April 9th, 2007

(no subject)

I've had a good sampling of hostels in Madrid; I've had to change almost every night. I think I'm going to have to figure out how to fix that. Hostels are a little hard to sleep in and having to change all the time makes it much worse.

People have trouble placing where I'm from. I speak Spanish pretty well but make a lot of mistakes. When I make a mistake, it's usually dropping in a Portuguese word. I guess that my accent is better than I had imagined since people peg me as Portuguese most of the time.

The food here is much more expensive than South America, but there is vastly more variety. The lodging isn't much more expensive, but the bang for the buck is lower. Since I've been here, I've met more South Americans than Spaniards.

I went to Toledo on an outing. Toledo was a big tourist destination. I didn't figure out why it was famous, but it did have nice architecture and a mix of cultures. I guess the Arabs took it over back in the day, so there is a huge amount of arabian influence in stuff. But, eventually the Arabs lost, so there were no mosques. I checked out a couple churches and a synagogue. The second neatest thing about the place was the shops that sold art, armor, and weapons that were appropriate in Toledo at some point in history: Spanish, Arabic, and Japanese. The coolest thing, though, was the escalator. The place was up on a hill, so they built a great big escalator on the side of the hill so the tourists didn't have to walk.

I saw a bullfight. It was remarkable. During a bullfight, three matadors fight two bulls each. There are four parts for each bull. The first part involves the banderilleros (guys with big purple sheets) goading the bull on and having him run back and forth across the ring. There are protective walls set up near the entrances that allow the banderilleros to hide. Getting the bull angry enough to attack the walls is good. The second phase involves a fat man on an armored horse. The fat man is called a picador. The bull will decide to attack the horse, but the fat man has a lance which he uses on the bull. There is a guard on the lance that prevents it from piercing deeper than a couple of inches. This continues until the fat man or the bull get bored. Bulls have a lot of blood. The third phase involves the banderilleros again and this time they only have two small spears. As one could imagine, the spears end up in the bull and the bull loses more blood. After the bull has enough spears hanging out of it, the matador comes out alone with a little red cape and a sword. The goal here is for the matador to show how much more powerful he is than the bull and that he is totally unafraid (Although from the bulls perspective the goal is still to butt the people that are annoying it and sticking it with sharp things.) The bull has lost a lot of blood at this point and his tongue is hanging out because he is nearly exhausted. I think the secret to showing how brave you are against a bull is make sure the bull has been stabbed at least a half dozen times first. After the matador feels he has taunted the bull enough, he plunges his sword into the heart of the bull, through its back.

I don't know how good the first matador was. The first sword he stuck in the bull, didn't go in very far and didn't stick. The second sword went in, but only seemed to make the bull start vomiting blood. The third sword went in all the way, but I don't think it struck the heart. After the third sword, the bull was pouring out blood. For a little over a minute, everyone watched the bull vomit blood and stumble around. When the bull finally lied down, someone else went a stuck a knife into his head and then they dragged him off. The bull had left so much blood on the ring that they called in a special cleaning crew. This scene hadn't done an awful lot for my digestion and I felt that one bull in one bullfight was enough for my lifetime. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to leave. The bleachers were crowded and people will only let you out between bulls. Fortunately, the next matador was better and I didn't vomit on anyone before I escaped.