Lucinda Poole, nueva Guiri del año posa con la mano sobre la barbilla

Face to face with Lucinda Poole, “Guiri” of the year

Picture by  José Luis Larrión

American journalist, Lucinda Poole, will be awarded during Sanfermin 2017 with the XIV Premio Guiri del Año, an award which is given each year by Kukuxumusu and Sanfermin.com to a foreigner who has stood out for their love of the Sanfermin fiestas. This year, in its fourteenth edition, the winner of this award is the versatile journalist and translator, Lucinda Poole, who will follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner, Englishman Tim Pinks.

Lucinda Poole is a 60 year-year-old woman, from Chapel Hill (North Carolina) and she has been associated with the Pamplona fiestas for more than three decades now. Indeed, her first writing on the fiestas was a guide book published as “Don’t Be a Foreigner in Sanfermines”(1982).

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Imagen de Lucinda Poole frente a la obra completa de Hemingway en un posado.

Kukuxumusu awards American journalist Lucinda Poole with the “Guiri Del Año” award of Sanfermin 2017

Photo by José Luis Larrión

American journalist, Lucinda Poole, will be awarded during Sanfermin 2017 with the XIV Premio Guiri del Año, an award which is given each year by Kukuxumusu and Sanfermin.com to a foreigner who has stood out for their love of the Sanfermin fiestas. This year, in its fourteenth edition, the winner of this award is the versatile journalist and translator, Lucinda Poole, who will follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner, Englishman Tim Pinks. Continue reading…

Presentación de la iniciativa del vaso reciclable con Armando Cuenca.

How the system of recycled drinking glasses will work in Sanfermin

This afternoon, the Area of Urban Ecology and Sustainable Mobility from Pamplona City Hall, has invited representatives from the catering and bar sector as well as other interested citizens to a meeting – discussion session in order to present an outlined plan to promote the use of recycled drinking glasses during the Sanfermin fiestas of 2017 in the hope of achieving more sustainable fiestas this coming July. While some details remain to be agreed upon, the target of, “0 Plastic” is the aim behind these steps to try to replace the throwaway plastic glasses which have been in use over these past several years. It is hoped to reduce the garbage content of the plastic glasses by some 75% (56.000 kilograms less). Some earlier experiments carried out at other large -crowd events such as Nafarroa Oinez, Gora Iruñea, Bayonne, Terrassa as well as some other smaller trials made by the City Hall of Pamplona during Sanfermin Txikito in September, have led the authorities to believe that there exists a good base on which to try to implement the changes for the coming Sanfermin fiestas in 2017.

Continue reading…

Maximiliano Cosatti será la imagen de los Sanfermines de este año tras recibir el 27,4% de los votos

‘Sanfermin mornings’ –created by Maximiliano Cosatti is the winning image for this year’s Sanfermin poster

 

Poster no. 1, entitled ‘Mañanas sanfermineras’, was chosen as the image for the 2017 Sanfermin fiestas after it received 27,4% of the total number of votes from the 5.682 people who took part in this open vote system organized by Pamplona City Hall. The author is Maximiliano Cosatti, born in Argentina in 1979 and who has been living in Pamplona for the past 4 years. He gave a press conference alongside the mayor of Pamplona, Joseba Asirón, and in the presence of the councilor responsible for Culture, Language and Sport, Maider Beloki. The prize money which went to the winning poster was 3.600 euro.

Maximiliano Cosatti has a degree in Design and Publicity Work, and he first worked in this field in Argentina. In 2016 he designed a stamp which is currently used, ‘Universo Cervantes’, after winning first place in the II National Competition for Stamp Design – ‘DISELLO’ – organized by the national post office entity. Last year, another poster of his, was selected among the 100 finalists and it was on exhibition in some commercial premises during the year and in the Jara’s Hairdressers in the neighborhood of Mendillorri.

The voting, open to all citizens who are on the census list in Pamplona took place between the 11th and the 27th of April. A total of 5, 682 citizens took part in the voting – 396 less than last year when the figure reached 6, 078 votes. This figure was the second highest over the past nine years since this voting system was set up. In 2015, there were 5,124 participants; in 2014 there were 3, 474 and in 2013 a total of 4, 964 votes were counted.

