THE LAST CORRIDA FOR 2010
By Ric Polansky
CAUTION: this letter to friends contains a few pictures of a highly graphic nature, some could find them offensive SO either hit the delete key now OR let a friend examine it first. It is meant as nothing more than a chatty piece, the kind a rugged father would send to his sons if they knew about the insides of “bullfighting” – toreando. And Hell, even if you don’t—you just might learn something.
Sadly, it is the final corrida de Toros of the year 2010. Saturday, the 16th of October, traditionally a very good one held in the near-by village of Huercal Overa with a small plaza almost in the centre of town. Historically, this corrida is a farewell to Spain wherein many of the top matadors leave for South America or bid a final good-bye to their loyal retainers until next spring. Some of them too retire and hence quite a ritual and spectacle is made of the entire affair.
This year’s corrida you might call the “accidental happening”. A limited amount of statistics come into play, ironically they are the same odds as on the roulette wheel, wherein a Belgian friend working in Mexico flew in to visit me and go to some Toros in Murcia. Ernesto.
The rest of the crew was a motley bunch. Here you see the 3 of them in the best wrong seats in the plaza (and just before they were legally declared deaf) from the “ambience noise” of the corrida. My son Micah, far left (white shirt) working in Mexico; Ben, Alaska, world class photographer and conservationist and his father Steve who wanted to become a bullfighter in his youth but tripped off to Alaska and has since kept bear and moose off the rails of the Alaskan railroad.
As ever we had a good time at the bulls and afterward walking back to our hotel, which is but a 10 minute stroll away, but we managed to accomplish the trek in just less than four hours; you know, the mandatory drink in the first, third and fifth bars on the left, and if you couldn’t remember which drink you had in each bar you to buy dinner.
When we finally got back, Ernesto had his mojo running and insisted on going to the casino…to keep on rolling. He plopped down a bit of money on his birthdate’s number and promptly won 980 Euros. He was also just sober enough to quit and rush to tell me, and all the other guests on our floor who had mistakenly fallen asleep.
The next day Ernesto insisted we all eat at a good restaurant and we did on the outskirts of Murcia. Collados de Agridulce was just the place for the lost and shipwrecked. A well known food critic refers to eating with Arturo is a “symphony of flavours, smells and texture”. Well, it’s much more than that.
Famous from it’s earlier establishment in the mountains of Granada the owner moved to be near his many visitors from Murcia that had made the long trek to enjoy his gourmet banquets. Arturo Trujillo has become a legend already because his food and “theatre” are so pleasing to each visitor.
In many ways Arturo follows the nouveau cuisine rules
(small portions but incredibly good) but in his case he gives you lots of food variation and many sampling plates along with specially selected wines to accompany each new course. Eating is a totally new and unusual experience to be told and retold to all your friends. The cost was nothing at 80 Euros per person (wines included) Ernesto kindly picked up the tab for all of us. We anointed him a Don (a heraldic personage and man of importance) cried with joy and forgave him for his last night antics.
And it was here that I introduced my crew of visitors from afar to the local matador de toros who lived in Murcia and happened to be dining at the next table unrecognised by anyone. Since they had come from such long distances to see bulls, it was numerically ironic to have just such a personage within speaking distance, Rafaelillo sitting at the next table.
And now, stalwart readers I take you back again to the reason I am writing this epistle concerning the “last corrida of the year”.
Now, everyone wants to see Francisco Torres Jerez, who performed so well in Almeria. Paco was originally left out of the Almeria selection but a public outcry brought him up to first replacement, and as bad luck would have it for one of the media’s heart throbs, Cayetano Ordonez, badly gored and unable to come to Almeria—Torres Jerez took his place and showed the capital what they would have missed.
In Almeria he cut four ears on the same day, something not done in twenty years in the capital and now is in great demand and will appear at this year ending show.
And the Murciano, Rafaelillo, met at the restaurant, who is considered a bullfighter’s torero. What are the odds against that? He takes on the big and dangerous bulls all over Spain and has become famous for “corridas duras” (especially dangerous bulls). The great Curro Romero that James Michener wrote so much about never once faced a Miura bull (the ones that killed Manolete). He’ll make the corrida very exciting.
Lastly the well known Antonio Ferrera, one of the best bandilleros in the world will show his stuff.
All of this is well worth the price of admission, but also included is a new young rejoneador, Luis Valdeebro, showing you the classical aristocratic way of taking on bulls from horseback. The toros are from the ranch Jodar Y Ruchena. Come early to get a good seat and bring a nice “merienda” lunch to share.
There has been a lot of controversy about Los Toros recently. The “ban in Barcelona” was noting more than a political statement considering there is only one bullring in the province to begin with. The argument gets confused for those of you that grew up with cuddly teddy bears and still believe that all animals talk as in cartoons. Please remember that the fiesta national is a contrived spectacle wherein a man purports to demonstrate beauty, grace and bravery while confronting one of the world’s most dangerous animals.
These next few dramatic fotos are NOT mine but were seen around the world—less you forget; the drama, although contrived and ritualistic has it’s dangers and is most certainly not understood unless you witness a lot of corridas de toros.
The day of this unfortunate incident my friend Marcos (pictured on the rt with the matador Torres Jerez) was talking on the phone with Julio Aparicio (the injured matador in the fotos below) who invited us both to Madrid that day for the corrida. Unfortunately we were unable to attend but the world witnessed the trauma.
If you want to see how the corrida came out… you must write to me directly at Ric@TorosBravos.es
and I will send you some fotos and a short report.