Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sometimes the bull wins

While living in on the island of Terceira, far out in the Atlantic Ocean, some 850 miles off the western coast of Lisbon, Portugal in the 425-mile long archipelago of the Azores offered me many a photo opportunity during my two-year stay. One of my favorite assignments was covering the street and arena bull fights during the summer months. During the last part of the bull fight at the outdoor arena in the city of Angra do Herismo, the suicide squad, or focados, are a group of men on foot that stand in a straight line and taunts a 500-pound bull until it charges. As the animal heads towards the line, the lead man, normally the junior member of the group, tries to leap over it's neck and hang on by the horns as the others quickly surround the animal and try to slow it to a halt. I watched this poor guy get bowled over by the bull three straight times. After being steamrolled by the bull in this picture, the members picked the guy up, and supported him as the bull charged. That time he was able to hang on, with help, of course, until the bull was stopped. Sometimes the bull wins and it sure made for good photos.