Bull Running is a long standing tradition dating back to fourteenth century North Eastern Spain when men would attempt to hurry cattle into stalls at the market. They would use a number of tactics designed to aggravate and excite the bulls in the hope of corralling them into their pen in a timely fashion.
After a number of years the process became competitive and young men would attempt to race in front of the charging bulls and make it safely into the pens and out over the fence without being overtaken. Popularity grew and the competition was adopted in more and more Spanish cities, eventually becoming the traditional festival we see all over the world today.
The most famous event is a week long festival in Sanfermines in honour of San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain.
RUNNING WITH BULLS
The Tope De Toro festival is a relatively new addition to the history of the colonial city of Granada. Locals decided in 2010 to stage the inaugural bull run and unfortunately many were not taken with the proceedings.
However on our arrival in Granada we heard that the city was undeterred by the less than favourable reviews and was staging the festival over the forthcoming weekend. Not one to miss an adrenaline rush we extended our stay to take part in the madness.
A FALSE ALARM
At 2pm on the day of the festival three bulls are freed near La Polvora fortress and are controlled by locals on horses down a traditional route through the town and down to the shores of Lake Nicaragua.
I am not entirely sure of the significance of the the route but my thirst for historical knowledge was not at the forefront of my mind stood in a mass of people as we waited for the release of the bulls.
Suddenly up ahead people began to scream and a wave of bodies were suddenly bearing down on us. Terrified I ran like the wind in the direction I hoped was away from any one of the three bulls.
As I scrambled to grab onto some railings I realised it was a false alarm the crowd calmed and I realised I had lost Ben. Feeling the tension in the air I decided that the best course of action to avoid certain death by stampeding bull was to stay on the railings and see if I could spot Ben in the crowd.
AN ADRENALNE RUSH
Over the next hour or so more waves of screaming Nicaraguans descended through the streets many without a bull in chase, it was evident when the bulls arrived. Clinging to my spot on the railings I spotted Ben, he had managed to perch on a statue in the main square.
As the bulls ran through the street in front of us both I felt my heart start to pound as one of the animals crashed through the fencing and into the square, right where Ben was perched. It was clear the bulls were confused and probably just as terrified as the people in the square.
Crashing out of the square they continued down the main street and after more screaming and chasing they were caught by the men on horseback with a number of ropes and dragged into trucks to be placed in stalls in the main square for young boys to ride.
The health and safety pandemic prevalent in so much of the western world has obviously not reached Central America.
The festival is scheduled to take place again in August 2012 and if you are planning a trip through the country it would be worth timing your stay in Granada to take part or at least watch the madness from the safety of your hotel window.
Would you run with bulls at the Tope de Toro or would you rather watch from the side lines? Share your comments with us below.