Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Running of the Bulls

     Last week I shared a little about my experience at the annual festival of San Fermin.  If you missed it, click on San Fermin, to read the first of this three part series.

     Each morning of the Festival of San Fermin, six bulls and six or seven steers are herded from their holding corrals to the bullring where they will be part of an afternoon and evening bullfight.  It takes approximately three minutes for the bulls to make their way from one place to the other. Of course, this just happens to be down several streets that run through old Pamplona.  The release is at 8:00 a.m. but spectators need to be situated long before the clock marks that hour.

     We were advised to watch the spectacle from inside the bullring. This was a good choice.  The streets are lined with barricades in fact, they are double barricaded. Mostly double split-rail fences. Obtaining a spot to view so close to the street was not for us.  I could just feel the crowd crushing me into those wooden fences. The mass of people was overwhelming. I read that attendance is usually 1,000,000 over the week long celebration.

    Of course, observing from a balcony would be a fabulous spot. We, however, didn't have that option. It was fun after the running to go into the photo shops to see the myriad of photos taken of runners and bulls which had been  shot from the perspective

of those balconies.  This picture is copied from the July 8, 1995 newspaper.

Meanwhile, my friends and I were in the bullring/stadium waiting for the bulls and steers to arrive.  Entertainment was provided before and after the bulls arrival. At least, that is what it was called.

Entertainment before the bulls run through the opening on the right of the picture.

The bulls have arrived.

     This clipping from the newspaper shows several things.  One can see the other end of the opening that is just going into the bullring/stadium.
     It also shows the lack of cultural knowledge so common to young foreign visitors to the festival.  The caption points out two grave mistakes by this obviously foreign runner.  First, he is touching the back of the bull and secondly he is running with a backpack.

      After the bulls arrive at the bullring, they are put away into corrals out of sight.  The area is then filled with runners and the steers. The participants have rolled newspapers to help get the attention of the steers. Everyone seems to be having great fun running and dodging these beasts. However, one spectacle we saw is somewhat related to this photo.  We saw a young man (undoubtedly foreign- maybe the same one) attempt to bulldog a steer. Once he had his arms around those horns, the other participants turned on him with their rolled  newspapers and started assaulting him. It seems that the bull and steers are not to be touched.

      There are numerous dangers involved in the Festival of San Fermin. The bulls themselves are only one.  Cultural traditions must be followed.

      I have a few more pictures of this amazing event in my next post (part 3) and then back to Doc Grisso and that trip to West Virginia.


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