Here is a panoramic view of Ayna on a normal non-fiesta summer day ...
|As with all photos, click to enlarge.|
On September 1, the bulls leave the grange where they have been bred as toros de lidia, fighting bulls, and travel on foot to Ayna in the company of mansos or cabestros, as the tamer steer or bullocks are known. On the fourth and last day of the trek, and next to last day of their life, they pass through El Griego, a stone's throw or cicada's chant from my house.
|The bulls (dark colored) and steer (lighter) grazing in El Griego.|
Around 9:30 am, but the sun is already starting to burn and
stirring the cicada choir into their daylong songfest.
|Although caution is always in order, when making the journey in the|
company of the tamer steer, the bulls are relatively non-aggressive.
I much prefer the privilege of walking in the company of these noble creatures through these hills and woods than participating in the frenzied harassment that tends to happen when they are run through the town.
|A couple of the bulls line me up in their sights. Believe me,|
the chill I felt was not from the slim shade of the lone tree
standing between me and them.
|Grazing and resting on the way to the corral where they will spend their last night.|
The dry rasping cicada dirge was in full throb by this time.
|Off to the corral, and past me hopefully ...|
The next day, the town of Ayna bustles with activity and excitement as people pick out their preferred craggy perches for viewing, and not running in, the dash down the mountain road and into town...
In this next shot, the "falling rocks" sign should probably alert to the danger of "falling rocks, bulls and gawkers".
|My good friend Manolo braving falling rocks and revelers.|
Note the people atop the rock spike behind him, the same ones
as in the previous image, from a different angle.
|The bulls speed by in a matter of seconds ...|
|But one stops and charges a young man. Perhaps the red shirt was|
not the best attire for today. Don't know if he was badly gorged.
The mansos trot down a few minutes later to herd the recalcitrant bull toward the plaza, where he will be locked up until the afternoon bullfight.
|Mansos to the rescue|
|One intrepid impromptu matador using a Spanish flag for a cape.|
The worst thing that can happen in these encierros is when the bull turns around and decides to run back uphill into the swarms of people...
|... which is what happened here and for the next 45 minutes or so.|
|After that it was all a bit of a blur ...|
|Cell phones to take a shot of a centuries-old tradition. Somehow high tech|
and atavistic rituals still seem slightly out of sync.
|Classic portrait of|
Miguel Hernández. There, if you can bear the heartbreak, you may read "Lullaby of the Onion". He wrote that stunning verse not long before his death, upon having learned that his wife Josefina, who was breastfeeding their newborn son at the time, had nothing to eat but bread and onions. For the Spanish originals, one good site is the A Media Voz site.
|Josefina typing up Miguel's poems|
I'll leave you with his Como el toro, he nacido para el luto — "Like the bull, I was born for doom and pain". First in Spanish and then my humble (and entirely indequate) and very loose translation.
Como el toro he nacido para el luto
y el dolor, como el toro estoy marcado
por un hierro infernal en el costado
y por varón en la ingle con un fruto.
Como el toro lo encuentra diminuto
todo mi corazón desmesurado,
y del rostro del beso enamorado,
como el toro a tu amor se lo disputo.
Como el toro me crezco en el castigo,
la lengua en corazón tengo bañada
y llevo al cuello un vendaval sonoro.
Como el toro te sigo y te persigo,
y dejas mi deseo en una espada,
como el toro burlado, como el toro.
* * *
Like the bull, I was born for grief
and pain, like the bull I am branded
by hell’s iron rod in my side
and the fruit of man in my loin.
Like the bull, my heart swells and heaves
dwarfing all around and in me,
and like the bull I haunt and stalk
the kissed semblance of your love.
Like the bull, I feed and grow on my punishment,
my tongue drowning in my own heart
as the shrill wind stabs at my throat.
Like the bull, I circle and charge you
and you leave my desire impaled on a sword,
like the bull, mocked and foiled, like the bull.