Nina’s Travel Rule # 12: Definitely Do Run the Bulls in Pamplona (Pt. 1- If You Don’t Wanna Bathe in Your Own Blood, Try Sangria Instead…)

These people are not covered in blood, they are covered in sangria...

It’s 4 am and I’m a mess.  I’m attempting to sleep on the lawn outside the bus station in Pamplona, Spain, along with two thousand of my closest friends, but it’s not working very well cause it’s so fucking cold I’m considering mugging a neighboring stranger for his hoodie. I’m here for the Running of the Bulls, kinda by accident, and I’ve managed to get myself ridonculously intoxicated, appareled entirely in white (with a red sash!), and covered in the fuck knows what.  Whatever it is, it’s also red.  And dirty.  I am so red and dirty I doubt my friends, none of whom I have seen for many many hours, would even recognize me.  I swear I came here with people (love you Mo!  Love you Rhyne!), including my bro (love you J-balls!), and made more friends today (love you, drunk Venezuelan 19th b-day girl who humped me in a bar!), but that ship has sailed.  And then…

This fiasco was envisioned back last January, when I ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen since college, who mentioned he was gonna Run the Bulls the next summer.  So clearly I was like, ah!  I’m going to Europe as well, and am SO in.  Add another buddy of his and my brother, and disaster was pre-planned…   Yet all was magical? We somehow met up in Madrid Barajas (see *Worst Airport On Planet Earth, or anywhere else in the universe, really), snagged our rental car, and took off across Spain.  Despite my appalling command of the Spanish language, it went remarkably well, and we arrived the day before the opening ceremonies at the… Holiday Inn Pamplona.  Which is not actually in Pamplona, clearly, but like 5 miles out of town.  Yeah, I know, I felt retarded too, but I swear to God I booked this shit in FEBRUARY and it was the last hotel available anywhere even vaguely near the city.

So, drinky-poo, some dinner, Pamplona is adoooorable.  Historic old town, happy families everywhere, absolutely no foreshadowing of the quickly approaching debauchery preparing to engulf the town.  The boys purchase themselves white outfits with red sashes / kerchiefs (de rigeur, apparently, whether or not one is planning to flirt with death), and I concoct something pseudo-appropriate from the hobo clothes I’ve been destroying all over Europe for the past 2 months.  Cut to 4am Wednesday…

We’re awake!  We’re ready!  Let’s get bloody!  It’s a beautiful morning, beautiful park, beautiful weather, everyone’s happy and joyous, kids and grandmas are dancing to the bands that stroll through the quirky cobblestoned streets of the old town.  Old men and teenagers, tourists and locals, everybody’s drinking sangria.  Everyone’s clearly well on the way to crap-faced, but no one’s arguing or pushing, all is just pleasant and polite.  How nice these Spaniards are! Well, until we get to the sangria fight, that is…

My Drunk, Sangria-covered Boys

Further entering the old town, all these people keep walking by, covered in what we assume is blood.  But like, the bulls aren’t running till tomorrow, surely these people aren’t killing each other already, huh?  And then we enter.  From every side we are bombarded with… fluids.  Sangria pitchers, beer pitchers, silly string, wineskins, is that a super-soaker filled with sangria??  In about 3 seconds our whites are a whole new red.  Thinking to escape the onslaught, we duck into some hole in the wall bar to find…  90 yr-old men having a dance party on the tables?  And everyone’s STILL spraying sangria everywhere??  Oh, fuck it, we’ll just join in.

About 3 hours later, full of tapas on the inside and booze on the outside, somewhere in the midst of a full-on street party, my friend Mo turns to me and says:

Mo: “Mardi Gras?  Wtf.  This is the best party on earth.”

Now, we went to Tulane together, in New Orleans, and have been through many a mardi gras.  Most of which were insane, and one of which involved Mo passing out, facedown, at like 7pm, on the most disgusting surface I’ve ever imagined, in the midst of a still-raging partay .  But still…

Me: “Yeah dude, you are soooo right.  Like, what the fuck is happening over there??” Pointing.

Mo: “Uhh…”

It seems the Spanish had tired of simply drenching each other, and complete strangers, in all manner of fluids, and had decided to play a fun game that I will call “Fling the drunk girl as high as you can into the crowd”.  Probably not the best idea on cobblestone streets, but dude!  I wanna get flung!  So we stop for some beverages and run into Drunk 19th B-day Venezuelan Chick.  She of the blue blue hair.  Clearly this girl needs shots, it’s her bday and she’s spending it in Pamplona!  Next I know I’m being humped in a bar, which is totally unavoidable cause it’s so packed I couldn’t’ve moved away if I’d tried, and then we’re all going outside to get flung?  Which was awesome 🙂

Me, Mo, and the 19-yr-old B-day Girl Venezuelan Humper with Blue Hair

So at some point I have to pee, which is about as difficult in a Spanish street party as a New Orleanian one, and it takes forever, blah blah, come out and…  no one is anywhere to be found.  Shocking.  My options are now:

a)      Trove around looking for 3 people in white, amongst a sea of people in white, drunk.


b)      Take a nap under a tree

We all know which one I chose.

