Lucho Goes Bullfighting in Tabacundo

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September 28th 2009
Published: September 30th 2009
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Hampster for breakfastHampster for breakfastHampster for breakfast

Perfect hangover cure...?
Marco: "So when the bull comes in, you have to find a spot to climb up."
I surveyed the walls of the bullring, but found no room - the three story wooden scaffolding was packed with bodies. Just then all the guys standing around the chute scattered sending a shock wave through the crowd. Here we go. Bucking and snorting the beast chargedin tossing his fierce horns at a thousand people at once. He rounded the ring at a steady gallop bucking up at the brave souls who were the last to jump up to safety, inches above the range of the bulls horns. Luckily Marco found a friend on the wall just in time so we had both a place to hang (literally) and someone to supply us with beer. The tricky bit was climbing up amidst the frenzy without spilling your beer. A sane man would probably want his wits about him whilst penned in with a wild beast, but this was no place for sane men. Men and boys loitered about, taunted the horned devil, testing their guts and their luck (after all the bull can't get everyone). Sure, most still had fear to help them stay out of harm's way, but for the few valiant bullfighters who clearly knew what they were doing. Still the cheap booze and mob mentality set in and people still got hurt. And I like to think that I'm sensitive to these things, good at getting into the swing of things. So, after we'd found some of Marco's cousins and started on the whiskey, I found myself wandering farther and farther from the protective fence. Rather than climbing up the cousins had secured two five foot square fences with narrow entrance ways to jump behind as the bull approached. Since we were family we were of course welcome to both booze and something like safety - as long as they were used properly, that is. In other words if handed a cup, you drink it down and pass it back for refilling and you don't enter the pen unless absolutely necessary. Its hard to make small talk while fenced in with one of those raging beasts, but we did our best to act cool.
At one point our faux bravery nearly ended in tragedy. The bull came rushing down the fence line and, in the panic, there wasn't enough room for both of us to squeeze in. Frantically pushing back on the sardine-packed screaming cousins behind to make room, I saw the bull dragging it's horns across the fence somehow narrowly missing Marco's spine which was sticking out a few inches. Afterward he had me check to see if the horns had scratched his fancy leather motorcycle jacket, whilst mumbling something about me trying to get him killed. No scratches, but there was a bit of bull drool on the back of his pants (i didn't bother to mention it).
Still we drank deeply of the whiskey and still flaunting machismo as the sun hung low. New distractions emerged and it became harder to keep one eye on the bull. Who's that girl behind the next fence? Will I be introduced?... Empanadas!... Hornado!... Tamales!... Where'd she go?...
But soon the dust cloud of the bullring got into my brain - or was it the whiskey? Anyway it was hard to focus on these things. I stumbled out of the ring to find someplace to have a leak. I found my way to the designated spot but was astounded. I've never seen so much urine outside of a toilet. A native man slumps
After the goreing After the goreing After the goreing

Shame the blood didn't come out in this one...
up against the wall next to me. Ah, just as I suspected. They've been pissing with firehoses. It must be something in the guarango but Jesus! We'll wash the foundation from beneath the wall soon.
I made my way back through the boisterous crowd drawing unwanted attention with my bobbling blond head and, as a result, shaking hands with lepers and cowboys for . I picked up a couple of beers to take the edge off the whiskey and somehow ended up with a plate of Hornado (pulled baked pork and baked corn) spilling down my jacket. Anyway surely the boys back at camp will want some... We've only been here a couple of hours but they've been at it all day. But when I got back things started to turn. It got dark, people were gored, and the whiskey cups were poured with less reck (which is to say more recklessly).
The bulls had long since been spent but the band played on into the night, and Marco's cousins kept producing bottles of cheap whiskey. Children came out into the ring and ran amongst us, ducking and hiding behind, waving plastic bags at each other like brave torreros.
Who else want's some?Who else want's some?Who else want's some?

This one had it written all over his face.
In retrospect, I suppose they were operating at a much higher level than us. At the time it was just super cute and I kind of wanted to play along. But there's no fooling around here. I've got hands to shake and cups to down. Must keep up appearances. Must keep upright...
Things go a little bit cloudy but I do remember a few interesting encounters:

After we left the ring...>>

Additional photos below
Photos: 16, Displayed: 16


Getting my bearings the morning afterGetting my bearings the morning after
Getting my bearings the morning after

Wait, that's Cotopaxi, not Cayambe... what the F@$%

The bull went right under my feet after this one...
Look at what he's after...Look at what he's after...
Look at what he's after...

Wouldn't like to be that guy.

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