In the late Spring, the editor of La Busca contacted me to let me know that he had a copy of the biographical book El Pando-Siete Letras Para Toda la Vida [El Pando-Seven Letters for a Lifetime] by retired matador Fernando Traversari El Pando. (The ‘siete letras’ in the title is a reference to the seven letters spelling his nickname). The book contains several references to me in the text, as well as some pictures, and La Busca editor offered to send it to me to read and review.
I answered by saying that I was not surprised that my name would be mentioned in El Pando’s book, since from December 1956, when I participated with him in the First Feria de Diciembre in Quito, until January 1958, we shared very interesting and successful professional experiences that contributed to the rebirth of bullfighting in Ecuador. I also said that during that period of time El Pando and I developed a good friendship until January 1958, when we ended our professional relationship, since Fernando, as the impresario of the 1957 Feria de Quito, did not comply with his commitment to include me in the second cartel of the feria, which was the reason why I was in Ecuador for a second time, after my successes in that country during the winter season of 1956-57.
Then, after complying with several contracts in Ecuador, I left that country in June 1958, to go to Colombia to continue my Latin American bullfighting campaign. From that date forward, I never knew anything more about El Pando’s professional or personal life. In 1998 and again about four years ago I had two very brief phone conversations with Traversari, which dealt with specific non-taurine subjects, but we did not reminisce about our past.
Therefore, since I was curious to find out how El Pando’s rather short career as a matador ended, and to learn what he had done with his life afterward, I told our editor that I would review the book. At the same time, I let him know that I was a little apprehensive because, knowing too much about a period of Traversari’s life as a torero, I might be judgmental when comparing his interpretations of some of the facts with what I know them to be according to my records.
Since I find myself in the odd position of reviewing a biographical book that includes taurine activities in which a played a significant role, I mention my past relationship with Traversari to let the readers know what the sources of my observations of some of the El Pando’s memoirs are.
I do not believe the book El Pando-Siete Letras Para Toda la Vida will be of major interest for many readers outside Ecuador, because Traversari was a very little known torero outside that nation, since he had a very short and uneventful career as a matador, except for his great accomplishments in his own country. On the other hand, his memoirs can be of interest for the Ecuadorian audience, and it seems that audience was the target for which the book was written. In the book El Pando reminds his readers of what he accomplished in Ecuador in support of the fiesta brava in the 1950s, and he also informs them about his other taurine activities in Spain and in Mexico. Furthermore, he completes his memoirs narrating his experiences in the two other professions that he pursued after his retirement from bullfighting in 1959. For a brief period of time he was a bullfighting commentator at a Spanish television station in Los Angeles, and for the rest of his 26 working years he was in the Ecuadorian diplomatic service representing his country in several nations.
El Pando, in a brief introduction (p. 3), very clearly states what his goals for writing this book were, by saying:
What I expressed in these pages, is nothing other than a compilation of my unforgettable experiences in the three fields I traversed: toreo, television and diplomacy…To triumph in such diverse professions was a real challenge, in all three I fought with limitless enthusiasm, I faced unique situations in my daily routine, and I achieved all my goals with a certain degree of success… My taurine and diplomatic trajectories and my experience with television in Hollywood gave my life a momentous meaning; which is the basic reason that I was encouraged to write the diverse chapters contained in this volume…
The book is hardbound, large format (9.5x13.5”), with 131 pages, of which about one quarter contain illustrations, including nine beautiful illustrations by Ecuadorian artist Oswaldo Viteri, multiple black and white and color pictures, reproductions of bullfighting posters, documents and awards. There is also a prologue written by local reporter Pepe Luis Castillo, and an epilogue, in which there are some testimonials written by El Pando’s local friends, praising the author and the content of his book.
El Pando managed to compress a great many experiences into more or less 100 pages of text by, in some instances, jumping from one episode in his life to another leaving blanks in between, and by summarizing and generalizing his experiences, without including sufficient dates or details and statistics, which usually give credence to a biography. [Some of the dates I have included in this review I obtained from my posters]. Nevertheless, what he writes is done in amenable, gracious, and direct prose, making the text an easy and interesting read when one is not distracted by so many attractive illustrations and pictures interjected into it.
The text is divided into ten chapters, each one chronologically covering a period of his life.
Chapter I deals with matters concerning Traversari’s youth, when he was living with his family in Quito. He was just an aficionado then, dreaming of becoming a torero, which motivated him to befriend other aficionados and to participate in a couple of practico festivals. But his father was very strongly opposed to the idea of his son becoming a torero, so he took, at times, very extreme measures to curtail his son’s participation in taurine activities. Consequently, after Fernando graduated from high school in 1949, Pedro Traversari sent his son to study at the University of Columbia in New York, hoping that Fernando would forget about the toreo. When his father died in 1952, Fernando quit college and returned to Quito with the intention of going to Spain to try to become a matador. In this chapter El Pando, as he does in other passages of the book, also goes out of his way to highlight the importance of his paternal ancestors. In later years, when he was in Italy as a diplomat, he traced his family origins to Italian nobility and even posted on page 111 a picture of himself in front of a palace in Ravena where his alleged ancestor Saint Ambrosio Traversari lived in the XV century.
