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Hemingway Adventure

Madrid, Spain (second day)

Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureThere is a sudden commotion at one end of this taurine health farm as two of the ash-grey bulls spar up to one another. Instantly the dogs race off and separate them. Which is quite something to see. These are two- and three-year-old bulls and look quite big enough to me, but by the time they have reached the fighting age of four they will weigh between 500 and 600 kilos ­ over 1200 lbs.

Serafín examines each bull with a critical eye, the strength of their shoulders, the size of their horns, already singling out those that will make the best fighters. José Antonio says that though he's proud of rearing good fighters, Serafín 'suffers terribly to see his animals die.'

José Antonio feels bullfighting has changed. Like everything else it is adapting to the market, to the needs of television. He used to send his bulls to Pamplona, but they don't want them any more because their horns don't look big enough.

Back at the farm, refreshment is provided. The irresistible jamón serrano (cured ham) olives and wine. I practise drinking the farmers' way ­ from the spout straight into the mouth, or in my case, down the shirt.
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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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