The Catholic University of America

July 29, 2011

English Professor and Son Run with the Bulls in Spain

  Christopher Suarez, left, and his father Professor Ernest Suarez hold up a piece of flag the bull tore through.


For Ernest Suarez, chair and professor of English, running with the bulls in Spain is somewhat of a family tradition. In 1999, Suarez ran with bulls in the streets of Denia, Spain, with his eldest son, also named Ernest. They even ended up on the Spanish TV news to talk about the experience.

The professor’s other son, Christopher, was just eight years old when he enviously watched from the stands as his father and older brother ran with the animals. “It looked like so much fun that ever since then, I’ve had the itch to run,” he says.

Christopher, a rising junior and English major at CUA, finally got his chance earlier this month when the father-and-son team headed to Denia on July 11 and 12 for the adrenaline-inducing event.

“In the couple of hours leading to the run, restaurants begin moving chairs and tables off the streets in anticipation of the event,” Christopher explains. “An hour or so beforehand, everyone goes to the bar in order to gain some courage for the run.”

The running of the bulls in Denia is slightly different from other Spanish towns. “Eight bulls chase the revelers through the streets, as is typical of most runs, but then the bulls are released one by one into an arena,” Professor Suarez explains. “One side of the arena opens up on to the Mediterranean Sea. The goal is to get each of the bulls into the water. The stands are packed and people cheer the participants’ efforts and the bulls’ tenacity.”

After the event is over, the bulls are lead out of the water by people in boats.

Once the run is over, everyone in town parties all night. “Somehow, it manages to be nuts and wholesome at the same time,” Professor Suarez explains. “The food and drink are extraordinary.”

Christopher and Ernest Suarez, on the right, run with one of the bulls.

Although it might seem crazy to some, Professor Suarez explains the desire to participate in the event with a Spanish saying, “porque me da la gana,” which means “because I feel like it.”

“It’s an ethos,” he explains. “It reflects a great deal about the Spanish spirit. They have fiestas and rituals that are aimed at nothing but adventure and delight.” Both Ernest and Christopher say that would like to run with the bulls a few more times.

The Suarez family is spending most of the summer in Madrid reading William Faulkner on their Kindles, exercising, and exploring the country. Professor Suarez has been spending his mornings working on a book on poetry and music.

Christopher will stay in Spain to study in Barcelona during the fall semester. However, he has another adventure planned the day before his semester starts: He’s going to Valencia, Spain, for the “tomatina,” the city’s giant tomato fight.


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