Mountain Hikes and Bull Fights

October 5, 2017

in Academic Year 2017-2018, Europe, Fall 2017, Madison Clarke, Spain

Last weekend, I went hiking with a good friend in the Cercanías mountains on an early Saturday morning. We were supposed to make the 9:00 train, but because I slept in a bit and the three metro line was closed, we had to catch the 10:00 instead. Sorry Abbie, at least I made the sandwiches.

Our journey to the mountains was almost as fun as the hike itself. After a long train ride into a northern city (sorry, I’m still not sure exactly where we were), we boarded a smaller train that took us more directly up the mountain. We boarded that train with what I can only describe as a collection of true Spanish hippies. There were 10 or 15 huge mountain bikes in the front of the train. Someone rudely told my friend and I NOT to touch his expensive bike. Don’t tell him we did, haha. People carried children, tents, shepherd dogs, huge hiking backpacks, and a variety of hiking poles.

The train creaked and moaned so loudly up the mountain that my friend and I could barely hear one another. It jerked around quite a bit, sometimes stopping completely to work up the strength to continue. Our left side faced the mountain and our right side faced a pretty large drop-off with sometimes less than two feet of clearance. Every few minutes, a patch of trees would clear and we would see a perfect section of the mountain with sun shining through the trees.

When I got off the train and saw it pull away, I realized that we were in the middle of nowhere. Abbie wasn’t concerned about this, but I took a minute to ask a hiker about the train schedule. The hiker said something like “Oh don’t mind the schedule that’s posted, it’s never accurate. Look for the train every two hours or so”. With that bit of information, we were off! Abbie and I found a small three-mile trail and came back mid afternoon.

We didn’t get to stay as long as we would have liked because we had to return to Madrid in the evening for a bull fight, which we had already paid for. I don’t have a lot to say about the bullfight, but it was something I won’t forget. When they say “bullfight”, they really mean “bullsfight”, because there is never just one bull.

I saw six bulls die.

It wasn’t the greatest thing I’ve ever paid to see. On top of that, I feel a little guilty for paying for it because I’m an economics major and I know what your consumer decisions impact supply– or in this case– the continuation of something that probably shouldn’t continue. Still, curiosity got the best of me. It was an incredible cultural experience– the live music and fanfare were legit, and the stadium was largely filled with local Spaniards.

A woman behind us was proposed to during the bullfight. They looked really happy and her roses were beautiful, but I think I would have something to say to my fiancé if he thought bull slaughter was the perfect romantic moment for us. Imagine them explaining their engagement to their kids!

Adios,

M

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