Friday 22 September 2023

Meet ‘Chanchis’, the improvised bullfighter stealing the ‘show’ in Palmares

Catalina Loría enjoys bullfighting and the thrill of the danger up close

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QCOSTARICA – The adrenaline of having a bull a few meters away is addictive, or at least that’s how it is for the improvised bullfighter Catalina Loría, better known as ‘Chanchis’.

The 29-year-old, a resident of Tibás, has become one of the protagonists of the bullfights of 2021 in the Palmares ring, due to the courage and impetus that she has shown. To begin with, this Tuesday, December 28, she was part of the bowling bull, a game that Teletica plays for improvised people and where she won the applause of the public in the 3 pm bullfight.

Catalina Loría, better known as ‘Chanchis’, is a resident of Tibás and has been an improvised bullfighter for 11 years. (Photo Álvaro Zamora for LN)

Minutes later, during that same bullfight, she was encouraged to do something that she had only done once in the 11 years that she has been an improvised bullfighter: a ”desplante” (her bull taunting stand).

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She felt confident and motivated to repeat that feat that she had performed years ago, as her family was watching and the audience was excited.

Little by little, she was getting closer to the bull, knowing that what she was doing was dangerous. Suddenly the bull picked up speed and ran over her, leaving a few bruises and blows on her head, shoulder and one of her legs, but nothing serious.

“A bull has never flipped me, the only blow us from my movement, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. Of course, I can tell you that this is very risky because I have a lot of time doing this, to come to the ring, but I had never gotten into the bull like this year and I think it is because I have already lost my fear. .. at the beginning, I was very scared, but I have always liked feeling that adrenaline rush,” said Loría.

Catalina claims that in addition to being a hobby for her, people frequently write to her to congratulate her and laughs at being told that she is braver than many other improvised bullfighters.

From whom she has definitely not received a congratulation is from her mother, Rosa Ramos, whom she calls as soon as she leaves the ring.

Catalina Loría getting ready for her “desplante” (her bull taunting stand). (Álvaro Zamora for LN)

As of the third quarter of this year, there were 524,697 independent workers in Costa Rica, of which 58% did not have insurance, that is, 302,809 people. (Rafael Pacheco Granados)

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“My mother suffers from high blood pressure and as soon as the run is over, what I do is call her to say that I am fine. Then she always tells me that what a barbarism and she adds: ‘bruja (witch), stop doing that. Behave yourself,” she says with a laugh.

Her grandmother Edith Ramos, however, “praying to all the saints” to make sure that nothing will happen to her granddaughter, does not miss a television broadcast.

And it is that both have had to get used to Catalina’s passion because if there is something that she is clear about, it is that she does not intend to stop being an improvised bullfighter.

“I’m going to continue taking risks, always, until the end or until a bull flips me, but that would give my grandmother a good scare. She sends me many blessings and she tells me to be careful, not to risk it, so let’s hope that doesn’t happen,” she adds.

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Catalina is quite careful, especially because her children José Max (11 years old) and Matías (6 years old), always see her shows.

“I believe that to be an improvised bullfighter one must have the courage to enter the ring and have to be very clear about what one is going to do, because one also has children,” she says.

Catalina Loría (center) assures that among the improvised bullfighters there is a lot of camaraderie. (Photo: Álvaro Zamora for LN)

A passion

When she turned 18, Catalina Loría was finally able to fulfill her dream of participating in a bullfight. It was something she had wanted to do since she was a child.

It all started when she was six years old and she saw her father Andrés Loría and her uncles enter the plaza (bullring) for the first time. Ever since she imagined herself doing the same.

Now she does not miss a single bullfight in Zapote. And for 2021, as expected, she left for Palmares, given that the Zapote bullfights were canceled after the television stations broke tradition, refused to televise (see San José cancels Zapote bullfights. Her passion is such that she even asks for a vacation at the bar where she works to be able to go to the ring.

“What happens is that I am staying in some cabins here in Palmares and until January 2, to be able to go to the two bullfights of the day. And the thing is that after the bullfight we all come out bruised, wanting nothing more than to sleep, one does get very tired in the ring,” she says.

Currently, together with her partner Shirley Montero, Chanchis is one of the most experienced bullfighters in Palmares bullfights.

Bullfights in Costa Rica

Bullfighting in Costa Rica is a tradition. Known as “Toros a la Tica” is unlike the Spanish form of bullfighting, in that it does not aim to harm or kill the bull, but only taunt and dodge. However, the bull sometimes gets a lucky shot in, increasing the adrenaline rush of the amateur bullfights (“improvisados”), but rarely suffering any serious injuries.

The Costa Rican version of a bullfight, “Toros a la Tica”

The bullfights season traditionally kicks off Christmas day and run until the first week in January, in Zapote, the biggest of the events and carry on in local fairs until March.




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"Rico" is the crazy mind behind the Q media websites, a series of online magazines where everything is Q! In these times of new normal, stay at home. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

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