Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 32: The Running of the Disinterested Bulls

Dscn1905bSeptember 12: At six o’clock in the morning, the sleepy classical music started playing. The wake up call, and everyone jumped out of bed to hit the trail. I pulled out a book and read, eventually getting up and leaving town nearly two hours later.


Late in the morning, I caught up with Karolina (the Polish girl) who was hiking with another girl I didn’t recognize. So I asked where she was from, and learned it was Germany. I didn’t think much of this—there are quite a few Germans on the trail—then Karolina told me about a group of them planning to camp out for the night, which really got my attention.


“Really?” I asked. “Mind if I join?” I so very much wanted to camp with a little company around!


She told me who all was planning to camp out for the night, including Brian from California who I met briefly on my walk into Pamplona and we had discussed his wanting to camp out but that everyone was scaring him out of it. Also, Maria from Sweden was interested, a girl I had met for about 60 seconds earlier in the day. The other names Karolina mentioned I didn’t recognize at all, but that’s not to say that I wouldn’t recognize their faces if I saw them.


So I was pretty happy about finding some people who actually wanted to camp out for the night! Yes!!!


Then our conversation fell into a lull. I couldn’t think of anything else to say, then jokingly turned to Karolina and said, “Hey, you have anymore concentration camp jokes?”


As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to slap myself. I had completely forgotten that the girl on the other side of me was from Germany, and it seemed like a bad idea to joke about concentration camp jokes with a German standing right next to me. Oops! Karolina shook her head and said no, and the German girl either didn’t hear me or chose to ignore me and said nothing and I let the subject drop. Stupid, stupid, stupid…. Can’t believe I did that!


Dscn1911bMuch later in the afternoon, when it was just Karolina and I around, I asked her about that incident—did she say no, she had no other concentration camp jokes because she really didn’t know anymore, or was it because of the German standing on the other side of me.


“It was because of the German!” she answered. “I thought you were trying to test how brave I was or something!”


I laughed. “No, just me being an idiot.”


Then she told me a story that years ago, she was in a room with a bunch of Germans and once tried telling a concentration camp joke. “And nobody laughed. Nobody. So I don’t tell concentration camp jokes around Germans anymore.”


This cracked me up even more than my own foot-in-the-mouth. “You told a whole room full of Germans a concentration camp joke?” Hahahaha! Now that takes some serious guts! In my head, I imagined a room crowded full of Germans. Loud, partying, and as soon as she tells the joke, the room falling silent as all heads turn in her direction. It would rank right up there with shouting out about laminated testicles. It’s probably funnier in my head than it was in real life, though, but I found myself giggling over the incident for the next several days. “Seriously? You told an entire room full of Germans a concentration camp joke? Hahahaha!!!!!”


Then we walked into Viana where a festival of some sort seemed to be happening, and we were told that there was going to be a bullfight in a couple of hours and that the bulls would be running through the streets in another hour or so. A running of the bulls!!! We weren’t in Pamplona, but by golly, I wanted to see some bulls run! I wasn’t so excited about the bullfight itself which seems cruel, but watching bulls running through the streets chasing after idiots that would be stupid enough to join them seemed like fun. So a group of us pilgrims hung around just outside of the church to wait for the running of the bulls.


I caught up with Vivian again here. “Our streak of seeing each other every day since Saint Jean is still going strong!”


We knew the running of the bulls was going to happen soon when the streets started to empty and gates were being set up across all of the windows along the street. Karolina scrambled up on top of a fence post for a better view, then I scrambled up another one nearby for another good view. We weren’t up there very long when a Spanish man came along saying we weren’t allowed to be up there. Seriously? You have idiots who are preparing to run around with LIVE BULLS and you’re worried about us falling off a fence? Sheesh. So Karolina and I had to get back down to ground level and mingle with the crowds again. Of course, being smart, we stayed on the side of the fence where the bulls wouldn’t be. =)


Dscn1922bWhile waiting for the show to begin, I met a few other lingering pilgrims, and when I introduced myself to one of them, they got excited. “You’re Ryan Air!”




Apparently, some Finnish guys had started calling me “Ryan Air” because I was hiking so fast. (Which, frankly, since I decided not to hike to Lisbon in Saint Jean, I haven’t really been hiking very far or fast each day anymore.)


“They said you were hiking so fast because you’re trying to meet up with your son further down the trail.”


Woah. Where the heck do rumors like this start?!!! My eyes might have bugged out a little.


“I have a son?” This was BIG NEWS to me! “I think you must have me confused with someone else,” I told the girl.


“But you’re Ryan? And you started hiking from Le Puy? And you thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail?”


“Well, yes…..”


“Then it’s you!” she insisted.


I was speechless. I didn’t know what to say.


Finally, the first bull came running through the street. Running might be a slight exaggeration. A slow trot might be more accurate, and he seemed curious about his surroundings, stopping to look at people along the route. Others tried to get the bull to move, but he’s often refuse, content standing where he was. It wasn’t particularly exciting or interesting, to tell you truth, and the pilgrim next to me described it as the running of the disinterested bull, which is where I got the title for this post. =)


Dscn1934bEventually, though, the got the bull moving and it trotted out of view. That was it? I was  little confused about the direction that the bull ran as well—away from the bull ring. Was it running back to the bull ring on some sort of loop through the town?


