On Friday morning, I cleaned the house a little and headed to Mondragon to pick up Gorka and his suitcase, go to a nearby town to pick up Aunt Marga from work (her oldest son talked her into letting him have the car to drive around Spain with his friends). When we dropped Aunt Marga off at home, Belén was waiting there with her luggage, and we took off for Extremadura. Eight hours later, we arrived in Higuera de la Serena, where Marga, her parents, and grandfather, were watching some sort of dancing horse show in the portable bullring. It finished as we got there and we all walked to Grandpa Ramón's house for dinner and rest.
Daniel Morales is actually from Higuera de la Serena. It's a huge deal in rural Spain to have a professional torero from your town.
Marga's funny little frog sandals.
The government of Extremadura will give you money to fix up your house if you promise to put up a plaque saying so. I remember helping Grandpa Ramón line this one up a couple years ago. Bloody commies. They'll even care for you if you get sick!
A panorama of the street where Grandpa Ramón's house is. His doorway is in the center.
Back from pre-lunch drinks and waiting for paella to cook with a slightly inebriated shutter finger.
When I took this, I just thought it was a cool-looking light bulb fixture. Only later did I notice the reflection of the entire corral (what they call the inner patio place in old Spanish houses) hidden in the image.
Now we're cooking with gas!
Adding the rice. These paella dishes (paelleros) and the special gas stoves that they fit in are available in any hardware store in Spain.
Boiling violently. Looking at this photo, I can almost smell the seafood.
Another good year for Grandpa Ramón's grapevine.
A little tile painting that Grandpa Ramón has. It says
El día que me case, buena cadena me eche.
Which means, roughly,
The day I get married, a good chain I throw on myself.
Whatever that means...
I was very impressed by the "portable" bullring. All metal beams and wingnuts.
Bull in the sunset.
A little prick between the shoulder blades.
Whaddyou lookin' at?
As I watched this flowing bull blood glisten in the evening sun, I was struck by irony that a country that is so Catholic and practices the Eucharist so sincerely religiously also practices such thinly veiled tauroctony, ritual bull sacrifices by a hero god, that clearly comes from one of the same cannibalistic, blood-drinking, pre-Christian religions from which the Eucharist ceremony originates. This never occurred to me, but it seems so blindingly obvious now.
The hero, preparing for the kill.
In goes the sword.
Look at all those poor folks that arrived late and had to take the sun-facing seats!
Daniel Morales on his knees.
Come here, Mr. Bull!
A lone flower was placed along the bullring wall.
The Extremadura flag waves in the sunset.
Only after single-handedly killing the strongest symbol of masculine virility can a heterosexual man walk around proudly dressed like this.
Camera starting to struggle with low light levels.
Juan drinks some wine from the bota to wash down the sandwiches we brought.
Marce thought it would be fun to throw our bota at the torero as he does his victory lap to see if he would drink from it. His assistant threw it back unopened and a little dirty.
It's scarier in low-light blurry vision.
Things are starting to get a little Picasso.
I wouldn't want to fight a bull after dark (or at all, really).
On our way out, we got to walk by the slaughterhouse truck and talk to the people inside who were slicing and dicing. I thought it was pretty cool, Marga, who worked for years as a slaughterhouse veterinarian, was bored by the sight, and Juan was asking if we could get a steak.
WARNING: The following images are of dead bulls and their insides. If you would like to skip them, click here.
All their legs were snapped at the ankle (see top left). I'm sure this is standard practice, but it was the grossest part to me.
Guts spilling out onto the floor. Check out the knife holster!
Man, I wish my teeth were that white!
That night we went out to dinner.
Marga had me carry her teeny tiny lipstick.
For scale. A 0.50€ coin is about the size of a US quarter.
Marga's friends Sonia and Emi.
Go on to Part 2.