A Portuguese bullfight differs from a Spanish one, firstly the bull is not killed, it's mostly done on horseback and it seems that only six attempts at spearing the bull are permitted.
It was with some second thoughts that we made our way over the mountain to Miranda Do Covo for the bullfight. Set in a temporary rotunda stadium just out of town, the bullfight is part of the national heritage here. We'd decided to go for the experience - it was an experience.
It seems that most bullfights are just a lot of posturing by the men (mostly in tight trousers)! Lots of clapping, cheering, music and trumpets sounding. You know instantly that it is steeped in tradition, even from the way the spikes are handed to the horsemen to the calls for the bull to appear.
As soon as the bull came into the ring I felt that it was wrong to be there. I just couldn't look at it. I was not sure I could stay...while Peter took hundreds of photos of the bullfight I looked away. The first team did there thing, you fear for the bull and for the horse but not for the man. Then an unexpected (well for me) thing happened, the horsemen left the ring and a line of 10 men appeared. Calling to the bull the men walked forward in a perfect straight line looking straight into the eyes of the bull. The bull charged, the men stood still, then the lead man hoicked himself onto the horns of the bull! Such a strange site to see, this man over the front of the head of the bull. Quickly others crowed the bull, held onto it's tail and formed an exit plan...one, two, three, they jumped off leaving one left with the bull. So strange, strangely fascinating, strangely exciting.
In Portugal they have a very famous lady bullfighter, she is loved across Portugal as she is the only lady fighter. One she came (more blooming clapping), the crowd made a lot of noise for her. The bull took ages to come out into the ring, the anticipation builds, I could actually feel it, my eyes came back to the ring to watch...the crowd carry you along.
I wouldn't say I enjoyed it, I felt the horror of the cruelty to the bull (to the horse maybe as it was charged at by a bull), but I watched it fascinated. I am not sure how I feel about that, it's been a couple of days and I still cannot decide how I feel about the fact I watched it fascinated by the spectacle.
It is part of their heritage here, families attend bull fights with children. Flowers are thrown to their idols and bands play in honour of the fight. The photos Peter took are fab, take a look