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Monday, July 20, 2009

My Long Awaited Anecdote of my 2nd Run of the Bulls

It appears that I have been whirling about Europe, unable to sit down and unwilling to pay a ludicrous amount to pay for internet in order to detail the very stories that I am experiencing. But now, a change has occurred. I am back in the states. So I will do what I can in regards for unleashing some traveller's tales for you. These are a large portion of what has passed since I embarked to Spain back on July 1st.
And now for the much anticipation account of my 2nd Running of the Bulls.

My 2nd Run was to me, every bit as fun, if not more so, than my first run. I can't really tell why. But again, the run started off early. And as jacked up as my sleep schedule was, I decided to go to sleep the night before at 7 and got up at 2:30 in the morning right when the party in Pamplona seems to be just warming up. This 2nd run I intended on running close to the arena. That way, the bulls may have slowed down a bit, it being the end of their run, and I might catch a better glimpse of them. I was standing around this end part, when I saw this tall Aryan fellow standing alone. Perhaps, I felt a little kinship with him. Because for some reason all that seemed to be getting ready for this run were the Spanish. We began to chat. He was from Germany. And it was his first run. He then introduced me to some of his friends. One guy from the states and another from Canada. All were going at it for the first time. I felt like a veteran. Though, I had little advice. I think when you see someone uninjured doing the run a second time, it kind of reassures you that injuries are really not that common. (In proportion to how many people run it, that is.) We were busy making mental notes. You know, -where to go, when to run, which fence to drop behind, and so forth. When our strategies were all interrupted by the police. They looked like riot police. They all descended upon the crowd and started moving us further up towards one of the most dangerous spots of the run. -The Estafeta. Then these other police men arrive with festive red berets and what looked to be the words, "Floral Policia" on the back of their uniforms. For awhile, I thought that this was what was called the "Flower Police." You never know with these festive days with what festive reinforcement is needed.

We ended up getting kicked out of the run. Yes, and the regular police and the flower police wouldn't explain why they were doing so. So for a second we all thought that our run was not to be. But we thought to run down towards the beginning of the run and see if we could slip in down there. This was back where I ran my first run. So down through the back alleys we ran. Passing by partygoers who were still going strong at 7:30 in the morning. We came to the city hall and slipped underneath the fences and crammed ourselves into the throng of the other Americans and Australians. Blocking off the last section of the run was their way of crowd control to keep the path from being too blocked from people when the bulls were unleashed. 5 minutes until the gate would open, They allowed people to pass up ahead and try to get further up the street. So we took off jogging and walking to make it to the section at the end. I made it. And had maybe one minute or two til the rocket was to go off. That same cottonmouth feeling. That same sort of restless anxiety.

Then BAM! The rocket goes off, and that same panic seems to fill the crowd. I wasn't content with my position. I wanted to get up further so that I would have a little more to run. Some people started to whiz by me as I started to scoot up. Then the bulls began to advance. You could feel that they weren't that far. But at this place, it was impossible to really see the bulls like before. You just caught the sense of dread and mayhem as some people shot past and others remained craning their necks to see. Then, the absolute intensity of dread breaks out, and you know that they are not far behind. I turned around and began running. There was these fences, and in this particular spot, this fence sort of jutted out. It was a slight turn just before the arena. A cop, I couldn't remember if he was part of the flower police or not, was sitting ontop of the fencepost. Pointing down, hinting at me to jump under the fence. I think from his position he could see the bulls and they were almost here. But I wanted to get around this slight curve and immediately after I made it past him, I dove through the fence, headfirst. Falling on the crowd. I propped myself on one arm lying there, and turned around, maybe 2 or 3 seconds pass and the bulls with their heavy hooves striking the crowd pass by. Sitting there, I stuck my head out of the bottom section of the fence and was about to jump through when I remembered that at this point the bulls can seperate and that there could be a straggler. I push my head back from the opening, when this 2nd wave of bulls comes. All of them that pass are on my side of the road. There was this one that was skimming the fence. Just this wooden beam seperate us. Had I not jumped through the fence, and stayed on that side standing like I did the first time, I would have been drilled. The bulls passed and then people began to swarm after the bulls. I wanted to, but couldn't because I didn't want to then get my head knocked off by people, crawling back through the fence. So I looked for an opening and got through. And up and ran for the arena which I wasn't far from. It was near this spot the very next day when I had already left Pamplona, that a man was killed. For some reason the bull got isolated and when a bull gets isolated from the rest of the herd, that's when they are dangerous. I was in Madrid by then, but all the TVs in all the cafes in the early morning air were showing the run. It was brutal.

Here is a recording of the 2nd run. There is no way possible to see me, though.

As stated before, after the bulls enter the arena. Everyone else enters also. Then they bring out the smaller, yet still violent cows with the corked horns. These run about charging everyone and smacking into them if you happen to be in its path. One of these cows, was blatantly ballistic, running every which way knocking people every which way as well. The cow even turned to the stands and began knocking people who were perched up on the outer wall. I think there was one girl that got her pants tore off her. I just remember her legs in the air and her pants around her ankles as she fell back into the crowd away from the cow. Most everyone that gets hit is not seriously injured. Maybe a scratch there or a bruise here. A few bloody-noses but these are people that try to gang up on the bull and wrestle it down. Which the local Pamplonians hate. They throw things at the crowd when this happens. This last run of mine, there was a fight in the arena between a local and possibly someone from Central America. I think the Central American tried grabbing the animal and forcing it down. This infuriates the Pamplonians and even some of the locals in the ring will smack you on the head with a newspaper very hard, when you try this. I think that's how the fight erupted. The fight almost broke out into brawl. I thought that they should just let them fight, but yet send out one of the cows while they battled and that would, surely, break them up.
This 2nd run, I actually managed to touch the horn of one of these cows. Not intentionally, I was standing there, learning that you don't have to run from the cow. Only make a few hasty side steps, when it started to veer in your direction. Well, the cow came rushing straight towards me, and I barely got out of the way. Instinctively, I grabbed its horn and pushed his head away from me while I side stepped. The cow went in the direction of the tug and never made contact with me. Here is footage of the arena. It's alot of fun. I was in there somewhere, though, I haven't been able to see myself.

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Blogger smoke said...

That sound amazing. I still want to do it, along with the tomato fight.

9:39 AM  

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