San Fermin 2013 – 1/2

I’d like to think that I am the first Kenyan to run San Fermin? Illusions of grandeur perhaps? I will continue to indulge myself until I am challenged, i.e. until another Kenyan tells me they have done it. B-)

It should be told that hostels in Pamplona (and hotels) are usually fully booked 2 months before San Fermin. Booked solid. I imagine it’s the only time of year that people are allowed to sleep anywhere. Case in point.

Power naps at the bus station

Power naps at the bus station

These guys must be tight

I assume they are BFF’s

I thought San Fermin was going to be a one-off event for me, but it’s something I must experience again. It’s hard to describe the festival in words. I wish I was a better writer, just so I could take you there. I’ve even tried to relive the experience with my eyes closed. I closed my eyes and tried to describe everything I saw, how it felt, how I felt, how it smelt, how it looked. Whatever it was, It was absolute. I really need a travel buddy on that note, some experiences are just not for loners.

I wish I could distill San Fermin into a drink. It would be red. It would be potent. I would keep it in a tiny tiny glass flask, keep it and stare at it every night, but never drink it. I would keep it in a little black box, in some cold dark forgotten room. I would be afraid to drink it. I would keep it secret, like a dirty habit. I would be the only person that knew about it.

If San Fermin were a smell, it would be strong, too strong. The kind of perfume that you only need a drop of before it just turns nasty, like those wariah scents. It would be seductive, addictive, forbidden, dangerous and even overpowering all in one. It would be unforgettable. One sniff would be enough.

If it was a woman, I don’t even want to go there. She wouldn’t have any teeth, but I would want her, and I wouldn’t be able to explain why. kibogoyo, imagine that.

I don’t know what makes this festival invoke such strong feelings. Is it that the festival is done in honour of Saint Fermin, martyred centuries ago by the Romans. Is it the fact that in the midst of all impending danger and craziness, you see people earnestly shaking off hangovers and praying for their safety. They pray as they touch a painting of Christ, they pray to San Fermin, protector of the runners. Is it the fact that the running of the bulls has been made larger than life and more dangerous than it actually is – only 15 people have died since 1910. Is it the bloodthirsty crowd, who half-scream and half-cheer as the scared (and angry) bulls finally have a say, and literally smash into solid walls, solid barriers and panicked people. Or is it simply all the sex(public), drugs(public) and alcohol that add red to the event living you with an indescribably curious, pleasurable, yet nauseating taste. Yes, there was public sex, as in broad daylight grass-burn fornication. I like to think I’m open-minded, but that was too much. Get a bush, or at least wait for the night. Aiish.

Unfortunately, I never saw the Mexican again. I stopped to take some pictures, and that was it. I lost her and her cousin in the sea of people. I didn’t know their names – that wouldn’t have helped anyway, and I didn’t have their numbers either. I like it that they are now just static memories that will get fuzzy and maybe fade (because I don’t have them on facebook either).  Memories of strangers are always images in our heads but Facebook kills those memories when it allows us into their lives – even if you never actually meet them again. I think I will stop adding people I meet on such short-term adventures on Facebook, I prefer the warm memories and the bittersweet acknowledgement that you will never meet. Yes, I like that topic, sorry frequent readers 🙂

I wandered around Pamplona, taking pictures of anything and everything, half hoping that we would meet again.

I think this is the best shot from the whole trip.

I think this is the best shot from the whole trip.

As far as company goes, it’s hard to be alone at San Fermin. Everyone is drunk and friendly, or friendly because they are drunk. If I knew Spanish, I’d have company in no time- cause loads of strangers saw my camera and shouted ‘foto!foto’, and switched to their 5 words of English after I let them down with my 5 words of Spanish.

24hr party. 2pm and still going

24hr party is a 24hour party. 2pm and these guys were outside a club that was still open.

Others were drawn by my flag (had to represent Kenya off course!)

Contrary to popular (probably more exciting) belief, she was fully dressed

Contrary to popular (probably more exciting) belief, she was fully dressed

The plan for the flag initially, was to be caught on CNN or YouTube or whatever running away from the bulls, flag flying behind. I was going to be more famous than David Rudisha. When it was time to run though, the panicked road to safety seemed much more sensible than the road to fame.

It’s really hard to describe how San Fermin was, so 2 things are going to happen.

1. I will do another post, so that I can show my google expertise as I tell you about Pamplona, and at least describe the run as best as I can. (no cameras are allowed on the run though, so no pictures 😦 )

2. The next post will have the link to my photoblog: it’s under construction after my fail at using Tumblr. WordPress wins again. On that note, Savvy any ideas for photoblogging forums?

Thanks

The Kenyan who Ran San Fermin 2013

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5 thoughts on “San Fermin 2013 – 1/2

  1. So where are you headed next?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can’t wait for part 2!! “If San Fermin were a smell, it would be strong, too strong. The kind of perfume that you only need a drop of before it just turns nasty, like those wariah scents”Hilars dude!

    wabz 🙂

  3. Looking forward to the next post.. and most of my photographer bloggers still use wordpress..

  4. waywardfoe says:

    i love that you saw this on cnn as a kid and decided to do it and then actually did it. congratulations on having a childhood dream come true

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