Though statistically Peace Corps is incredibly safe, that certainly doesn’t stop parents, friends, and even volunteers from worrying about the worst-case scenario. For my parents, it was that I would become the victim of a violent crime. For my friends, it was that I would catch some terrible jungle malady. As for me, I still cringe at the thought of the poisonous snakes that slither around the monte surrounding my site *shiver.*
All of those things considered, it seems a bit ironic that the one thing that almost got me was not only incredibly common, but was even raised my some neighbors back home. What was this menacing thing? The torro (bull)…
In an effort to get to know my community, I spent a large part of the first three months hiking to various homes and visiting with the families that lived there. Since I have a rural community, it’s not uncommon for me to walk through fields or forests unaccompanied. It was during just one such visit that Señor Torro set his sights on me.
It all started when I approached the barbed wire fence that surrounded a house I had yet to visit. In my usual visiting voice, I loudly called out to greet the family, and was informed that I would need to walk about 50 feet to my right to get through the “gate,” which was really just more barbed wire that was tied to the post instead of being nailed to it. Having made less than two steps toward the gate, a bull from a small group about 20 feet away suddenly started to charge. What was my genius response? To scream and run. Thankfully, the family quickly admonished my reaction and loudly instructed me to freeze. Freeze I did, but for about 2 seconds too long. This time, I had a moment of warning as my newfound enemy began pawing the ground and snorting his disapproval.
At this point, it was instantly evident that staying frozen would only get me mauled by my gigantic foe, so I chose Plan B: Run like the wind and pray to Heaven that my little legs could leap the barbed wire fence. (At this point, who had time for the 50 foot trek + untying a fence post?)
I expected to find myself face-first and bloody on the other side, but surprisingly I cleared that fence Summer Olympian style with only a teeny-tiny nick on my ankle. After assuring that I was okay, the family took a moment to stare in complete silence before questioning the utterly obvious- “You just jumped that fence? You just jumped that fence….”
It’s safe to say that I now take Bull Safety quite seriously, as my awkward yet terrified behavior shows. Before entering any field in which the torros reside, I search for the largest sticks (bordering small trees) that I can find, and enter slowly while attempting to demonstrate that I have much, much larger “horns” than they do.
So far, so good.