August 17, 2012 by Girolama Bui
This past week has been ridiculous. Well, maybe not the whole week, but July 25th, 2012 will be a day I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. The 25th just so happens to celebrate the annexation of the Guanacaste Province to Costa Rica! Here’s a map so you can see just how much of Costa Rica it is!
On this day, the Costa Rican President (first female Costa Rican President too!) Laura Chinchilla (yep, you can even google to verify that’s her real last name!) flies via helicopter across the province to three cities to give speeches in recognition of the holiday! Even though I couldn’t understand 98% of what she was saying, her presence and eloquent speech was enough to get the gist of things. My group was able to get surprisingly close and even got to shake hands with her! Here’s a picture of me with President Chinchilla, and even though I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to shake her hands, she made eye contact, winked and waved!
To top off the national holiday, the Costa Ricans gather round and make their way to small arenas and watch bull riders! Only after reaching the ring did I find out about a major part of the tradition, where people are encouraged to run inside WITH THE BULL. After the bull knocks off the rider, they let the bull “roam free” for a little less than ten minutes to chase people around! Never in my life have I experienced so much pure fear after locking eyes with one of these giant horned angry monsters. You either had to shove your way to the top of the fencing or squeeze yourself under the fence to avoid the bull when it would charge at you, and speaking as a veteran of both these techniques, it sounds easier done than said, and it’d be wise to not even be in the ring! Only then to realize that I was also wearing the color red (bulls are apparently color blind but I didn’t know this fact until after my time in the arena!). One of my friends actually ended up getting tackled by the bull and turned at the last minute to avoid being skewered by it’s horns! He ended up getting kicked and head-butted by the bull but thankfully he was for the most part alright! After being distracted by checking up on said friend, I learned that the bull that performed shortly after we exited the arena trampled and punctured a professional bull rider who was rushed to the nearest hospital due to severe injuries and was un-responsive. It’s safe to say that I will not be re-entering a ring with a bull anytime soon, or ever (unless it’s mechanical). Here are some pictures of what the ring looked like!
(I’m the one in the red shirt to the left of the left shoe!)
And here we have the friend as mentioned, moments before frightfully showing us what happens when the bull is faster than your ability to get away.
I know I mentioned a video last post, but it’s currently still in the works so, rest assured, it will be shared … soon!