Thursday, 23 January 2014


The town of Paradiso...paradise!...

Like every rural center in this part of Costa Rica, they get their own rodeo.  The local talent comes out and rides the local bulls, the bull owners get to show off and claim that their bull is more bull than everyone elses' bull.  When you drive around the countryside this time of year, you can see workers setting up and tearing down the bullrings.  Tiny rickety carnival rides get hauled in, bands and loud music blares from multiple corners of the soccer pitch, and people completely enjoy themselves while eating the same crappy fried food that you get at events in the US.  Fried dough!  Churros!  Greasy fried things that are unrecognizable as food!  Oh, and yes, beer.  Lots.  Of.  Beer.  It's really just a lovely time.  

The way the setup works is that spectators can join in on the spectacle, and teenagers and men jump in the ring and attempt to distract the bull and keep it from goring the fallen bullrider.  Generally, they all scramble to safety once the bull is released, but as the night wears on and more alcohol is consumed, the ring gets more crowded with tourist and locals.

After much booing and hold-ups, the bull is released, the rider, who may or may not stay on for 8 seconds, is thrown.  The locals attempt to distract the bull and annoy it into chasing after them to prove their manliness, and generally the bull just stares or occasionally charges, and everyone runs and jumps out of the corriador.

The bull will then attempt to go back out the gate he came and to the safety of his other bull-friends, but the wranglers will chase him away, because then the cowboys would be left with nothing to do.

So then they come out and display their rope skills, lasso the bull and then widget the bull (quite willingly!) back into the chute.

It's all rather hilarious.

The amateur-hour hi-jinks adds to the charm.  

Another curious wonder:  the district only has two ambulances.  They are both parked outside a chute with a red cross on it.  If a rider gets hurt, they just pick him up and throw him in the chute.  If more than two people get hurt, the rest of the evening's activities are called off.  Since, you know.  They've exhausted their medical resources.

If the men act too cowardly or just not boldly enough, the crowd boos and throws empty beer bottles into the ring.

The bulls were huge and beautiful.  They were not nearly as aggressive and quick as the bulls we saw in Arles last spring.  They were acting more out of surprise and fear and instinct than aggression- they just wanted the predator off their back, as any good herbivore might.  

The cowboys had real cowhorses- animals bred to work around cattle.  Useful and nimble and lovely.

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