Barrancos 29th August, 2017
It cannot get more typical and traditional than this. Barrancos is a village in the border between Portugal and Spain, what we would say “in the middle of nowhere”. The biggest industry is cured pork meat, from the black breed, often fed with acorns from holm oak fields. There is a deep sense of pride and unity in their inhabitants, so virtually everyone takes part of the annual festivities, one way or the other.
Aficion, is general, and the running with the bulls, early mornings, along with bullfights at the evenings, are the highlights of the week.
As for the bullfights, they are different than the majority: they take place in the village central square. There is no fence, so most people attend inside the arena, having to climb or jump when the bulls get too near.
The improvised arena is tiny, so everyone is literally on top of each other. There are only two bulls in two bullfights, and one in the third.
It is the only place in Portugal, where is legal to kill the bull in the arena. (They did it anyway, while it was illegal).
I had attended quite a few times, supporting the tradition, but only this one I brought a camera suitable for a decent footage. As there are no real seats, it’s quite tricky to choose a wooden board with a good view (and one you can jump in the arena, as well, as I love to be as close as it gets).
People gather on the square mid afternoon, drinking and snacking and chatting about the previous night party or the bulls behaviour in the morning. I wanted to know the names of the “matadors” which were the Colombian Guerrita Chico and the Spanish Fernando Beltran. I didn’t know much, if anything about them, but it wasn’t overly important. Being part of it, and shooting from the inside was my main goal.
Unfortunately, it had been raining practically uninterrupted since 10 am, which delayed the start of the bullfight a little and made shooting conditions even more challenging. People was, nonetheless, enthusiastic. The first bull, black, wasn’t delivering as expected and, technically, it wasn’t a beautiful fight, though the matador committed as much as possible. The second, brown, which wasn’t too appreciated in the morning, filled the eye of the bullfighter and the spectators. Beautiful pairs of “banderillas”, good “chicuelinas”, and a steady, fast killing strike. The square applauded, and the rain was almost forgotten for a while. Both bullfighters left the arena “in shoulders” (a sort of prize given when they fight exceptionally) and people were happy, ready to continue to party all night long.
Watch all the footage in the gallery below.