Jul 17, 2008
Last night was the first night of the Expo Riviera Maya 2008, essentially a State Fair, in Playa del Carmen. We rounded up a couple fellow expats and headed over for (what was for us) the main attraction: Enanitos Toreros, or Midget Bullfighting! (Ok, technically "Little Dwarfs Bullfighting," sheesh!)
*Warning: Mexico is not necessarily politically correct, so I advise you to stop reading this if you are, and are easily offended.
Since you're still reading, bring on the midget bullfighters!
Solomon had seen the posters out by his new business venture, Playa Resale, and as soon as he told us about it, we knew we had to see this for ourselves. I had never seen any sort of bullfighting before, much less midget bullfighting, but I had been to the El Cedral fair last year in Cozumel and it was a highlight of that trip, so I was keen to check it out on a grander scale.
This bus is one way you could get to the Fair.
As we approached the gates the policia stopped us and asked us if we were visiting or lived here. They then told us that there were lots of bad people at the fair, so we should behave ourselves and if we had any problems, let the policia know. In other words, "You ain't on the 5th Ave. anymore, Gringo, so don't get drunk and cause problems."
With that advice in hand, we headed in and took a look at the livestock. They had some impressive bulls and a horse painted to look like a zebra, several chicks and piglets and other farm animals.
On the main stage the Merida Town Council (that's what their sashes said) was putting on a "Welcome to Yucatan" performance, complete with poetry and dancing. We stopped and watched the dancing for a while. I've always liked the traditional huipil dresses, but seeing them on stage really drove home just how beautiful they can be (of course the women wearing them were all gorgeous, too).
While we were watching the performance, Hans decided to try a Marquesita, a freshly prepared crepe filled with cheese and your choice of cajeta (like dulce de leche), lechera (like really sweetened, really condensed milk) or Nutella. Hans opted for cheese and Nutella. Once they place the cheese and your filling in the middle, they roll the whole thing up into a sort of flute shape. The crepe hardens somewhat like an ice cream cone, but nowhere near as thick. They were tasty, but at the same time sort of... interesting... cheese and chocolate together, in one item. (But then I like peanut butter and chocolate and I'm sure there are many a Mexican who would think that was weird).
We had read on the poster that the midget bullfighting would be at 6:30pm, so we were pretty bummed that we had missed it. Then we consulted the schedule for the fair that was painted on a wall near the livestock. Apparently we hadn't missed it, it was scheduled for 9pm. So we headed over to the bull ring where we consulted a third schedule of events and learned that it was listed there to start at 10pm. Finally we just asked the guy selling the tickets and he confirmed that it would be starting at 10pm, we hadn't missed it!
We decided to wander over by the rides to kill time before the midget bullfighting. Hans and Sol got this great idea to have a go on this puke-erific ride. I politely bowed out and chose to shoot this video of the whole thing (in case it launched off it's axle, you know). I think I compressed this video too much- it's sort of poor quality, but this isn't the "important" stuff.
By now it was just about time for the midget bullfighting to start and we could see that people were starting to enter the bull ring, so we bought some tickets and got ourselves a seat. There were people walking around selling everything from beers and sodas to mangoes and these cornstarch snacks that tasted like Bugles.
We only waited a few minutes and the midgets came out. There were five enanitos and two tall clowns. Before you get all huffy, they don't kill the bulls. They aren't even stabbing them. They make them charge at their capes and then try to wrestle them to the ground. They also do silly things like the two clowns would dance close together and then separate at the last minute as the bull charged through.
Oh, and they're calves, not full sized bulls. They look like teenagers.
All in all, the midget bullfighting was... well... strange. It's not like anything I've seen before (though I've only been to one Rodeo in the US, so something like it might be more common there than I would know). I did learn that, despite my gung-ho attitude about wanting to see a real corrida de toros whilst living in Mexico, I don't think I would be able to stomach it. I got worried for the little bulls when they got tackled. I can't imagine how I would feel if they were really being killed.
I guess it's just one more item off my list of things to do in my lifetime: Enanito Toreros? Check.
If you want a more in depth look at enanitos toreros, you could check out the book that this artist wrote. The photos alone might make it worth the purchase.