Edit Blog Post
Published: July 20th 2009
Let the adventure begin
Two weeks ago, I experienced the most chaotic, wild, crazy, odd, enormous, cultural festival I could have ever imagined possible. ( and that is STILL an understatement!)
Nothing could have possibly prepared me sufficiently. The week before the "Running of the Bulls" in Pamplona I learned all about the San Fermin Festival in my classes. It is a week in July to honor the San Fermin (Each town has a patron saint and for Pamplona-it's Fermin!) Each teacher and my host parents all had the same expression before I left..."poco loco....ten cuidado" which means, its a little crazy, be careful. HA.
My two friends Natalie and Kate joined me on this adventure, and we consider ourselves very cultured and brave after making it back safely to tell the tales.
We hopped on a bus that was the first of a series. It was 5 hours to Madrid, switched, and then another 4.5 hours into Pamplona. It was a red eye bus, so we slept through the night on the bus, and woke up to the white and red sights of Pamplona at 6:30 am on Saturday morning.
It was a lovely sight to see Steph and Andy running towards us (of
Sportin the fabulous panuelos
course in their red and white) with tickets INTO the bull ring to watch the running that morning. We took our seats and waited for the show. The masses of people is unexplainable, and their energy was INSANE! I did not know exactly what I was expecting when it turned 8:00 am, just a couple people running with a bull or two?
We heard the firework go off and watched on the jumbotron these mad animals running through the streets, bucking and spearing the surrounding people, then moments later, hoards of people streamlined into the ring... shortly after them 6 lil black bulls followed. They ran straight across the ring right into the corral. People were absolutely going NUTS! I sat there with my jaw dropped. We thought that was that, and were prepared to leave. No one was making a move, because in the next couple min. one of the bulls was let back into the ring. Basically to prance around and show off. The people down in the ring would go right up the bull and test there lifes luck in front of it. Some really got speared hard and were out cold. You would think after someone
went unconscious people would calm down, make sure he is ok, POSSIBLY check for a spinal injury...NOPE, jus picked him, put him over the edge and kept cheering! So odd...
Well after each of the 6 bulls got their presentation time, we split ways with Steph and Andy, and found ourselves a park bench to people watch (culture observation I like to call it)
It wasn't even 5 min. of sitting there we had the most RANDOM encounters. It was a true test of Spanish listening skills trying to decipher what each drunk was saying. I was in awe of the happiness and excitement of every single person. They had been up all night, in desperate need of sleep, but still so eager to chat! It was hilarious meeting everyone and at one point I had side pains from laughing so hard.
Throughout the day, we took a trolly down to the bottom of the town to the fair (exactly like a carnival), shopped through the different vendors, and did more culture observation. We met people ranging from a man who thought he was Santa Clause, to the architect of the Futbol stadium in Alicante, to a group from Hudson
HERRRRRRE they come
The bulls entering the ring
and Birchwood Wisconsin!
We have Steph and Andy to thank for standing in line the day before to buy us tickets for that evenings bull fight. I was a little nervous to attend one, seeing my host Mom is VERY against them, but I figured it was all part of the experience. There were 3 parts to each bull fight (6 bull fights total in the show) First the adorable matadors work the bull and make them tired. Then 2 men on horses come out and start spearing in the back of the bulls neck. I figured this gave the main matador a target. The next stage, 2 men came out and have to stick the bull with these numchuck looking things. The final stage; the matador vs. the bull. This was my favorite because the matador is also entertaining and would sometimes get a little cocky with the bull. The final bull fight, the matador was kneeling as the bull charged out of the corral-the bull ran RIGHT into him, flinging him in the air and leaving the guy as dead weight on the ground. The medics rushed out, carried him off, stood him up, gave him water, and
The brave ones
HE WENT BACK OUT AND FINISHED! They are the toughest men I have ever witnessed. Throughout the fight, the crowd was outrageous! I questioned WHY the attire was white and red when EVERYONE brought pails of Sangria, just to pour over each other. No way was I getting MY new white shirt stained. It was a good thing we were in the more relaxed section, but it was entertaining to watch the madness! All in all, I understand why some people like it, and others don't. There were some tough parts to watch!
When the bull fight ended we met back up with Steph and Andy. For dinner, we made sandwiches in the park and enjoyed the firework show! Literally, the sky was one HUGE ball of fire during the finale. It was an amazing show and really hit home, being so close to the 4th of July!
We had not booked a hostel for the night (the cheapest we found was 200 euro and that was on the outskirts of town!) It worked out well seeing we had to get our spot on the streets to watch Sunday's running at 4:00 am. The night was easy to get through
with no sleep because of all the energy and street concerts going on. I even got to learn a little Spanish chant!
When we took our spots, there had already been people staked out! The time flew by watching everyone try and find spots. Weaseling up and around everything. My favorite chain of events started with a man who climbed up a fence, over a sign that was hanging perpendicular to a building, and then over a railing to a balcony of some random apartment. The crowd watched as he made it safely, and after he stood there proudly, about 10 others started their climb. A women in HEALS even did it. I was intrigued on how this was going to end, and it was priceless. Someone must have called the owners to the apartment, and all of sudden the doors flung open and a very mad looking man, shoed them all away! This story may have been a lot more funny and interesting after being up for over 24 hours. Nonetheless, we truly enjoyed every moment.
At 8:00 am exactly, the firework went off and this time we had a matter of seconds before the bulls rushed by our
Is he going to be ok?
That must have been a good one, the crowd went WILD
lookout. We had a perfect spot, located on a balcony (public that is!) looking over the street. It was SO close, and such a great view. It ended very soon and instantly the streets were chaos.
The girls and I had to book it back to the bus station immediately to catch our bus back to Granada. Our time in Pamplona was short considering the travel time, but I believe every cent spent and every min on those buses were worth the life experience I will NEVER forget.
I feel SO lucky.
Tot: 3.065s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 11; qc: 53; dbt: 0.0253s; 3; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb