Bullfighting, Ronda


It is so good to be back online after such a long hiatus! As you see, I am still working through my images from this summer (but they’ve already made it into an amazing photo book from Artifact Uprising) and I can almost feel the warmth from mountainous Ronda as I sit here freezing in New York.  We didn’t spend much time in Ronda during our whirlwind tour of Andalusia, but it was wonderful! We started the morning off at a bull-raising farm just outside Ronda, the Reservatauro, owned by a bullfighter who was originally an engineer, sold off his company before the 2008 crisis, and finally settled in to live his dream. Usually,  bullfighters begin training at a very young age, so his decision to start in his 30s, when he already had a family, is significant and surprising. Raising bulls is not profitable whatsoever, given how they are only used once (otherwise they learn quickly and become way more dangerous), so it truly is a labor of love. However, to make up the difference, the Reservatauro also breeds purebred Andalusian horses, which we got to pet and admire up close.

I was really torn about the whole bull-raising question. On the one hand, it seems cruel and wasteful to raise an animal for death, not even for food. On the other hand, these bulls are very well taken care of and there is a strange and intimate and respectful relationship that forms between a bullfighter and his bull. Each bull has his own personality and the bullfighter recognizes it, works with it, respects it. And also this is a cultural practice that goes back to time immemorial, and not just for the Spanish (the Cretans had bull jumping, for example). The bulls are awe-inspiring animals – the young trainee had them run toward us so we would know what it felt like in those running with the bulls festivals, or when one runs at a bullfighter. It reminded me of Hemingway. Either way it was an impressive place, with the pastel mountains towering above it and the blinding, crisp sunshine.

We then went on to Ronda and the sheer amount of rock in that place was amazing. It was so hot and so sunny and everything had that sandy yellow tinge. It couldn’t help but be dramatic, especially that famous bridge, the Puente Nuevo. Jake and I wandered around for delightful views and then were on our way to the sea.

Plenty more in the archives to unload, with much reminiscing and nostalgia for the warm weather and not having adult responsibilities…

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