Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Out and about: Bullfighting

Driving back from Dubai we let our curiosity get the better of us when we saw a large crowd of men and cars gathered at the roadside. We literally swung ourselves off the highway (it's still amazing to me that you are able to do that here) and parked up so we could see what was going on.

The first thing we noticed were huge pick-up vans carrying bulls. Absolutely huge animals, which I expect weigh a ton because you could see that their weight had cause a dip in the vans.

The bulls are Brahma bulls and they become so huge on a diet of milk and honey. In pairs, the bulls were led into the centre of the field along with a few men holding them back. Then I don't really know what happened. There seemed to be a bit of commotion, someone was very excitedly giving commentary somewhere, there was a rise of dust, men running out of the way, and then cheering. Then the whole thing was repeated again.

I would have loved to have taken a closer look and got some really good photos but the place was exclusively men, so I didn't feel comfortable getting out of the car. I was also wearing a very brightly coloured dress that day and worried I might look like an attractive target for the bulls.

At the time, I was a bit worried that there would be a lot of pain involved for the animals and I was a bit uncomfortable watching, but having done some reading since the sport is actually bull-butting rather than the Spanish-style bullfighting. This means that the fighting is actually between two bulls and they lock horns for a bit before being separated. The winning bull is the one which either pushes the other to the ground or forces it to give up its ground.

As I mentioned, it all happened very quickly actually, sometimes the bulls just seemed to not be interested and ran off the other direction and three or four Omani men would be trying to hold them back.

If you are interested in trying to see some bull-butting, there is a ring in Barka (according to Trip Advisor) but the opening times are elusive. Friday seems to be the best day to maybe head down there and take a look, once it cools after 4pm, but I expect it's probably a winter activity and I am sure there will be nothing happening now that Ramadan is about to begin. I think what we saw must have been some sort of "unofficial" gathering, so maybe keep your eyes peeled for one of those.

This has to be the most unique things I have seen in Oman to date. I quite like the glimpse into local life, if you know of anything a little less testosterone-heavy then do let me know.