>Travel Pictures


Bull Baiting

We headed into Barka, determined to track down the bullfighting we'd heard about, but not really sure where to find it. Our guidebook said just to head through town, and sure enough, that's where it was.
The site reminded us of the small town rodeos we've seen in Lincoln, Montana, where the grassy field full of pickup trucks gave away the secret location of the event. Here, all the trucks were white, but other than that the scene could have come from the modern American West. 

The crowds were a bit different from the Wranglers crew we were used to. Most of the men were in the traditional Omani white outfit, and since the entire crowd was male, that meant that almost everyone there was dressed similarly.
The bullfighting was also different from what we'd seen in Honduras. Here, there was no real human involvement, and the bulls weren't killed. Instead, it was really just a pushing and shoving match to see which bull was the toughest. Challengers would be brought out into the ring, and then placed head-to-head.
Eventually, one or both would spring forward at the other, and then there would be a furious tussle as each tried to push the other to his knees or out of the center part of the ring. Referees (and owners?) stayed in the center of the ring, grabbing the ropes that were tied around the bulls' legs with specially carved sticks, attempting to keep the big animals under some semblance of control.
In the setting sun, the spectacle of two bulls locking horns was pretty fantastic. 
We were facing right into the sun - which wasn't really a problem for us, but it made all the kicked up dust "glow" as the battles raged.
While there were a few matches that were rather slow, for the most part the bulls were fun to watch. We couldn't always tell when a bull was defeated, but the crowd sure did, and the handlers would charge in as one to tighten the ropes.
The crowd was mostly pleased by the action - as were we - even though some of them had to resort to utilizing Omani sunglasses!

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