All Posts Tagged ‘Running of the Bulls




My city has burst today in its Fiesta of San Fermín. Exactly at noon, a fireworks rocket launched from the balcony of the City Hall in front of a square packed with people literally bathed in wine, marked the beginning of eight days and nights of festivities, street music and many more amusements. During this week everybody will be dressed in white with red bandanas. The first Run of the Bulls will happen tomorrow 8:00 AM. It seems that the population (usually of 250,000 people) will reach more than a million these days with all the tourists.

This is a group of people going towards the city hall square before the launching of the rocket or “Chupinazo” who signals the beginning go the Fiesta. (Notice how clean  and calm they are)

Hacia el Chupinazo

…And this is a group in the same street coming back from the city hall square after the fiesta has begun.



Don’t You Forget About Me.


The barricade


If you’re in school, are you enjoying your classes? If you’re out of school, what do you miss about it — or are you glad those days are over?

vallado 19-6-2015

Today is the last day of school for the kids in my city. They begin their long summer vacations till September. That’s what I miss from school the long summer vacations to live carefree playing around and doing whatever I wanted.

Over here, we are already getting ready for our annual festival of San Fermin. You know, the “Fiesta” described by Hemingway in one of his novels. The festival of the famous Running of the Bulls, where thousands of men (and some women) run a race with six bulls through the streets of Pamplona from the bull pen in Santo Domingo to the Arena . Today I saw that the city labourers had begun to install the barricades on the streets that are in the race path to protect the buildings and avoid the fled of the bulls. A man couldn’t resist the temptation and tried the barricade.

I’m not a fan of the bulls I’m afraid of them I don’t like the bloody spectacle and I had a hard time as a journalist reporting about the wounded in the run.

But these previous weeks to the fiesta are great, because the city is not crowded yet, and there are a lot of things going on in the streets, getting ready for the great moment. In the Castle Square there was today an artisan fair. A man gave me to taste a delicious cheese made in his farm in the mountains. Another man was making decorated ecological papers in a sort of shop.

The festival begins the July 7th. “Ya falta menos…” It’s about to happen.

Fifteen Credits.



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Draft a post with three parts, each unrelated to the other, but create a common thread between them by including the same item — an object, a symbol, a place — in each part.

A man was reading the newspaper while waiting at the door of the district attorney. I noticed he was reading my piece about a corruption scandal I was investigating. I was there hoping to find more information. I knew that the man with the newspaper was the police officer in charge of the investigation, but he didn’t know me. So I asked him casually: Is it true what it says the newspaper?. He said: Absolutely true. Everything. I wonder how they knew all this. I knew my sources were good. I’d checked and re checked every bit of data before publishing. I liked his reply. Then I introduced myself. That morning I got another valuable source.

The little office was cold and humid. I had a desk and a panel with a chart of the parking they were building right in the opposite side of the street. My job was to sell parking places. I was 19. I had found that job through a friend because I needed the money to live. I wanted to work for a newspaper and I was an intern in a newsroom in Bilbao, but they didn’t pay me enough. So I spent the mornings selling parking places to live and the evenings doing journalism. What I didn’t know was that the parking business would become pretty dangerous. I learned too late that my boss was involved in something suspicious. One day when I was alone at the office with the door open, two thugs came in looking for him. They threatened me and made me promise not to tell him they were around if he showed up. I was so scared I closed and locked the door as soon as they left. I didn’t care about what the customers would think. I didn’t  dare to venture out with those two characters around either. The boss came, I told him about the thugs and I quit right away. Well, as soon as I gathered enough courage to leave that awful place alone to go home.

As a reporter for everything in Pamplona, Spain, I had to write a lot about the San Fermin Festival. During eight consecutive years, my boss gave me the assignment of write about the wounded on the Running of the Bulls. So, when everybody was going towards the old city to watch the run, I drove in the opposite direction towards the hospital, to wait at the entrance of the ER the arrival of the ambulances with the wounded. Many traditional runners run with a rolled newspaper in their hand. With it, they measure the distance between them and the bull, and if it is too close, they can move it in front of the face of the bull to distract its attention and save precious seconds to escape. It was usual that when a wounded arrived in an ambulance, he still had his hand tightening hard the rolled newspaper.


Weaving the Threads.


Can’t Watch This

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When was the last time you watched something so scary, cringe-worthy, or unbelievably tacky — in a movie, on TV, or in real life — you had to cover your eyes?

You mean besides watching the news every day lately? Are not the images coming from Ukraine and Gaza these days terrible enough? I can’t watch them without shuddering. I’m a journalist. I have seen a lot of shocking images of conflicts, violence and wars and I’ve never got used to them. I see through them the suffering of real people, no matter how far away from me they may be.

