After the solemnity of Semana Santa, the village goes a little loco on Easter Sunday as the annual Bull Run marks the start of the bullfighting season. Spaniards don’t need much of an excuse to party, and it´s been a long time since Los Reyos signalled the end of Christmas.
Three young bulls run the streets on Easter Sunday.
Most of the village turns out to watch as the first bull is released into the corral on the edge of the village where a crowd of (mostly young) men wait in eager anticipation; dressed in red and some of the flashier ones sporting the traditional pink and yellow cape. Klaxon´s blast, people shout, the atmosphere is heavy with excited anticipation. When eventually the bull charges from his box, the men wind him up during ten minutes of face-to-face challenges. The barrier is then raised and the bull heads for the streets sending the onlookers scattering either to dive behind strategically placed safety barriers, or to climb window railings out of reach of the bull´s deadly horns.
There have been casualties and even some reported deaths over the years but ultimately it is the bull who pays the highest price. His feet and knees bleeding from where he has slipped on the tarmac, fearful eyed with saliva frothing from his gaping mouth, it is distressing to see such a magnificent beast reduced to a panting wreck.
After an hour of running the village streets, the bull is cornered and led away for slaughter. A second bull is released at midday and the final one at four o´clock in the afternoon. This last bull is often the messiest as the villagers have spent the intervening hours in the bars and are consequently sloppy, less nimble on their feet and take dangerous risks.
The almost primeval nature of this event seems in start contrast to the piety of Semana Santa, yet both are rooted in a culture where life can be harsh and emotions are never far from the surface. Andalucia is a cultural melting pot: often described as real Spain, the region is suffused with both Moorish and Gitano influences. Economically the province struggles; the terrain is unyielding, the heat relentless for many months of the year and infrastructure – until relatively recently – was poor. Cars did not appear on the mountain until the mid-seventies for heaven´s sake and people remember the arrival of electricity with alacrity.
And after all, little boys around here do not dream of becoming football stars, their sights are firmly set on the bullring.