RUNNING OF THE BULLS!! An entry by itself!!

Trip Start Jun 01, 2005
Trip End May 14, 2006

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Friday, July 8, 2005

I pulled into what looked like downtown Kansas City or any other modern city. Unlike all other Europen cities, there was no graffiti and all the buildings and roads were new and nice. Where in the world the cobble stone streets and old buildings where the run takes place was beyond me. I see some Aussies in the park and ask them where the good camps sites are. They are on a tour that is camped at El Manino, near a small village about 15 miles south of Pampalona. I pull into this little village upon a hill and can over look the sea of tents about 1/2 mile away. This campsite is Amazing. About 15 tour companies from London have all set up tents for their tours for the week of the bulls. They say there are about 800 tents and about 100 camper vans, making about 2000 young people. The site has a great pool, a creek running through it, bar, DJ each night, and much more. The first night I hung out with some Aussies and watch everyone get completely plastered, it was quite entertaining. It wasn't what I expected for the 4th since it was about 1500 aussies and kiwis (new zealanders) to about 2 Americans so the 4th of july wasn't of much importance, plus they couldn't have partied any harder anyways.
Since Aussies and Kiwis can get work visas, they are "heaps" of them working in London. Many purchase vans, campers, RV, and such throughout the year so they can start the 3 month trek of Europe that starts at El Manino campsite during the bulls and ends in Oktoberfest on Sept. 17th in Munich, Germany. This is an amazing idea of how its like a guided tour but yet everyone goes on their own. One of the RV's with 8 aussies had marked 8 equal section on the drivers tire and no matter what time of day or night, whenever the RV was put in park, the person's name in the section had to do a beer bong!These guys don't have fraternity parties, spring break, or keg parties so this was there time to go nuts.
I use email to make a plan with my two fraternity brothers to meet up in town the next evening. We actually meet up and spend the evening walking the bull run route and buy our white pants, shirts, and red scarf and sashes. I get really lucky that evening because I walked back to lock up my motorcycle before we walk around some more, only to find a tow truck trying to figure out how to strap on and tow it. I get in a scuffle with the guy and a cop gets involved. Neither can speak any English so I finally put in the keys and take off. I realized I had parked in a spot I wasn't suppose to so the best thing for me to do was leave as the cop was on foot and the tow guy wasn't going to chase me. Whoooo, a few minutes later and I would have been in a jam when I came back and no bike.
The next day is the OPENING CEREMONY on the 6th. This was suppose to be the party of all parties. My buddies and I meet up and get into the cramped streets about 11:30 in the morning. The area is in the old section of town with the cobble stone and narrow streets. Everyone has bought champagne and sangria from street vendors and is either chugging it or spraying it on the hordes of people. Everyone is in white clothes and red scarves which makes the scene look magnificent. We make it into the small intersection that has the town hall on the corner. The crowd is so tight that you can lift you're legs up and move with the sway of the crowd. By this time all the bottles have been broken in the streets and one false move or slip and you could fall down on the all the shards of glass and then the thousands of people in the streets could come right over you. It was a huge rush and an experience of a lifetime, but I was truly scared when I looked up and saw on the town hall clock we had 10 minutes until 12, which is the time the rockets go off celebrating the opening of the ceremony. We were stuck in the center and no way of getting out. The crowd had started to go nuts about this time. The time finally came and the rockets with off, the confetti flew down from the tops of the buildings, and the people all waved their red scarves and started chanting while jumping up and down. After that everyone spends the day getting more drunk or trying to sober up from their early breakfast. Since we knew they closed the streets early in the morning , we decided it wouldn't be good for me to drive back out to the campsite and since their place to stay was so expensive, we decided to stay in town and then just stay up all night.
