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Published: July 14th 2013
This American got gored really bad this week and had to have his spleen removed. The website said he was in grave condition.
I've missed writing the blog and I've always wanted to give a final blog about what happened with my RVing lifestyle. I haven't written anything since the summer of 2011, so I'll give you a quick update.
If you only want to read about the running of the bulls, then skip ahead a couple of sections.
Back in the RV
Grace and I decided to move to Santa Barbara, so we moved back into the RV while we looked for a house in Santa Barbara. We found a home in March and moved into the RV in May and thought we would only live in the RV for a few months. The house failed the inspection though, so we ended up backing out of the contract and staying in the RV until September 2012.
We stayed in Rancho Oso RV resort over the mountains from Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez valley near Los Padres National Forest. Rancho Oso was really nice with two swimming pools, a hot tub and wildlife like turkeys and deer. It was a working ranch as well and they had 80 horses on the property as well as a
The people pack in the square for the start of San Fermin.
few pigs, chickens and goats. We really enjoyed it until the heat of summer got to over 100F.
When the temperature got over 100F, the main air conditioner in the RV would overheat and blow the fuse. We couldn't turn the air conditioner back on until it got under 100F at night. We could still use the bedroom air conditioner, but it couldn't cool my office at the far end of the RV. All I could do was go to the recreation center in the park where they had 8 cubicles to work from.
We had trouble finding a home in Santa Barbara because the market was heating up and we'd get overbid by cash offers repeatedly. We finally found a home that was overpriced and then we talked them down to our budget. We really like our new home and we put the RV in storage.
Selling the RV
We'd been trying to sell the RV since late 2011, but there wasn't much interest and only a few people looked at it. We kept dropping the price a couple thousand dollars every few months from $21,000 to $19,500 ( the price we paid for
That's a supersoaker spray of sangria!
it) to $17,000 and finally $15,000. I wouldn't sell it for less than that and we didn't get any offers after a year on the market.
Finally in January 2013, a couple from LA were really interested in it. We knew they were serious when they bought a truck to pull it right before they came up. Grace showed them the RV on a Friday while I was traveling and Grace knew we had them. When they drove up again on Saturday, we knew it was a done deal.
The negotiating began when they gave us a sob story about how this was all the money they had inherited from her mother's passing. She was spending her small inheritance like crazy and we got the last of it She said her husband was retired, but he said he'd been laid off and couldn't find a job. They were collecting welfare and they were about our age, so they weren't of the retirement age in my mind.
We listened to their story and when they offered $14,000, we tried to talk them up to $14,500. They said they needed to replace the four perfectly good tires because of
some small cracks in the sidewalls. They held their ground at $14k, so we took it. All-in-all, we spent probably $10,000 to repair, upgrade, store and maintain the RV for over 3 years. My dream of selling the RV for more than we bought it for never materialized, but it was well worth the adventure.
We loved our time in the RV, but we're living in Santa Barbara now and are enjoying life there instead of life of the road. Looking back, we had a great time in the RV and are really glad we did it. I could have continued to live in the RV, but Grace wanted roots so we're settling in the American Riviera. If you want a chance to see where we live, give us a shout and we'll have you over.
Watching the Bulls
Grace and I took two weeks of vacation in Spain. Instead of blowing up fireworks in Kansas City, we found out that we could Run with the Bulls.
The San Fermin festival is held in Pamplona, Spain every year from July 6th to the 14th. The festival starts on the afternoon of July 6th when
Another Goring this Week
This guys arm got majorly gored.
the Mayor lights off some rockets to announce the beginning that is known as chupinazo. We got into town about 10am and were going to rush into the crowd, but Grace wasn't feeling well and needed to lay down - she was fine after some rest. We turned on the TV and saw how thousands of people were packed into the small square in front of city hall like sardines and marinated in a sangria and coca cola cocktail known as Kalimotxo. Instead of a water fight, everyone brought super soakers and wineskin bags filled with sangria. White shirts quickly turned pink and it was easy to spot who had been there later in the day. Bacchus would be proud of the way these people partied.
Grace and I went down a couple hours later and Grace didn't have any clean white clothes and we needed our red scarves and sashes to fit in. Grace said she wasn't going to wear it and I pleaded her to dress the part like the locals did. She acted like she wouldn't dress up but she was just giving me trouble, because once we got there, she bought white shorts, a white
I'm glad we didn't go into this mob
shirt, red scarf and a red sash to play the part. I bought a red party hat and we were ready for the spectacle of San Fermin.
The next thing we had to do was buy some sangria and walk the path of the bulls. Everyone was drinking in the streets and most were a few hours ahead of us, but we were able to catch up. The bulls would start running the next day, so I needed to scout out the path and see where I should run. Drunk people were everywhere and some were passed out and lying in piles of vomit. The streets smelled of urine (not unusual in Spain) and vomit and the crowds were so thick that we couldn't get through in some places. It reminded me a lot of Bourbon street in New Orleans.