In Chapter II (“Aventura en España”) El Pando covers the period from 1953 (the exact date is not clear) when he arrived in Madrid until the end of 1956 when he returned his country to fight in Quito. He narrates his struggles as an aspiring torero to fight as a novillero, since he did not have either substantial economic means or important taurine connections. Nevertheless, with great effort and tenacity, and a personal charisma that allowed him to meet people and sell himself, he managed to get contracts to fight some novilladas. He had his two most important performances at the Plaza de Vistalegre, the second bullring of Madrid, during the summer of 1956, with moderate success. In this chapter the data are incomplete, except for a few instances, and it is difficult for the reader to follow when and where the fights took place, or whether they were full-fledged novilladas or novilladas for beginners. Moreover, one finds that the author has a tendency to namedrop, by citing the names of important toreros and personalities with whom he claims to have had good friendships. He even mentions that the great star Domingo Ortega became his maestro.
I find that some of his statements in this chapter regarding my first cousins Manolo and Pepín Martín Vazquez having helped him to find his way in the taurine world, and to obtain fights in Spain were not accurate. Fernando had met Pepin on a ship when both were traveling to Spain. Pepin was returning from fighting in Lima, Peru, and Fernando was on his way to start his Spanish taurine adventure. Pepin had offered him help, but since my cousin soon retired from bullfighting after performing for the last time in Caracas on February 22, 1953, and went to live in Seville away from the bullfighting world, he did not have any opportunities to help El Pando. What he probably did was to advise Fernando to see Manolo in Madrid. But Manolo, my manager, who was very busy directing my career, did not have, as far I know, the inclination to get involved with any other torero. On the other hand, he might have given Fernando some casual advice or recommendations. I was in regular contact with both my cousins and neither of them ever mentioned the word “Pando” to me, and if they would have helped El Pando they certainly would have asked me for my cooperation. El Pando, referring to his first taurine experiences in Madrid, writes on page 26 that:
With Mario Carrión I learned the correct form to test the calves in the tentaderos, and we also went to the “Casa de Campo” to practice toreo, which is very important for this profession...
The problem with this misleading statement is that I did not meet Fernando until October or November of 1956, with the purpose of getting acquainted with him before we traveled to Quito to fight in the feria. Therefore, It was impossible that I had gone to the country to fight calves with him, or that we had trained together in the “Casa de Campo” or any other place in Spain. Unfortunately, statements so far off of the mark as those mentioned above, in addition to others that I have not mentioned, call into question the one hundred percent accuracy of Fernando’s narration.
Chapter III covers Traversari’s first campaign in Ecuador, starting with his debut in his native city of Quito on December 16, 1956, and ending in the late spring of 1957, when he returned to Spain. This was the season in which, acting as the representative of the impresario of the Plaza de Las Arenas of Quito, he engaged matador Victoriano Posada and me to participate in the first Feria de Diciembre de Quito, which later on in the 1960s became the important annual Feria del Nuestro Señor del Gran Poder. The feria was a great success and it marked the rebirth of bullfighting in Ecuador. We fought three mixed corridas on December 16 and 30, 1956 and January 3, 1957 with Posada and I as matadors and El Pando as a novillero. It was remarkable how Fernando supplemented his limited experience as a torero, with great courage and determination, so that he was able to compete with two experienced matadors. Although Traversari did not earn any trophies, as Posada and I did, he had successful performances that were highly appreciated by the press and by the aficionados. From there on, he became a local hero, enjoying the admiration and affection of his people
We fought together three more times; one corrida and a festival in a rustic makeshift bullring in Salinas on February 1957, and a corrida in Riobamba, attended by Camilo Ponce, the President of Ecuador. In those performances everyone cut ears. Posada and I had other performances that spring before we left Ecuador, and El Pando successfully fought three more times in May, sharing the cartels with the local novillero Manolo Cadena, who later became his nemesis, and with the semi-retired matador Edgar Puente. After completing these contracts Traversari left for Spain.
