Pamplona, U.S.A.                    

Richard Bishop

© Copyright 2011 by Richard Bishop      

Photo of the bulls and people running in Pamplona.

Every year the newspapers are full of the story of the annual “Running of the Bulls” at Pamplona, Spain. In reality, this highly publicized event called an “Encierro” is only part of a larger celebration that occurs in Spain from 6 - 14 July each year. The local highlight is a colorful procession carrying an Icon of Saint Fermin, the Patron Saint of Pamplona, Spain.

 The “Running of the Bulls” occurs each morning on the route to the Bullfight Arena. Each run lasts all of about 3 ½ minutes and there are plenty of tales about the injuries of those who ran too slow or were otherwise accidentally mangled (or killed) while trying to get out of the way. The American Prize-winning author, Ernest Hemingway popularized the running of the bulls in his Novel: “The Sun Also Rises” (1926), which made the city of Pamplona, Spain, world-famous.

His story was also responsible over the years for hundreds of American tourists journeying to Spain to participate in the run.  I, personally, know a young person, who with two others, arranged the trip on their own (without the help of a Travel Agency) to participate in the year 2010. They endured this without injury, although I’ll never know why they went to all this trouble in the first place! I suppose that they considered it a supreme test of courage. They were just very lucky; after all, in these runs, there have been 14 persons killed since 1924 and hundreds have been injured (on one day, alone, there were 31 persons injured). With many of the wild-eyed Bulls weighing-in at over a thousand pounds, is it any wonder that such “accidents” occur?

Really now, you don’t have to travel all that distance to suffer injury from a member of the ox-family. When I was 5 or 6 years of age and still possessed my baby-teeth, I too was struck and injured by a bovine. In the late afternoon, my brother (6 years older) was bringing our milk cow, a Guernsey, back to the barn from the pasture for milking. He was walking just ahead on the left side leading with a rope and I was walking along the right side of the cow about half-way back. The top of my head was just about level with the cow’s back. We were accompanied by a myriad of flies who found the cow and its new companions irresistible. The cow was bothered considerably by all this attention and was swishing her tail and violently swinging her head occasionally from side to side to drive the flies off. On one of the larger swings to the right side, her right horn collided with my mouth and knocked-out my two front baby-teeth. That was not all; one of the teeth split my lower lip and left a permanent scar. Needless to say, I was laid up for several days where it was difficult to eat and/or speak.

 This narrative glosses over the issue of my good luck within the bad. If she had hit me in the temple with the point of her horn, I would have been “dead-as-a-doornail.” Or, I could have lost an eye. And so on. The point of the story is that you don’t have to travel 12,000 miles to get gored while running “all-out” with the Bulls of Pamplona. It can happen while you are relatively stationary right back here in the good old U.S.A.. And the outcome can be fairly objective and random, resembling that in Pamplona; take your pick, the loss of an eye, being gored in the back with resulting paralysis (as one person was), or “Doornail” dead.

Is it any wonder that the “activists” in Spain have been “climbing the barricades” trying to stop this tradition at Pamplona? But, wouldn’t you know it; their argument is a companion argument against the venerable wide-spread tradition of Bullfighting and is solely for the protection of the Animals!

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