We recently returned from a vacation in Acapulco, Mexico. They still fight bulls there although the locals don't seem to be very interested. The stadium held ten thousand, and on the Sunday afternoon that we attended there were about four hundred people who showed up. Mostly the crowd consisted of friends and family of that day's bull fighters, tourists like me who paid way too much for front row seats, and various others like the little band that played the Mexican music.
Bull fighting is a strange art. It's terribly cruel and brutal. The bull is tortured for about thirty minutes before he is put out of his misery. Even the part where they finish him off takes too long. Most countries have outlawed the nine hundred year old tradition, but a few like Mexico and Spain still allow it.
When the first bull ran in that night, I immediately pictured his future: bleeding, and gasping for air, on his knees. My imagination stood in sharp contrast to the animal I saw before me: powerful, confused, scared, aggressive. My compassion for his upcoming plight was almost overwhelming.
One guy did so well that the official awarded him the ear. So he made his rounds holding the ear up with pride as the blood ran down his wrist, staining his green and gold, majestic costume.
One of the final acts of a bull fight is when the matador stabs the bull with a long sword and pushes it in deep between the front shoulder blades. Often it popped out and the boy (all but one of the matadors was about sixteen years old) had to re-stab until it took. The bull often bellowed in pain at this point. Eventually he lies down drowning in his own blood.
There is much beauty, grace and excitement involved in this game. It's not for the faint of heart. Honestly, I have had trouble falling asleep for the last couple of nights. I used to watch it on the Mexican TV channels when I was a boy in the 1970s, but there were no close-ups and I was too young to really realize what I was watching. We humans are a strange crowd.