Toros a Tope

After spending a week traveling through central Europe and a few hours elbowing through crowds to see Holy Week processions, I needed to escape. Too many somber, Lenten beer-less (ok, not really) days of penitence and adoration.I needed to go see a bull being released.So, I´ve been a bad Catholic and haven´t given up anything for Lent for years, so Easter to me, with its lack of chocolate bunnies, easter egg dye and boiled ham feel like just another Sunday to me. I begged Kike to take me to Arcos de la Fontera, a beautiful town perched on twin peaks, to see my friend CeCe and the famous Toro de Aleluya.

While the bull-friendly nation of Spain has found itself in the middle of controversy for its festivals involving the beasts, I, for one, love its adherence to tradition. The town of Denia has a summer fair where the daring can swim in the Mediterranean, and San Fermines, or the Running of the Bulls in Hemingway’s Pamplona, is one of the most well-known spectacles in Spain. I had to settle for something a little smaller.

CeCe greeted Kike and I with a mimosa, to which he turned up his nose and I gladly took. We found a spot behind red iron gates holding back spectators from the Paseo, the main street between the old and new towns. People wore matching t-shirts and hung off of balconies, signs – anything they could to get a good view of the encierro path.


Mimosas turned to beer and rebujito, and after two hours in the sun, the bull was finally released. He was FLOOOOOOOOJO. Although the gate was a mere 50 meters down the road, the pistol sounded and everyone screamed…and we waited. A band taunted the bull, and young chulos ran up and down, attempting to get the bull, enticed by movement, to move. He stood there, flapping his tail and looking uninterested.

I wiggled my way up the front, hopeful I´d get a few pictures. Instead, I got a bunch of people running and a few kicks in the face from the teenagers perched on the gates over my head. I decided I was over it, so we kept drinking our beer and eating homemade bocadillos.

The bull continued up and down the street, kids screaming and flapping noise-makers adorned with ribbons the colors of Andalucía. during the hour-long descanso, we wandered down into one of the main plazas of the new part of town, which was ringed with vendors, beer tents and snack carts. We took a few shots (served by one of Cece’s coworkers), took pictures with all her high schoolers and enjoyed the sunshine. The whole place had been converted to an outdoor disco full of skanky looking girls and chulos in white-rimmed sun glasses.

Aline, Kate, me, CeCe, Isabel and Amanda at the encierro

Ah Spain and your never-ending parties and canis. Thankfully, Feria is two short weeks away. ¡Olé!
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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living among pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she wrangles babies at an English Language Academy and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

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