Ella Alexander ran with the bulls at the Festival of San Fermin at Pamplona just so she could say that she had done it.
I chose my campsite based solely on price, even opting out of the girls-only tent to save ten euros, fully aware that choosing â€˜mixed genderâ€™ accommodations usually meant a sleepover with a loud and almost naked basketball team or bachelor party. Any woman whoâ€™s gone backpacking is familiar with the girls-only room rape prevention tax. The cost adds up, so I decided to take my chances with the guys this time. The travel company promised a tent, a sleeping bag, and a bus ride to and from the running, plus unlimited beer and sangria for a small additional fee that, unlike the rape prevention tax, I did pay.
The morning I ran with the bulls, I woke up with the sunrise. I stepped around the sleeping men in the tent to brush my teeth and change into my white and red outfit in a three-stall port-a-potty. Deodorant was a Band-Aid on a bullet wound â€” when I finally found a shower two days later in San Sebastian, what Iâ€™d mistaken for a tan turned out to be an insistent film of dirt â€” but still I slathered it on. Iâ€™d run out of clean underwear so I turned the previous dayâ€™s pair inside out and sprayed floral perfume on my neck, my wrists, and the backs of my knees. There was nothing more to be done.
The campsite was eerie in the early morning, littered with crushed beer cans and trampled red sashes, silent except for the wind hitting the tents. I walked down to the parking lot. The bus driver leaned against his bus, smoking a cigarette. â€œYouâ€™re twenty minutes early.â€
â€œReally? Damn.â€ I already knew this, but had nowhere better to stand than by the bus. I drew crescents in the dirt with my Dr. Martens and wove my earbuds into a braid then unwove them on repeat.
â€œNervous?â€ the driver asked, laughing.
â€œBoyfriend drag you into this?â€
â€œNo, Iâ€™m just stupid.â€