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Fall 1997

Mad Max, Matadors, and Kilimanjaro

From climbing the highest summit it Africa to crashing through pelting hail in a speedboat full of chickens, Wabash students stop at nothing to immense themselves in the countries where they study during their time away from campus.


A Pint of Bitter with the Sweet:
Phil Young '65

Mukiwa on Kilimanjaro:
John Seal '98

Travels With Wallies

Mad Max in Guatemala: Josh Beard '97


Viva El Toro Bravo
by Peter Prengeman '98

Bells sounded as the crowd rose to greet the toreros and their staffs walking in through a side gate of the circular plaza. The torero's suits were embroidered in gold and sparkled as the toreros walked into the fading sun. On each of their bronze faces was a look of pride and confidence. They smiled, bowed, and disappeared behind the walls of the plaza

A long horn sounded as a man strode to the center of the plaza and raised a sign announcing the bull's name- Buzon-and his weight-686 kilograms.

With that, the gates opened and out rushed Buzon, furiously thrashing the walls with his horns, ripping chunks from the wood as he struck so hard the people in the cheap seats could feel it. Moments later, three toreros came out from behind the walls and waved their large pink caps at him. Buzon snarled and ran toward one of the capes. As he got close he lowered his head and swept it forward to impale the torero, who quickly moved to the side of the cape and let the bull run through it. The crowd roared "olé," as Buzon turned to pursue another torero.

Soon an armored man on horseback, the picadero, came through the gate. Buzon threw himself against the armored horse as the picadero slammed a lance into the bull's back. Buzon grunted, blood pouring out of his back as the crowd yelled their approval.

The lance in his back made Buzon angrier than ever. He charged three bandelleros who entered the ring and ran directly at him. One by one they stabbed spiked flags into his back. After each placement of the spikes the crowd stood up and roared in admiration.

Then the crowd let out a small hush and people began to whisper the name "Victor Puerto." Holding a small red cape and a sword, a short, dark man with black curly hair emerged from behind the wall. As the crowd pointed and whispered, Victor slowly gazed about the plaza as if to measure up the crowd's encouragement and his own bravery. With a forceful grab, he threw his hat across the plaza and lifted his arm in triumph. When the hat hit the ground, the crowd let out it's breath and chanted with pride "Sí señor, sí señor Puerto." Victor smiled and turned to Buzon, who stopped in his tracks and stared at him.

Victor lowered his face and carefully walked toward Buzon. Holding out the cape, Victor yelled "ha." Buzon charged through the cloth. "Olé," yelled the crowd as Victor set himself up for another pass. "Olé, Olé." Victor mesmerized Buzon as the bull passed through his cape time after time. With every pass Victor got closer to Buzon's horns and body, and the chants of the spectators got louder.

Then Victor dropped to his knees and looked Buzon in the eyes. Buzon gazed back. For a moment, there seemed to be an understanding between the two. When Victor yelled "ha!" Buzon snapped out of his gaze and pushed forward. Victor spun himself around on his knees while the animal went through the cape. "Olé! Olé!"

Then came the final, and most dangerous, part of the fight. Victor stood in front of Buzon with his cape down in one hand, a small curved sword raised in the other. Blood dripped from the faces of both bull and man. The plaza was so quiet you could hear a light whisper. Then, with a piercing yell that echoed off the plaza walls, Victor flung himself over the horns of the bull and slammed the sword into Buzon's back and through his heart. The sword had been placed perfectly, but Buzon bucked straight up and stopped Victor's momentum. Buzon's horn ripped through Victor's quadricep and the torero was flung like a rag doll 15 feet across the plaza.

Usually the bull dies seconds after such a wound. Not Buzon. Seeing Victor sprawled out in the dirt, Buzon charged. Though Victor's leg was gushing blood he managed to lift himself and hobble on the other leg. Two other toreros rushed out to distract Buzon while Victor painfully limped out of danger. But instead of going to the safety of the walls, Victor refused to leave the plaza. He took out a handkerchief and tightly tied it around his quad as his blood continued to color the dirt.

Victor's eyes began to slam themselves shut. It was obvious to everyone he was fading fast. The crowd's euphoric yells now converted into passionate cries for help, as if somehow the future of the country rested on this man.

"Sacalo! Sacalo! (Get him out of there!)," yelled many. But Victor refused to leave. Although about to collapse due to his gushing vein, he pushed aside the medics trying to pull him out of the chaos. By the rules, the torero had to stay in the plaza until the bull died, and Victor Puerto, whether it meant life or death for him, was determined to fulfill this honored obligation.

Buzon was finally starting to tire and now stood still, staring at the ground. The crowd kept a reverent stillness. Then Buzon fell and the crowd let out a huge sigh of relief. The white hankerchiefs, signifying a job gallantly done, started flying, and Victor Puerto raised his fist in the air as the medics wisked him away.

"Viva el toro bravo, viva Victor Puerto, y viva España [long live the brave bull, Victor Puerto, and Spain]" chanted the spectators. Victor Puerto had been brave in the currents of life threatening adversity. Buzon had died a gallant bull many would remember and talk about for years to come. And Spain.... Spain had shown its resilency and indestructable spirit once again.

Peter Prengeman, a Pulliam Journalism scholar, spent his junior year studying in Spain, where he attended four bullfights. He notes that the English word "bullfight" is a poor translation of the Spanish "corrida," which he describes as not a fight but a "tragedy in which the people partcipate."