The beautiful sight that awaited us at the bus station in Pamplona. We had 'Run!' on the back of our shirts
Well this computer is slow and the keyboard is backwards so I will make this a short one. It doesn't help that my brain is totally scrambled either. It is my last day in San Sebastian
and on the Busabout hopon bus to San Fermin in Pamplona. Oh.My.God. I though I had seen insanity at Reading festival, in the red light district in Amsterdam, even a few crazy experience in the merry street of Brighton but nothing out-crazies San Fermin. Fact. The first bus left at the unGodly hour of 3.45 and we rolled into the Pamplona bus station an hour or so later to find streams of people crashed out on the concrete and the heat and the smell as we got off the bus was rather unpleasant.
Me after the craziness in the bull ring
That smell hit us numerous times in the street too, the smell of all human dignity thrown out of the window. The whole town resembled the aftermath of Glastonbury and in the darkness of 5am felt remarkably sleazy and a little frightening. Then there are the people. The ones who weren't passed out on the road, grass or pavement were staring at us and shouting guapa at the group of tiny 18 year old Australians in the group and trying to touch them. It was totally packed and we made our way through the actualy course of the running of the bulls and ended up at the bull ring to buy tickets for the event after the run. For those of you who don't know, San Fermin is an anual piss up made famous with tourists by Earnest Hemmingway to celebrate the saint and to release a pack of bulls into the street that leads to the bull ring with people testing their wits by running in front of them.
Lovely San Sebastian
It is very popular with tourists and locals alike. Of course, I decided against running. I have read that women are actually banned though I saw a handful run. So I sat in the bull ring with roudy locals singing and drinking and making waves for an hour until 8am when they released the people. Wow! We got to see the whole thing on screen set up in the ring and it is just crazy, the bulls are enourmous and the fear in people's eyes is incredible. They go fast too, though the group of locals behind me were complaining that it was too calm, the Spanish are pretty bloodthirsty and the run isn't that exhilerating unless someone gets impaled.
We watched the doors of the bull ring to wait for their arrival. The people who arrive way to early to have actually been in any real danger are booed and the locals throw their beer, bottles or kegs or anything they have on them to express their disgust.
The bulls getting (a little) revenge
Then the people arrive and the detachment you feel from watching a screen is broken when you see terrified people burst into the ring followed by fast, angry giant bulls. It is a great sight and then you hang on for a few more seconds and another group of bulls and people come through and then more until it is all finished. The people hang around the ring, there are hundreds of them and the traditional attire is white trousers, white top and a red scarf. You actually stand out more if you wear regular clothes, we had a white tshirt and red scarf given to us by the bus company. After a few minutes they then release a younger bull, though still a big bugger, with rubber attached to the end of the horns to avoid any gorings. It is a lot of fun, within the first 3 seconds of the first bull being released, he had charged through the crowd and flipped someone 360 who was subsequently dragged off, passed out.
The brave *crazy* locals wave scarves in front of the bull, slap it and basically do anything to try and get it to charge. You can see in its face, it eyes people up to charge and sometimes it will chase one person for a long amount of time. It is slightly less dangerous than the run but some serious injury is still sustained much to the delight of the locals. People are trampled, flipped and headbutted but even worse, they are beaten up by the locals if they tease, hurt, pull the tail or grab the horns of the bull. The crowd will also shout out hijo de puta. It is strange that the Spanish have so much love for the bulls despite what they do to them.
We got a bus back to San Sebastian at 10 am and I passed out a little before catching one at 4 to go back to Pamplona.
We were told that it would be calmer and not so sleazy and they were right. It was great fun and for 6 hours all we did was hang out in a square listening to music, sometimes locals singing or twee Basque music or break dancing. We had cheap reaqdy made bottles of Sangria and chatted about the day and those who ran were treated like heros. I take my hat off to them, it must be amazing, but I just don't think its worth the risk. If I did do it however I would be smug and tell absolutely everyone about it. Its something you can be proud of for the rest of your life.
So now I will go as people are hovering around the computer and I'm sorry if this entry is not brilliant but I have not really had time to look back over it and I can find the semi colon icon.
Im planning to walk up some steps to see the Sagrado Corazon statue that overlooks the city. San Sebastian is very beautiful by the way. I haven't had much time here but I've enjoyed what I've seen so far. We have the good bye drinks and party later tonight in town and of course it is the world cup final, so, VAMOS ESPANA!!