13/12/09 - Mexico City, Mexico
The Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky museums are in the coyoacan area of mexico City. We take the metro there in the morning. Both museums are fascinating. The frida Kahlo museum houses a number of her paintings and some of Diego Rivera´s but what I actually found most interesting were the photographs of them dotted around the place.
In the afternoon I decided to watch a corrida de toros (bullfight). Even though it is barbaric and bloodthirsty my arguement for wtaching it (tand thus supporting the practices in a way) was that it was a ´sport´and part of mexican culture.
In Mexico, bullfights are an impotant part of life. They´re held in Mexico City on every Sunday from October to March at the Monumental Plaza Mexico, a massive concrete bowl that holds 48,000 people and is one of the largest bullrings in the world. It´s the biggest bullfighting stadium in Central America.
The moment I got off the metro-bus I knew there was an even. Thousands of people streamed along the streets the stadium. But they were´nt there for the bullfight, but for the cup final that was taking place at the same time in the stadium right next to the bullring between Cruz Azul and Monterray (Monterray the eventual victors 6-4). Police stood on every crossroad, directing traffic and telling people to move along. As I got closer to the stadium hawkers were selling cold drinks, tacos, souvenirs, paraphernelia like flags, t-shirts and soft toys.
I joined a scrum of people attacking a series of holes in the stadium wall behind which sat ticket sellers. Each hole was marked with the type of tickets they sold. ´Sol, in the sun, or ´Sombra´in the shade, Barreras´the area closest to the ring or the rest, divided in ´Primer´or ´Segundo´. In the nend, I bought the cheapest ticket going, a ´sol´high up with the gods.
Inside the huge bowl, or amphiteatre, seats in rows climbed steeply from the ring. The stadium was less than half-full, which I attributed to the final taking place t the same time, but there was a buzz of anticipation. Below was the brown dirt ring. Hawkers walked up and down between the aisles selling pizzas, ice cream and beer. A trumpet blasted over the speakers and a bull ran out into the ring, snorting, dashing wildly wandering where the hell it was and what is was doing there.
After a few minutes four guys in matador outfits came out to muted applause and waved capes at the bull. Each was trying to distract the bull, cowardly hiding behind wooden walls when it tried to charge at them.
It was a bit dull and depressing so I tried to get a beer from a hawker. "Hey senor" I called out in my best Speedy Gonzales accent, "una cerveza, pronto!". He ignores me.
Two guys on heavily padded horses came out with huge lances. These are the ´picadores´the guidebook says. It is their job to jab the picas (lances) into the shoulders of the bull, to weaken them.
The four guys returned this time brandishing three elongated darts, which they took turns to jab into the bull´s shoulder, once again with the intention of weakening him. When the matador finally emerged in his traje de luces (suit of light) the bull was well and truly shagged.
The next bit is called t´he ´suerte de muleta´, the éxciting´bit where the matador has 16 minutes to kill the bull. Sixteen minutes to wave a cape around, tire the bull out and then plunge a sword into the poor animal´s neck. Finally, the dead bull is dragged off, it´s head placed on a little trolley and the carcass tied to two horses, leaving a trail of blood in the sand that is quickly swept away.
With the first corrida de toros finished, I decided I´d seen enough and left. Watching this brutal´´spectacle´was sad and depressing. And it was bloody dull. The whole process is repeated 6 times. Watching it once was boring enough. And the cruelty is unspeakable, the bull didn´t stand a chance and the horses take quite a bashing too. It left me very angry and wishing there was a parallel universe where the bulls were doing the same to the matadors.