I had never been to San Fermin. To be honest, I had never had much of an interest in going. To me the internationally known holiday, just an hour drive away, had always depicted an image of drunkenness and bravery dashed with a hint of stupidity. I had been somewhat intrigued by it since starting photography, but I always assumed that being only an hour and a half drive away I could always find time to go. I guess it's like those people who live in Paris but have never been up the Eiffel tower. It wasn't until Tim King and a few of his friends told me they were planning a trip to Pamplona this year that I decided to be on my way.
Their trip pretty much started all wrong. They flew into Madrid and after just one day of exploring they woke up the next day to discover that someone had broken into their locker at the hostal and stolen thousands of dollars worth of their belongings. Professional cameras, lenses, laptops, wallets, even a passport. Talk about a nightmare. I found out about this "hiccup" just a few hours before I was bound to catch my bus to meet them. They said they would try to make it to the train to Pamplona on time but weren't sure about how long they would be stuck at the American embassy, trying to get a new passport. Did I mention they stole their cell phone?
Yeah, no way of communicating...
To make matters worse, if I got to Pamplona and they were nowhere to be found I would have to spend the night wandering the streets by myself, surrounded by drunks, and with my heavy camera bag on me. Still, somehow I found myself actually boarding the bus, unaware if I was about to set myself up for a really long potentially dangerous night. I don't know what got me thinking that Pamplona was only a one hour bus ride away, but it's actually 1:45, and I was running more than an hour late of when I told them I would be there to find them. I quickly hailed a cab to the train station and hoped and prayed they would be there. The cab driver said there was no train that arrived at the time they had specified. Perfect.
Getting anxious by the minute, I decided to stick around the train station to see if they managed to board the last train. Hundreds of people filled platform one, and I stood on my tiptoes hoping to spot them. "Any minute now, please God?" and when the train was about 3/4ths my eye went straight to the Showit brown t-shirt from last year’s tour, and I knew Tim would be the one sporting it. Awesome!
Our adventure involved a lot of walking and using Google maps to find where to go next, but we made it to the hotel on time and I managed to get a whole ONE hour of sleep before getting up at 5:30am to be on our way to the running of the bulls. We revved up our engines with granola bars, and we passed the area smelling of all-things-unpleasant , with partygoers still in full swing, as we happily sipped on the straws of our juice boxes. It kinda figures that upon planning a daytrip with 3 guys my motherly instincts would kick in and make me pack a breakfast to go! When we finished up our coffe, we found a good spot for me to sit behind the fence and have a good vantage point from which to attempt to get a shot of the guys running with the bulls.
What?! You didn't actually think I would run, did you? I gotta save something for next year! ;) After that we ate a quick lunch and were on our way to spend the rest of the day in San Sebastian.