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|Traditional Rodeo, La Luz, Michoacan, Mexico, Jan. 31st, 2004
(see story below)
By Isaac Gallagher
On January 31st, we drove to Villa Morelos in Mexico with Juan, a friend of ours. When we arrived in the town, we went up the dirt road that couldn’t be driven on to Adrian’s house. He greeted us with a loud laugh and words, and then we all sat in his small home and drank Coke and beer.
Then we drove away, him leading us to the "plaza de toros". He played obnoxious country music at maximum volume (Mom’s music, of course) until I was going crazy and shouting obscenities at him, trying to get heard over the blaring music. He either ignored me, didn’t care what I was yelling, or couldn’t even hear me. He sure didn’t reply or look as if he had heard.
Finally we reached the rodeo and slammed to a stop, nearly hurling me into the backseat in front of me. Dad turned off the van, which turned off the terrible music, which turned on our ears. I almost thanked him, but pride got in the way. Ah, pride, what would humans do without it?
We leapt out of the van with Steve Earl still ringing in our ears. Adrian was teasing anyone who would listen to him, I was tripping on barbed wire, Dad and Mom were laughing at Adrian’s antics, and everyone else was trudging along with horrid country music still filling their ears and not letting anything else in.
We then walked through what seemed to be a mile of endless plains of horse and bull feces until we finally reached a large hill looking over a stone ring to it. Next to the ring was another smaller one filled with angry bulls, snorting and humping each other. We took a seat on the hill near the ring where there was hardly any glass. We ordered an entire box of half-beers which would be completely obliterated by Adrian and Cam.
Then the cowboys entered the ring. About five of them, but many more were watching and waiting for their turn. They rode large steeds and each held a lasso.
Then they released the bull. It was a large white one, with large dangerous-looking horns, snarling and glaring about it. The cowboys immediately got to work, trying to lasso it and knock it to the ground, where it would be possible for someone to ride the large bull. But it did not want to be roped at all, and so was always leaping and running around the ring, sometimes even charging at the cowboys’ horses as if they knew it would freak them out. Finally a rope that looped its two back legs took it down. It howled furiously, struggling to skewer anyone who came near. But they managed to tie another rope around its waist to get it to buck when ridden, get a rider ready, then untie the rope around its legs and run for their lives.
The bull shot a few feet into the air, then bucked around angrily, but the rider still held on to it. After a while it tired and stopped, let the rider get off, have the rope around its waist untied, then charged into the bullpen. One down, ninety-nine more to go, I thought.
The bulls were released one by one, the cowboys switched around constantly, and the bulls were always defeated.
Then they let go of a gargantuan black bull. It did not need to be told what to do. It snorted and you could see steam coming from its nostrils, lowered its head and pawed the ground angrily, and charged like lightning at the nearest moving object—one of the horses, which took off immediately, going mad. The chase moved around constantly, and not one of the cowboys even tried to lasso it for the first terrorizing minutes. It would see a horse move and whip around to attack it instead. It would see an audience member moving and attack the stone wall, frightening all the people sitting on the wall. It would see the men behind a large wooden wall next to the bullpen gate moving and laughing at its antics and charge at them, almost splintering the wooden shield they were standing behind.
Finally the cowboys remembered their lassos and spent another few minutes taking down the monstrous bull. Even when they did take it down, it was still fighting to kill something near it. They tied it up thoroughly, then got a petrified man ready to ride it. They tied the rope around its waist, which hardly seemed necessary for that bull. Then they released it and ran faster than I have or probably ever will see men run in my lifetime. The bull realized it was free, then everything was slow motion. It slowly rose, slowly looked around, then everything was normal speed again.
It collapsed. It hadn’t gone a step, and it just fell down. It completely used up its great load of energy, and the relieved but pride-injured man stepped off and walked away.
The bull got up and went into the bullpen after snorting angrily at the men behind the wooden shield that were howling with laughter, and the bull was probably thinking about becoming carnivorous.
It escaped a few hours later, running through the audience, looking for something to kill. Adrian and Cam, drunk as skunks, laughed at it, but someone probably dragged them away.
When I saw it, I screamed out a loud obscenity and ran like mad with Mom. Dad looked like he was about to jump into the main ring to escape the maddened bull.
"It has energy again." I said dryly to Mom, who was probably too scared to reply and maybe even too frightened to hear me.
Some very macho cowboys chased it—or led it, because I couldn’t imagine it running away from something at that time—a few miles away, left it there, would come back after the rodeo for it, then returned cheerfully, not to mention drunkenly, almost asleep on their horses.
The bull had stepped on a girl’s leg and probably broken it, but that was all. In America, everyone there would have sued the rodeo and that is why I do not want to return to America. Then they would have never been able to show their exciting rodeo again, and people would be put needlessly onto the street.
But I am not typing this to tell everyone my opinions of the US, so I will continue with my personal essay. Ahem.
The time after that passed quickly, and soon we were driving home. We just barely managed to survive the blaring country music. We dropped off Adrian and his crew, then turned down the music (I, along with some others, suggested turning it off) and seemed to rocket home to Cuitzeo in the van. We dropped off Juan and our van off at the hotel, then walked sleepily home—a few blocks away—and like that bull dropped, but not on the ground. I was asleep immediately, despite the fact that the country music was still ringing in my ears.