We had no clue the amount of people, music, and alcohol that would be going on all night. Since we only had our white clothes we wore that day (couldn't take anything else since we had no place to put it when we ran) we were FREEZING. North Spain is normal during the day but gets really cold during the night. We went all over the city looking for a spot to crash and I finally got the idea of the ATM booth. We got into it about 2:00 and we locked the door shut, took out the light bulbs, huddled up, and called it a night. People all night were trying to get in but no cops ever came by. We left about 6:00 to head to the bull route. We got in the streets along with tons of other runners and to make a long story short, it was the largest crowd they ever had so they decided to kick half the people out. We were in the front half and were part of the crowd that got booted. It was so devastating. My buddies had train tickets for that evening and had spent 3 days in Pamps just to run. We spent the rest of the day doing all we could to get their tickets switched for the next day. Again, luck was with us and things worked out. We then ran down to the stadium to try to get in to watch the bull fight that evening. Tickets scalpers were wanting way to much for the tickets so I waited in line for tickets for the next evening and actually got one! We AGAIN decided not to risk not getting to run that morning so we stay up again that night. We have been wearing these same sangria (wine) stained white clothes for 2 days with only a few hours of sleep but we stay up again. We decide to say screw it and booze it up that evening. There are bands in all the city squares, bars packed full, and people drinking on all the streets. It is an amazing site. We finally try to get some sleep about 3:00 and crash on a few park benches. It cold, loud, and uncomfortable but we manage a hour or two before heading down AGAIN to the cobble stone streets to try our luck. We get at the very start of the run and actually see the gate where they keep the bulls. Those horns look sharp and deadly, those hooves luck like they are heavy, and the streets look awfully narrow!! We see that there is about 10 minutes before the rockets so we know this time we are actually going to do. While we are stretching we look up and see Dennis Rodman a few people in front of us. He is wearing a bright red (online gambling) shirt and is running to do a promotion for them. We can't be thinking about Rodman at a time like this so our hearts start pumping and then we hear it,the first rocket. People start freaking out and panicking. They take off down the route but we know we have about 30 seconds until the bulls get to our part of the route. I start the run for my life as they turn the corner. I use my left arm to push the guy behind me to the left (I'm on the right of of the street) so if the bulls come towards us then they'll get him first. In a split second, out of the corner of my eye, I see them pass. I look up only to see and hear, BAMM, a guy get smacked by one and dropped. I have no time to think and jump over him and keep on running. By this time the main set of bulls have passed, but we don't know if it was all 8 of them or not so I keep running the fastest race of my life. I get to the last bit where it gets the most narrow and then enters the arena. I make it until the arena, my heart is racing and my adrenaline flowing. I know I've made it so far but now they let out four smaller bulls one at a time into the arena. The goal is to touch the bull without getting malled. The bulls have corked horns but it still doesn't take away from the speed and size of the bull. Out of the four I have one really close call though I meet my goal and actually slapped the rump of one. I see my buddies around the time they had let the second bull out which causes us to get a little more brave. How they get the bull back in is let out a mammoth older bull that knows where the exit door of the arena is, leading himself and the younger bull out of the arena. It doesn't go so smooth sometimes and people get malled in the process by the older bull.
That was that, we did it, we experienced the insaneness of the opening ceremony - the experience of the two nights of no sleep and partying - and THE RUNNING OF THE BULLS! We leave for the train station and I see my buddies off. They have a few days in Paris and then back home. I spend the day walking around and then enter the arena to watch the 6 bulls I ran with get murdered. I see how it can be a major part of their culture to worship the bull fighters, but the way they go about taking the bulls life is quite stunning. I can explain the exact details but to shorten it up they wear the bull down by having several matadors, they then bring out a horse covered in cloth armor and the rider jabs a spear into the bulls neck two times, then 3 matadors let the bull charge them to only jump to the side at the last second and put 2 small pointed spears in it, finally the main matador comes out and the crowd goes wild. He lets the bull keep charging until the bull is wore down and he then gets his sword and when the bull charges he jams it into the bulls spinal cord. If he does it correctly, the bulls drops and dies instantly. A few times the matador didn't get a good stab and has to do it several more times while the bull struggles around. The crowd all start whistling to signal they are upset that the matador didn't get a good stab.
After 4 days of craziness, I head to the train station where the bike is stored (I left the camp site since I knew wouldn't be camping) and grab my luggage out of storage and head to San Sabastian that evening about 9:00. I am still wearing the same clothes, haven't slept, and have had the craziest 4 days of my life... and I still have 70 miles of motorcycle driving to find a campsite near the beaches of north Spain. I about fall asleep a few times but finally make it. I'm so tired and its so late I don't even put up the tent, I just pass out on it. The next few days will be posted in the next post.
I'm ALIVE!!!!!!!!!!!
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