It was at 4.55pm on 28th December 2009 when Esteban Muñoz Espinoza aged 28 first got plastered against the barrier thanks to El Puñalito, a black bull weighing a mere 480 kilos.

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Without giving him any time to recover or escape, the animal then hooked a horn in his trousers and once again threw him like a rag doll…

Somehow Esteban managed to get up smiling, showing his teeth filled with sand and raised his hands in a sign of triumph that he actually lived through the encounter.

The Ticos and tourists pay ¢8.000 to see and sometimes participate in the bull ring – “toros a la tica” – en Zapote.

Some of them entered the ring wearing Barcelona or Saprissa soccer shirts, one young man had pants made of the stars and stripes (the flag of the USA), one had a raccoon tail hat on, another with a Che Guevara shirt and Wilfredo Mosquera came dressed as Osama Bin Laden complete with fake beard…

The audience was filled with loving couples, grandparents and kids, women dressed to the nines, cowboys with neither pistols nor horses and hundreds of tourists from all over the world ..

Outside you could buy all sorts of snacks and drinks which were not allowed inside including fried chicken, churros, cotton candy, popcorn, coffee, hats and ice cream.

Back inside, 20 year old bull rider Yeam Carlos Cisneros was offered c1,000,000 colones (US$1,750) if he could ride a furious bull for ten seconds or more…

He was successful but, still ended up in Hospital Calderón Guardia with a badly damaged collar bone so please do not try this at home!

Our thanks to our friends at La Nación – Costa Rica’s largest Spanish circulation newspaper for their permission use their photographs.

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