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Dominican Republic

Uncommon Attraction: The Wild Bullfights of El Seibo

Uncommon Attraction: The Wild Bullfights of El Seibo

The town of El Seibo is a quiet, unassuming mountain village centrally located at the eastern edge of La Cordillera Central in the Dominican Republic. The peace and tranquility here, up high in the mountains, is ideal for nature-lovers and those seeking to experience the off-the-beaten-path Spanish Caribbean.

All of this gives us ample reason to rank El Seibo among our top must-see spots for a future visit to the Dominican Republic, but there’s another much more uncommon attraction that ensures we’ll be making that trip in May. Specifically May 1-10, when this normally staid community transforms itself into the raucous home of the wildest bullfighting event in the Caribbean.

Actually, as near as I can tell, El Seibo may be the only place in the Caribbean where you can see and experience bullfighting.

The town, which dates all the way back to 1506, includes bullfighting as part of its annual festival in honor of Santa Cruz, held each year in early-May. The spectacle actually features no real fighting at all, as the bulls are not harmed (take note and hold off on the hate mail, animal-loving friends).

As for the bullfighters and spectators… well, that’s another story. The video below, captured at this year’s event, gives you an idea of what I mean…

See, I wasn’t kidding: you really can experience bullfighting here!

From other accounts I’ve read, it seems that the event generally starts off with a few actual bullfighters dressed in traditional toreador outfits putting on a show for the crowd. As the rum starts to flow, however, a good portion of the men in the crowd, emboldened with liquid courage, descend into the ring to have a go at braving the bull. Eventually, you end up with more folks in the ring participating than in the stands watching.

This can, of course, yield some pretty negative results (don’t watch this, squeamish friends).

Hmmm, not sure how the wife is going to feel about this one, but as that champion of all things bullfighting, Ernest Hemingway, famously said: “Man is not made for defeat.”

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