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Running with the Bulls

This entry was pulled from my travel journal from Europe summer expedition 2003…

July 12th

For Justin, Jen, Mike, and myself, this was our first hard day of travel. An outrageously uncomfortable Ryan-air flight to Pau in the south of France. Get lied to by a taxi driver who said there was no buses to the train station. Our first encounter with the impatient French while trying to buy and then change our train tickets.

Train to San Sebastian with a bottle of wine that was heavy on the cork. Met a lovely girl named Sara who spontaneously bought a ticket the night before to go to Pamplona. Very admirable since she was on her own. Something American girls are not going to do, ever.

San Seba by 7pm, go to meet Durden but he’s not at the place so we wander, which is always my backup plan. Eating in a restaurant with Jen and Mike. And through the bush in the window I see Durden. First truly good feeling of the trip. Two minutes after I meet him, someone calls my name. Turns out it was a random roommate of a friend back home. It was her and two friends. Believe it or not, they were in the same hostel as us. Small world.

Authors note: I write a blurb about spelling hostel wrong the whole time but it doesn’t make sense since I have been spelling it correctly thus far. Basically I spelled it hostil for ages and then would switch into hostal every now and then.)

Saw “…Dream inconscient Love…” on a bridge over the river Sen looking at Notre Dame. Need to look up inconscient.

Authors Note: I have since looked up this word and it does not exist. In addition I have seen Dream inconscient Love/Dream in Thailand and Argentina. This fake word seems to be following me around.

San Seba was amazing. A town where you talk to people and find out a lot of people are willing to give up everything and move there regardless of educational position or money. Topless beaches, ridiculous views and moderate temperature. I hope to go back.

From San Seba we bus to Pamplona listening to Mike talk on his phone for at least an hour. The Spanish countryside is amazing. To see desserts and forest and mountains is a treat when they come together.

In Pamplona you run into people dressed only in white with a few dashes of red. The town was nothing like I expected. I imagined dirt roads and horse drawn carts. My ignorance I quickly overcame. Simply a party for a week where public drinking is encouraged and sangria is thrown about so people can share drinks through their soaked clothes. Found a convenient hostel with internet. Mike talked the guy down five euros. The second night we slept in the park. My 10 degree sleeping bag was tits. I was able to share with Jen and still needed my shirt off. Chris and Jeremy, who we met up with earlier, had nothing and quite rightly missed their balls as they retreated back to their origins.

The first night was something like this… Meet Adam. A friendly Canadian wandering about. He teaches us about the run and Pamplona and we get drunk. Maui is lost at this point. To where we dont know nor care. Walk the bull run I will do in a few hours collecting bottles of Sangria the entire way. Who was leading our sobriety searching group? I don’t know but collectively we had an uncanny sense of being in the right place. We saw some fireworks that were amazing and only beaten by the ones we watched the next day. Absolutely Ludicrous! It might have been our distance, which was closer than any show I had been to before, or it might have been that third litro of Sangria. In either case the shockwaves rattled through your soul. The bursts would engulf the entire visible sky. The French had created fireworks that upon bursting, not only let out an orgasm of fire, but slow falling balloons. Unheard of!


Thankfully Maui woke me and Adam up at exactly the right time of about 630am. Jen and Durden were comatose and slept through the reason we had gone to Pamplona. I was told the most likely to die were hungover tourists which was exactly the best description of myself. Adam had ran 3 times already. The first time he had witnessed a fatal goring. The second he was beat mercilessly by the police. The third went fine. So our plan was to run until the curve and stay on the inside. The bulls are not famous for their agility. The sound of them coming was the source of my terror. These beasts boast 2 foot long horns and their shoulders were above my head. I was able to make the turn and seconds later see beast after beast smash into the wooden wall on the outside of the turn. As each bull recovered, one by one, they looked right at me with the coldest look imaginable. No pupils, only black pool balls for eyes. This is the time when your world could easily be thrown into an unwanted orbit. A lone bull is far worse than a group of them. But fortunately, my world continued to orbit just fine.

The best part is the ring at the end of the run where you are watched by thousands and each one is cheering on the bull. There were maybe 200 people in the ring. In there the matadors release smaller bulls with corks on their horns. Still aggressive but only a good trampling on a slow witted person is all they can do.

Go back and sleep. Wake up, Maui leads us aimlessly to a closed internet café 5 miles away. Eventually leave Pamplona for Madrid via 4 hour train.

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