The last few days have been some of the most intense and busiest of my time here in Spain. It’s been tough, and it’s meant less sleep than I would have liked, but the truth is that I’m especially happy with what has been recorded over the past 72 hours.
In terms of interviewees I’ve spoken to Alfonso Bañeres, a vet, who is part of the animal rights group AVATMA. I met him just beside the statue of Hemingway at Pamplona’s bullring. It’s quite an imposing statue, I suppose it’s meant to reflect the man himself. On Saturday I had the chance to talk to Javier Marín (see below), a young matador who turned professional at his fight that evening. He claims that he wants to fight bulls like Zinedine Zidane played football. That’s quite the challenge he’s setting himself. Walking around the bullring with him, you could really sense how respected and adored matadors are. Which leads me onto my next point.
Within this world of bullfighting, I’ve been lucky to meet some very warm, genuine, and welcoming people. Anyone I’ve spoken to has been able to help me, or point me in a different direction, or introduce me to someone. Even if I see them in the street I’m greeted with a smile and a handshake. That might seem like a strange thing to write about, but my initial thoughts were that it might be quite an insular world, which was resistant to an outside interest. To an extent that is the case, since matadors can be especially superstitious when approaching a fight. However, I wish to add that the people I’ve met over the past number of weeks have been extremely gracious, and giving with their time. They’ve been very helpful, and I can’t thank them enough for their time and hospitality.
What I’ve witnessed over the past few days has been quite interesting. I was at “recortes” which are competitions in which participants dodge a bull or jump over it. The more risky the better (on one hand) because that’ll get you points. And, of course, points mean monetary prizes. On the other hand, the risks you take might not pay off. This is what happened to one chap who, unfortunately, got gored before my eyes. When these people say you have to respect the bull, they mean it.
I’ve also witnessed more and more anti-bullfighting graffiti. To an extent, it supports my thinking that the debate is getting more extreme. The daubing in question roughly translates to “if you like blood, cut your wrists”. It’s probably the strongest, or most striking, that I’ve seen. Perhaps it is even a little hypocritical, but I will leave that to you to decide.
One experiment I’ve been doing with a few interviewees is showing them a promotional photo of Daniel Luque, a matador who I saw recently, and gauging their reactions. As you can guess, people with different perspectives in life and in their thinking read out different things from the photo (which I attach below). That’ll make the final cut in the documentary of course.
The documentary itself, as an entity, doesn’t exist just yet. I’ve found that with every interview I record, the structure changes because of an interesting link that can be made between interviewees. Or perhaps something isn’t what I was expecting. In terms of translating it, that’s almost done too. Maybe I was biting off more than I can chew but there’s nothing wrong with trying to be like Icarus. Certainly feels like that with the heat here anyway.
And that’s just about it. I’m hoping to get one more thing recorded. In essence, this means this is my penultimate post. The next you hear from me it’ll be to bring together some conclusions, and to update you on what’s happened between now and then.