July 09, 2015

Pamplona, Spain

I woke up today at 06:20, dressed, and got ready to run with the bulls. I left the hotel around 06:40 and walked to Plaza Consistorial, where I entered on to the encierro course in front of the town hall. I then waited there, looking for the Texan man (from the group of American friends we had been hanging out with for the past three days) who had planned to run with me from last night, while also watching the large screen which went over the rules again and again that the runners are supposed to follow (although the whole not running under the influence of alcohol and drugs was widely ignored – I could smell alcohol on the breathes of many and could even smell someone smoking a joint while waiting on the cobble street track). At 07:45, when the runners were allowed to spread out along the rest of the encierro course, I gave up my search and walked to Estafeta Street, positioning myself about fifty meters away from “Dead Man’s Corner.” I continued to stretch out and keep my ears perked to listen to the two rockets fire off, signaling the bulls leaving their corral and all of them cleared from the corral. At 08:00, the first rocket went off and it was shortly followed by the second. At this point, many began to run, but I decided to wait around until the more experienced runners standing next to me took off. Then, once the bulls began to make their way around “Dead Man’s Corner,” we were all running. I kept looking back, but mostly continued to look forward lest I should run into one of the many runners. But soon, there was a pileup and a crowd of people. I could no longer move forward, so I just stood as close to the wall as possible and watched the fighting bulls (Victoriano del Rio Cortes’ bulls) and steers (who were released after the fighting bulls but had caught up with the rest of the herd) pass by – thankfully at a safe distance. Once the herd had stampeded past us, we all began to run again and soon it became clear that all the bulls had made it by, but we kept on going in order to make it into the Plaza de Toros to have some fun. Before reaching the entrance to the Plaza (i.e. “the bullring”), I heard the two rockets go off, signaling that the bulls and steers had all been successfully corralled in their pen. I then ran through the tunnel and in to the bullring. A couple minutes later, the vaca (Spanish fighting cows) were released in to the ring; this caused some panic and commotion, but they were soon corralled and then released one at a time for the runners to “play with.” The first vaca released was a tame cow with the tips of her horns – which were facing back) cut off; next, a vaca with massive horns (though dulled down) was released and this beast cleared out about half the runners who were still in the ring (myself included). I then walked until I found an exit and left the Plaza de Toros. I made my way to Bar Txoko, where I had a large beer.

I then walked back to the hotel and ended up meeting Michelangelo outside as he was returning from watching the run and delivering a hat that was left behind in his room and that belonged to one of the Americans we had drank with last night. I then went up to Michelangelo’s room to see Giovanni, who was getting ready for his 11:00 flight that would eventually take him to Rome. Since Giovanni was still getting ready, Michelangelo and I decided to get a coffee and a snack. We first looked around the hotel cafes, but they were all still closed, so we walked a short distance in to the old town and found a café where we each had an éclair and I had an Americano. Next, we returned to the hotel, making it back in time to see Giovanni off. After saying our farewells and seeing Giovanni leave in a taxi, I returned to my room and bullshitted most of the day. I watched random videos, as well as ‘Secret of the Incas’ (courtesy YouTube), that 1954 AD film that inspired Indiana Jones. I also ate the mini donuts I bought yesterday, as well as the pistachios, while drinking a Monster and Aquarius drink.

Plate of salmon cutlets, peppers stuffed with cod, shrimp, leek and shrimp pie, and two prawns.
Plate of salmon cutlets, peppers stuffed with cod, shrimp, leek and shrimp pie, and two prawns.

Much later, after 20:00, I met Michelangelo and we walked to a nearby bar/restaurant to eat dinner (I had a beer, salmon cutlets, peppers stuffed with cod, shrimp, leek and shrimp pie, two prawns, and bread). After dinner, we walked to the bus station and bought tickets to and from San Sebastian for the 11th (this should be a nice day trip). Next, we stopped at another bar/restaurant where Michelangelo had a Kalimotxo (wine mixed with Coca-Cola) and I had another beer. Afterwards, we returned to our respective hotel rooms and I got to work typing on my laptop. I eventually went to sleep around 02:00.

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