On page 60 El Pando expresses how he felt about what was happening during this period on the taurine scene in Ecuador, which, in a certain way, is the theme that occurs throughout the taurine section of his memoirs:
The taurine aficion was awakening in the Sierra and the Costa [the two diverse regions of Ecuador]. In other provincial capitals corridas were being staged…Manolo Cadena and the Spanish matador Jerónimo Pimentel performed in a couple of mano-a-manos, with great success…A fantastic attitude toward the fiesta brava was prevailing in the country. My dream was realized: I wanted to bring back to Quito the bullfighting fervor that always had existed there, and which seemed to be fading, and I achieved it.
Chapter IV describes him back in Spain in June 1957, and since he did not have any engagements to bullfight before he arrived in Madrid, his efforts were directed toward finding a date on which to take his alternativa and to organize the second Feria de Diciembre de Quito. He counted on me for two fights and he additionally made arrangements with Cayetano Ordóñez and Bartolomé Jiménez Torres. This time the organization was more complex since he did not have a partner with capital. Then, without performing any novilladas he became a full matador in Villanueva del Arzobispo (Jaén) on September 29, 1957. In that fight there were not many opportunities for having successful performances since “the bulls were rough and difficult” (p.72).
In this chapter Traversari also deals with personal matters related to the ending of his relationship with the Duke and Duchess of Osuna because of a misunderstanding. They were a rich couple who helped him in his early days in Spain by having him at their ranch, taking him to tentaderos and by buying the bulls for his presentation in Vistalegre the year before, and even providing him with a car for his use (pp. 70-71).
El Pando calls Chapter V “Profeta en Mi Terra” [Prophet in My Own Land] and in a certain way he was-- until some occurrence, which he omitted in his narration, caused him to temporarily stop fighting in Ecuador and to go to Mexico to continue his career there. El Pando made his debut as a full matador in Quito on December 1st, 1957 with Cayetano Ordóñez and Bartolomé Jiménez Torres, the same cartel as in the corrida of his alternativa, and although at that time it was not mandatory to confirm the alternativa any place in Latin America, except in Mexico City, they recreated the ceremony for show. The corrida was a complete success, with the three matadors leaving the plaza on the shoulders of the aficionados. They were competing for the special trophy a “Golden Ear”, instituted by the local Press Association, to be given to the matador who achieved the best performance. It was granted to El Pando. A few days later, based on the success of the corrida, the same cartel was repeated, but the results were not as good, since the rewards were limited to turns around the arena for Jiménez and El Pando, who also was rewarded with a special trophy granted by the local Red Cross, which was sponsoring the fight. After this fight Fernando did not perform in Ecuador during the rest of the winter season of 1957-8, since he left Quito to pursue his career in Mexico.
I mentioned at the beginning of this review that I encountered some convenient gaps in these memoirs. In this chapter there is a significant one, and another one which was incidental. The incidental one was the omission of the references to the fight that he fought in Guayaquil with Cayetano and me in on December 8, 1957, about which the Spanish magazine DIGAME reported:
El Pando fought the two most difficult bulls of the corrida, and he was unable to have a brilliant performance with them. Because of the strong protests of the audience, due to the lack of bravery of the sixth animal, El Pando decided not to fight him.
The significant omission was an explanation of why he did not continue fighting in Ecuador after achieving his great successes in Quito, and instead he left for Mexico in May. The motive for this decision was that the other Ecuadorian torero, Manolo Cadena, with whom Fernando did not get along, had access to capital, provided by his rich family, and with the help of Jerónimo Pimentel, he organized several corridas with some important toreros he brought from Spain and with the ones that were already in Ecuador, since El Pando, because of his lack of means, was unable to organize any more corridas.
In Chapter VI Traversari recounts his performances in Mexico from May until December 1958, when he returned to Quito to perform in his second Corrida de la Prensa. In Mexico he fought in 15 corridas, sharing the cartels with some Mexican stars. He makes reference to only three corridas, in which he had successful performances: Tijuana, Ciudad Juárez, and Monterrey. In this last city he shared the cartel with Mexican matadors Andres Blando, Ricardo Balderas and Pepe Luis Vázques, and since he was the only torero cutting one ear, he was awarded the prestigious “Medalla Guadalupana” trophy.
In Chapter VII Traversari expresses with great sincerity and with obvious hurt, what he felt on December 14 in the Plaza de Las Arenas in Quito when the audience that had supported, adored and applauded him before, turned against him.
He was in Quito getting ready to fight his second Corrida de la Prensa, in which he would share the cartel with Mexican Alfredo Leal and with the Spaniard Paco Corpas. There was great expectation to see the local matador again after his successes in Mexico. Unfortunately, two days before the fight El Pando had a car accident that resulted in an injury to his right shoulder. After much deliberation, to avoid disappointing his fans and the members of the press, he decided to perform despite being hurt. He was injected to minimize the pain, but when he was in the ring the effects of the treatment wore off, and because of the pain, he decided he was unable to perform. The spectators that filled the stands went wild insulting and vilifying their hero. Traversari, emotionally hurt complains as follows (p. 96):
The fans to whom I dedicated several years of my life, wanted to lynch me. The police protected me all the time. The shouts of ‘thief, shameless son-of-a-bitch’ reverberated---and still do---in my ears. The same fans for whom I revived the fiesta brava, did not have any consideration for me, and my many successes that I had had before did not help.
