Some years ago I was contacted by a young man from the Czech Republic , wanting to make a Christmas gift of one of my Bullfight Calendars 2009 to his Sweetheart
“… she who loves the topic of bullfight. Your pictures of bulls are just amazing and we both like them very much…”
I loved these simple words of admiration, reflecting an honest appreciation of my art work. Also, I was quite amazed that somebody from that country was interested in Bullfighting. Well in fact, I had already been amazed one year previously as a Slovakian company had contacted me, wanting to publish a 2009 calendar featuring my bullfight art (which they did, exactly the calendar in question). 2009 was the year of the bull according to the Chinese, this being the reason behind the decision to create the calendar… a reason as good as any other, but to my mind,quite exotic nevertheless!
It is a weird thing, you know, I already mentioned it on different occasions, but 95% of my clients for my Bullfighting Art are NOT from Spain or any other country where the bullfight tradition comes from and is still practised. Quite sad somehow… Now, one could argue that foreigners tend to see only the romantic and ‘folkloric’ part of it. But I have had a great deal of contact with these foreign aficionados, and most of the time I was surprised how deep and sincere their love and knowledge of the Spanish fiesta is.
Anyway, I sent the calendar with following dedication, as requested :
“”Greetings to Tikujanka from the queen of the planet Goodaboom.
Tikujanka obviously being the Sweetheart… I was curious about that name, and in fact meant to ask, but then I was caught up in many projects and I forgot…
Some weeks ago – it was Christmas Day and I was just celebrating with my parents on the Costa Blanca, having come back from a Morocco trip the night before- I received the following comment to one of the posts in this blog, the one where I was publishing and translating a very ugly letter (judge for yourself! ) written to me by one of the French anti-bullfight fanatics.
“Hello, Miki, I wish you a lot of patience with these antitaurinos. I have a blog (sad to say, very amateur and only in Czech) about bullfighting and I have these replies too. They are the same – absolutely convinced about their “truth” and unable to discuss about it, just like religios fanatics.
Your artworks are amazing!
I don’t understand French, so thank you very much for the translation.”
and minutes later I received a personal email from the same person, with the funny and wonderful title
“Tikujanka is worried”
“Hello, Miki, I hope you remember me, you have sent me your beautiful calendar (Toro 2009) with a greeting: “Greetings to Tikujanka from the Queen of the Planet Goodaboom! Miki” via my friend. I still love your art and i keep the calendar as a relic. Now, I have only one blog, that one about bullfighting. I deleted my Tikuj blog long time ago, because I saw Tikuj too much idealized and unreal. Sometimes I miss it.
I am worried because in 2008, when I was 14 years old, i put a lot of your works on my blog – without your permission. I will delete or change those articles, please tell me if i must delete them, or if I can leave them on blog with proper links to your websites.
I wish you merry Christmas and good luck in the year 2012.
María – Tikujanka”
Of course I remembered Tikujanka, and I must say that I was over the moon! Happy to hear from that mysterious “Tikujana’, who on top of everything was only 14 years old as she received my calendar and so much loved my bullfight art. And more than anything I was immensely touched about her honesty, integrity and worries. It is very rare nowadays to see this, when the internet encourages the human tendency to behave badly if one is not punished….
Anyway, I got in touch with Tikujanka, and asked her what I meant to ask her 3 years before:
“… of course I remember you… I remember too that I was amazed that somebody in the Czech republic loves bullfight. Tell me, how is it that such a young girl, as you were then and still are, loves the corrida, so much that she makes a blog about it? I am really curious about it, please let me know. And if you give me more details I will make a blog post about you in My Toro blog, as I find this very amazing, and I am so happy about it…”
Tikujanka was very pleased about my little blog project and told me her story
“… My passion for bullfighting started slowly. When I was about 12 years old, I read Kopyto, Mňouk a tajemství džungle (Kopyto, Mňouk and the Secret of Jungle) written by humoristic Czech writer Miroslav Švandrlík and ilustrated by great caricaturist Neprakta. It’s one of many books for kids about two schoolboys and their funny adventures. In this book, their class is going to school trip to Barcelona, but their plane is hijacked and they landed in tropical Africa. After many dangerous adventures in junge, they luckily went to Barcelona. Despite their teacher’s protests, the students visited a bullfight and they were amazed.
Then, I started to search for informations in book and internet and my interest grew as a fire. In March 2009, I got a message from Václav Rákos, great Czech translator,journalist, painter and bullfight fan like me. We started to communicate, I have published many of his articles about bullfighting on my blog (Ou, they are so much better than my blog posts!). In March 2010, I with my father and Mr. Rákos went to Valencia to see bullfights. It was my and my father’s first encounter with live bullfight and it was absolutely amazing. We saw the best matadors with huge and brave bulls. Now, we are great bullfight fans. Mr. Rákos recently translated Hemingway’s book The Dangerous Summer into Czech and he also painted a cover for this book and wrote a bullfight dictionary. He is the greatest expert for bullfight in Czech Republic.
I live in Kutná Hora, a small historical town near Prague. Our town is known for medieval monuments including St. Barbara’s cathedral. Kutná Hora is openly turistic town, but if you like Prague, you could also enjoy Kutná Hora. I hope I could meet you here some day personally…”
What an amazing personal story, isn’t it? And of course I would love to meet her in person. I was in the Czech Republic for the first time in July 2011, in Brno, Prague and Loket (attending a concert in Loket by the rock Super Group “Black Country Communion”… WOW!), and really loved my time there. No doubt I want to go back, and I will certainly find a way to meet Tikujanka. Somehow I like that girl, as simple as that!
I asked her if she could send me a photo of the book cover, and here it is
And also she sent me the photo of her in the Arena of Valencia. A wonderful picture! It reminded me that I too, attended a bullfight in Valencia, I was probably the same age as Tikujanka… a long time ago!!! But the bulls keep us young, don’t they Tikujanka? 🙂.
For the aficionados interested in the technical details, here is what Tikujanka saw in Valencia
“The foto of me is from 17th March. It was before my 2nd bullfight. The first was 16th and it was a friendly mano a mano between Enrique Ponce and El Juli. Ponce was pretty good, but El Juli was absolutely amazing. In the second bullfight were fighting El Cid, Daniel Luque and Ruben Pinar. Luque was injured. Both El Cid and Pinar were good. When I was in Valencia, I saw three another corridas de toros, one corrida de rejones and one concurso de recortes, where men were jumping over bulls. My favorite bullfighters are El Juli and especially Sebastian Castella. I saw him in two bullfights, first time with Ponce and José María Manzanares and second times in the great finale of celebrations with six other matadors. In both bullfights was he fantastic.”
Well, when I was her age, I had a crush on Jose Maria Manzanares!!! I had seen him in Alicante as a novillero, and had fallen in love at once. Every time I was in Spain I tried to see him fighting, and did see him many times. My brother was teasing me all the time about it… and still does, about 40 years later! But I guess my Manzanares is not the one Tikujanka saw.. mine was the father, hers is the son!
And last but not least, I asked her if she wanted to become a bullfighter. Well, one never knows… there is the amazing story of Marie Sara, how she became the first female bullfighter on horseback in France… and also I have already met a male bullfighter from Russia… so why not a torera from the Czech Republic? She answered
“… being a bullfighter? No way!🙂 I am not strong, agile, neither brave. I will fight with a pen, not with a sword…”
Yes, Tikujanka, fight with the pen, I am sure you are great at it as your brain is strong, agile and brave… Can’t wait to read your first book! 🙂
PS: in case you too wonder about the signification of name “Tikujanka”, here it is:
“… When I was about 14 years old, my imagination was full of stories. They were set in Tikuj, imaginary country similar to old Spain. Later Tikuj became to be too idealised for me and I abandoned it, but I kept my nickname derived from it. In Czech it means “a girl from Tikuj”. “
I have never been in Tikuj, but somehow it makes me sad to think that it is now an abandoned country… I am too much of an Idealist myself, I guess!
PPS: and for those who can read Czech, go and see