Costa Rica Part 3 Bruised bollocks

Andy vs Beast.. Turns out I can run!

With little or no concept of political correctness , we found ourselves glued to the popular bull festival containing dwarf people dressed as matadors getting mullard by bulls and then lost for words while visiting another friend’s house near the Corcovado National Park.

Ben hadn’t met our other English friend before and introduced her to his host family as being from Germany. His Dad didn’t waste time.

“So you’re a Nazi? Do you like Hitler”?

Speechless!

A previous volunteer at this house had in-fact been German and had had to leave for a new family. For reasons I can imagine.

. . .

Wading waist high through a river we’re told plays home to crocodiles and even bull sharks when the tide comes in and on our way towards camp in the Corcovado National Park after a 27km hike through a half forest, half beach trail on the very day our coasts on alert from a tidal wave expected from the massive earthquake in Japan.

I collapse in a heap on the narrow stretch of grass beside the Ranger station and get promptly told “Can you move please? There’s a plane landing”! Not every day you find yourself sunbathing on a landing strip in the middle of the jungle.

Little runway in the jungle

Following a night of being cooked in my thermal sleeping bag, eaten my mosquitos and pawed at by some large rodent like scavenger through our thin tent, we make our way back through the trails.

There’s a puma in the area. We hear it sun bathes near- by but our search only leads us to being pissed on by monkeys and the sighting of a jaguarondi-small jaguar- a mere twenty meters from us which is just as good for me. But no puma.

We tackle shark river once more. Deeper now and more likely to have a shark or croc this time. With phone in hand, bag in the other I wade out like some human sacrifice to appease the appetite of some man-eating river monster

Already losing my only water bottle due to the bright idea of throwing it over first only to watch it slip from my fingers early and flush out to sea. Probably going to die of dehydration now so I might as well take a stupid dolphin with me.

A group of men dressed in military uniforms, rifles slung with Costa Rican patches pass us by. Trouble with this picture is Costa Rica doesn’t have an army. Poachers after our puma but I aint stopping them.

Making it back in time for what feels like the best beer I’ve ever had and our last bus to Ben’s house of racism, we can only marvel at the sight of scarlet macaws everywhere standing out so clearly against a stunning background of blue skies and green palm trees.

That night we gorge ourselves on shrimp, octopus, snails and pizza before spending a night sleeping on a floor surrounded by scuttling cockroaches. Awoken by the snuggling of a tic riddled puppy I’m given a breakfast of bull testicals from the local ‘castration of the bulls’ festival.

We make our way to a river where we throw sticks at crocs just to see what happens and I make a hasty retreat from the water’s edge after one fine specimen menacingly turns and makes its way towards us.

My own experience of the San Isidro Bull Festival –no castration here-would take place inside a small arena packed full for the last days show.

After presenting a copy of my passport and signing a disclaimer written in Spanish I join the other participants on one knee as we receive our last rights from the local Priest. Retreating backstage to limber up I start to wonder what the hell I’ve led myself into this time.

A gauntlet of lady-boys has set up shop along the passage way leading back into the arena. It’s a common thing to wear a fancy-dress costume for this event but I’m not convinced they’re only acting when passing through them I’m lifted off my feet by my balls and savagely groped by twenty pairs of hands. Making it through I pause to catch my breath before being grabbed by the collar and dragged backwards for a second assault receiving more attention than I’ve ever had in my life.

My third time through and I’m feeling bruised, abused and a little flustered. Did I just score?!

The bulls are let out one, sometimes two at a time and chase us down for fifteen minutes before a cowboy on horseback comes to lead it away then the next bursts from the pen to take its place.

All shapes and sizes are found here from smaller fast bulls with sinister, demon like horns to gigantic half water buffalo. The bravest – or dumbest- it would appear are actually the lady-boys who try to grab the bull by the horns quite literally before getting smashed, trampled, bitten and skewered by these raging beasts –none of which are harmed as they take care of their bulls in this country-.

At one point all the medics and security guards leave their stations to have a game of football in where a set of posts are planted at each end of the arena and points are awarded to the team who can get the bull to cross your oppositions goal line. The bull is the ball basically.

In the midst of all this I pull out my phone and begin snapping some pictures before noticing the great, hulking mass bearing down on me. I run for my life, bring my foot upon a small wooden ledge a meter high along the surrounding barrier and throw myself face first into the lens of a television camera.

Mr Bull.. Better luck next time eh?

For five hours this would continue and I can now say for sure that a man can in-fact out run a bull and thank fuck for that

My real surprize from this whole experience would actually come from the Costa Rican people who believe everything is so ‘peligroso’ (dangerous). If I swim in the river its peligroso. If I pick up a snake its peligroso –fair enough-. If I walk to the shops its peligroso. But when I’m on my way to run with bulls it’s “have fun”!

Grabbing the bull by the horns..I’ll pass thanks.
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