Sunday pasado was the running of the bulls in Granada. In the weeks and months leading up to this event, I heard many stories. Nicaraguan men speak about the tradition of the event. Locals assure me that it’s controlled and safe because the bulls have ropes that are used to control their movements. Extranjeros tell me it’s pure craziness, with bulls being allowed to roam the streets at their will. Everybody has a story of a friend of a friend who was gored by a bulls’ horn. They’ll tell this story as they make slashing marks across their abdomen, thigh, or buttocks to explain where the unlucky fellow got too close to the bull.
Listening to these stories had me in a mind to avoid the event altogether. I am an animal lover, and I have the impression that events of these types usually don’t bode well for the animals involved. So I planned to spend a quiet Saturday away from the festivities.
The day began well. I worked the morning at the Finca Market at Hotel La Bocona. This is a monthly event that features produce from organic farms, local charities, and businesses selling items from bracelets made by prisoners to support their families to imported perfume and incense from India. It’s a nice opportunity to connect with the extranjero community. I was there with my friend and fellow yoga teacher to talk to people about Pure Gym and to sell delicious homemade chocolates. We had some great conversations and I walked away with a luscious bag of organic spinach for less than $1.
On returning to the gym, I sat down to practice my yoga. I sat in sukhasana and calmed my breath, working to clear my mind and gaze within. As I sat in stillness, I realized that I did not want to miss the day’s festivities. This life is about following your heart, so I rolled my mat up and took off for the streets.
On leaving the studio, the energy in the streets was palpable. Granada is a town that caters to tourists, so the streets are seldom empty. This weekend though, they were packed. People were in high spirits mingling on every street throughout the city. I made my way down towards the Calzada, the main strip of restaurants and artisanias. I encountered many of my friends there who warned me of the danger of going further. At this point, though, I was intrigued. I wandered towards Parque Central, meeting more friends along the way. One sweet chavallo friend was manning a grill with with whole ears of corn while his mom sold other delicious treat for cheap and tasty sustenance. The crowd grew thicker as I worked my way towards to park. I began to hear swells of trumpets and drums and made my way towards the music.
At this point, I began to really relax and take in the good energy surrounding me. I love being among groups of people in such high energy! The spirit is contagious. The park was CROWDED! People every which way. I felt as though I saw almost everybody I know in the city – each time I turned around there was another familiar friendly face. After walking around the perimeter of the park, I began to work my way back through the crowd in the hopes of seeing the bull when it ran by in the street. Moments after I got into the park, the crowd began to move. People towards the street started to run and the crowd surged forward. Having no interest in running, I ducked behind a tree and hung on while the crowd flowed around me. False alarm. People soon calmed down and returned to chatting with friends and peering over heads to try and see the toro.
Each time I felt the crowd had calmed and began to move out from behind my safe tree, the crowd would begin to move and run again. I quickly made my way to another safe spot – stopping to hide behind trees, a parked truck, and vendors’ carts. Anything that looked like it wasn’t going to start moving along with the crowd. In this way, I made my way to within spitting distance of the bull. The Bull. The bull who was clearly in the park, and not running by safely in the street like I’d expected. Sopresa!
Bull in the street. Photo by Pip Wildman
Read the rest of this entry