Maximiliano Cosatti
Maximiliano Cosatti

 

Barriers

Change

By Mat Dowsett

“When looking back doesn’t interest you anymore, you’re doing something right.” Anon.

Around a decade ago there was a lot of dissatisfaction aimed at the moves to make the encierro safer around La Curva. The use of a coating on the street to give the bulls more grip was at the heart of this change. Whether or not it was the only factor, there was certainly something going on and morning after morning the bulls seemed to be going around La Curva cleaner than they ever had, the occasional exception noted. At the time I wrote a piece asking; “What future now for La Curva?” The famous “threading the needle” run from the doorways of Mercaderes and up onto Estafeta was gone, perhaps for good. The photographers massed on the barriers are still able to capture images fit for the newspapers, but the heyday of running the curve is gone.

This has caused a lot of heartache but also a lot of denial as runners cling on to the past and find themselves trying to reproduce it, but only end up standing the street as the arse-ends of cattle move swiftly away from them. There are runners who want a return to the old days and would rather the manada broke up on the walls of the famous curve, but it seems that the current state is here to stay, for a while at least.

Pamplona and the fiestas have been changing for as long as anyone can remember, and even longer than that. In some ways the changes are glacial – a small element here and there – a new feature, a new rule, a new bar, a new venue. Other changes are swift and sure but are absorbed into fiestas with barely a second glance. Remember when the bandstand was abandoned for the huge stage in the Plaza del Castillo?

Other changes feel more significant such as the bulls on La Curva or the red line down on Santo Domingo.

Over the years there have been some very dramatic changes. The txupinazo was nothing like the spectacle it is now and evolved through various stages, including a man letting off a rocket in the Plaza del Castillo surrounded by a small group of bemused children, eventually reaching the mass participation event it is now. The encierros have also moved hours not once but multiple times to reach the 8am start that is in place now. High kerbstones and round cobbles have been replaced by flatter pedestrian areas and even the encierro route has changed significantly, the last time being in the 1920s.

Some will argue, and with justification, that the changes are not always justified and are often for more sordid reasons. In Pamplona this will often come down to money and reputation. The Ayuntamiento does not want to have the stigma of deaths on its hands and so is likely to keep making changes to ensure the encierro is safer and safer – the cost of popularity. Other changes are to extract every last Euro from the pockets of the million people that turn up to party in the old city. It is certainly the case that not all changes are for the better, no matter how inevitable they are, and not all changes are done with an honest and transparent intent.

Many changes are received on a personal level. Old timers will particularly bemoan the loss of Casa Marceliano on the Calle Mercado off Santo Domingo. This bar and hostal has a kind of legendary status among the long-standing fiesta lovers as being a famous hangout, bed for the duration of fiestas, or perhaps just one night, and spiritual home of a number of fine American and Western bull runners until it was closed down in 1993 and absorbed into the council buildings. Old timers will wistfully talk about the good old days and the strong implication is that if you never drank in Marcelianos then your history is not worth considering. An elitism grows up around the past as a clique of the chosen ones looks down patronisingly at the newcomer wannabes. Yet all is in constant flux and the fashionable bars often fade out of favour as other places drift into the sphere of influence. It is not uncommon to see lone old timers sitting grimly outside Bar Windsor, gravely clinging onto the past.

It is understandable. Humans have a reluctance to change and to move on. There is a very natural desire to yearn for “the good old days”, but we do this with blinkers, ignoring or forgetting those parts of the past which, if we had to live with them again, we would find intolerable. John Green rightly said that “Nostalgia is inevitably a yearning for a past that never existed.” Memory is selective and tends to favour the positives over the negatives. We view the past from our comfortable middle age, our affluent self-confident and our assumed wisdom, forgetting that 20, 30, 40 years ago we were not affluent, confident or wise. Sure, we were young, but we did not truly know what to do with it and now we are left mutter variations of the classic lines from Elizabeth Akers Allen; “Backward, turn backward, O Time in your flight, make me a child again just for tonight!”

