A bullfight is not for the faint-hearted. I'll now describe what happens, so you may not wish to read on. We saw six bullfights last night, each lasting no more than 20 minutes. The third bull died after 12 minutes.
The bull is released into the ring. He comes charging in looking angry. He's already been stabbed in the shoulder, and is bleeding, so he probably is. At this point, the bull is most dangerous and very fast. The banderilleros (who will one day become matadors) tease the bull from a distance, and then seek shelter behind small wooden screens. But a moment later (with the bull already beginning to tire), the banderilleros, up to three of them, flash their pink capes, encouraging the bull to charge at the capes. Soon, two men on horseback, called picadores, enter the arena. The horses have protected padded covering, and need to. The bull will ram the horse violently. The horses don't get too rattled because they're blindfolded. The picadore uses his foot, and stabs the bull with a lance to dislodge it from under the horse. The tormentors arrive, and distract the animal. Soon, the picadores depart the arena.
A moment later, a banderillero appears with two long piercing instruments of say 70 cm in length. He runs at the bull, with no protection, and plunges the instruments into the bull's shoulders, which remain there, inducing more blood. The crowd roars its approval like a major goal has been scored at a football match. Shortly, another banderillero repeats the process. The bull's shoulders are now covered in blood, looking for all the world like spilled red paint. Once stabbed six times, the banderilleros retreat to the safety of the screens.
Soon, the matador, the star of the show, red cape in hand, enters the ring to great acclaim. He keeps his sword beneath his cape while he plays with the bull. Occasionally, for matadors and banderilleros alike, it all goes wrong, and the bull gains the upper hand, seemingly trampling its tormentor. The crowd reacts. All available banderilleros sprint on deck to rescue the 'trampled', distracting the bull with the wave of a cape. Is the trampled OK? Apparently, yes.
The matador plays with the bull, which is mesmerised by the cape. The animal follows it constantly. The bull is tired. The matador draws his sword, and aims it at the bull. There is suspense. Bull and bully stare at each other. Finally, the matador stabs the bull's shoulder. It's not over yet. In fact, in one of the bullfights, the matador stabbed the bull three times, and the sword kept falling out. The crowd booed. But once the matador's sword is in the bull, the banderilleros return to taunt and exhaust it. At length, the bull is rather still. The tormentors stand in wait. You glance at your watch. It's been 15 minutes. You know the bull can't last much longer. Then, its legs buckle. Its torso is on the ground, its head up as if waiting. A banderillero approaches and stabs the creature in the forehead. The bull falls down dead.
The crowd roars with approval; the entertainers receive a standing ovation. On the other side of the ring, three horses and a group of men enter the arena while a rope is attached to one of the bull's horns. The rope is hooked up to the horses, which drag the bull out of the ring, its dead eyes staring up at the crowd, to thunderous applause.
In the empty ring, between bullfights, the matador waves to the crowd, which throws hats into the ring in matador worship. He smiles gratefully, while the banderilleros follow, throwing the hats back. There is no delay; the next bull enters a moment later. After the third bull, everyone in the crowd starts eating their dinner, as if by ritual. But no intermission; the fourth bull soon arrives.
We saw six strong, aggressive bulls be teased, taunted, stabbed multiple times, exhausted, killed, and dragged indignantly out of the ring, like they deserved it. One after the other. There is no talk of animal rights here. (And yet people adore their cats and dogs here.) To call this event gruesome, grisly, sadistic, bloodthirsty and fascist is entirely valid. We've never seen anything like it. Above, for quality writing purposes, I've occasionally used alternative words to 'bull', such as 'animal'. 'Beast' came to mind, but I rejected it because the reader might wonder exactly to whom I would be referring.