Party in Pamplona

I woke at 11, showered, made some eggs and out the door I ventured into the world. My goal for the day: Buy a ticket to the bullfight tomorrow.

I walked by a few young people dressed in white with red sashes around their necks and waists.

Me thinking – “Uh, that’s strange. The celebration starts tomorrow, not today.”

And as I walked deeper into the center of pamplona, I realized that everyone was dressed in white and sporting red sashes or purses.

Small children and their great grandparents were wearing identical colors. Then came the hoots, the shouts, drinking wine and beer in the street. Getting approached by men in mid-celebration asking me where I’m from.

I wanted to run and buy my ticket as fast as I could. Running past the liquored up herds, but the streets became more and more congested with swarms of people parading around, shouting, dancing, drinking. A police siren whistled not too far away.

I found the bullring. Spotted the ATM’s surrounding the building and purchased my ticket in less than 30 seconds. A Spanish woman asked me what I was doing.

“Comprar tackilla por mañana.”

I said timidly as if what I was saying was gibberish and I knew it was gibberish.

But it wasn’t gibberish, the woman understood, asked me how much it costs and then thanked me.

A great deal of the Spanish language is sticking to my ribs without my realizing. How the hell did I remember comprar from high school?

Anyway, I ran back to my hotel as fast as I could. Sweat dripped down my back, my cell phone clutched tightly in my sweaty, slippery hand.

You don’t need to be connected to the Internet for your GPS to work. God how I love my phone! It’s at least a good 20 minute walk from my room to the bullring. And with all the roundabouts, it’s easy getting yourself turned around. I was constantly checking my direction on my cell.

I was checking my direction while maneuvering in and out of the flocks, being careful not to make eye contact.

Hey, when you’re a single gal traveling in a foreign country and you find yourself surrounded by hundreds of drunk men celebrating a holiday that involves animal slaughter, you’d be scared too!

“No hablar espanol, lo siento, no entiendo.”

Saying this helped me out several times. Especially when a gypsy grabbed my hand and started telling me my fortune. I didn’t stop walking, and kept saying over and over, “hablo ingles, no entiendo.”

I finally made it back to my hotel. It’s far from the action, it’s quiet here. I love my hotel. It’s not really a hotel, but some weird multiplex. They have a rec room, patio, laundry room, cafe, vending machines. I don’t want to leave the safety of this place.

The bullfight starts tomorrow morning. They unleash the bulls to run down the street and into the arena at 8am. Cameras are placed on the curbside so the folks seated in the arena can see the spectacle of the bulls chasing the runners on big screens. It reminds me of the Truman show. If they get a close-up of one runner falling behind, becoming the underdog, than all of the arena prays and roots for him and he has no idea what’s happening, no idea that all eyes are on him.

It’s not a far run, and nobody died from running it in 15 years.

I felt the temptation of doing it myself and then I remembered that I hate crowds and I’m more afraid of people than I am of the bulls, and that’s the truth. If there weren’t so many people, I would definitely do it. There’s nothing to it really.

Hell, I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane, tried ayahuasca and peyote, hiked the camino alone with nothing but the clothes carried on my back, so I don’t think a little bull would scare me much. I’m half Italian, so I got bull (headed) blood in me already.

It’s just a matter of fun vs worth. Is the fun of it worth the risk of getting pushed and trampled over by everybody?

If I were here with Dave, we would both invariably do it. But I’m here alone. Two people wanted to meet me, but I responded to them too late. It’s just as well. I would have had to share my room and honestly it’s way too cramped in here with only me.

This is the winding down of my journey. My feets are tired, my everything is tired. Yesterday and today were blessings. True vacation days of idleness. Tomorrow however, will be a stretch of my patience.

I need to get there early to beat everyone. I’m talking 6 in the morning. I’ll get in, find my seat and remain in my seat until the last bull is struck down. And then I can rightfully say I been to see a bullfight.

I’m excited about it, I really am. I mean, I wouldn’t want to wake up having nothing to do tomorrow. This bullfight is certainly something to do. An exciting something to do. I only complain because it conflicts with my dislike of crowds.

Okay, my arms are numb down to my fingers. I need to stop holding my phone like this.

I’m going to make myself some dinner and listen to an audiobook, then go to bed early. Tomorrow will be the end-all finale to my adventures in Spain. What a way to end a vacation…killin’ stuff.

Here’s a video of today:

It’s a very short video.

What are all those people doing anyway (in the video)? There’s no carnival rides, no kiosks or games, or venders of any creative sort. People are just walking and clumping together. They walk, listen to music and clump together holding beers.

3 Comments

Filed under Travel, video's

3 responses to “Party in Pamplona

  1. Jim E

    Melanie, get yourself psyched for a crowd to end all crowds. Time to let go and just be one of the masses. It’s a-gonna get crazy and you’ll be right in the middle of it! Have fun!

  2. Jim E

    Hey Melanie,
    So what did you think of the bullfight and the crowds? Hope it didn’t scar you for life! Olé!

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