Karen Ann Kennedy sums it up very nicely when she says:

“There is a difference between thinking about the past and living in it. Sometimes we live in the past because it’s familiar – we know what happened; there are no surprises.”

She goes on to say:

“Living in the past is a problem because it robs you of the opportunity to enjoy the present.”

I would go a step further when it comes to San Fermín. Living in the past only encourages a new generation to venerate something they never witnessed, to aspire to something that is long gone and to disown the present. In doing so this deprives us of the honest happiness of the future.

“Tout passe, tout lasse, tout casse…” goes the French proverb, and it is true.

Whenever we are faced with change we go through a curve taking us from denial, to resistance, to acceptance and finally to moving on. How quickly we move through the change curve depends on many factors, not least how invested in the change we are personally. We can move through quickly, unconsciously even but if things go wrong or we hate the change then we can be stuck in different stages like an old timer, sitting alone outside a bar, still thinking that it’s 1969.

That’s not to say that there is no place for nostalgia and romance. These are a pair of benevolent old souls that visit us from time to time. We should always humour them, listen to them and smile at their stories, but then we should wave them farewell until they pass our way again.

San Fermín will go on changing and there may be some intolerable changes to absorb. Consider that in San Sebastian de los Reyes they have moved the encierro to 11am. Imagine that in Pamplona if you can. And, horror of horrors, one day we may have to face the ultimate change in the loss of the encierro totally. Younger and younger people will come to fiestas and they will care less and less for your history, your traditions, your stories and particularly the way you think fiesta ought to be enjoyed. What will you do? Will you stubbornly hide away under the shadow of huge parasol, mulling over the past, or will you embrace the change?

As Alan Watts said:

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

1969 Open Ceremony. Launcher Joaquín Sáez. Photo from Ferrándiz and Ardanaz

Adrift on a tidal flow to Fiesta, by Tim Pinks

Dear Fiesteras and Fiesteros: This was written about two months ago, for the second of the second, yup, Escalera Day, but due to Mr. Testis being rather busy in his Bulldom, we’ve had to wait a while before it could be put onto the Sanfermin.com pages. However, with the arrival of the fourth of April and hence Escalera Day numero cuatro…here we go. Hey ho, let’s go and Ya Falta Menos! 

It’s the second day of the second month as I write this and the Escalera to fiesta has well and truly begun, and at this time of the year up here in my tree-tower eyrie near the River Thames, with Hampton Court Palace but a mile away as the eagle flies, my thoughts turn as ever turn to Pamplona.

So although the countdown to San Fermin has already started, there’s still awhile to go of course which always makes me feel like I’m fiesta-floating, adrift on a sea of shifting calendar dates that slowly slide by with the tide…still heading towards land, (i.e: Pamplona) but with a fair bit of drifting to go before I make landfall. In July.

So I read, and I write, and I dream. Talking of reading, I love books. A few years ago, one of these articles was made up purely about Fiesta books. This one isn’t going to be like that, but I am going to mention a couple of books that you may like. I know I did. They are not particularly about Pamplona or San Fermin, but just have Spain as the common background, to give us that tantalising taste of the flavour of fiesta to come.

Winston Churchill said about books: ‘’If you cannot read all your books, fondle them, then peer into them, let them fall apart where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan, so that you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them, at any rate, be your acquaintances.’’

Personally, to take me away from everything, nothing beats a good book. They just work for me. If you should happen to get around to any of the ones mentioned, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

As so often with these Sanfermin.com scribbles, this one is going to be a bit of a mixed salad, and so I’m also going to write about a wee bit of rocket. No, not the lettuce, foodies, but the chupinazo, fiesteros. For those that don’t know yet, Fiesta begins at midday on July 6th with the Chupinazo, and the launching of the first – but only one of many – rockets from one of the town hall’s balconies. I’m just going to dip into the history of it a little bit…which will give me a chance to nip back into the past, too, which I always enjoy.

