Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Carnaval, the Encierro in Ciudad Rodrigo

A bit like Pamplona. The bulls are let loose to run through the streets. Shop windows are boarded up, onlookers stand behind sturdy metal guardrails but the lads, some not so young, some not so male, wait on the streets to taunt the beasts and, hopefully, run away when the bull gets too close for comfort.

The bulls end up in the main square which is currently covered in sand and surrounded by wooden grandstands. The people on the stands have to be there before the bulls to secure their spot. It's a balancing act to try and decide how long your bladder will hold out and how much you can drink because until people start to thin out there is no way to get off those stands once they are full.

So the bulls get to the main square, the lads are there again taunting, running and occasionally jumping over the bulls. Some people have capes and try to do the capework with the bulls - one chap here, now in his eighties, is quite famous in his own small way. The bulls horns are sharp and they do, every now and again, catch someone. People hurt themselves too as they run and jump for cover. There is an army of Red Cross ambulances parked just outside the grandstands. There's a mobile operating theatre too just in case. The bulls, by the way, go back home to eat more grass.

It may be safer to wander the streets in fancy dress, shop at some of the many stalls or hang out with a bit of a snack and something to drink in one of the many private neighbourhood "peñas" - temporary buildings run by either neighbourhood or pastime groups - or just do the rounds of the bars and restaurants.

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