Costa Rica, March 19, 2006
Wanna dance with "El Tamarindo" too?
It's time to dance in Via Real, a sleepy little town in the Guanacaste region of Costa Rica. It's time to dance and there is not a woman on the dance floor. Nope, its just men, fools all, including me. We are here, on this dirt dance floor awaiting our common dance partner - toro "El Tamarindo".
El Tamarindo is one thousand pounds of bull and after tossing his rider quick-like, he's ready to waltz with us, the fools in the bull ring with him. It's Via Real's spring festival, and taking a cue from Pamplona, the hardy types get in the ring to tempt El Tamarindo before the cowboys lead him away.
With a Pamplona bull run behind me, I enter the ring with the rank amateurs to stare down this bull man to man. Laughing at the locals who run when the bull even looks their way, I stand my ground, unmoving until the bull fixates on me.
We look at each other for a long, Spaghetti Western second. And then the bull charges.
Relying on my quick reflexes and yoga-inspired flexibilities I dash to the right and bare feet slipping on sand, I fall right in front of the bull. Curled into a ball, feet to the bull, I feel its head hit my ass, the horns around each side of my waist. The shove is not gentle, but I feel no great pain.
Then, in a dash of hooves that come close but do not strike, El Tamarindo is gone and I am up and smiling. The crowd cheers, I bow, and then the pain comes in a wave. Looking down, my feet are bloody, scraped raw by the gravel and now mixing blood with dust and bull.
Do I leave the ring and go look for first aid? Nope, I stay and dance again. This time with a twisted horn bull who does not charge us. And then it's over. Time for me to get a good wound cleaning by the Red Cross, and be sent on my way with Spiderman Band-Aids.
Till next year's dance with El Tamarindo in Via Real.