National Geographic : 1973 May
the lobby his mailbox identified him as "Manolo Martinez, Matador de Toros." Up stairs, the spacious living room was filled with mementos of many battles. Manolo had just gotten up, emerging from his bedroom clad only in shorts. Long ugly scars marred his muscular legs, the results of 13 gorings in nearly 500 encounters with brave bulls. Manolo has been fighting bulls since he was 12, he told me. He became a matador the highest level of his profession-when he was 18. When I asked him if he was ever fearful, Manolo smiled with his dark eyes. "Muy poco-very little," he said. "One thinks more about the possibility of failure than about danger." That Sunday Manolo did not fail his en thusiastic followers, who roared "jOle!" after every pass. The bull's hoofs pounded thun derously, and Manolo stood with his feet firmly planted on the sand, artfully deceiving the beast with his blood-red cape. At the end the judge awarded him the traditional trophy for a good fight-the bull's ears. From the audience came a rain of hats and a bouquet of roses as Manolo paraded around the ring. For those who don't care for bullfights, there are diversions aplenty in spacious Chapultepec Park. In fact, Salvador Novo, the poet-playwright-novelist who is Mexico City's official historian, once told me that in order to understand his city I had to see Chapultepec on Sunday. So one luminous morning, just as the sun was beginning to warm the thin dry air, I rode the Metro to Chapultepec. I found the subway quite changed from its workaday aspect. The trains were filled with family groups, many of whom carried picnic baskets. They were all going to the park.