>Chapter 2(?): Jeff and Dennis Run with Bulls
“It was the perfect way to be totally in the moment. The past was dead, the future not yet born, there was only the now. Fail, and you die. Succeed, and you live.”
Well maybe it wasn´t THAT extreme, I mean beyond being trampled or gored by raging bulls, my next main concern was making it to the arena before they closed the gates so I could…you know, run around with more enraged bulls.
Here is a short glimpse of the day:
3:50 am – Alarm goes off. I go back to sleep.
4:00 am – Alarm goes off again. I go back to sleep again.
4:10 am – I finally get up and get dressed, bringing minimal belongings, including ID to identify my body. That was a joke. But I actually did it.
4:20 am – We´re on the road to Pamplona for the Festival San Fermin, of which the main event is the 8 am Running of the Bulls. Luckily we met up with our Kiwi friends Matt and Karen again, and they rented a car so we all carpooled down, rather than having to sleep in a park overnight.
6:10 am – Arrive in Pamplona, to see roving bullrunners in the streets, most drunk from the night before. We park the car, and walk the wrong way.
6:30 am – We turn around and head back the right way. Hehe.
6:45 am – We buy our traditional white and red bull running clothes, like EVERYONE else in the town…amazing to see thousands of people in the streets, all dressed in red and white!
6:55 am – We decide to walk the 890 m course to see where we can dive under barricades, hide in doorways, avoid falling people and charging bulls. Note: 10 seconds after the bulls were released, all plans went down the toilet.
7:15 am – Cops begin to clear the course of all onlookers…INCLUDING us. Confused, and with no one speaking English to explain what was going on, we have to sprint out of the course and back around to the starting point. We are unsure if they will even let us back in at this point, and there are dozens of runners with us. I can honestly say that, although not the most climactic point of the day, I was more scared of missing the run than of running itself, and if there was any reason for the strange stains in my underpants, this was the cause.
7:25 am – Made it back into the starting square, where the gates are blocked until 5 minutes remain. The square is packed with people, shoulder to shoulder and chest to chest. The stench of urine and vomit from the previous nights´festivities mingles with the stale smell of fear sweat. Nervous jokes that are met with overloud laughter, last cigarettes are lit, and everyone is just a little too chummy, betraying their unease. Cheers and clapping erupts sporadically from the crowd: CLAPclapclapCLAPclapclapCLAPclapclap…and so on, you get the picture. The energy is palpable. Where else can you join in a festival where thousands of people put their bodies and lives on the line to run with dozens of galloping 600 kilo animals through narrow streets for nothing more than bravado? Can I use that word there? You get my point.
7:55 am –
Alright I´ll have to save the exciting conclusion of this story for next time, I´m hungry for dinner! Yeah, I just love the cliffhanger: ¨”Do Jeff and Dennis make it out of the bull pen alive?” “Does Jeff have the guts to touch a real live raging bull?” “Does Dennis get chased by an angry toro like a cartoon rabbit?” Stay tuned to find out in the next episode: Jeff and Dennis in the Bullfighting Arena.