Holy crap where has the time gone. I have only 4 weeks left until I have to come back to the United States and face reality again. I thought I would be really homesick coming here… looks like I may be more homesick going back.
So I told you all that I had to hold off telling you what Allison and I did for Feria until the next blog (lets face it, that blog was getting ridiculously long) so lets start right were I left off!
First, a little bit of information about Sevilla’s spring fair. It started back in the 1800’s as a livestock fair and has since grown into the monster that it is today. The April fair takes place in La Real de La Feria, an entire park completely dedicated to the fair. In this park there are over 1,000 “casetas”, or tents, that are owned by rich families, businesses or political parties. Some casetas are open to the public, but for the most part you need to know someone to get in. In each caseta there is a full bar, kitchen, dining room, bathroom and floor for dancing. During this week, the caseta basically becomes a second home to the family that owns it.
Feria kicks off Monday night at midnight with the lighting of the “portada”, the massive entrance to the fair, and continues until the following Sunday with fireworks sending off the celebration to another year. Pretty much every day follows the same trend, with horse parades and bullfights in the afternoon, dancing in the evening, and drinking all throughout. The main drink of Feria is called “rebujito” and is a delicious (yet very deadly) combination of white wine and sprite.
Seriously. Gotta be careful with that stuff.
Allison and I missed most of Feria because we were traveling, so Saturday was our first day out and about. We started off the day walking around the fair and calle de infierno (literally “hell road”) where all the amusement rides were. In typical Spanish fashion, there was not a lot happening during the day, so we decided to catch a late lunch and head to the bullring for our first (and probably last) bullfight.
Ohhhh the bullfight. I knew there would be blood but I had no idea how violent it would be. Everyone has seen the pictures of the matadors (bullfighters) waving around colorful flags as the bull danced around them, barley missing gorging out their flesh. Sounds pretty cool right? Well what I learned pretty quickly was that there was much more to it than that.
First of all they torture the bull for up to two days before the fight. They burn it, starve it, and even stick a needle in its testicles; anything to make it mad. Before the fight, newspapers are stuffed into its years, cotton up its nose, and Vaseline is rubbed into its eyes to blur its vision and further incapacitate him. Therefore, the bull that enters the ring is a weakened, half blinded bull that is incapable of harming anyone.
The bull is kept in a dark box for those two days so that when he is let out, he longs for freedom and charges towards the light of the ring to face his death. The “fight” starts off with 5 or 6 men waving flags and tormenting the bull to charge at them. Usually there is one lead bullfighter wearing a different color that torments the bull the most.
After letting it run around for a few minutes, a trumpet is blown and a man on an armored horse emerges from the tunnel carrying a long spear. The bull is provoked into attacking the horse, which only leads to a gaping wound in his neck. This starts the bull bleeding to death.
The man on the armored horse then leaves and the lead bullfighter is the only person left in the rink. He is given 6 banderillas (sharp, harpoon-like barbed instruments) that he attempts to stick in the bulls back, two at a time. By now there is a consistent sheet of blood running down the bulls side and you can start to see its breathing become strained.
The third and final act begins with another signal of the trumpet and the main matador the only person in the rink with the bull. He holds his flag, but underneath the flag resides a long sword in which after a couple more minutes of playing with the bull, he plunges into the bulls body. The bull runs around frantically before lying down of exhaustion where its life is blissfully ended with a stab to the head. The matador then cuts off a part of the bull (usually an ear, piece of skin, or the tail) and brandishes it proudly while horses enter the rink to drag the dead bull out. Groundskeepers come in to clean up some of the blood and within 5 minutes the next bull is entering the rink. Anywhere from 4-8 bulls are killed in a single fight.
The fight that Allison and I saw involved 6 bulls, but we left after the 4th and we would have left sooner if we could. We were both appalled at how the fight went down, as it was not a fair fight whatsoever. It’s not a fight between “brains” and “brawn” as my host mom said, it’s a fight between 5 or 6 humans with armor and weapons against a drugged, practically dead bull. It wasn’t a fight, it was the torture of a helpless animal in front of 1,000’s of people cheering on its death.
Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of the bullfight. Lets move on to a happier part of my day shall we?
Feria!! Saturday night came around and I got dressed in the only button down shirt I own here while Allison put on her authentic flamenco dress and attire. After taking some pictures with my host parents we headed over to the fair to a public caseta with some friends to partake in a little bit of the rebujito and flamenco. The people in the public caseta were super nice and even helped Allison learn how to dance Sevillianas! I have a video if anyone is interested 😉
Much of today was spent sleeping in and catching up on homework, although around 6PM we headed over to the feria again to ride some rides and catch the fireworks display. Allison rode this swinging boat ride (pictures below) and if anyone knows anything about her incredible fear of heights you should be extremely proud of her for even wanting to attempt this feat. But she did it and she didn’t even cry once 😉
Fast forward a few days of homework and stress and we arrive in Grazalema! Grazalema is a cute little village nestled in the mountains of the province of Cadiz, about an hour outside of Sevilla. We took a day trip to visit an old bread farm and then take a hike through the Sierra del Pinar mountains. The mountain range was absolutely beautiful and it was a perfect way to celebrate earth day 😀
So that’s it for this week’s blog! I can’t believe that I only have four more of these to write before my study abroad experience is over… This semester has gone so fast, and although my bank account is crying right now from all the traveling, I would do it again in a heartbeat. For any IPFW students reading this, I highly recommend stopping by the study abroad office and talking to Meg if you are interested in having the best semester of your life! 😀
Have a great week!