Sunday, September 09, 2007

Did you know I'm scared of bovines?

Well, I am.* So it's a wonder that I agreed to attend the abrivado, or arrival of the bulls to the arena, during our summer vacation. My father-in-law assured me it was perfectly safe and my mother-in-law agreed to keep the baby, so Big Daddy and I walked to a spot along the main route to the arena to see the big event.

Usually the bulls that run along the road are tamer versions of the ones used in the courses. It was both a disappointment and a relief to learn that. Occasionally the bulls will be brought to the arena all the way from the fields, but generally they are trucked in to the town square and let loose.

They are accompanied by the famous gardians on their Camargue horses:

My father-in-law pulled us into the middle of the street and said, "Ah, look how beautiful it is." And it was -- the horses riding full-out in formation, and the bulls' legs thundering right behind. It's pretty amazing to see the horses stay in formation, leaning in together like that. I stayed as long as I dared (well, they were running pretty fast, in my defense) before jumping behind a parked car for safety like the good little tourist I was.

As they passed, we got a good look at the horses:

One thing I didn't remember from the last time I saw this was the people running behind the bulls. Forget Pamplona, here the daring young people try to catch the bulls' tails and get them turned around and running away from the gardians, basically creating chaos in the streets. Luckily for me (and them), the bulls weren't bothered and continued into the arena.

*I'm only half-joking; my baby-sitter used to threaten us to stay in the yard or else the bulls would get us. She wasn't kidding.

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