I ventured off to Spain by myself this past fall and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Not that I had low expectations of Spain but I had developed an addiction to Italy & other parts of Europe in the past but never made it to Spain for some reason. As it turned out, I ended up loving everything about it and can add it to my list of places to return to. Who knew I’d still be craving anchovy stuffed olives of all things?! It’s funny, when you travel by yourself which I have done many times, you tend to be more aware of your surroundings and what you might consider to be oddities. I broke down and did a yankee move one morning by going to Starbucks for the Espanol version of a cafe latte but something out of sorts caught my eye on the way. Just past the panaderia, I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw a poster in the window of a restaurant, displaying a slaughtered bull with the words, “Spanish Shame”. It was obviously in protest of the bloody practice of bullfighting which has long been a part of Spanish Culture. I mean what do you think of when you think of Spain? (Don’t say Flamenco dancers. Nobody is hunting Flamenco dancers in a stadium!) Many have tried to bring attention to the practice over the years such as the people who show up to Pamplona butt naked and paint themselves with fake blood in order to protest bullfighting and the running with the bulls. Hey…when you’re 25 and Swedish, you can get away with displays like that but I don’t think there has been a noticeable impact as a result. So there I was, horrified at the graphic photo yet struck that this advertisement was coming from a Spanish animal rights group. I know. Stupid American assumption, right? After all, they have Starbucks so why wouldn’t they have animal rights groups?! But I found it interesting that this generation of Spaniards was challenging the practice which had long been a part of Spanish culture yet barely questioned. Heck, it had been romanticized and celebrated forever so how could anyone want to end it? One of my own prized possessions is a large picture book of “Death in the Afternoon” by Hemingway with illustrations by Picasso. Bullfighting in all its glory. In any case, it’s one thing to have outsiders impose new age rules on a nation which has practiced this form of “entertainment” for generations. It’s totally different when the questions and scrutiny are coming from within, from a new generation asking, “why are we still doing this”? Trying to make the case to ban the practice is an uphill battle for sure. There are a lot of people, like myself, who just don’t see the point of it and want animals to be treated humanely even if they are raised to be dinner. But status and stardom have been built on such a practice in Spain, Mexico, and other Hispanic cultures and that in itself is the rationale used to keep it going. Who knows how long this practice will go on? It is certainly not something a band of local advocates will fix overnight but I always find it interesting when I’m traveling somewhere and I find similarities between home and wherever I may be at the time. Some issues are universal and sometimes what I consider to be an issue is actually universally a non-issue.
The world only exists in your eyes. You can make it as big or as small as you want.
-F. Scott Fitzgerald