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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Rise and Shine and Run Serpentine

I’m being forced to wake up and leave the house even earlier for the next week. Today begins the festival of San Fermín which means every morning at 08:00 they televise the encierro, or the running of the bulls through the streets of Pamplona. I have been to this city before but I have never really cared to go during the festival. I have heard mixed reviews but most of my Spanish friends who have gone tell me not to bother. A lot of drunken college kids who probably never even read Hemingway and couldn’t care less.

I find it mesmerizing to watch and it’s something I haven’t missed since I moved here. The problem is that it starts promptly at 08:00 and I have to leave my house at this time so I have to hit the street 30 minutes earlier, ride part of the way to my job, and pull over to watch the encierro in a bar somewhere along the way. Today I rode past a bar and I didn’t even have to dismount to find out whether or not they would have it on. I pulled up to the coffee window and hollered at the woman inside to get her attention then I asked if she wouldn’t mind turning it on. She said sure, why not, so I ditched my bike outside and sat at the bar for a café con leche. As I said, it starts at 08:00. It’s one of the few things in Spain that is always on time and then it’s over in about five minutes. Immediately afterwards they show a replay of anything interesting that may have happened during that day’s encierro, and by “interesting” I mean did anyone get gored or generally fucked up by one of the massive bulls (some weigh over 500 kilos). It always amazes me that 20-30 people aren’t killed every day.

I think that if I ever did go to Pamplona to run in the encierro I would try to make friends with the enraged bulls. Maybe they just need someone to pet them, scratch them under the chin, or give them a treat. Either that or I would run down the street inside one of those sharks cages, although that didn’t end well in the movie Jaws if I remember correctly. That brings up an interesting point: how about a festival where you swim down one of the canals in Venice or Amsterdam just ahead of a pack of sharks? There has to be a market for that kind of action. I can't believe someone hasn't already dreamed this up. Do I have to do all of the thinking around here?

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