27 July 2011

thank heavens i'm a grown-up {running of the bulls, part I}

The sun wasn't up yet, and Amie and I were stepping over the sleeping bodies in the street.

"And this is where you wanted to sleep last night? On the street? With these drunk people? Where it smells like alcohol and a porta-potty that's never been cleaned?" I asked Amie, my voice going higher with every question.

I tried hard to not breathe deeply—not wanting to bring the smell too far into my lungs—and this lack of air may have made my voice higher.

Our of the corner of my eye, I saw a couple near a tree doing something I really didn't want to take a closer look at.

Not that I could divert my attention from watching where I was walking: one misplaced step, and I would be in glass shards. Or a puddle of red wine. Or the chunky remains of someone's dinner that had decided to come back up and out and onto the cobblestoned street of Pamplona, Spain.

Or I could step on someone's face, someone who was sleeping in the streets.

I'd read in my guidebook that during the running of the bulls festival {aka, the festival of San Fermin, although most people don't think about the saint so much as about the bulls}, people who didn't have hotel reservations slept outside in the main square of Pamplona.

I'd imagined a tidy camp, for reasons that defy logic since it was a festival made famous by Hemingway and it was in Spain, known for its late night partying.

In my idyllic vision of Pamplona, I'd conjured up people clumped in groups of 3 or 6, sleeping bags rolled out in the square, and maybe a picnic spread of prosciutto and cheese and a just-slightly-festive amount of red wine.

In short, before coming to Pamplona, I had imagined the Disney version of this little sleepover-in-the-square that my book described.

But the thing is, I didn't even want the Disney version of this, let alone the reality of inhibition-free people taking over the streets and spilling red wine on each other.

I figured that people sleeping on the streets fell into a few categories:
  • Those Who Did Not Plan Ahead
  • Those Here for the Party
  • Those Who Are Backpacking Around Europe
{In some instances, people can fall into multiple categories.}

I do not, at present, fall into any of those categories, although I did at one point belong to the Those Who Are Backpacking Around Europe group. Now I'm in the Thank Heavens I'm a Grown-up and Can Afford a Hotel and Will Never Have to Stay in a Hostel Again group.

I have my fair share of stories of dirty beds and drunk roommates and smelly bathrooms that are a curious mix of fried fish, body odor, marijuana, and soap; it's time to let the next generation gather their own crazy stories about hostels where the beds are actually hammocks and there are 76 of you in a room made for 3.

Given my current Thank Heavens I'm a Grown-up group, you can see why I didn't want to join the throngs in Pamplona for all all-night party.

{I'm also, by the way, part of the I Go to Bed at 10pm and Read for a Few Minutes Before Going to Sleep group. And maybe now you want to put me in the I'm Old Before My Time group.}

Amie, though—Amie had a different idea about Pamplona.


And I'll tell you more about that idea tomorrow.


  1. I love this story so far! :-)

    Also, I am so happy that I'm in the "Grownup and Can Afford a Hotel" group. We've been booking for our September trip and it's so nice to go straight to the Hotel or B&B categories. :-)

  2. Ah, yes, being able to stay at B&Bs -- that is a wonderful thing :) My mama and I were booking for our PEI trip over the weekend, and I got so excited over any B&B that looked like my dream of Green Gables.

    It's good to be a grown-up with a touch of child in you :)



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