The largest Carnival celebration in Ecuador is in the large city of Ambato. It is surprisingly large for how little you hear of the city, but yet, you understand when you get there because there is not much going for it really. Even for Carnival. We made a morning parade, which was flashy, wacky and colorful, but after that we were at a loss for what to do, as the only activity seemed to be drinking into oblivion. That and giant, city wide water and foam fights (with the occasional extra nastiness mixed in).

But then we saw a ‘corre de toros’ on the schedule. Taking this at a literal translation, we thought we were heading to a running of the bulls type event. Turns out ‘corre de toros’ is a bull-fight. But controversy aside, we both agreed we had never been to one of these either and it would be a fine experience to round out our Carnival celebrations.

We were treated to the full spectacle. We saw six fights. We saw a matador gored, only to return and triumph.

We saw a bull outlast a matador and get chased out of the ring, a ‘vive toro.’ Of the other four, we saw two daring and highly skilled matador performances, and two pretty pathetic ones. So we had a pretty broad experience.

But after all that, I’m not sure what to think. On the one hand, it’s a brutal way for a bull to die. On the other, when it’s well done and the matador is on top of his game, it’s incredibly thrilling to watch the control he has over the bull, and the daring feats he accomplishes.

It really becomes a dance with bull and matador, very artistic. And to me, in a ring, free and with a ‘fighting’ chance is a better way to die than in a slaughterhouse. Nevertheless, we decided we probably wouldn’t be going to any more bullfights. Except maybe an authentic one, in Spain. I’m sure those matadors are incredible.