This was the last time El Pando performed in Ecuador, and in a certain way this incident planted the idea of retirement in his mind, and that was what he did the following year in Mexico. Understandably, he titled this chapter “Idolo Caido” [The Fallen Idol].
In Chapter VIII, after his unpleasant experience in his home city, El Pando describes his return to Mexico to perform in some corridas, but in his mind the idea of quitting the profession was growing fast, as he wrote on page 101:
As the season was progressing my decision was growing stronger, and it was overwhelming me. I was realizing that the passion for bullfighting that had consumed me since I was a child, was diminishing, because of the taurine politics, the egotism and the ingratitude which were so prevalent in the toreo.
So, since Fernando felt discouraged and bitter, he soon retired. Hs last fight took place in Ciudad Juárez, with Carlos Arruza, as a rejoneador, Luis Procuna and Rafael Rodíguez completing the cartel. He cut ears in his last appearance, which might have provided some sweetness to the bitterness he was feeling. Fernando did not include in the text the date on which this significant event occurred. 
In this same chapter he includes another meaningful event in his life. This one related to his private life. In Mexico he met Lourdes de Bayle, a young lady from Nicaragua, who was a first cousin of the dictator of Nicaragua, Anastasio ‘Tacho’ Somoza. After about two months of courtship, they traveled to Managua to be married. The wedding took place on July 20, 1960. Then-Nicaraguan president Luis Somoza, older brother of ‘Tacho’, officiated the civil ceremony and the Archbishop of Managua officiated the religious one. One year later their first son was born in Quito, and his second son was born in Los Angeles some time later.
El Pando did not say any more about his wife in his writings, and very little about his children, other than that they live in the United Sates, and that they are doing very well here. He also adds, expressing himself in the third person, about his older son Bernardo that “when he was a child he lived with his father when he was a diplomat in Italy”. His immediate family story is compressed into two pages, which are illustrated with two pictures of the wedding (pp. 102-103).
In Chapter IX (“Un Torero En Hollywood”) Fernando, in one page and a half of text, comments about his brief adventure as a taurine reporter in Los Angeles. Again the information is sketchy and no dates are included. In Chapter X, we learn about Traversari’s experiences as an officer in the diplomatic corps of Ecuador. His career as a diplomat started by chance, since Ecuadorian President Velasco Ibarra rewarded El Pando with a position in Italy as a diplomatic officer for having campaigned on his behalf. On the other hand, this incidental assignment resulted in a 26-year career as a diplomat. Fernando served Ecuador in several countries, until he retired. In the text he comments about some of his accomplishments in this field, and about people that he met, and he also includes a few copies of certificates recognizing and rewarding some of his achievements.
Before I close this review, I will make some observations that might be of interest to the bibliophiles. I found it odd that the name of the author, or the name of the editor, with the date of publication, did not appear on the hard binding or on the first pages of the book, as is the norm in most publications. This means that a person who sees this attractive publication in a bookstore would not find out who the author is until he reads page 3, where El Pando introduces himself and the book, and states his purpose for publishing his memoirs. Instead of the editor, a legend appears after two blank pages that reads: Sponsored by: Alcaldia Metropolitana, Quito Cultura , Diners Club International. On the other hand, the credits are printed on the last page of the book saying: Text: Fernando Traversari, Pepe Luis Castillo and David Andrade Aguirre, although I could not find any text written by Andrade within the content of the book. It also is confusing that a few lines below, the same Andrade Aguirre is listed as the editor of the publication. Is the editor, in this case, taking credit for some of the writings? Also the place and the date of the publication appear on the same page: Quito, Ecuador, December 2008.
Finally, I put an end to this piece, in which I review the somewhat generalized and sketchy memoirs of Fernando Traversari, which are, nevertheless, interesting, by highlighting that, in spite of El Pando having been a diplomat for the major part of his life, he closes his memoirs, in which I played a role for a short period of time, by making a reference to what he considers his main accomplishment as a torero, a profession that he practiced only for about six years (p. 126):
I close the book of my memories, with the great satisfaction of having been able to verify that the admirable task of consolidating the rebirth the Fiesta Brava in Ecuador, an effort which many times resulted in a lack of gratitude, misunderstanding and even bitterness, has produced fruits. The Feria de Quito…without a doubt today constitutes the premier taurine spectacle of America.
 Ed. Note: November 6, 1960.