Sunday, October 19, 2008

Here bully, bully, bull!

Not content to simply enjoy my beef served up with a baked potato and a little pink, I once again decided to head down to Pamplona in Northern Spain to run in front of them; and these ones are served very rare. Just check out my last experiences with 600 kilogram quadrupeds (here).

This time; however, I was the tour guide. Would you follow me???!!!!!

Waiting in the cold with Kiwi Rhys to my left and wondering why the bus hadn’t shown up 2 hours ago when it was supposed to, I questioned my choice. By the time the bus got there, everyone was decently pissed (we waited in a pub) and were lamenting the 18 hours drive.

Now one thing I’ve picked up doing these tour guide gigs is that people ask you the dumbest questions. Questions that they should be able to answer by themselves quite easily – such as ‘do they have euros in Spain’, ‘will it be cold’ and ‘is the running really dangerous'. Answers are usually quick ‘yes’, ‘about 8 degrees at night’ and ‘are you fucking five?’. But, it does mean I get a free holiday, hang around with some really good people, and see a lot more of Europe.

So all aboard, and we’re going back to San Fermin!
I’m not going to go in to the bus trip as it truly was painful. We finally arrived at the campsite just out of Pamps in the pouring rain and exhausted. Luckily for me Kiwi Nick and Glasso were on hand to dish out the beer bongs and Diamonds fed me. I hadn’t seen most of the people since Turkey, so it was a big night. And I knew what was coming…

Now, it’s not the bulls that scare me – it’s the opening party. Last year I thought I was going to die, and the girl next to me nearly did. It is the biggest crush I have ever had (and I see myself in the mirror every morning – get it!!?), and was not something I was looking forward to. Imagine tens of thousands of people crammed in to a small, slippery cobble stoned courtyard, sangria and champagne is thrown everywhere, and glasses are smashed on the ground, which leave bits jutting up waiting to be stepped on. Now, add a 30 degree day. The heat generated by the crowd and the sun becomes hot enough that all the booze starts to evaporate on your clothes, creating a steamy sauna like environment and people are crushed in to you. Bake for 1 hour. Serve on a bed of panic and hyperventilation, and side of drunkenness.

This year, though, I decided to get above it all - and squirt sangria from someone's shoulders!
The enjoyable part of the day is the ‘tits out for the boys’. Whenever a girl gets on shoulders – top off. I thought I was safe, but no, mine got taken too.
This time I knew what was coming, so I didn’t mind it so much. But I could tell the punters who didn’t see it coming where shitting themselves. With the day over, it was time to get people back to the campsite; the pool and general looseness ensued.

Waking up the next morning at 5am, I knew the feeling that everyone had. Taking my group in, most of them wanted to watch the first run and then do it the following day. So, knowing the way around, we watched the first run from the seats, where I randomly bumped in to Donners and his bolt-ons…
Best placed t-shirt ever

Now, it looked pretty vicious from the stadium, but I had never had this view before, so wasn’t sure if this was how it normally looked. It wasn’t until later that the race was called one of the most violent they have ever had, that I realised the full extent of the carnage.

Basically, right at the start a bull had slipped, which meant that the 5 behind him moved to the right to avoid, and ploughed through dozens of people. Now, I told my group one thing – don’t get hit because I don’t want to deal with it.

This is one of my tour punters on the left of the girl.
Now this is him to the left of something a little more threatening - note where the horn is.
How about a little bit closer...
Deaf prick.

The next few days drifted by in sunshine filled madness – both on the streets of Pamps and the campsite. But by the end of the week it was time to go back to London, and I had managed to recruit Coomba away from Rachel and on to my bus, so I had someone to do my bidding. Two miles out of Pamps the damn bus broke down. This was all we needed. Coomba was relentless in his abuse.
Pulling back in to Waterloo early the next afternoon I’ve told myself twice is enough.

“Waiter – medium rare thank you.”

More photos here.