SAN MIGUEL de ALLENDE, Mexico, Apr 27, 2014/ Troy Media/ – Monica Serrano enters the Plaza de Toros “Oriente” in San Miguel de Allende as the third bullfighter of a four-bull afternoon. The Saturday crowd numbers about 1,000 people. Most of us have paid 150 (about $15) Pesos for “shade seating;” a very few have bought tickets in the “sun” section. All around us tequila and cerveza servers try and get everyone the drink of their choice.
Serrano is billed as “the most famous woman matador in Mexico who rides horseback and uses a lance” – La Mejor Rejoneadora. She wears a form-fitting olive green jacket over skin-tight black matador pants that ride high on her hips. Her long brown hair is tied in a pony-tail, and she rides hatless in the late afternoon sun. Perhaps 25, she commands her first horse of the day effortlessly, with both strong words of encouragement, and occasional slaps of affection on the front quarters. Looking down from the 10th row in the centre shades, the Rejoneadora is an outstandingly fit and beautiful woman.
The bull she faces has entered the ring just before her, and is racing in counter-clockwise circles around the freshly raked circle of dampened earth. Two assistant matadors shelter their bodies well behind board shields erected just in front of exit passages to the first row of the standing-only enclosure. The Rejoneadora’s first move upon entering the ring is to yell and hand-motion to the two matadors. They each step out into the ring and begin to visually harass the bull named Barabas with their orange capes. In turn, they engage the bull’s growing anger as Serrano, high atop a magnificent grey stallion, studies the ring. Suddenly the bull turns to face her, and she dismisses the matadors to their board shields with a commanding gesture of her right hand as the crowd yells “Ole!”
Alone with the bull, she allows her horse to charge forward on what appears to be a gentle rein. Barabas strikes the earth several times with his right hoof, and charges directly at the horse, head down, horns forward. At the last moment the horse swerves right at a gathering gallop. The bull misses the turn and collides full tilt with the arena’s wall. The Rejoneadora reaches for a lance extended by her assistant at ring-side, and moves her horse to the bull’s eye chalked in the ring’s centre. Suddenly she drives her mount forward and drives the lance into Barabas’ neck. The bull snorts and turns his head sideways to see the waving lance shaft in its flesh. The horse moves quickly past as blood starts to spurt down the bull’s left flank from the first wound.
The Rejoneadora suddenly disappears through a ring-side gate below us, as the Plaza de Toros’ mariachi band strikes up a five horn and two drum serenade from their top row perch above us. The bull is again running in counter-clockwise circles, now snorting with pain and dripping blood. Quickly the Rejoneadora returns on a fresh horse. Slow in working out of a tight position, the horse is pinned against the arena wall, with a thrust of horns under his belly. Serrano is pitched sideways into the stands, and braces for a smack on the concrete wall. She is quickly on her feet, and clambers over the wall, back into the ring, sternly calling to her horse. Horse and rider are quickly united. The Rejoneadora gallops to ring-side and is handed another, longer lance by her assistant.
With a dismissive hand command to the waiting matadors, she charges her new mount directly at the waiting bull. She raises the lance high above her head and drives it half a meter into its arched neck, just beside the first lance. The bull staggers a moment, and reels away from the combat. Serrano receives a third lance and once again gallops directly out of the ring. The mariachi band offers its taunting melody for the crowd.
The Rejoneadora soon re-enters on a magnificent third horse. Together they charge the standing bull. The two parties collide in the centre of the ring as the third lance plunges home. The bull falls to his knees, and then slowly rolls side-ways onto the bloody earth. A waiting matador jumps into the ring with a shiny steel knife, which he plunges through the neck vertebrae. The bull’s huge head falls suddenly dead.
Monica Serrano flashes a perfect white-toothed smile of victory to the crowd. The mariachi band roars into action. The judge stands and waves two white handkerchiefs as the announcer yells above the din: “Two ears for the Rejoneadora!”
Troy Media columnist Mike Robinson has been CEO of three Canadian NGOs: the Arctic Institute of North America, the Glenbow Museum, and the Bill Reid Gallery. Mike is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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