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Bull Fights

August 17, 2010

Name: Bull Fights (street)

Location: Various, the schedule for each week can be located in the Crossroads Newsletter on base

Dates: May through September/early October

Hours: Starting at various times depending on the month, but usually starting at 6 or 6:30

Parking: Look for parking along the street on the safe side of the bull fight line.  You may have to walk some to get to the bull fight location.  The earlier the better, but it is still possible to find spots even at start time.

Cuisine: Snacks: ice cream, candy, nuts and popcorn vendors, Bifana stands, Traditional snacks in people’s homes, Beer

Seating: If you do not know someone who lives on the street, search for something public and at least 5-6 feet off the ground

The first time you hear about this, you may be thinking a lot of different things, but I can assure you, it is not what you think.  This is more like a running of the bulls.  Bull fight day starts with locals collecting in Cabrito (middle of the island) to select the bulls for that evening.  Then the bulls, along with a parade of cars, will travel to the street hosting the bull fight.  It is customary for people living on the street to host a party at their home complete with food.  Americans get in on this too and often have food and drinks for their friends, coworkers, and landlords.

There will be 4 bulls each time.  Each bull gets 30 minutes of running time, and after the first 2 bulls, there will be a 30 minute break so people can come and go, plus grab some food.  The fight starts when you hear one fire cracker.  This means the bull is loose, get out of the way, at least for Americans, because we are not allowed to “play”.  This is more like a warning to clear out if you want, and then the gate is opened, and the bull is free.  Not entirely free.  There are 4 men, dressed in white shirts, with black hats, who hold the rope attached to the bull.

Once the bull is out, the men will let him run up and down the street.  There will be lines spray painted on the road to signify where the fight will run, and where the bull may not cross.  The men are usually very good about not letting the bull past this line.  You will also typically find port-a-potties just past this line.  The men will also keep the bull in an area, and let locals show their stuff and test their amateur skills.  Then, the bull will move on so others can see the show.

Men and boys will stand with the bull and taunt him with umbrellas and mats.  On occassion, there will be a trampling and hopefully no one gets hurt.  Luckily, there is a ambulance waiting just in case.  It is very easy to slip and fall, and the bull will certainly get him if that is the case.  Often times, the bull is completely unharmed, but instead a local who suffers the damage.  When the time is up, 2 fire crackers will sound and this is the signal that the bull is back in the crate.  There will be 5 minutes before the next bull.

Food and drink is an important part of this cultural events.  Many vendors walk around with baskets of candy, popcorn and nuts, and others come around with ice cream.  On occassion donuts are for sale.  if you eat pork, do not miss out on a bifana.  This is a pork sandwich and sold from a truck/cart, that is usually stationed just past the end of the bull fight, outside the white lines.  Fava beans are another common treat.  You will also have vendors with beer.  Sometimes, a Portuguese family will invite you into their home and in most cases, there is no harm in this.  They are usually very friendly and will be delighted to have you share in their spread of traditional foods.


One Comment leave one →
  1. August 18, 2010 12:58 am

    Continue to post bull fighting pictures! I remember you did before…gosh, tell me that wasn’t last year already!!

    I really appreciate your thoughtful comment on my post today about bariatrics. I think sometimes it’s so easy for the “general public” to make quick judgements about individuals, but I was really delving deeper into the health care feasibility of it all. I think we’ve both seen the good and the bad of bariatrics and even the best of programs has the ones who can slide through the cracks and work the system, unfortunately.

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