My question was answered a few minutes later when the same bull came running back in the opposite direction this time. Ah, okay, no loop then. But still? That was it? Much ado about nothing….


Then the bull came back again, this time with a friend. The bulls ran back and forth for about an hour or so, the herd of them getting larger throughout the hour. Some of the times, they actually ran and stupid people with red scarves ran ahead and behind me with them. Once, and only once, we saw one of the runners get a bull’s horn in his ass, but it was a glancing blow. I was taking static photos at the time and missed the event on my video. Shoot! That would have been awesome if I could have gotten it on video. The fellow rubbed his butt, but otherwise seemed completely unharmed by the incident.


Eventually, though, the running of the bulls came to an end, the protective gates were opened, chairs and tables were repositioned outside, and people filled the streets again. The city was back to normal, and Karolina and I headed out of town.


We stopped in Logrono for a couple of hours trying to find the others who planned to camp out for the night. We found Maria, from Sweden, but she decided to bug out worried that the overhanging clouds looked like rain. The weather forecast didn’t call for rain, and I worried that Maria might scare Karolina out of camping, but she didn’t. Karolina still wanted to camp out.


Karolina also found three of the others who planned to camp out, but I didn’t know any of them. One, however, did turn out to be from Seattle. Or rather, that’s what he told everyone. He really lived in Tacoma but apparently, most people hiking the Camino didn’t know where Tacoma was. Everyone knew where Seattle was. Half the time I’d tell people I was from Seattle, they’d say that they were big fans of Fraiser. I didn’t realize it, but Fraiser really put Seattle on the map for the rest of the world! So rather than explaining to people he was from Tacoma, which was near Seattle, he started telling people he was from Seattle.


They all headed out of town to set up camp, but Karolina wanted to wait a bit longer in an attempt to find a couple of Brians. The one from California I knew and would recognize. The other Brian, I had no idea who that was.


Dscn1936bAt 6:00 that evening, though, we gave up the search. Our map showed a nature preserve of some sort quite a ways out of town by a reservoir, our goal for the night, and if we waited much longer, it would be dark before we got there. The walk out took considerably longer than I expected and we didn’t reach the reservoir until about 8:00, shortly before sunset. We didn’t see the other campers, though. Did they hike by already? Were they hidden in the trees? We didn’t know and there was no sign or note giving us a clue as to their whereabouts. We still needed a place to camp, though, and we scrambled up a small hill and set up camp in the trees with a nice viewpoint to watch the sunset and its glow in the reservoir waters.


I didn’t cook dinner—it was already so late that I didn’t want to mess around with that—and the campsite was really wonderful. Despite how busy the trails around us were, the top of this hill was fairly secluded and quiet. My only complaint was that we could hear some of the traffic noise from the highway, but at least we were far enough away from them that it wasn’t especially loud. Definitely loud enough to hear, but not so loud as to be particularly disturbing.


After the sun set and it got really dark, I went back to the viewpoint and tried looking for any suspicious headlamps moving around in the trees below us. I figured that was probably our best bet for finding our missing campers. We did see some lights moving around, but they seemed more like lights on a house or people walking along the paths in the area, not camper lights. Maybe in the morning we’d find the rest of them….

Three bulls chase after this idiot….


One bull had a red balloon attached to its horns.
You just know that one had to have been embarrassed.
I imagined the bull was thinking, “How humiliating! Now
you must die!”


The trail is pretty well marked most of the time. I took
this photo because I liked the little pilgrim statue in the wall here. =)


A pedestrian bridge across a river.


This graffiti was under a bridge. Talk about planning early, though!
This pilgrim party wasn’t scheduled until July 25, 2018!
I’ll put it on my calendar now! =) Oh, wait, there aren’t
any calendars that far into the future yet!


I liked the Camino markers through Logrono, even if the
yellow arrows still look like graffiti. =)


I hang out with some other pilgrims along
the trail in Logrono. =)


Logrono is one of the bigger towns along the trail. Definitely
no small podunk! It’s a major city!


The trail leaves Logrono on a freakishly long park which I
suspect used to be a railroad but was turned into a trail for
pedestrians. This is a bridge along that section, on the way out of town.


The campsite for the night. You can see the reservoir
through the trees in the background. Karolina is
on her back doing some stretching exercises.


Sunset over the reservoir.


Kaaren said...

Mazel Tov on your bouncy baby boy.

Kaaren said...


Steve, Christa, Emily, Meghan, Charles & Elizabeth said...

I've got a little boy, bouncy was pretty accurate.

anne bonny said...

Great post and excellent self-portrait :) Anne Bonny approved! lol

BTW, you should have brought your son on the train ;)

Eidolon said...

Ahh the laminated testicles. Such memories and wonderful dinner conversation!!!

Anonymous said...

Funny, while reading this post, I was actually watching Frasier! I'm really enjoying your long walk.

Karolina said...

RyanAir is a popular budget flight company in Europe.

Karolina said...

And what is it about those laminated testicles?? ;P