I like to drink, I like to write, and, on occasion, I like to be a contrarian. I also like to understand the culture of the “other,” especially when it has such a deep history. So, that’s why I came to Pamplona.

Do these revelers recognize that the bulls they’ll be running with in the morning will be slaughtered by nightfall (literally a life and death finish line)?

Still, my conscience felt a little sick to its stomach while my natural curiosity ached to partake in this 9 day celebration that has religious roots, but hedonistic ends. Why do 2 million people make this annual pilgrimage of beer, bulls, and blood?

Spain reconciling that Barcelona has forbidden bullfights and, in reaction, Madrid has enacted laws to make it a sacred art form as protected as the city’s historic architecture? Historic or hysteric, I decided to take the plunge and spend 3 nights at the Fiesta de San Fermin that lasts from July 6-14 every year.

People see a bullfight as a heroic ballet of man versus beast; others see it as a barbaric act. A couple of days before the first bull run, you’ll encounter the Running of the Nudes, a PETA-sponsored event dedicated to “exposing the truth” about bullfighting.

Aficion means passion. An aficionado is one who is passionate about the bullfights.” Pamplona is full of aficionados. So, I settled in with an open mind, strapped on my smile, and stepped into my reveler spirit…moving from my conscience to my curiosity.

Source: www.afar.com