The End of the Temporada Grande

There were four more corridas of the Temporada Grande plus the so-called Oreja de Oro. I had had enough of these lousy cartels and therefore only went to the return of Finito de Córdoba on 25 February, with bulls of Xajay, because the cartel wasn’t so bad. The inconsistent artist, Guillermo Capetillo and Fernando Ochoa accompanied Finito, as did rejoneador, Giovanni Aloi. Finito’s capote was really beautiful, especially with the verónicas on his second. They were one of the high spots of the Temporada; but he let both of his animals go with the muleta. Capetillo’s feet would not stay still but one derechazo looked good. If only he hadn’t bought the sobrero. Ochoa was the best of the afternoon, receiving some applause; Giovanni Aloi, who I once said would be a better opera singer than rejoneador, did not change my opinion.

Finito de Córdoba, verónica, Plaza Mexico 25 February

On 11 February, El Cordobés (silencio y silencio), El Conde (saludos y palmas) and Fernando Ochoa (saludos, silencio y oreja en el de regalo) faced a mixed encierro of Rodrigo Aguirres, which had been so good last year. Rafael Ortega, El Tato, Paco González and Sebastián Castella fought nine toros of Santa Fe del Campo on 18 February. González and Castella confirmed their alternativas with the former buying the sobrero but neither cutting ears. Rafael Ortega cut an ear and El Tato earned silencio and pitos. An even worse cartel of Alfredo Lomeli, Humberto Flores and El Cuate was put on with bulls of Malpaso on 4 March. Lomeli cut an ear on his second and the public were relieved that the sobrero was not requested.

The Oreja de Oro corrida, which is supposed to be a competition between the best of the Temporada Grande, not only lacked the appearance of the Spaniards who had brought some rays of light to the Season but also did not include the best of the Mexicans like Armillita, Zotoluco and Ignacio Garibay. The result of the six toreros facing bulls of Celia Barbabosa was: rejoneador Rodrigo Santos (pitos), Alfredo Lomeli (al tercio), Oscar San Roman (palmas), El Conde (palmas), Alfredo Gutiérrez (silencio) and Jerónimo (silencio). It was a total disaster in a plaza given as a quarter full (12,000) but containing only some 3,000 to 4,000 souls. Something has to be done to fill the other 41,000 seats. Mexico needs its own El Juli and cannot wait.

A Good Week-end in March

My absence from the Plaza Mexico was not all to do with the poor cartels. I actually gave away tickets for one afternoon. No, it was yet another attack of influenza, which seems to hang around forever in Mexico City. I couldn’t shake it off and watched most of the corridas on the TV. Feeling good again, I decided to find out whether the plaza in Tequisquiapan was real or just a portátil and to pay my first visit to the Plaza of Tula. The former is in the State of Queretaro (just over two hours away) and the latter in the state of Hidalgo, which is only one hour away, if the traffic leaving Mexico City on the motorway north is quiet.

We set off late on the Saturday 17 March, giving little time to do more than go to the corrida. Unfortunately, the Tequisquiapan plaza was a portátil but that was the only criticism of this town with its famous ganadero of the same name. The tickets hadn’t arrived at the plaza when we did, a little over an hour before the start. We were advised to see the taurine museum in the Pavillion but decided to spend our precious time having lunch and to return another time to explore this beautiful town. Lunch was incredible: a parillada, which included arrachera, chorizo, salchicha, longaniza and spring onions. We bought generales de sombre and sat down just after the paseíllo. The crowd were really friendly and out to have a good time. Both the toros and the toreros complied. The toros were two each from Fernando de la Mora, San Martin and Xajay; and the toreros, Oscar San Román who cut an ear off his second, Fernando Ochoa who cut an ear on his first and took a vuelta on his second; and the awful El Cuate II, who was very bad even though he stole a vuelta on his first. We agreed that we would return and stay at one of the colonial style hotels we had glimpsed in passing.

We made a slightly earlier start on the Sunday, allowing time to purchase tickets and return to a nearby hotel for lunch (the name has gone again). Tula is better known for its special pyramids built by the oldest tribe to be discovered in Mexico, the Toltecs. Its taurine claim to fame is that it was the birthplace of Jorge Gutiérrez but the small pink painted plaza is named after the father of Mexican bullfighting, Ponciano Diaz. The turn-out was extremely small but the atmosphere magnificent. A warm afternoon sitting in the pink plaza was indeed an enjoyable experience and a cartel of two toreros facing 4 bulls relaxing to say the least. This could be another answer to the problem. Eight bulls are definitely too much, even with Spaniards involved. Six bulls with Mexicans is merely a high risk scenario; but four bulls with two Mexicans could be bearable even if it ended badly. In the event, it was a really interesting afternoon. The four bulls of Los Encinos were fine but Mario del Olmo did not look as if he had regained his confidence after his goring in Zacatecas in September ’99. He tried but only cut an ear on his second. El Zapata was very good. His movements sometimes look strange but his approach is reasonably serious. He cut one ear on his first and two on his second: a good afternoon, short and sweet, giving time to get home to relax before going to bed.

My initial disillusionment, which derived from the recent novilladas and culminated with the starter novillada of the feria Internacional del Caballo de Texcoco, has gone as the feria has developed at a better level and I have acted as correspondent in Texcoco for Jose Mata of Novedades. I shall be there again this week-end and I’ll keep you informed of that feria plus Aguascalientes, Juriquilla and Puebla in the next Desde Mexico.

CTL members on the other side of El Charco