Then comes the book bit, but after that, something new that I’m really chuffed about, which I’ll return to occasionally, maybe even in every article I do for Kuku. I’ve given it the title ‘The Drifter,’ which, as will become clear when you read it is rather apt, as my first victim, sorry, guest, is the one and only, inimitable and inestimable, Rolf von Essen. Although his first San Fermin was in 1959, he was one of the group that also happened to hang around Torremolinos in the 60’s…

… Which is where the gang that appear in James Micheners’ book ‘The Drifters’ also first meet up. Which also happens to be the book that changed my life, as the first place that the characters in the story travel to after Torremolinos is Pamplona. In July. For Fiesta… And thus my life was altered for ever.

But first, a bit of rocketry.

ROCKET ENGINEERING – IT’S ALL PART OF FIESTA SCIENCE!

The square, a crowd, and a man with a lot of rockets. Once upon a time in Pamplona.
The square, a crowd, and a man with a lot of rockets. Once upon a time in Pamplona.

Okay, let’s get one thing straight. The phrase ‘it’s not rocket science’ is wrong. My brother Mike taught me it should be; ‘it’s not rocket engineering.’ Why? Because when we say ‘’it’s not rocket science’’ we mean that something isn’t difficult…like building a rocket obviously is. Ah ha! So there we are.

Here’s the pedantic point: Rocke engineering is the building of the rocket…a very tricky thing to get right…and rocket science is the actual getting it to where it’s going! (Quite a difficult thing too, probably, it has to be said…)

Thus is stands to my (fairly warped) reason… There are many, many things that make up fiesta – the chupinazo, the encierros, the corridas, the peñas, and a thousand and one other things…and all these are the cogs in the machine, the engineering, that make up, and get us to where we want to be…to the extraordinary, chaotic and organised anarchic science that is Fiesta! Although I’ve also often written…San Fermin…you just couldn’t make it up.

So, the Chupinazo. From the very beginning of the year, with the 1st of January and the first day of the Escalera, a small, invisible rocket goes off inside my head with a little bang… a rocket that goes off again on the 2nd of February, and then again on the 3rd of March, the bang each time increasing in volume until the 6th, when it’s very loud and I know that the next time I hear those rockets it’ll be midday on July 6th, and they won’t be imaginary ones in my head but real ones. Because that’s when Pamplona’s own version of the Big Bang erupts and the old world stops for nine days and nights, and the city slips off its cosmic axis and our universe goes spinning out of control as San Fermin and The Giants come out to play.

Just why do they launch a volley of rockets into the sky at midday on the 6th of July to herald the start of the world’s greatest fiesta? It might seem obvious in this day and age – ‘’oh, we have an event going on, let’s baptise it with a bang and make some noise’’ – but it wasn’t always thus.

No. But unsurprisingly for Pamplona and the inmates that live within…it all started with some locals.

Rocketry

One man and his rocket: señor Etxepare. That's all it takes to tip the earth off its axis.
One man and his rocket: señor Etxepare. That’s all it takes to tip the earth off its axis.

We’re so used to some of the fiesta traditions we’ve grown to know and love that we can end up just taking them for granted and assuming things were for ever thus. Like the rockets launched off the town hall main balcony at midday on the 6th, for example. But actually, that act of fiesta only became an official part of the festivities in 1941.

Although there are slightly different versions, it seems that the first time rockets were launched at the beginning of fiesta it was down to a company called Oroquieta, who perhaps unofficially decided it would be a good idea to start San Fermin with a bang, and so they did…from the Plaza del Castillo.

This was done for many years from at least 1901, until with the arrival of the 2nd Republic, and a well known republican called Etxepare decided to make things more official and gave the act a name. (No where can I find out if this was ‘Chupinazo’ but hey, we’re getting there.) It was still being done in the Plaza del Castillo though, and carried on until the fiesta of 1936.

After that, the bleak clouds of Civil War came, Etxepare was shot, fiesta was suspended for a couple of years as the shadows enveloped, and blackness fell…and no doubt somewhere in that darkness, San Fermin cried. Light returned in one form or another and fiesta was back for 1939, when a councillor, Joaquin Ilundain, gave himself the honour of lighting the first rocket, still in the square I believe.

Then, along with a journalist, Jose Maria Perez Salazar, they promoted the idea of making the whole thing more organised and become an official part of the ceremonies…and so it came to pass that in 1941 the rocket was launched, for the first time, from the balcony of the town hall…and the Chupinazo as we know it was born. And that, chicas and chicos, is how it has been done ever since.

