Pamplona rant

San Fermines is coming to an end, the last bull run took place this morning, with just one minor goring.

I went to San Fermines in Pamplona a few years ago, and found it to be a massive anti-climax. Knowing we would have nowhere to stay for the night, we based ourselves in San Sebastian, caught a bus up to Pamplona to arrive at around 9 p.m., and intended to stay out all night until the morning bull run at 8 ish. It was the penultimate day of the fiesta, and when we arrived it was obvious that the city had partied itself into the ground. The streets were awash with piss, vomit, and empty spirits bottles.

Obviously San Fermines was as much about alcohol as it was about bulls. We tried our best to join in, getting stuck into the beer, tintos etc, but the whole city had a slightly tired, bored feel about it after 5 days of wild abandonment. We wandered around watching South American street sellers and their impromptu pavement markets being muscled off the streets by moody policemen. We went to a disco and my friend got robbed. I took him to the police station where even moodier policemen slammed doors in our faces and showed understandable disinterest in another wallet-less foreigner. Then most of the bars shut and we discovered that a) we had at least three hours to go until we could watch the bull running, and b) it was freezing cold, despite being early July. At 7 a.m. we thought ‘sod the bulls’ and jumped on a bus back to the coast, tired, fed up, and wondering what on earth all the San Fermines fuss was all about.

Anyway, imagine being one of the surgeons on duty every morning at Pamplona’s General Hospital during the fiestas. At about 8 a.m. every day, when the bulls start chasing hundreds of lunatics through the streets just up the road, do you reluctantly start scrubbing your hands and slipping on your green theater overalls with a sigh, knowing full well that in less than an hour’s time the first seriously wounded young man is likely to come screaming though the doors? Will you be able to patch up a leg that has been massively mashed internally by a vast, filthy and reluctant horn, and despite your best efforts, will the young man walk properly again?

As much as I love wild Spanish fiestas, I just don’t get the running in front of bulls… Do you?