Pamplona and the Running of the Bulls

Everyone knows about the running of the bulls and have seen clips of it on the internets and TV. But did you know it's also the biggest party in Spain that goes for 24 hrs a day for a week? 1,000,000 plus people. Hemmingway writes about this festival in his book "The Sun also Rises". Boy did I learn the hard way. I died in Pamplona. I am just a walking zombie now. I went by myself with my $2500 camera and am lucky to have it today.

Pamplona is a beautiful small city close to the Basque region. But during the San Fermin festival it turns into the biggest party ever.

in a short while i found myself in this beautiful square. I saw a glimpse of a giant black bull with some elaborate fireworks and sparkler thing on its back but didnt have time to get a photo.

I met these two american guys on the bus from barcelona to pamplona, Erik and Jeff. They found me on facebook later cuz i gave them a business card. The first order of the day was to get outfitted in traditional San Fermin festival garb. I guess this is a pretty cool life photo to have.

from there we immediately each got bottles of red wine to slug from which is where I can now pinpoint the start of a bad choice. People just drink and party in the streets all day and night

what's going on here? what's that other language to the right of the Spanish?

hey dudes where are you going with that pot of something?

calmer street of more civilized sitting down drinkers.

originally back in barcelona i was looking online at balconies to watch the bull run from. they ranged from $120-300. In the end i decided against it because the bulls run by in like 5 seconds and then it's over. Probably there is a lot of drinking and merry-making with whoever else is on the shared balconey and it would be cool to oversee the sea of red and white festival goers. in hindsight i should have done this instead of getting the most drunk i have ever been in my life.

market that is open into the night. By this point I had finished 1 bottle of wine and moved on to 40 ounce beers. why did i do it.

jeff is a school teacher so we got blackmail photos of him hanging out with these underage girls. I remember there being tons and tons of teenage girls everywhere.

ok whoa jason, time to slow down there, jason, JASON! he is not listening.

what am i doing? I basically would hang out with anyone.

just keeps getting crazier.

now the party is really jumping off if it hadn't been already in the last 2 hours. I'm friends with these guys on facebook now too cuz i guess i gave them a business card.

this is how the night probably looked to me. craziness, drunk spanish people zooming in and out of my field of vision, and me not knowing what the hell is going on.

I guess after that last night shot i was completely destroyed beyond belief so there are no more photos. Here we're waiting for the bulls. I don't remember this. I can now say it was the most drunk i've ever been in my life and that's saying a lot after living in Korea when i was 21 amongst all the alchohol challenged places i've lived in my life. I am not bragging, it was a horrible thing and really scary because I was by myself in another city in spain with my expensive camera.

There are two barriers. you're not allowed to sit on the shorter barrier closest to the bull run so if you ever go to san fermin don't sit there because those police dudes will kick everyone off right before the run. Make sure you get there early to get a good spot on top of the second barrier. I was destroyed out of my mind so i didn't get there early and couldn't even see the run because i was basically a walking zombie. Someone must of helped me along to get me even this far.

it was this guy, Au Goût M and his girlfriend that helped me live through the running of the bulls part of San Fermin. I'm friends with him on facebook now.

good thing he was a good guy because there is me and that's not me taking a picture of myself with my expensive camera.

there I am, a giant dumbass, totally incredibly passadisimo.

there it is, the moment of truth and this is all you and I get. These are the lead bulls that are less dangerous and know the path so the black bulls follow them. Why don't i have any pics of them? i don't know. I don't remember anything. I remember arguing with some dude who was sitting up on the top of the barrier and just giving up because i knew i was too drunk and powerless to do anything.

after the run party time resumes. later on all the bulls from the run would face death at the hands of matadors all afternoon in the bull fighting area behind me.

this old dude was cool i kind of remember.

why is old dude showing this to us? it looks like a lung, and he did have an amazing raspy voice, maybe it means he had lung cancer or something?

high ground to avoid the river of street cleaning.

what am i doing? being creepy and drunk

at this point the couple left and i was on my own again (i think). i slightly remember walking around some shopping area and it being really hot.

I didn't correct this photo so you can see what it felt like to be me at this point in the afternoon. Since i was already out of my mind i kept drinking cups of something throughout the day (probably coke and wine). So I was still the most drunk i've ever been in my life at 4pm. it was hot and the sun was raging and i was out of my mind. why did i take a picture of this? i'm assuming i was photographing the baby. at one point i remember thinking i was trapped in some kind of davicci code like conspiracy. did i think the baby was part of this conspiracy. I was literally insane.

this is the final picture. what does this mean? is it the symbol for basque freedom? again i met another stranger that helped me stay alive. I met this older skater dude that spoke english at some point. maybe he saw me wondering around with my arms out like a zombie and helped me. maybe his girlfriend who worked at the bar we were at asked him to take care of me because I was being a nuisance to the customers. who knows what happened. i just remember drinking beer with him in the bar and talking about franco and basque freedom. he asked me how i was getting back to barcelona and i said by bus and he said what time? i told him 6pm and he said oh sh!t you have to go right now! so if it wasn't for that dude i would have been stuck in hell forever and woken up in a park somewhere if i ever did wake up. He asked some african dude taking my bus to look after me and he did. why are people so nice to me? seriously thank you spanish people who helped me in my darkest hours in Pamplona!

i took the bus to barcelona which was like 6 hours. it was horrible but i didn't throw up. we stopped halfway and i got off, still drunk and wandered around. what was i thinking? i got back just in time for the bus pulling out. I would have been stuck in who knows where if i hadn't happened to circle back. i took a taxi from the station to my house but looked in my pockets and had to get out because i only had enough money to get halfway home so i had to walk the rest. what a horrible 15 min walk. This is me in the elevator when i got home, i am just a mound of semi-animated undead flesh. I even had to wake up the next day and do an illustration for a deadline the following day. Ok so in the end the spirit of San Fermin and the biggest party in Spain caused me to go way overboard and get the most drunk I have ever been and become temporarily insane. I am not kidding. Sure it's funny to you guys but to me it is super scary and horrible. This could be what scares me straight. Now i should carry a picture of the taxi accident and san fermin on my camera so i can periodically remember how lucky i am to have made it out.

Pamplona/San Fermin/Running of the bulls conclusion: go with friends, but if you go by yourself don't drink or somehow have the self control of a monk and only drink a little because the spirit of the street party will carry you away. Get to the bull running course early, I would even rent a balcony next time. It was really fun for the time I can remember. I am bummed that i don't have any running of the bulls pictures