The Weirdness of Castril

by Lars Wagoner / Jun 09, 2014 /
Lars Wagoner's picture

So, about a year ago, my family and I stayed a few nights in a cave house in Andalusia. We had heard about Castril, a little village buried in the mountains, there was supposed to be a market. Feeling touristy, we decided to go check it out.

As we followed the dirt road to Castril, wooden barriers came into sight. Hmm… that was weird. Why would there be barriers in a small market?  Even more intrigued, we parked the car and walked on the main road; continuing until we reached a plaza. This was no ordinary square - it looked more like an arena. There were logs piled up around the edges of town center, and on those logs were many locals sitting, standing, holding on… all of them looked very excited.

Still no market in sight, my dad asked some people what was going on. Apparently, that was the day the locals celebrated a holidayby running with bulls! That was the only day in the whole year that they release bulls and we just happened to walk right in… luck? I think not. If you travel a lot, you develop a sixth sense, what I like to call the VIBE. Think of it Spider-Man’s “spidey sense,” but instead of getting a nuclear spider bite, it’s the travel bug’s bite.

Feeling the spirit, we sat down on some logs. They looked smooth but they felt like a bunch of needles (at the end of the festival, our legs were extremely sore due to all of the roughly cut wood). A few men came sprinting down the main road and hopped up on another set of logs across the plaza. Just seconds later, half a dozen bulls came chasing after them; 3 of the bulls were large, 4 were small, and the rest about the average size. Then all of a sudden, those same men jumped into the bull-filled plaza, literally grabbing the bulls by the horns and spiriting them away. This went on until all the bulls had been lead back up the road. After that escapade, there was a horse show.

A medium size bull - from the once a year bull run in Castril, Andalusia
One of the medium sized bulls

A while later, three massive bulls came charging in. They were chasing the insane people that actually dared enter the “arena”. Almost every local was chanting “¡OLÉ! ¡OLÉ!” or screaming something in Spanish. Meanwhile, four macho men were taking on the bulls, one by one, by leading its head by the horns. Eventually, all the bulls had been “taken over,” and the “over-takers” were waving to the excited crowd and congratulating each other.

I was shocked! I had never seen anything so out of the ordinary, so crazy, so weird… there are thousands of words to describe that surprising experience. We were there for about 3 hours and we were thirsty! A nice cold bottle of water on that hot day would have been nice, but we had to wait until we got back to the cave house to quench our thirst.

I had learned my lesson: expect the unexpected. Some things turn out a disaster when they don’t go as planned, others happen to be 10 times better than what was originally supposed to happen.

In this case, it was way better than planned. Everything was amazing: the atmosphere, the sights, and the experience in general; the only thing that wasn’t pleasant was the smell… if you know what I mean. I would take an adrenaline pumping “bull run” over a market any day. To be fair, we never went to the market, so I don’t know how fun it was… I’m just assuming.

This experience was important for me because it helped me learn that trying to control every single thing is not always the best thing to do. Sometimes it is good to just go with the flow and see where it takes you.

 

Isn’t it amazing the weird things that can happen when least expected? These weird things play a part in making our lives more interesting and enjoyable, even if, at the time, it wasn't enjoyable. I would love to hear some of your weird travel experiences. Please comment below!  

 

 

 

Lars Wagoner is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program

 

Photo courtesy and copyright Lars Wagoner