Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Marking Time

On Monday I visited the plaza de toros in Alicante, where a crew is shooting part of a film about "Manolete"--perhaps Spain's most iconic torero, who died in 1947, shortly after a bull gored him in the groin on a hot summer afternoon in Linares' plaza de toros.

In the film, Alicante's bullring stands in for Linares' plaza, as the latter has become surrounded by tall, modern buildings that would make it difficult to shoot scenes depicting 1940s' Spain.

Alicante's ring was a study in contrasts, its bleachers draped with advertising banners and political symbols evoking a different era (including national flags bearing the yoke-and-arrows of the Spanish Falange, a group that provided crucial support for Francisco Franco before, during, and after the civil war (1936-1939) that brought the Generalísimo to power), its earthen floor smothered by the film crew's tractors, cranes, and dollies.

When I left the plaza in the evening, I headed directly to the airport, and as I awaited the departure of my flight to Madrid, I looked down at my feet and realized that anyone familiar with the world of bullfighting would, at a glance, know where I had spent my day.

The sand in Spanish bullrings is almost uniquely fine in texture and yellow in color, and my pants and sandals were covered with it.

I bent to brush off my feet, then thought better of it, wondering if Manolete's Spain and mine shared much beyond the sand underfoot.

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