July 7, 2002
9:31 AM   Subscribe

Pamplona is on again.Guess who seems to have won round one. Anybody out there been there done that ??
posted by johnny7 (15 comments total)
Protesters bare all at bull fiesta. Woohoo!
posted by homunculus at 11:34 AM on July 7, 2002

I've done it a few times, it's fun! Basically you can make it as dangerous/safe as you want depending on where you start. The police do a good job of getting the drunks/tourists to start running well before the bulls are even released. If you really want to be a daredevil you can run right next to the bulls... it's truly terrifying when you look back and see one right behidn you, those fuckers are huge and mean looking. But as long as you are relatively sober and don't take a chance you will be fine.
posted by chaz at 11:40 AM on July 7, 2002

While backpacking solo in Spain back in 97, I had planned on attending San Fermin. I didn't, tho, primarily due to the people I met who were headed towards Pamplona at the time. As a whole, they were drunken meatheads, fratboys and poms on ugly little holidays. These were, of course, the english speakers - americans, brits, aussies and kiwis. It would've been nice to meet some Spaniards who were headed there, to ask their viewpoint, but most I met were headed in the opposite direction.

I dunno if I could make my description of these adrenaline tourists any more deragatory... these are the ones with nothing better to do on a tour than go to Switzerland for the bungie jumping... a disappointing lot, and no one I wanted to be associated with.
posted by gangcandy at 12:58 PM on July 7, 2002

While living in San Sebastian de los Reyes (a few miles outside of Madrid) they had a bull run. I chose to sit behind the fences instead of running but I was surprised to find out that one of the reasons people choose to run with the bulls is that they get into the bull ring for free. Those who are just observing have to pay admission to see the bull fight.
posted by jaden at 4:22 PM on July 7, 2002

I actually went into a bull ring once, on a dare, with hundreds of people watching. I was terrified. The main reasons:
1)The bull is much bigger than you think, about the size of a small jeep.
2)The sand in the arena is deeper than you think, making it difficult to move about quickly.
3)The bull is single-mindedly out to get you.
4)The bull is very fast.

Fortunately, as I took the cape and sword from the real bullfighter, he whispered to me that the bull was cross-eyed and always charged well to the right.

Armed with this essential knowledge, I was able to save my bacon and even show off a bit and impress the girl I wanted to impress.

I should mention that Portuguese bullfights are elegant affairs, based on horsemanship and bull wrestling, and have nothing to do with the cruel and bloodthirsty Spanish version, where they kill the bulls. Here they're at least patched up and spend the rest of their lives putting the fear of God into aprentice bullfighters and amateurs like me.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:56 PM on July 7, 2002

A mate of mine did it. He said it was fun and a real memory for a lifetime. But he also said he wouldn't do it again. Too dangerous.
posted by skinsuit at 6:30 PM on July 7, 2002

That sounds like a cock and bull story to me, homunculus. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
posted by ttrendel at 10:40 PM on July 7, 2002

I went to pamplona when i was a kid in about 1987, right at the end of the festival.

The memory that will live with me longest is the unbelievable, all-pervading, overwhelming smell of vomit that has been congealing in the streets for up to seven days - and this in parts of the town miles away from where the actual bull-run takes place. Everywhere you looked in the center there would be little piles of it. Those guys sure know how to party.

I'm not keen on the bullfighting though, and I didn't know the Portugese version was somewhat less sanguine, Miguel. Still I am sure bullfighting can't be as dangerous as Pelotta, which really is a thrilling but deadly sport...
posted by barnsoir at 6:11 AM on July 8, 2002

So Miguel didn't just run with the bulls, he actually had the cape and sword and the whole thing, just like Bugs Bunny. Dammit, I'm starting to get a little bit of jonmc's mid-life crisis myself, now.
posted by yhbc at 6:31 AM on July 8, 2002

Somehow I just knew Miguel would contribute here.
posted by johnny7 at 7:34 AM on July 8, 2002

Despite the fact that this is such a testosterone-laden event (although I notice that one of the injured was female) and so Hemingway-esque, factors that should make it completely off-limits to all modern males, this is something that I have always wanted to do.

I don't know why and I know it is a ridiculous activity, but I just want to. One day...
posted by dg at 7:45 AM on July 8, 2002

I participated in 1995 when that american guy was killed. If you start in the church square it is pretty easy since the heavy bulls don't turn corners while going that fast. Of course, this is also the reason you don't do the run in the rain. If they become stationary due to a fall or a bump into a wall they begin charging. If you encounter the bulls in the narrow streets, it is best that it is toward the end because the bulls slow down considerably.

I had been told that there are two waves of bulls whose releases would be signified by a cannon: one wave fast and furious, the other slower therefore easier to outrun. So our plan was to dodge the first wave and carefully run down to the stadium in front of the second. Turns out that the second wave was a couple of walking cows with bells tied to their necks being followed by herders that had to encourage them with a switch.

The ground shakes and it is exciting and all, but I wouldn't do it again since I don't really like the idea of it.
posted by mblandi at 8:36 AM on July 8, 2002

It's no big deal, yhbc and johnny7 - bullfighting is part of everyday life here. Even more so than in Spain - most of the bulls there come from Portugal anyway. Most of us "bullfight" once or twice - just making passes with the cape. These parties are called "garraiadas" and there's never any (bull)blood spilled. The bull's horns are padded so most injuries come from being thrown and breaking a few bones. The sword is there for show - it's no use if you're horned anyway.

I have to say, though, I hate even Portuguese bullfights - except for the bull wrestling, Cretan-style, where there's no blood or stabbing. It's still very cruel and, even in sporting terms(much as I abhor this angle)grossly unfair to the bulls.

I'm also against hunting of any kind, just for the record.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:37 AM on July 8, 2002

Sounds more like the Portuguese version of our rodeo, then. I got taken to the National Finals rodeo frequently when I was a kid, and one year long ago I was concerned about the calves. Mom and Dad assured me that the calves were all going to be okay, it was just a game to them too. The next calf out got its neck snapped when it was roped, and had to be hauled out of the arena by a tractor. I didn't want to go back after that for a long time.
posted by yhbc at 8:49 AM on July 8, 2002

I kind of did it once. I was well in front of the release point and very keyed up, wanting to get a jump on the crowd at the first sight of the surge. (This being my first time running and being quite sober, I had no desire to even see a bull.) I was standing close to a corner of a building and looking back when I saw people begin to run towards me. I turned to start my scamper and struck my head on the corner. I have the impression of someone dragging me around the corner into relative safety. I never saw a bull, so I guess Plan B worked as well as Plan A if you discount the concussion.
posted by joaquim at 11:01 AM on July 8, 2002

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