It’s been a while since we rock climbed, and Bryan has been researching since we arrived in Spain. Now that the weather has cooled, it is a great time to go. So, we packed the kids up and drove 45 south to the canyon town of Ayna. It’s a beautiful little town perched on the edge of an orange-walled canyon. We noticed a lot of cars parked along the road into town and odd fencing up as we drove through, plus a few vendors like there was a festival last night.
Our directions were a bit vague, but solid, though it took us a long time to find the rock climbing area for lack of seeing the bolts on the wall and being unsure about walking in someones olive grove. We ended up parking and walking to a different cliff where we saw two men climbing…it was a bit of an uphill scrabble that the kids had fun with; we needed to use the trail side ropes to pull up. Zoe also lingered to eat wild blackberries down along the river. Well, this was not the place, but our new climbing friend Juan Manuel, and his climbing partner, gave us good directions to the spot we were heading for and a few others. He also told us that Ayna was having it’s yearly bull festival….the big running with the bulls was this morning at 0930 and there was another even this evening at 5 or 6. Sweet!
We found our spot, finally, and enjoyed some lunch before Bryan put up the rope and the kids took turns climbing. Zoe, especially did amazing today! She made it to the top of the climb and did not balk at the coming-down which often makes her nervous. Avi also did well, but got a bit too excited about just swinging around that we had to let him down. The weather was overcast and cool and quite nice to be hanging out in an olive grove rock climbing a canyon in Spain.
Back in town we parked and popped into a cafe for some helado (ice cream) and cafe (coffee) before walking to the Plaza Mayor and seeing all the crazy Spaniards dressed in nutso costumes. We snagged a seat in the outdoor amphitheater because it seemed like the thing to do and waited with everyone else until a parade came marching through town….it was a local band and a bunch of people dressed in lunatic costumes. They danced around in the square for a while before clearing out for the main event: the bull fight. That’s right, the main town square was fenced off with log-and-rope fencing so the could release a bull into it….I assume he was chosen this morning after they ran all the bulls from the fields into the square. This was not what we expected, but ended up being quite entertaining. It was a local machismo event, apparently, with local guys jumping in at will to taunt the bull and get it to chase them over the fences or around the wooden barriers. At first release the bull tore into a stuff animal bull they left in the center and then slowly the men and boys taunted it enough that it really charged some of them. I’m surprised we didn’t see a mauling. One man seemed like a hobbyist matador and used an actual cape to taunt the bull into coming close and past him. And I’m here to tell you that Spanish people do yell “Ole” when it runs past the cape. Unlike a professional bull fight, however, there was no stabbing the bull and letting it bleed out for hours. This seemed all in fun and a chance for the local guys to show off. Eventually, though, one of the organizers lassoed the bull around it’s horns and led it out of the ring off to the side where a gaggle of men ran to watch ‘something’. We left at this point; because we finally could leave, having to walk through the ring and past the bull now laying on the ground tied up….tied up to get put on the truck back out to the field (we told the kids, but later Bryan and I saw it out of town being transferred to a butcher truck: it had been slaughtered in the typical fairly humane neck-gash way).
There was more fiesta-ing happening the rest of the evening, but we were tired from climbing and exhausted of all the culture. Perhaps if I also had been drinking the delicious lemonade all the teens had, it would’ve been a place to stay, but it started raining on us as we harched back to the car and happily turned on the heat for our drive home; content in our one impromptu, yet kid friendly, bull fight that we thought would simply be some bulls running in the road. When in spain…