>Yeah, we actually did. It´s in a park in Barcelona, and supposedly this tunnel was taken over by climbers, so the city actually closed it down to through traffic. I was expecting some crimpy bricks to traverse on, but the climbers actually went about attaching rock fixtures all over the place…in other words, a free outdoor climbing gym! They have top roping up and over the whole tunnel, and we plan on scrapping all our sightseeing plans to climb all day! As soon as the laundry is done.
Here are a few pics of my favorite part of Barcelona:
Alright, back to the story.
Jeff and Dennis in the Bullfighting Arena
7:55 am – This moment can be summed up in three ´A´ words: Anticipation, Anxiety, and ADRENALINE. If there was an ´A´ word for having to piss your pants, that would be up there too, but I couldn´t think of one.
7:58 am – We start walking slowly down the road. The entire course is over 800 metres, and we started roughly halfway, but I had lingering doubts that I could outrun a dozen bulls even that far to get into the arena before they close the gates after the last bull. The way the run works is they release about 6 bulls, the ones about the size of steam engines, to race the course. About 30 seconds later, they release another 6 tamer bulls (as if tamer has any meaning whatsoever when referring to stampeding bulls) to make sure none of the first bulls get separated from the herd…thats when they begin to get scared and dangerous, charging people against the walls and other fun stuff. After the bulls run the course (and you with them) you all end up in the Plaza del Toros, a big bullfighting arena. The bulls are herded into a pen, and smaller bulls are let out one at a time to plow the brave bullrunners (read: stupid tourists) into the ground, to the delight of the crowd. Alright back to the story.
7:59:59 am – A distant BOOM is heard, as the first firecracker goes off. “That´s it!” our friend Matt says. The bulls are out. We break into a light jog.
8:00:30 am – Another BOOM. I start to run faster, determined to make the arena before they close the gates. Matt calls me back to the rest of the group. Oh yeah, I promised Matt´s wife to protect him from the bulls. Dammit!
8:01 am – More and more people are running past us, near sprinting down the crowded streets. Our jog is more of a quick sidestep now, our attention divided between dodging waiting runners and watching for the approach of the bulls.
8:01:27 am – The sound of women screaming breaks into the air. Oh wait, those are men. A dull noise builds up, some combination of thundering hooves, clanging cowbells, people screaming “Get out of my way!”, “Go go go go go!”, “Stop stop stop stop!” And so on…I´m sure you can imagine the confusion. The bulls race into sight…or more accurately, the crowds of people trying to stay out of the bulls way race into sight. I don´t really know where anyone else from my group was, but I sure as hell wasn´t sticking around. I was sprinting as fast as I could without tripping on the guy in front of me, just before he went down on top of a pile of other runners who collapsed like a pile of dominos on the first unfortunate dude who tripped. Somehow managing to sidestep them, I ran another few seconds and pressed up against the wall, or more accurately, against the people pressing up against the wall, and turned to see the first of the bulls pass by. If I were braver, stupider, or drunker, I could have reached out and touched them, they were that close. However, I wanted to keep my arm for the rest of the trip.
8:02:35 am – There is no break in between the last paragraph and this one, I just wanted to keep you up to date on the timing of the story. Trust me, I was checking my watch by the second. Really. So as the first set of bulls passed me, I heard Dennis (I think) screaming “Go go go go go!” so we could make it to the stadium…Matt caught up to me and he was right behind me, tapping me on the back to let me know he was there. I didn´t notice. I crammed to the left again as another bull rushed past the crowd. This was the most dangerous part of the race, because no one knew how many bulls were left behind them. This resulted in hundreds of people running full out, and looking backwards over their shoulders. Needless to say, the people who tripped on the road looked just as fearful of being trampled by people as by bulls. I managed to get by those unfortunate and hapless roadblocks without incident, and race down the final tunnel into the arena. This was do or die, since the tunnel was not wide enough to press off to the side to avoid the bulls…once you go in, you better get there before the bulls behind you do.
8:03:59 am – We break through into the arena, to a crowd of thousands of cheering spectators. Wasn´t expecting that! Given that I´ve never been in the centre of an arena before, and that my adrenaline was running higher than a kite, it felt pretty good! That feeling was cut short pretty soon.
8:05 am – They release the first bull into the arena. This is a young bull, full of energy and with it´s horns corked to ensure no one gets a horn in the butt. I don´t think the people getting hit were any better off, there were some pretty awesome hits. Of course, the crowd goes wild with every person that gets clobbered…if they´re stupid enough to be in the arena, they probably deserve it! I would say so.
8:10 am – The first bull is rounded up and another fresh bull is brought out to wreak carnage on the bullrunners. We build up more courage to get closer to the bull. Dennis claims he´s going to touch one…after it tires itself out.
8:12 am – I see is some poor sap getting chased down full speed, the bull about 2 inches from plowing him up over its back. Wait a sec, that´s Dennis!! Look at him go! I have never seen him move that fast. Luckily when he turned back to see how near he was to being bullraped, he wiped out to the right and the bull kept going at some other unfortunate fool. So close to glory. Sorry Dennis, maybe some other day. 😉
8:45 am – Holy crap, have we really been running around this arena for this long?? Yup. We finally exit the arena, six bulls later, and Matt reunites with a teary-eyed Karen, who was watching nervously from the stands the whole time.
The adrenaline wore off on the ride home, and I passed out hardcore. Awesome festival, definitely worth doing, and if any of you are interested, I´m down for doing it again!
Alright, I´m out! Night!