Friday, May 23, 2014

Bull-leaping lives!

Ever since setting to work on my novel, I’ve been digging deep into the mythology and ancient history of the Greeks. One unexpected (but cool) side effect is that some otherwise random news story or fragment of ephemera will catch my attention because it recalls or connects with something from that time. A great example of this is the following photo, which chanced across my computer’s homepage a week or so ago:

This is a picture of a man sailing over a charging bull, looking much like an Acapulco cliff diver, only sideways. One thing we can say for sure about this guy is that when he landed, it wasn’t in water. Hopefully, it was just sawdust, or sand, or something equally inoffensive. Anyway, it makes for a compelling image, and instantly raises the question: What is this man doing, and where did he get those nifty socks?

I’ve had no luck with the socks yet, but it only took a few clicks to learn that the man is called a recortador, a professional bull-leaper. That’s right, he leaps over bulls for a living. The sport is called recortes, and the premise is to avoid being gored and trampled by a stampeding bull while still picking up points for style. To do this, the recortador relies on courage, preternatural agility, and an uncanny knack for knowing where the bull is going to go. The only weapons he takes into the arena are his wits and an unlimited supply of hair product.