Fiesta de San Fermin, Pamplona, Navarra, Espana

I was somewhere in Bilbao, Spain when I heard a few Irishmen talking about the Run of the Bulls coming up the following weekend in a small mountain town called Pamplona. Of course I had heard of this festival and new it was dangerous, but I really had no idea what it was about. I chimed in, and to put it mildly these Irishmen got me fucking amped.

So my two traveling buddies and I booked a sketchy looking bus, to get us to another sketchy looking bus, to take us to Pamplona. Between buses we spoke with a few locals who had been to this festival multiple times. They were serious when they told us the Running of the Bulls was no joke and were stern in their advice that if we were absolutely set on running, to watch the first morning, get a feel for it, then run on the second morning. They unleash these bulls down an alley, and you outrun the local Spaniards to a safe nook or simply jump the fence into safety.They continued to explain that every year kids show up trying to make a memory and get a horn through their ass, or more likely, break their ribs getting trampled by the hectic crowd. And every year the small local hospital gets filled with broken tourists who had no idea what they were getting into.

The festival is eight days long, so a “run with the bulls” takes place every morning for seven mornings straight. People party through the night, than at the crack of dawn watch the craziest of the crowd risk it all. The run ends at around 10 or 11am and then the whole town falls asleep for 4-5 hours to wake up and begin partying into the night awaiting the next run. After watching a video where a runner gets trapped and absolutely ruined by one of the infuriated bulls, we take the locals’ advice. I’m not a dumbass, but I am a young fit guy whose all for an adventure. If you can’t tell your family even one good story on Thanksgiving, than what the hell are you doing with your life?

The second bus shows up and is full of wild drunken travelers all dressed in white pants and shirts with the notorious red scarf. At this point we had had almost no water and hadn’t eaten for a day. We join them in hammering on the local festive drink; imagine a 2-liter of cola half emptied and then filled with the shittiest two buck chuck red wine you can imagine- which immediately quenches my hunger.

After hours of mountain driving we finally hear the festival. The bus exploded in anticipation and soon you could see the beginnings of the wildest sea of white you could imagine. Thousands upon thousands of people filled the streets chugging red wine and throwing tomatoes, eggs, and children (not really) – it was wild.

We get off the bus, immediately haggle with a few locals for white pants and shirts, stash our packs, and head off into the mob. That evening was one hell of a rager as you could imagine. I remember wondering past the corral where they held the bulls that were planned to run the next morning and they were fucking GIGANTIC. What am I doing here? I pretended to laugh, called my friend Grafton a pussy, and kept walking.

It’s now maybe 2-3 in the morning and I spot a lone bacon sandwich street cart. At this point in the night I have drank what I would equate to a child’s kiddy pool worth of flat cola and red wine. I’m eating this damn sandwich.

Within maybe 3 minutes of eating this sandwich, I have the most explosive diarrhea a human can possibly shoot out their ass. I’m wearing white pants, I’m hammered, and I’m literally shoulder to shoulder with one fucking million people. I grab my two buds and look them in the face; I say “you two stay right here. I don’t know where I am going but I promise I will be back. Do not move”. Ross bursts into tears laughing, but they get it.

Now I want you to imagine something. Pamplona on average has a population of roughly 200k people. During this festival numbers can reach over a million. Every door, window, house, and store is boarded up and locked. You can walk for a mile and be shoulder to shoulder with people literally the entire way, and I am in the thick of this with my ass leaking like a pot of boiling water.

I walked for what seemed like hours to find one little crevice with maybe 10 feet from another person to take a squat, but it was impossible. People were everywhere. I remember thinking; “Well Ari, this is really happening. You’re going to shit yourself.”

Then out of nowhere, amongst a thousand people in a small plaza, I see one individual porta-potty. This has to be a sick joke? No one is in line, but people are partying all around it. I debated in my head – squat right where I am now, shoulder to shoulder with these people, or risk getting into a filthy and overused porta-potty amongst a drunken crowd.

Now, I like to think I’m pretty bold at times, and I think most friends of mine would agree, but I just couldn’t squat in front of everyone. Imagine being at a concert and just shitting on the ground… I couldn’t do it. So I walk up and opened the porta-potty. There was so much shit in this thing it overflowed up out of the toilet and over the seat, you almost couldn’t see it. People must have literally been aiming horizontally at this thing and spraying it.

Fuck it, this has to happen.

Right then I see hands up on the air vents and a teetering of the porta-potty. Oh shit. Nope, it’s too late, you can’t stop a volcano. I tear my boxers off my body without even pulling my pants down. I gave myself an atomic wedgy, which I didn’t even think that was a real thing. In the same motion I blew so much shit out my ass it actually lifted me up for a split second. I pulled up what were white pants and kicked that porta-potty door so hard it blasted at least one of the drunkards outside onto the ground.

I ran off and spent the rest of the night looking for my buddies. I find them, I’m covered in shit, and at this point have so much ass chafing dust is surrounding me, even my shirt seemed to have a brown tint.

It took them close to an hour to stop laughing and actually talk to me, but we got over it and headed to the bulls as we could tell the sun was coming up. We got into a prime spot and waited. I won’t write about the watching run itself, but it was epic and I had a plan for tomorrow mornings run.

The run is over and it’s now 10am, I’m delirious, and we have nowhere to sleep. We find some grass in a park and pass out. I’m guessing we woke up sometime around 2pm. I was so horribly malnourished I felt like I was literally on the verge of death. I was de-hydrated, starving, covered in shit and ass blood, and could barely stand. When I stood up I could actually hear my hangover in my ears.

I’ll admit it; I told my buds I had to get the hell out of that place. I was not doing another night of raging and then running down alleys with 14 mini-van sized bulls. I don’t think the local police would have even allowed me into the alley. We hopped on the first bus we could find in the opposite direction of the festival, and I made the day for some lucky passenger next to me.

No I didn’t run with the bulls. Instead, I gave myself an atomic wedgy and shit myself with white pants.

Happy travels

♥ The Traveling Plankton wants your story! Submit at travelplank44@gmail.com

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