Running with the Bull

The bull was about 20 metres away. Twenty-five at best. Charging us full tilt.

Being high in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, surrounded by equal parts clouds and rolling hills, everywhere you look is an intoxicating view. Plus, it’s hard to breathe because you’re some 10,000 feet above sea level. Anyway, we are working on digging a trench that will pipe clean water from a natural spring to the elementary school, which is about a kilometre away, in this small Ecuadorian village.

On the third day at the build site, we take our lunch break as usual around 1 pm. Located about 50 metres from our build site, and about 10 metres from the dirt road and our bus, we sit on a natural ridge a stone’s throw from the stream. Halfway through the boxed lunch of, I believe it was, sandwiches, one of the kids says, “Hey, there’s a cow.” Being in rural Ecuador, there are a lot of cows just about everywhere you look, so I nod and carry on. A beat later the kid says, “But it’s not tied up. And it’s coming this way.” I look up and see a cow. A fairly large cow. I look closer and see that it has horns. Massive horns. Problem is, I look closer and see that one of its horns is dangling to the side and it’s bleeding from its head. And it is damn well pissed off.

It’s about 20 metres away at this point.

It raises its right leg in a semi-cocked position.


It charges us.

Fuck me.

It’s 20 metres away. We are sitting on a ridge eating goddamn sandwiches. It’s running full steam at us.

Fuck my life.

I get up, swear, and incoherently yell at the kids to get up on the ridge and run to the bus.

“Run!” I yell.

The kids are up like a shot and running to the bus. The bull charges us full tilt and rams our food cooler sending lettuce and bread into the air. As most of the kids are up on the ridge, one of the girls turns right and runs towards the stream. The bull sees her and eyes its next target. It chases her. About two feet behind her, the bull, this massive beast with blood cresting its head, is about to hit her. At full speed.

I close my eyes. Fuck. My heart stops.

As she reaches the small stream, she slips on one of the waterlogged rocks and falls. In the same instant that she’s falling, the bull jumps her and keeps running up the hill towards the cows in the distance.

My heart jumps a beat. Nope, two beats. She skinned her knee.

Just another day in the life in rural Ecuador.