They then take the ropes off and step back...The crowd holds it´s collective breath.
While the two bulls stare determinedly in opposite directions, chew cud and pretend the other one is not there.
This goes on for a while, to the laughter of the crowd. The owners tell the bulls that the other one insulted their mother, left a cowpat on their pillow and said that they were UGLY, and finally pull their heads so that they have to engage...and then the fight is on.
We are going for the smallest one, cos he is called Draco and is a slightly funny grey colour. They have locked horns and both try and push as hard as they can till the other one gives up and runs away in fear or boredom. This type of bullfighting is considered by most Peruvians to be a distinct moral improvement on the other type of bullfighting where one is actually killed by a human in a fancy costume. I can´t disagree.
Draco is by far the strongest, and he pushes the other one right outside of the arena (I am glad we chose seats halfway up the stands), but on some deliberation, the fight is started again from the middle (since Drac´s opponenet didn´t technically run away), and by this point Draco is tired and he runs away with his tail between his legs.
And then stands still, sticks his head and tail out and
cries for his mother.
The shame. Not his, but my own: that I have watched this kind of thing for sport. The feeling at this point is small however: it takes three more fights and a bloody eye to make me and my neighbour choose to stand up and squeeze our way out of the arena 4 fights before the finale.
Sure this sport is an improvement on the let´s up and kill the bull type of fighting...
But i never was the sporting type.
Though I want one of those hats.