This Sunday, I went to a bullfight at the Bullring by the Sea in Playas de Tijuana. It was my first one, and perhaps my last. I hadn’t expected the bulls to die so slowly, or express so much pain. After they’ve been stabbed, their tongues loll out of their mouths, wagging back and forth. Bulls have surprisingly long tongues. They also wail loudly: a haunting cry that reminded me a bit of a faint foghorn.
Going into it, I knew the bulls were going to be killed, and that it might be unpleasant to witness. Given the long, storied history of the corrida (bullfight), I imagined there was something I simply didn’t understand about the allure. Beforehand, various fans explained the elegance of the art– no, not sport, but art– to me, saying the matadors engaged in a delicate ballet with the animal. One man, Herman Montaño, told me that the bulls are selectively bred from Spanish bloodlines.
I taped four interviews with my new radio mic, along with lots of ambient sound: the cries of the bulls, the crowd cheering and jeering, the live band warming up and playing, the stadium sound system blasting Chino y Nacho, food vendors joking around and setting up their wares. I also stuck my microphone in front of the matador pictured above, El Zapato, as he greeted fans and signed autographs before the corrida. Aficionados (fans) thrilled to the performances, though the stadium was less than a quarter of the way full.
When I fell asleep, I dreamed of wailing bulls.