RUNNING WITH THE
BULLS OF PAMPLONA
Photographs kindly supplied by Jorge
It was in a movie about outlaw cowboys:
the hero, conscious that this day
he will die, grooms himself. He
shaves. He combs his hair. He
adjusts his collar around his neck. And
he steps outside, meets his death, and
dies in the rain. As he lay dying, at
least he's clean.
||On the 9th
of July I ran with the bulls
through the narrow streets and alleys of
the Spanish town of Pamplona. In the dawn
of morning I combed my hair. I
shaved. I dressed myself
deliberately and with great execution in
the traditional costume of the bull-runner:
white pants, white shirt, red belt, red
handkerchief tied around the neck.
The men gathered beneath the
great cathedral in the centre of town. Most
of them were drunk. They were all Spaniards.
Except for the Japanese guys with the video
camera. And the thick chested frat-boys
from Texas. And this kid, from
||The Running of the Bulls in
Pamplona known to the Spanish as El
Encierro (or the
enclosing), is the seminal event of
the week long Festival of Saint Fermin.The
run covers a half-mile course through
narrow cobblestone streets and alleys,
and ends in the great stadium of the
Plaza del Toros (the Spanish bullring).
The origin of El Encierro is practical:
the bulls, carefully raised and bred by
bull breeders, grazed in the countryside
of Pamplona When the bulls had
reached the proper age and physique to
fight in the Plaza del Toros, the
breeders used the streets of Pamplona to
transport their prized bulls from the
fields to the bullring. In the same
afternoon, all six of the bulls were
expected to die by the sword of the
matador.but why then, for over 800 years,
have men chosen to run with the bulls
lore suggests that the original runners
of El Encierro were the peasant butcher
boys. It is said that the young
men, so overtaken by the sublime presence
of the horned beasts, burst into the
streets to run amongst the herd as if
possessed in some ghostly trance.
|Many of the young men were
fatally gored and trampled.
It is still unclear as to what compelled
these young pioneers of El Encierro to
risk their lives and run with the bulls.
As an old man of Pamplona once told me:
a young man cannot resist the magic
of beauty and danger. Perhaps.
to page two...
your own Pamplona Adventure!
Working with excellent local contacts in
& Beyond designs special San Fermín
programmes to open up some of the best-kept
secrets of this unique festival. Madrid
& Beyond can also arrange tickets for
the bullfights and V.I.P. balconies for
the "Txupinazo" (the riotous
opening ceremony) and the famous Running
of the Bulls. To witness the
world's most famous fiesta, book well in
|This article written By
Jaed Muncharoen Coffin: Jaed Coffin is the
author of, soon to be published, A CHANT TO SOOTHE WILD ELEPHANTS, Da Capo Press, and currently
lives between Alaska, Maine, and Spain.
Photographs kindly supplied by Jorge Garcia-Eickelberg
with arrangements through Madrid and Beyond