The heavy air has tranquilised the crowd, the sun keeps burning down and the humidity is making us all slowly stink of sweat. Risking headaches today and hangovers tomorrow, we all guzzle down endless quantities of beer and fino to cool us down, making the hill hike-induced lethargy only stronger – Arcos de la Frontera, see, is a town that sits on a hill and to get anywhere you have to go up and up and up its cobblestoned streets and stairs. But then – brrrooooom! – a horn wakes us all up, the bull is being brought up the hill on the back of a truck; our blood begins to flow again and our lethargy evaporates into the already steamy air. Some howl out, others whistle, all grin, because the Toro de Aleluya – the Hallelujah Bull – is about to begin. A few minutes more and then some more booms erupt; the five hundred and ten kilogram beast has been released! The crowd makes that noise that crowds make – half hush half scream – as some madmen come rushing down the hill; he’s coming! Some dive away, onlookers flail and sway, and then the bull emerges, horns striking up and his shoulders heaving down as he waits ready for the next charge. For one brief moment he trots out of sight, but a collective scream tells us the full story: someone has been struck! Then he emerges once again to take aim at some other lunatic, but failing in his strike he chases his tormentors further down the hill with their arms flailing into the distance and their faces straining like a rugby player going in for a tackle. Taking advantage of the lull, we search for more beer to quench our beer-induced thirst, but then the commotion erupts yet again, and once again that scream of ten thousand arcenses running from old Olímpico, as they call him, but this time we’re caught in the fray! Emboldened by the brews we decide to stay in the bull’s runway and wait, but with the slightest sign that he was coming we bolted up the hill, and feeling silly we turn around to discover that he’s far away from us, and then it’s all too late anyway, Olímpico has been roped up and taken, I hope, back to his paddock to chow on some grass. I’m not sure if afterwards he was slaughtered or not, I suspect he was, but either way the animal must have thought he was going to be sacrificed just like Christ on this very solemn Easter Sunday in Arcos – hallelujah, he must of thought at the end of it all, hallelujah.
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