Saturday, September 29, 2007

Walking with the Bulls

I'm not the Ernest Hemingway type (though Jenny always cited a favorite Hemingway passage about his lamenting eating hot french fries too soon and burning the roof of his mouth, but being unable to wait for them to cool down). And the whole "Running of the Bulls" tradition in Pamplona is unappealing to me.
But, yesterday, as I was taking a shortcut to get to Maxito's school, I found myself on a dirt alleyway facing a couple of bulls. It was somewhat astonishing to see them on the open road, rather than behind a fence or in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Bulls! They are massive and extremely muscular--I certainly entertained the idea of running away.
Then I saw the man walking alongside them. He fell into step next to me and began a conversation. So it was that I wound up walking with the bulls to get to Max's school. They pulled at roadside vegetation as they walked, dragging down branches, even uprooting small plants. Sometimes they wandered into the middle of the cobblestone road and, once, they kicked up a little dust trying to chase a red VW van that chugged by.
As my party and I approached Colegio Teizcali, the man pointed to a pasture, filled with detritus and bramble and barbed wire. He told me he and the bulls were heading through the pasture and, if I wanted to, I could join them. He assured me that it was a short cut. I looked at gnarly tangles of roving weeds tied around bits of trash and thought of how Hemingway and company were so macho and bold on those winding thoroughfares of Pamplona. But I'm no Heminway. I took the long way.

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