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Hemingway Adventure

Madrid, Spain (second day)

Madrid, Spain 
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At the bull farm. In the shade of a fig tree, sampling the local red wine from the spout. No glass to wash up.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureJosé Antonio and his wife are a tall, handsome couple, courteous, well informed and much more comfortable with English than I am with Spanish.

The farm is functional, with low outbuildings and nothing fancy other than a barn in which are displayed old stirrups, halters, bridles, saddles and various other taurine and equestrian accessories. Framed bullfight posters hang on the walls, of which the most curious is one detailing a corrida (the Spanish word for a bullfight) specially laid on for Heinrich Himmler in 1940.

Apparently the famous Nazi found the whole thing too cruel and left after the second fight.

They introduce us to a stocky man in early middle-age who wears a T-shirt and a white straw hat with 'Benidorm' on the ribbon. This is Serafín, the farm manager. He is shrewd, and taciturn. More comfortable with bulls than the BBC. We are piled unceremoniously into a farm trailer, and with Serafín driving the tractor, and two or three dogs running on ahead, we're hauled along a bumpy track into the fields where a hundred and forty Santa Coloma fighting bulls are kept. Most of them appear to be sitting comfortably in a pear orchard at the far end of a wide paddock. They like the shade there, says José Antonio, and they love the pears.

José Antonio explains that they mustn't have too much contact with humans, as this may compromise their fighting ability later. In fact the calmer and quieter a state they can be kept in the better.
Madrid, Spain 
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Fighting bulls enjoy four years in the fields, growing to as much as 1300 lbs by the time they are ready to fight.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Madrid, Spain (second day)
  • Country/sea: Spain
  • Place: Madrid
  • Book page no: 111

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