So I’m nappin, I’m nappin.  I NEVER nap, but I’m totally crap-faced and it just seemed comfy, you know?  I mean, I’m sleeping with my head on my purse, everyone else is too trashed to rob me, it’ll be fine.  Until…  tap tap.

Me: “huh?”

Random Drunk Spaniard: “Wake up!  Wake up!”

Me: “wtf man, I’m sleeping under a tree??”

RDS: “But wake up!  Party!  Dance!”

Me: “oh, well, I suppose…”

So me and RDS go trolling around the streets, his English is mediocre and mi espanol is aforementioned.  Which wouldn’t matter anyway, cause it turns out I don’t speak Spanish, I speak Mexican.  Like, Mo talks Mexican to the locals, I understand every word, they talk Spanish back and I’m like: Is that, uhh, Catalan?  Nope, that’s Spanish.  Weird-ass Europeans.

And this is all lovely, until it turns out RDS is actually pretty dang creepy, and I tell him I’m going home and get on a bus.  Not like, the bus that goes chez holiday inn, just like, the first bus that passes.  This works poorly though, as dude actually hops on right behind me.  Fuck.  So I’m thinkin, I’m thinkin, I’m not thinkin too coherently, but whatever.  Lightbulb!  Bus stops, I do nothing, doors start to close, and I somehow coordinate a horizontal Indiana-Jones-esque leap, shouting, adios!  Es mi estacion!  Success!  Oh wait…

This “thinkin” I have been attempting has taken a while.  I am now in the burbs, somewhere west of town.  Like, close enough I can hear the party, but not enough to see it.  So the bus tears off, and I start hiking.  30 minutes later and I really have to pee.  Like, I would pee on an old man in public it’s so bad.  So I take a turn off the small highway I’ve been hiking down, traipse across an abandoned construction lot, and find a small thicket.  In which I do my thing.  And, as if placed there by magic elves, look!  Fruit!  Gee I’m hungry.  And I tell you, those road plums were the best shit ever.  About an hour later…

I do not know know where my brother is now. he looks like this??

Oh god.  I’m drenched in fuck knows what.  I’ve been eating abandoned street fruit.  I’m still drunk.  In a bush.  And I’ve been sleeping in a construction lot somewhere in a suburb in Spain.  Woo woo for the bulls!

So I continue hiking, make it back to town, drink and fling and splatter some more, end up in the main square, and run across RDS2.  The second iteration, however, is AWESOME.  He adopts me, we go clubbing and minesweeping (you know, when all those drunk people forget about their beverages and, well, somebody’s gotta benefit, right?  And the next I know it’s like, 3am.  I am now dead, so I ditch RDS2 (love you, RDS2!) and try to snag a cab.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Ha.  Haha.  After about 1.5 hrs of this I say fuck it, and pass out on the lawn of the bus station.  This lasts about an hour, but it’s I Swear To God 3 degrees F outside, so I get up and, taking the high road of refusing to mug strangers for hoodies, start wandering around looking for a cab again.

And oh god!  I’ve got one!  And it’s stopping!!  But wait…  As I make to open the door, some skeezeball 19 yr old Mexican kid hops in.  I’m about to punch him in the face when he offers to share and I’m like, fine.  ½ price, warm cab, sure.  Turns out he’s so shit-canned he doesn’t know where he lives and is now speaking espanol worse than mine.  The cabbie and I are actually commiserating in front of his face.  Fucking 30 min later and we’ve gone somewhere completely not in my direction, arriving in an abandoned warehouse-type area, and he’s insisting this is the address…

ASSHOLE [en boraccho espanol]: “So this is where I live?”

Cabbie [en espanol verdad]: “Well, yeah, this is the address you told me.”

ASSHOLE: “Oh ok!”  Hops out.

Me [en broken espanol]: “So, there ain’t no hotel-o here, si?”

Cabbie: “Claro.”

Me: “God bless you, cab man.  I’m at the Holiday Inn, and I can tell you exactly how to get there.”

Cabbie: “God bless you for that, drunk woman whose espanol makes me want to vomit.”

Me: “Claro.”

And that is how this happened:

4:30am. Arriving at the Holiday Inn. VOMIT.

To Be Cont.’d…

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