Lots of locals started talking to us and we started bar hopping with them. Grace took some good video of some CCR singing "Who'll Stop the Rain?" that you can see on her facebook. We covered quite a bit of territory and drank loads of sangria like Hemmingway back in the day.
The First Run and
Horn Through the Leg
The bulls in the run have sharp horns. Check out how the horn is poking out through the skin of his leg.
I was seriously considering running with the bulls, but I wanted to do it in a way that I wouldn't die. I had the plan of watching the first race on TV to get an overview of what was going to happen. Like the NFL or NASCAR, you can see the race better from the TV than in person. We were also still jetlagged after our 48 hours to get to Spain - that's another story. So instead of seeing maybe 100 yards of the race and getting up at 6am to get a seat along the route by 6:30am and waiting until 8am to see the bulls run by in 5 seconds, Grace and I decided to watch it on TV from our hotel bed.
The first thing that I noticed in the run is that there are thousands of people confined in a 30' wide corridor and somehow the bulls are supposed to run through the crowd. Secondly, there were many large pileups of people when one person trips. The people will pile up like shoppers on Black Friday or people rushing in to see the Who, but then you have the added
Grace is All Wet
These Pamplonians were very anxious to take a picture with Grace for some strange reason.
problem of 1,000 lb bulls trying to get through as well. Thirdly, it is very important where you run. The worst place to get caught by the bulls is La Cuerva de Estafeta or deadman's corner. This is where the course makes a sharp right turn and the bulls often can't manage the turn and slam into the wall. This is where people get smashed into the wall daily when they find themselves in the wrong place.
Another key factor is that the bulls come out of the shoot raging mad and running like hell. At the start, the bulls are running so fast that even Usain Bolt couldn't keep up with them. By the second half of the 835 meter or 1/2 mile run, the bulls are tired and go into more of a trot so people can run with them and even faster than them. With all the people in the way though, you're more likely to get tripped as well. I decided to not run with the bulls, but watch them go by like many others.
By the second half of the run, some of the bulls are separated from the herd and a lonely
Jose was a friendly native who let us tag along with his crew.
bull is dangerous. When they are alone, they get scared and often turn around and start goring people. So you either can get run over by them at the start or gored by them towards the end. Either way you lose.
Watching from the safety of our bed the first morning, one bull did get separated from the rest and turned on the crowd of runners. One old, bald man of about 60 faced the bull down and grabbed his horn for some stupid reason. Then the old man backed off from the beast and stumbled and fell right on his ass leaving him staring eye-to-eye with the bull. Luckily for him, the bull just stood there instead of charging grandpa. The bull was soon distracted by the mob and gramps got up and away scott free.
No bad gorings the first day.
The second day, Grace slept in while I went down to watch the race right at the bull ring where I planned to run since the bulls would be tired. I got there at 6:30am and had to stand 2 rows back from the front row. People were flocking into the stadium. While waiting
In Front of City Hall
Grace and I were standing about where I would eventually watch the bulls run by within inches of my life.
for an hour to see the bulls run by in 2 seconds, I read Ernest Hemmingway's "Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises". Ernest is the one who made the Running of the Bulls popular and I read the part about where he stood right were I was and saw a man get gored and killed.
A Hispanic Texan stood next to me and said that he had run with the bulls the day before and that it was easy and worthwhile. That's when I decided I would do it for sure. The moral to this story is don't follow the advice of a Texan unless you're looking for trouble.
I used my GoPro video camera to record the bulls running by, but more interesting was how many runners were flying by in 30' wide corridor. Somebody tripped right in front of me and about 50 people piled up quickly. They had trouble getting back up because everyone was piled up. This showed me how the most dangerous part of the race was the other runners who could trap you by piling up on you.
On July 13th, there was a massive pileup of bodies at the entrance to
Here's the bull getting duped by the matador. You can see long poles stuck in the bulls back and the sword he will kill it with in his other hand.
the bull ring. This human dam caused the bulls to be trapped behind a wall of people before they could get into the ring. This wasn't the first time this happened and you can see some vintage film of when this happened in 1977 and 1979 if you search around sanfermin.com. Check out the crazy video of bulls climbing over the sea of bodies. http://www.sanfermin.com/index.php/es/encierro/encierros_2013/13-julio
That afternoon, w went to the bull fight and watched the bulls get ritually slaughtered. The matadors had amazing control over the bulls and one matador dropped to his kneed and waved his cape while he was less than 2' from the bull. It worked well for him, but one other matador got seriously gored and trampled. Blood was gushing out of his forehead and he passed out when he saw his own blood all over his hand. Life is hard for these matadors.
