First off traveling by motorcycle in the wind is an experience. With everything flashing by so quickly as we zipped along from Granada to Jerez, I felt as though I was in a movie that was fast forwarding. I must admit, I was not very impressed when we first got to Jerez and were walking around because for some strange reason it was completely abandoned.
We had a delicious dinner of octopus and croquetas, then decided to wander around and ask about the Feria de Caballos (Horse Fair) that was going on that week. Finally we kept seeing more and more people making their way in the same direction, all of them dressed to the nines! The women were either wearing fancy clothes and heels or a full on flamenco dress, and the men were all wearing buttoned shirts and blazers.
The Spaniards definitely know how to throw a party, the amount of lights, rides, food, music, dancing and people that were present were INCREDIBLE! Completely changed my opinion of the city, and I could understand why nothing closer to the center of the city was open -- all of the people were out celebrating at this event. We we walked into the main area where there were a bunch of little houses that served food and had bunches of people, I felt like I had stepped into the middle of a firework.
I realized that I have not been to the fair probably since high school either, the flashing rides and the huge ferris wheel were a strange contrast against the old style flamenco dresses.
The next day we went to the horse-show aspect of the event schedule. I was so impressed, and I know absolutely nothing about horses. My dad was explaining a lot of the things going on to me throughout the performance. All of the horses were so well trained. There were flamenco dancers that would flip their shawls in front of the horse -- literally dancing in front of their faces as well, and they were trained to not freak out or become startled in the least. There were two horses that even were trained to dance as partners facing each other, creating a mirror image. I felt like I was watching a mixture of a dog show and a circus performance. Some of the horses were able to stand on their back legs, bow, and then process to sit down with their two front legs propping them up. Really amazing.
I would have to say though that probably the most emotionally stimulating and exciting thing about the weekend was the Corrida de Toros that my dad and I went to. It is a very controversial subject in Spain as well in the rest of the world, because to some it is seen as cruel and barbaric. I can definitely see where people are coming from on this, but for myself I feel like I cannot denounce the Corrida because I also eat meat. The large bulls have the best of lives for 5 years, where they live comfortably and eat the best food. It was an incredibly interesting experience. I would say that I am a worrier as well, so watching people purposefully get as close as they possibly can to a 1,000+ lbs animal made me nervous to say the least. At first with all of the adrenaline pulsing though my veins my hand was shaking enough that it was difficult to take pictures, I can't even begin to imagine how the toreros felt being in the ring.
A little bit of information about the Corrida that can help you visualize: there are 6 bulls, 2 for each torero. There are 4 main phases and in total I believe that each bull is supposed to take no longer than 20 minutes because after 20 minutes the bull will have learned all of the moves of the torero, because they are very smart. First off, the bull enters the plaza and many toreros come out with the magenta and yellow cape (capote) trying to rile it up. The matador takes the bull by doing some cape work.
Next comes the picador, this person is on horse back (the horses are completely padded up, have their eyes covered, and cannot hear) and the picador jabs the bull in its hump, I think to enrage them more? But I am not exactly positive. This part I was not a huge fan of because the bull runs straight into the horse; which yes it is padded but that cannot feel good at all.
Then come the bandilleros who face off to the bull with nothing but these spikes that they have to stick into the flesh of the bull.
Finally, comes the matador which is what most people think of when they picture a Corrida. He uses a red cape, and we learned that the reason it is red is because they wanted it to be the same color as the blood which is better for the spectators. Bulls are colorblind and can only see in black and white anyways, so the movement of the cape is what is important. You can tell when a matador is good, I would have to say that it is definitely an art. The second matador put on the best show in my opinion, but I think the third was supposed to be the favorite. The second matador: David Fandila Marín is from Granada actually, but he just had so much confidence that he was able to dominate the performance. On his first bull he received both ears (which means they did a really good job), and he threw them to the crowd... The whole crowd rose their feet when he was done and waved their white handkerchiefs in approval.
David Fandila Marín had that macho attitude that so far he has been really successful with, but he was definitely playing with fire. He would do cape work on his knees, run backwards with the bull chasing him with his hand out, and turning his back on the bull -- a sign of bravery (or stupidity depending on your opinion).