On our final free day in Lisbon, a group of around 15 of us embarked on a day trip to Madrid, a venture that filled me with excitement for various reasons. Thanks to my mother’s profession as a Spanish teacher, I possessed an unexpectedly profound understanding of the area. I anticipated exquisite cuisine, splendid weather, and the quintessential cultural immersion at the Plaza De Toros.

En route to Lisbon Airport via Uber, myself and three others secured tickets to witness a bullfight, recognizing its significance in Spanish culture. While we enjoyed our day meandering through Madrid, thoughts of the impending bullfights lingered in the back of our minds. At 5:00 pm, we bid farewell to the group and made our way to the Plaza De Toros.

Upon presenting our tickets and ascending to our seats in the upper tiers, it dawned on us that this was not merely a tourist attraction; it was a local event. Navigating the language barrier proved challenging, yet through gestures and rudimentary Spanish, we managed to interact with some locals who familiarized us with the customs. We learned that once a bull entered the arena, entry and exit were prohibited out of respect. The audience was expected to observe periods of silence, and photography was discouraged.

I refrain from delving into the details of the bullfights due to their graphic nature. However, what resonated profoundly was witnessing the reverence and devotion the locals harbored for this tradition. It was awe-inspiring to witness a multitude of individuals congregating on a Wednesday evening to partake in an age-old tradition that has endured for centuries. Witnessing such interest in bullfighting instilled in me a newfound appreciation and compelled me to refrain from speaking poorly about the tradition in the future.