There was only one year it wasn’t launched from the Ayuntamiento in the Plaza Consistorial, and that was in 1952, when the old building was being renovated. For that year the Chupinazo was launched from the balcony of the temporary town hall buildings they were using, located in the Plaza del Vinculo, (then called the Plaza de la República Argentina) which is just off the Paseo de Sarasate, near the big old Correos, the main post office.

And a fitting place it was, too, actually, because way back when, between 1849 and 1852, that very place happened to be where a temporary bull ring was erected while the ‘new’ one, (1852-1921) was being constructed. What goes around can so often come around again and once more, sometimes you just couldn’t script it.

uanito Etxepare, ‘Mr. Txupinazo’ perhaps. Oh, and out of interest… I wonder what happened to the wee chap in the middle at the bottom, the only one in red and white?
Juanito Etxepare, ‘Mr. Txupinazo’ perhaps. Oh, and out of interest… I wonder what happened to the wee chap in the middle at the bottom, the only one in red and white?

A BOOK OR THREE

I’ve done the occasional book review before but these aren’t reviews, I’m just going to mention briefly three books that I think are worth a read. None of them are particularly Pamplona related, they just have an Iberian flavour to them to tickle your fiesta taste buds.

In the ‘definitely worth a read’ category are two books by Mark Oldfield, but the great thing here is there is going  to be a third, as they are part of a soon to be completed trilogy. As always, whether I know the author or not, (and I know Mark) I will be honest in what I say. Happily, with Mark’s books…I love ‘em!

The Sentinel. Mark Oldfield.

‘The Sentinel’ was the first, published in 2012, followed by ‘The Exile’ in 2015. The books sprawl through Spain’s recent history, from 1936 and the Spanish Civil War, to the mid –fifties and Franco’s dictatorship, and then present day Spain.

There are two main protagonists, Comandante Leopold Guzman, head of Franco’s secret police in the 1950’s and easily one of the most evil, heartless and cruel baddies ever invented, and forensic investigator Ana Maria Galíndez, of the present day Guardia Civil

The Sentinel begins the story, interweaving the three separate timelines effortlessly and intriguingly, without ever getting so complicated that one literally loses the plot. In this short space I can’t begin to describe what goes on, suffice to say the dictatorial days of Spain under Franco are truly brought to life, while all the time keeping the page-turning suspense and the ‘what’s-going-to-happen-next‘ feeling going…it’s a real humdinger of a book

The Exile. Mark Oldfield

In ‘The Exile’ our evil anti-hero, Guzmán, is transferred to San Sebastian and the Basque Country, where the story carries on, and where the mysteries pile up, and Guzman’s past begins to catch up with him. Now, I’ve obviously never been to the Basque Country in the 1950’s, but the beautiful city of San Sebastian and the gorgeous surrounding countryside are brought vividly to life – or should that be death – by Oldfield’s atmospheric encapsulation of a ‘foreign’ city (it’s Basque, after all) and the surrounds under Franco’s oppressive occupation and bloody jackboot.

Regarding ‘Sentinel’ The Guardian said, ‘Polished and impressive.’ The Literary Review wrote, ’Remarkably accomplished. An atmospheric picture of a country still scarred by its past.’ The Daily Mail: ‘A sprawling, striking debut, superbly told, with a fine villain at its heart. This is a remarkable thriller.’

About ‘Exile’ The New York Journal of Books said’ ‘Powerful, hypnotic…filled with the horror of conflict, treachery, and intrigue.’
Well done Mark, (who, by the way, has been to San Fermin about 14 times over the last 40 years) those are two cracking novels and I honestly can’t wait for the final book in the series.

Pizarra to Pamplona. Across Spain on Horseback, by Jim Hollander

The third book is by that well known Sanferminero and internationally renowned photographer, Jim Hollander. Amongst certain fans of fiesta his door-stopping tome, ‘Run To The Sun’ is a classic, (and well worth the aircraft ‘excess baggage’ weight fee you may have to pay!) but it’s not that one I’m here to write about as I’ve written about it a couple of times before.

