Saturday, August 26, 2017

Running With the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain

Park Guell - Barcelona

As you know we recently took a trip to Spain. I’ve been silent since we left for a few reasons. First, I’ve been busy settling back into my daily routine with work and the kids. Plus it’s the start of school here so we’ve been attending open house, orientation, parent conferences, and basic enrollment meetings just about every day which has left me completely drained at the end of each day. And of course we’ve had quite a few birthdays happening in the family so my free time has been monopolized lately. Not to mention that I’m leaving for Scotland in exactly four weeks. So I’ve been a busy little duck.

Normally, I’d write something on the trip but I didn’t get a chance to. Because we landed in Barcelona and were there for exactly twelve hours before hopping a train to Pamplona. We arrived on July 6th and had an absolute blast wandering through the city, eating local food, and dancing the night away in the square where the DJ was absolutely killing it! We learned a few of the local dances, watched people covered in wine snooze in the grass, and discovered that even though we don’t know a lick of Spanish – we can pick up some lyrics pretty quick. After finally winding our way back to our room in Pamplona we crashed and woke early excited and ready to watch the first Bull Run of San Fermin 2017.
Enjoying the Festival on July 6th
Catching "the feels" on the morning of the run.

We arrived back at the center of the city where last nights partiers were still sleeping in the grass while some were just waking to get prepped for to run. I am not a runner. So I intended to simply watch the run. My husband, on the other hand, is an adrenaline junky and was absolutely determined to run. So we scoped out the run. I found a place to hang while he went a little further down towards the starting line. His intention was to run for just a little bit – maybe a quarter of the whole length of the run – to where I was waiting and from there we’d finish out the festival.

The tension, excitement, and trepidation of the crowd was absolutely palpable. You found yourself getting goosebumps during the prayers and chanting. Stomping your feet and jumping when the first shot goes off to announce the beginning of the race. From my view, I could see the runners shifting with anticipation and doing some final stretching before the run. Then the second shot and you can hear the stampede instantly. The crowd goes silent. From total uproar to total silence instantly. The bulls run past and just as they come into view I see a runner get gored through the abdomen. EMT and Police are instantly at his aid pulling him into safety from the bulls and the crowd to adminitster care. Initially, I’m watching with a bit of gross fascination.
Crowd just before the run begins

And then, I start to question…..where is my runner? My husband was very aware of where I’d be waiting and I hadn’t moved more than a foot from where he left me. I started climbing the fence and trying to peek over the crowd to determine where he might be. Wondering if the baracade the police had made was simply preventing him from getting to me. And then I get the text. THE text.
“I’m down babe” he says. And it’s such a casual statement that I’m thinking he must have twisted an ankle. I’m thinking about how much of a hard time I’m going to give him for not listening to me. So I set off to find him. I’m mildly concerned but not overly at this point. And then he calls me. I hear him arguing with the paramedics on the scene, yelling that he won’t leave until I get there. Trying to explain to them that I don’t have any money on hand, that he has our room key, and that I need to get to him before he leaves. It’s at this point that fear strikes hard into my heart. Flashes of the other runner being gored starts playing and I start walking with a bit of a panicked pace. I’m searching the side lines for him sitting with paramedics, passing a circle of police with a man covered in a white sheet – thankful that it’s not him.

Until I hear him scream my name and I realize that that man was in fact my husband. I try and walk between some of the police officers surrounding him and am immediately grabbed on the arm and pulled back. I try to explain to them that he’s my husband – speaking English of course – and none of them understand me. And then suddenly the Spanish word for wife pops in my head and I start shouting “Esposa” repeatedly until they eventually relent and allow me in. The first thing that I notice is that his head, shoulder, and chest are covered in blood. The second thing I notice is a paramedic applying pressure to a wound.

He very calmly looks at me and says “hey. I was calling you. You need my wallet”. The paramedics were able to explain the nature of his injury and the only thing I really understood and processed at the time was that it wasn’t life threatening. The paramedics began to load him into the ambulance and explained to me which hospital they were going to take him to, how to get there, and the approximate taxi fare. Just as she finished typing the name of the hospital into my phone for me the driver of the ambulance walks up, grabs my arm and tells me to come with him. Once I get closer to the ambulance, I can hear my darling husband absolutely raising cane about how he isn’t going anywhere without me.

I climb into the front of the vehicle and then we shoot off to the nearby hospital where we’re quickly assessed and he’s quickly operated on – a very quick and efficient procedure that I was very unprepared to witness but survived none the less.
We spent the next twenty four hours there in the hospital, missing trains, hotel check-ins, kicking reporters out of the room, and countless time spent on the phone trying to organize everything with our insurance company. Luckily for us, the only thing we lost money on was our train. We did have to purchase a new ticket but it wasn’t an outrageous expense. The hotel, despite stating online that not being present at check in would mean forfeiting our reservation, was very understanding and accommodating once we called them from the hospital. They gladly updated our reservation and provided excellent service.
He made the news! (He feels pretty accomplished about it)

But the care provided by Complejo Hospitalrio de Navarre was the best I’ve witnessed. Despite having serious communication issues the staff was very tolerant and patient with us. They gladly put up with our need to use Google Translate and would communicate back with us either through providing the requested item instantly or graciously typing in their reply to our questions. The staff was incredibly efficient and caring and honestly made our situation bearable. And for that, I’ll be ever grateful.

So the rest of our trip was spent much slower and with much less sightseeing than we’d planned on. But we enjoyed a lot of amazing food and enjoyed much more of the culture than I think we would have if we’d stuck to our tourist spots. We did spend a lot of time napping and changing out wound dressings too. But it was an experience to tell our children (and entire family – because yes, I called my Mama in the midst of finding my husband injured at the festival).
We’ve been home for a few weeks now and he’s almost completely healed. There’s still some lingering muscle pain but we’re very, very lucky that it wasn’t any worse.

As always, please comment below and feel free to share! 
After the run, enjoying time in Madrid.