Thankfully we do not have bullfights in Costa Rica where bulls are tortured and eventually killed but, there is a tradition every Christmas and New Year where hundreds of Ticos jump into a ring and bait a large bull.

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Seems like a bloody silly idea to me for human beings to jump around in the ring with a bull that has large horns and weighs 500 – 1,000 kilos but I’m not a Tico…

The bulls may be somewhat puzzled (as I am) and even a little scared but, it’s most definitely the human participants that tend to suffer. Hundreds of passionate Ticos are injured by the bulls every year and end up in the hospital!

In the video below you will see Luis Salas Contreras also known as “San Martín” who remains in intensive care on the 5th January 2015 after being gored by 450kg bull.

Sr. Salas is the one and only wage earner in his household and unfortunately it would appear that making the Sign of the Cross before the bull attacked did not fully protect him.

Thousands of Ticos visit the traditional Zapote festival on the east side of San José where bull baiting is one of the most popular events.

In 2014 La Cruz Roja (The Red Cross) helped 666 people and 458 of these were emergencies. Of these 458 the most serious injuries were to 163 people occurred in the bullring where the bull’s horns perforated buttocks, backs and the thighs of the ‘bullfighters.’

34 year old Adrián Vindas now known as “El señor de los anillos” (The Lord of the Rings) returned to the ring in 2014 after spending three months recovering from the previous year’s injury when a bull’s horn perforated a hole just one centimetre from his anus.

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

To the taunts of; “I dare you boys! Get closer to the bull!” And the promise of ¢20.000 (about US$37) from Claudio Pomo – the event organizer – to encourage them to kneel in front of a confused bull weighing more than half a ton, quite a few reckless Ticos did just that including two men dressed as Batman!

This year on the 25th December 2015 William Tamborcito (Little Drum) Madrigal who appears to be about 30 years old, was gouged in the stomach by a bull and thrown 3 meters in the air and then fell to the ground.

The Red Cross took him away and later when he regained consciousness, his mother scolded him and slapped him and… Wait for it!

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Thirteen hours after being dragged out of the ring, he was back in it saying: “Cuando uno tiene el toro encima, no se siente nada. Uno nada más le pide a Dios que lo cubra. Mi mamá no me puede decir que no vuelva a la arena, porque ella sabe que esta es mi pasión. Yo no me arrepiento”.

An approximate English translation would be:

“When you have a bull on top of you, you feel nothing. One can only ask God to protect you. My Mother cannot tell me not to go back into the arena, because she knows it’s my passion. I have no regrets”

Many people find this spectacle quite amusing but as the hospital tally will verify, this is an extremely dangerous activity that can lead to life-threatening injuries and death.

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At the end of the day though, it’s the people who have a simple choice with this and not the bull so whatever the final outcome, I hope they all remain healthy enough to enjoy a very Happy New Year.

Even professional, well trained ‘bullfighters’ – or should we call them torturers – have had serious problems recently as we can see in the video below with the female bullfighter Karla de los Angeles when she was tossed over a bull’s head and gored twice by a 1,100lb bull known as Gamusino on the 29th December 2014 at Mexico City’s famous Plaza Mexico, the country’s largest bullfighting ring.

Then again, if you stab me in the back, I’m likely to turn on you too…

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