San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

The Flying Bull

The Granada bull run is a very emotional event. The crowd, which one second can be relaxed and festive, drinking beers and talking to neighbors and friends, quickly becomes manic when the word spreads that the bulls are coming.

Realizing how volatile the crowd atmosphere is, many young pranksters send false alarms by screaming that the bulls are coming and running down the street, sending a wave of panic and fear through the crowd as everyone scrambles to get out of the way of the invisible stampede. When people realize it was a false alarm, the screaming turns to nervous laughter, as the crowd goes back to drinks and light chatter until the next false alarm.

This can go on for hours before the bulls are actually charged through the streets.

As if the day weren’t intense enough, last year’s bull run was spiced with an extra element of danger, when one of the massive bulls made an unexpected turn off of the main street of Real Xalteva and into XaltevaPark, where dozens of people were watching the bull run from what they thought was a safe distance.

The bull’s presence in the park – almost literary like a bull in a china shop – sent people running and screaming in every direction, not sure where the bull was or where it would turn next.

Several astute cowboys charged on horseback into the park after the bull, and managed to drive it through the parting masses and toward the eastern side of the park, where it proceeded to jump off a six-foot high flight of stone stairs, flying completely airborne toward a group of spectators scrambling to get out of its way (you haven’t experienced panic until you see, out of the corner of your eye, a two-ton bull flying through the air toward where you are standing).

The bull cleared the sidewalk and landed on the street in a full belly-flop, with spectators running in every direction, hysterical by the fact that charging bulls were now in front of them, behind them and – for a brief terrifying second – in the air above them.

Miraculously, no person – or bull – was hurt.

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