Tuesday, April 3, 2012

HOW to RUN with the BULLS - Part 2

So, you have decided to "run with the bulls" in Pamplona, and you now know that you do not need to "sign up", per our last post on this topic. So far, so good. Here is what you can expect next:

Since you read the last post, you know that all runners gather in the Town Hall Square, the "ayuntamiento", at least an hour before the run. Thus, you are now packed into a small area between the wooden barricades with about 3,000+ other runners. There is so little room that everyone is standing up as there is nowhere to sit down. In addition to the Spanish and Basque languages, you will hear conversations of all types going on around you, in just about every language. At this point, everyone is calm but there is a nervous edge to the chilly air. You can feel the rising anticipation underneath the calm at this point.

Don't be surprised to see policemen, at this point, wandering through the streets and scoping out the crowd. They are looking for unsuitable runners. As I mentioned in the last post, while this is insanity and all hell is about to break lose in an hour, it is organized insanity and there are rules.

If you appear drunk, the police will eject you immediately. (One friend of ours was even ejected, just before the bullrun started, for wearing a shirt that had been seriously stained with sangria while sitting with the social clubs - called the 'peñas' - during the bullfights the evening before! Apparently, the police had assumed that he had been drinking during the night, and, so, they threw him off the bullrun route!) The police are also looking for people carrying cameras or wearing 'helmet' cams on their hats. If they find that you have either, you will be ejected without question. If you have open-toed shoes or other inappropriate dress, you will be ejected immediately. If you are ejected, it is suggested that you not put up a fight or make any dispute with the police - they are very serious about their jobs and will not listen to any appeal. They probably won't understand your language, anyway! If you are selected for rejection, you are rejected - it is just that simple.

Remember, these animals are their prized bulls that the city pays handsomely for, and their priority is the safety of these bulls from the corral to the Plaza de Toros. Next, we will talk about the last few minutes before the event begins.