Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Winter/Spring 2007 issue.

Condemned in many areas of the world, including Spain where it was born as we know it today, bullfighting is an activity that has withstood the test of time. Ensconced in centuries of tradition, Spanish-style bullfighting, or corrida, continues to awe long-time followers here in Mexico and pique the curiosity of newcomers. Puerto Vallarta visitors can satisfy this curiosity at La Paloma, the local bullring, which offers corridas every Wednesday afternoon during the high season.

And while things can get pretty ugly at the ring, bullfighting is a deeply ingrained part of Mexico's culture, an aesthetic, carefully choreographed demonstration of courage. Nothing can match a full-fledged corrida at places like Plaza Mexico in Mexico City, the largest bullring in the world. And while Puerto Vallarta's version is not nearly as elaborate, it follows the same format that has been used for centuries.

Each corrida features three toreros, or matadors, who take turns, each fighting one or two bulls during the day. The event itself is divided into three tercios, or thirds, each announced with a trumpet call. The first tercio allows the torero to study the behavior of the bull and thus plan his strategy. In the second tercio, the bullfighter attempts to weaken the bull by planting two harpoon-pointed sticks, or banderillas, in the bull's flanks. In the final third, the bullfighter uses a red cape to attract the bull in a series of passes, and a sword, which he attempts to stab between the bull’s shoulder blades. The goal is to perform the stabbing, or estocada, as cleanly as possible, resulting in a quick death for the bull. Although not for the faint-hearted, it certainly is a one-of-a-kind experience you might consider as you discover the many wonders of Mexican culture here in Puerto Vallarta.