My family and I have spent summers in Spain for as long as I can remember.
As a young girl, I couldn’t wait for the last day of school so we could pack our bags and head for a country where the sun was always shining, and where everything halted at two in the afternoon.
Our time in Spain always coincided with the “Fiestas of San Fermin,” fiestas or festivities, celebrated in the town of Pamplona, where , for nine days, locals and tourists ran through the streets with the bulls.
Because we didn’t live anywhere near Pamplona, we had to settle for watching the event on tv.
I remember how we would set our alarm clock and promptly get up at eight; the time the run was aired.
I sat on the edge of my seat and bit my nails as I watched hundreds of men running in front of the bulls.
My mother, my sisters, and I made the sign of the cross before each event and sighed with relief when no one was hurt.
If someone was injured or trampled, we were overcome with sadness.
As a young girl, I thought the participants were extremely courageous.
Perceiving these men as brave is what prompted me to add “run with the bulls in Pamplona” to my bucket list at the tender age of ten.
At the time, I was quite impressionable and while I didn’t know what a bucket list was, I knew I had to participate in the event before I became old and arthritic.
There was something exhilarating and adventurous about outrunning beasts that were fast and lethal.
The event also had a surreal quality that left you with a God complex as you emerged triumphant; thus avoiding being sent packing to another life.
I imagined I would run faster than any participant; lead the group of runners to safety.
Me, a woman, would be the talk of the town.
My name and photo would appear in the newspapers and people would toast in my name.
That’s when I thought running with the bulls was a courageous act.
As I got older, my dreams of running with the bulls withered and died as I realized the participants were dumb asses; drunk tourists and foolhardy locals who were too stupid to weigh the consequences of their actions.
This was also the time when the animal activist in me kicked in.
I would preach for hours concerning the animal abuse present in blood thirsty activities such as this one.
Today was the last day of the “Fiestas de San Fermin.”
Just like in the past, I set my alarm clock, but instead, woke to my mom’s screams of “Hurry! They’re about to start!”
And once again, I sat on the edge of my seat and stared intently at the tv.
However, this time it was different.
I no longer thought the participants were brave or stupid.
Instead, I thought they were both.
Stupid, brave people running with the bulls.
And I was there with them; running as fast as my legs could carry me; my heart beating a mile a minute.
Who cares if I was sitting on the couch?
I had survived the experience, and that’s all that mattered.
I had run with the bulls and conquered.
At the end of the race, I happily turned off the tv; satisfied that I could finally cross this off my bucket list.
I felt damn victorious.
Has there ever been a time when you’ve wanted to run with the bulls in Pamplona?
Here are some photos of the little “pueblito” where I’m staying. Enjoy!