I think the work of my colleagues the Photojournalists and Cameras is very important to tell the world what’s happening and raise public awareness about conflicts and situations that without images would pass unnoticed or would’ve forgotten.

Besides these images, another one very different made me cover my eyes recently. I was watching the TV transmission of the running of the bulls that every year takes place in my city, Pamplona, Spain during the Fiesta of San Fermín. I never go to see the event live for fun because I’m scared to death of what can happen. I know what I’m talking about. When I was working as a reporter I covered many years for my newspaper the run. My assignment was precisely to report about the injured by the bulls. I’ve seen too many wounds. I know how dangerous and bloody it is. I’ve interviewed many wounded and some of them decided to run again once recovered.

Anyway, this year, the last day of the fiesta I was watching the run in TV when an Australian guy got gored and the bull began to go after him. The bull gored him repeatedly while the youngster was trying to escape. It was terrible. He was seriously wounded. I covered my eyes and asked myself what was I doing watching TV at that moment. Two other runners got gored. I covered my eyes also next day when the newspaper arrived at home because the pictures were impressive.

I’ve lived almost all my life in this city but I still don’t understand some of their traditions. Above all the ones with bulls involved.

Can’t Watch This.


The most beloved relic in my town



This is the image of San Fermín venerated in Pamplona, Spain. It contains relics of the saint martyr in its chest. The image is a 15th century bust of the saint. Every year there is a procession followed by thousands of people the 7th of July. Many of  runners of the running of the bulls use to ask for protection to this saint before putting themselves before the bulls each morning during the  fiesta. This is the most beloved relic in my town.



A picture from Pamplona



This is a picture my friend Pachi Calleja captured this morning after the running of the bulls in Pamplona. When the run finished a young man who entered the Arena with the bulls turned and….. This only can happen in Pamplona.

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The Bull and Mom

The running of the bulls in Pamplona

The running of the bulls in Pamplona

It have been raining. The floor was slippery and that was dangerous. The street, packed with people watching the running of the bulls. It was Sunday.

Javier was a young man but a veteran runner. He didn’t like to run on Sundays because of the amount of people who make the run more difficult. Is almost impossible to find a place near the bulls to run and is dangerous because is easy to stumble and fall.

But that year he had no other chance because he had a job in Madrid and couldn’t come to Pamplona any other day. So he decided to run.

And there he was in Estafeta Street like always, waiting for the bulls, adrenalin boiling in his body as the beasts approached. And he jumped into the center of the street to situate himself in front of the horns.

When he decided it was enough to retire, he counted and realized one bull was missing so he tried to jump behind the barricades to avoid another run. But there were so many people that they didn’t make room for him.

The theory says that if you lay still like a sand bag, the bull will ignore you. So Javier, rejected by the people, unable to reach the safety of the barricade, decided to lay on the floor glued to the wall of stone of one of the houses and wait to the bull to pass, but with the bad luck that the bull slipped and fell looking at him. He felt the breathing of the bull and thought: Javier, you are history.

The bull charged against him, lifted him and throw him once. Javier, trapped between the bull and the wall,  acted as a sand bag and fell like a dead weight. the bull charged another time, and another, and another, and Javier acted according to the theory…until the eight time. Then the theory was enough for him and he began to fight kicking the nose of the bull until the beast moved its huge head and Javier saw a little space to escape running.

Everybody in the Hospital emergency room was waiting for him thinking in the worst possibilities.

– Leave me alone! I want to go home!, was the only thing he was saying at the arrival at the hospital. He looked surprisingly well.

His friend Francisco, From Madrid, with Javier’s sneakers on his hands, in the waiting room was the one who looked really sick. He was so impressed by what happened he needed assistance.

Half an hour after he enter the hospital Javier was able to go home. He was OK! Only some bruises by the sides of the horns and the blows against the wall and the floor, nothing more.

He went home in bad shape. His white shirt torn up, his clothes dirty and walking with the help of his friend Francisco. He rang the door’s bell. And when his mother opened the door and saw him said:

– And the loaf of bread? Didn’t I tell you to buy the loaf of bread before you come back home? You always having fun out there and the only thing I ask you to do for me, you forget.

– But Mom…

– And where have you been? How are you so dirty? surly drinking with your friends. Who knows what….

– Mom, you didn’t watch the running of the bulls at TV this morning did you?


PS. This story is real. It happened many years ago. I Asked Javier if he would run again and he answered that being charged by a bull eight times and not wounded by the horns is a miracle, a miracle by San Fermín. He said miracles don’t happen often so he probably wouldn’t. Javier’s mom wouldn’t watch the video so impressed she was when they told her the story of his son and the bull charging against him eight times without wounding him.

Weekly Writing Challenge: The Best Medicine.