Nope, it’s his latest one, ‘From Pizarra to Pamplona.’ This is a delightful book that, although only published last year, was actually ‘written’ in 1973. The words are from a diary the then 23 year old Jim kept, and the photos are those that he took along the way. Oh, ‘the way?’

Well, it’s in the title, of course, but ‘the way’ was a 1000km horse ride the Hollander family undertook from Pizarra, near Malaga on the southern coast, to Pamplona, fabled capital of Navarra, over the course of several weeks. I first read it just before last year’s Fiesta, and again just recently. While none of us can write like Shakespeare or Cervantes of course, it’s a remarkably well written and smoothly flowing diary that paints a wonderful picture of the adventure, just as sure as his photographs do.

It’s a gentle, leisurely, clip-clopping hoof through a Spain that was about to change forever, due to the death of the dictator a couple of years later and the arrival of the country into the European Union just over a decade after that. I wrote this somewhere else, but I love the bit near the end of the journey – but not the end of the book – where he writes: ‘Before arriving in Tudela we cross into the Province of Navarra – BIG SMILES!’

Whether you’re stuck in a northern hemisphere winter and want a slice of sizzling Spanish sun, or are a southern hemisphere dweller yearning for some memories of the Land of Fiesta, and Siesta, and so much more…this is a great, not so much ‘off-the-wall’ but from-the-saddle wee travel book and I love it. And always, always…the Land of The Big Smile awaits.

FIESTA DRIFTER

As Rolf wrote, about this photo – ‘Aupa la jotita.’ July 8th, 2012.
As Rolf wrote, about this photo – ‘Aupa la jotita.’ July 8th, 2012.

In a previous life I was a courier, driving around the UK in a small van. When I was stuck in London or the Home Counties I used to listen on local BBC London Radio to a chap called Robert Elms. He has a great show, (he also happens to be a fluent Spanish speaker and is a bullfight aficionado, but that’s just coincidence, and I believe a couple of you out there know him) and once a week he has a slot called ‘Listed Londoner.’

A guest, always someone who has ‘done’ something, is invited on to the show, who lives, or has lived, in the city, whether born there or not, and is asked a series of questions, the ‘list’ about London. Well, with apologies to señor Olmos, I’ve borrowed the idea and transferred it to Pamplona, Navarra, Fiestaland.

(As an aside, I’m writing this bit on Monday 6th Feb while listening to the Robert Elms Show and his Listed Londoner today is a lady called Jumoke’ Fashola. And I like the fella even more now, as he’s just said – and all my friends who know what a techno-numpty I am will understand this – that he doesn’t have a mobile phone. Top man!)

Back to Pamplona. I’ve chosen Rolf von Essen to be Driftero Numero Uno for many reasons, but they’re all encompassed by one thing: of all the foreign fiesta-folk I know, he has been going the longest. So it’s because he knows a lot, has done a lot, has massive enthusiasm for all things Iberian and taurine related…and because he’s a mate.

Rolf with a big fiesta smile next to another escaped inmate.
Rolf with a big fiesta smile next to another escaped inmate.

He hasn’t been able to make it back for the last couple of years due to his keeping the nurses busy in his native Sweden, but boy does he have some stories to tell about his travels and experiences over his 50 years plus being immersed in the Iberian and taurine world.

Remember, too, that this part of the piece is just one short snippet of his life concentrated on Pamplona. Those of us who have seen a few of his other stories on social media have read a smidgen more of his adventures, and the following comprises just a mere fraction of that smidgen that makes up the Pamplona portion of his life.

So, hey ho, let’s go. I’ve written it and said it before, and whether one likes the phrase or not – there are certain folk who I think of as Pamplona Royalty, and Rolf is certainly one of them. And so, señoras y señores, indeed damas y caballeros, and perhaps, as I regard some Sanfermineros as Pamplona Royalty, duquesas y duques, it’s time for my very first ‘Fiesta Drifter.’

And for the very last time shall he be known as Rolf von Essen, because from now on he will be known by one or two of his many nom-de-plumes, nom-de-guerre’s, nom-de corrida’s and indeed, noms-known-by-the-authorities…

Take it away, Rey Rolfo…

THE DRIFTER

RODOLFO VON ESSEN – El Niño de la Caseta.