Watching the Bulls Go By
The third day came and it was time to get in the race. I decided that I would stand to the right of deadman's corner, so when the bulls couldn't navigate the turn and slam into the left side of the
This is another group of locals we drank with for quite a while.
wall, then I'd watch them go by. Some Aussies on the bus downtown said that is a bad idea because the bulls could fall down there and be disoriented when they get up and start goring people. That didn't sound fun.
The next plan was to wait by city hall where you can climb up wooden fences that are designed to keep the bulls corralled. You could theoretically climb the walls pretty easily. It's about the mid-way point of the race and I thought the bulls would be tiring and slowing down. I also liked the idea of just standing there and not being run over by lots of people. I had seen lots of people just stand on the side and not get caught in the mad run where you run into other people who trip you and get you run over by the bulls. Getting run over by bulls is supposed to be better than getting gored, but that didn't sound good either.
I was in place by 6:30 and had a 90 minute wait until the race. Grace had gotten up with me and was watching in the bull ring. Everyone was standing around nervous
At the Bull Fight
Coke and Wine at the Bull Fight
and most of the runners were very talkative. I talked to Aussies, Brits, a Long Islander who looked like Louis CK and a long-haired Los Angeles guy. I heard that Rex Ryan, the NY Jets coach was also in the crowd. We told many stories and I found that many people were going to go farther down the path, so I didn't want to be in that mob. I was going to just stand on the uphill side of the trail by city hall.
They shot off the first rocket promptly at 8am to signal the bulls were out. The run is televised nationally every day and was on time all days. Hundreds of people ran by and none seemed to come at me as I stood along the fence. It was only about 30 or 40 seconds before I heard the runners screaming even louder and the bulls came charging right at me along the fence. No one was running between the fence and the bulls and that left me right in their path. One of the paramedic ladies standing on the other side of the fence yelled, "RUN! GO!"!
I couldn't or wouldn't run though as the herd of 12 beasts (6 bulls and 6 steers) were coming at me like a freight train. I did step away from the fence a few feet though and the bulls kept coming at me. I was like a deer in headlights and the bulls just kept chargin without veering away.
My logic had failed me. The bulls weren't running on the left, downhill side of the course like other days and they were going to grind me into the fence. I remembered Newton's first law of motion that an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by an outside force. I could be that outside force. I started waving my arms frantically to direct them to the right - away from me. When they were about 10' away, they finally heeded my directions and faded left.
I still don't know if I they followed my direction or if I could have dove out of the way in time. Climbing the fence wasn't much of an option when they came at me at that speed. I could have been steamrolled by this freight train of muscle, but a terrible fate or being trampled and gored by a few tons of muscular beef stormed by in the blink of an eye.
Wow, that was the stupidest thing I'd ever done - hands down. To put myself in that kind of dangerous, unpredictable situation was idiotic.
I stood there with my heart pounding and figured I should use that energy. I joined the racers and started running with the mob and hoping that I wouldn't get caught in one of those mass trippings. I only got about 100 yards before they closed a gate across the whole path at dead man's corner. I was stuck with hundreds of guys near the gate and I thought that all the bulls had passed.
It's Not Over
All the sudden, the crowd starts parting and here come some more bulls heading right for me and I'm right on dead man's corner. Jesus Christ, when do these stupid mistakes end. They could barely open the gate because of the crowd and I'm on the edge of the channel were the bulls are coming. People are pulling me back from behind. When the bulls are about 30' away, I notice that they aren't bulls and are just a couple of steers - which are much bigger than the bulls but relatively tame. For some reason, the drovers are leading these two steers through the crowd and they pass without incident.
I make my way down the path to the bull ring to meet up with Grace. I pass a guy on a stretcher being loaded into an ambulance. That could have been me in another twist of fate.
When I get to the bull ring, the stadium is packed and about 1,000 people are in the bull ring and are taunting a frightened young bull. These aren't the massive full grown bulls that just ran through the street, but they are yearlings that have had their horns capped so that they don't cut through the skin of people. These younger bulls are quicker though and can bull people over and toss them around like a sack of potatoes. I got some pretty good video of a bull tossing this one guy multiple times, check it out:
While many of the young bulls just trotted around and got harassed by the wannabe matadors, some of the bulls were destroyers and could seek and destroy at will. I saw one guy get knocked out and another guy got his pants pulled down by the bull. After he got bulled over, he was walking away with his ass crack showing and the crowd went into an uproar. Another guy jumped on the head of the bull by sitting on the neck and holding the horns in each hand. His face was down by the snout of the bull while he rode it for about 30 seconds - crazy.
It looks like I got lucky and walked away unscathed. Others haven't been so lucky.
Let me know if you want me to continue blogging about random things. My RVing days are over for now.
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