Yesterday we went to a bullfight in Santander. Our favorite bullfighter, El Fandi, was fighting. We fell in love with his performance in León last year, and we’ve been looking forward to seeing him again. As usual, three bullfighters killed six bulls. The bullfighters were: Julián Lopez (“El Juli”), David Fandila (“El Fandi”), and Miguel íngel Perera.
Unfortunately, the bulls make up at least 40% of the quality of a bullfight, and these bulls were of low caliber. They were sluggish and non-engaging. El Fandi had a hard time getting his bulls to move at all.
Here come a lot of pictures…
Warning – The pictures below contain bleeding and dying animals. Consider yourself warned.
Marce, Marga, and I bought proper bullfighting spectator straw hats before entering the bullring.
One of El Juli’s assistants inserts some banderillas (literally: “little flags”). These have barbed arrowheads and are what you see hanging from the bulls shoulders later.
Another pair. That’s El Juli in the green in the background. Many bullfighters let their assistants (their “cuadrilla”) do the banderillas. They are sort of bullfighting apprentices.
El Fandi’s assistants control the bull when it’s first released.
El Fandi sweeps his cape around. When the bull is fresh and uninjured, they use larger pink and yellow capes. Later, when the bull is tired and injured, they switch to the red capes and swords.
El Fandi does his own banderillas.
The perfect placement of the banderillas is important, and the crowd is tough to please.
It’s important to run sideways when inserting the banderillas.
These “little flags” seem rather Portuguese.
“Olé!” shouts the crowd.
Sometimes, the bullfighters will remove their hat and throw it to the ground. When it lands with the open part up, it’s supposedly bad luck. El Fandi sure had bad luck.
Good bullfighting is really very similar to a dance.
El Fandi has bad luck inserting his sword. He has to wait until the bull has both front feet even with each other.
That’s not ketchup.
El Fandi goes in for the kill.
They don’t wait long at all to put the bull out of its misery with a short sword that severs the bull’s spinal cord, resulting in instant death.
The bullring workers get ready to hook the dead bull up the the harness to drag it out of the ring.
The first attack against the bull is made by horseback. The horses are blindfolded so they don’t freak out, and they wear armor to protect them from the horns. Still, I feel kind of sorry for the horses. Sometimes, although it’s rare, they do get injured.
This bull had a lame hind leg, and the crowd shouted for it to be spared. Eventually, the guy in charge of bovine control brought in some trained cattle to help usher it out of the ring.
Ferera fights with the replacement bull.
This video shows El Juli from the insertion of the full sword up, through the time waiting to see if the bull will die, to the final spinal cord cut.
After a particularly good fight, the bullfighter will walk around the ring and have roses and hats thrown at him (he throws back the hats). El Juli was the only one that had a mediocre fight that merited a trip around the ring.
This backup lance guy never saw any action.
El Fandi places two banderillas perfectly.
El Fandi definitely has a grace about him.
Both combatants have horns.
Bleeding or not, that’s a huge beast next to a tiny little human.
Lining up the insert the sword.
Needless to say, we were quite disappointed in the whole bullfight. Marce put it quite well when she compared it to a soccer match. Sometimes you see a soccer match between two great teams and it’s just boring and unspectacular. That’s what happened here. The bullfighters were great, but the bulls didn’t cooperate, and the result was nothing special. We still had a good time, though!
We’re actually gonna do it this year. I’ve just bought bus tickets to go to Pamplona this weekend for the San Fermin festival. For you Americans, that’s the “running of the bulls” that brings Spain to your evening news program once a year.