Born 1938 in Helsinki, Finland. Resident in Stockholm, Sweden. Nationality: Swedish. Blood type: P. For ‘patxaran…’ Oh, and Artistic Director of La Escuela Taurina 'La Candelaria' of Bogotá, Colombia, 1985 – 1987.
Born 1938 in Helsinki, Finland. Resident in Stockholm, Sweden. Nationality: Swedish.Under The House of The Nobility of Sweden, I am a Baron. Blood type: P. For ‘Patxarán…’ Oh, and Artistic Director of La Escuela Taurina ‘La Candelaria’ of Bogotá, Colombia, 1985 – 1987.

Okay folks, here’s the first paragraph that Rolf sent me about himself, which I hope will encourage you to click on the link after it, to read more about how he fell in love with the bulls, the bullfight, ‘el mundo taurine’ and hence, of course…’el arte.’

ROLF: Foreign Languages, I speak 8. I have lived under 4 wars: The Finnish Winter War, WWII, the Katanga War (the Congo), and the drug related and guerrilla controlled war condition in Colombia in the 1980’s. The guerrillas used to partly finance their operation by the kidnappings of foreigners against ransom. It happened to several of my colleagues, some of them never returned.

My first registered reminiscence of bullfighting dates from August 29th or 30th, 1947, when a Stockholm newspaper… (Tim: click here for the story in full, folks.)

The King in one of his castles.
The King in one of his castles.

Tim 1: What are your five favourite books to do with what I call ‘Fiestaland.’ (Spain, Iberia, Navarra, etc.) Perhaps a taurine book, a fiesta book, a fictional book, a factual book, any other relevant and related book…the choice is yours to mix and match as you please!
Rolf 1: Five favourite books: 1: LOS TOROS by José María Cossío. 30 volumes. 2: IBERIA by James A. Michener. 3: ‘The Drifters’ by James A. Michener. 4: ‘The Sun Also Rises’ by Ernest Hemingway. 5: ‘Death in the Afternoon’ by Ernest Hemingway. 6: BRAVE EMPLOYMENT by Walter Johnston.
Tim – That’s six books Rolf! And apart from the Cossio 30 volumes, I’ve got the others of course!)

Tim 2: Favourite Pamplona or San Fermin book. (Okay Rolf…books!):
Rolf 2: The Drifters by James A. Michener. 2: Las Bodas de Pamela by Hans ‘To-To’ Tovoté.  3: PAMPLONA by Ray Mouton

Tim 3: Favourite Fictional Sanferminero:
Rolf 3: Harvey Holt, “The Tech Rep”, from The Drifters. Tim – Ha! Had to be. A great choice.)

Tim 4: Favourite fiesta/taurine film or documentary:
Rolf 4: Blood and Sand (1941) directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth, Anthony Quinn.

Tim 5: Favourite Spanish music/band/singer.
Rolf 5: Manolo Escobar, El Camarón de La Isla and Raimundo Lanas.

Tim 6: Favourite San Fermin real life foreigner of film, music, writing, etc.
Rolf 6: Orson Welles.

 

 Feria de Sevilla 2009. Rolf and friends, doing the paseo. On the left his lawyer from Bogata, Eduardo, and wife Nora. Then there’s Esperanza, wife of…Adolfo, who is sitting on the right next to Rolf. Esperanza and Adolfo are owners of one of his favourite Feria de Sevilla casetas, and this is their private horse carriage, drawn by six black Arab stallions.
Feria de Sevilla 2009. Rolf and friends, doing the paseo. On the left his lawyer from Bogotá, Eduardo, and wife Nora. Then there’s Esperanza, wife of… Adolfo, who is sitting on the right next to Rolf. Esperanza and Adolfo are owners of one of his favourite Feria de Sevilla casetas, and this is their private horse carriage, drawn by six black Arab stallions.

Tim 7: Favourite torero(s) and favourite plaza de toros, including the present day and the past.
Rolf 7: Favourite toreros of the present day: Morante de La Puebla, Talavante, and Andrés Roca Rey. Favourite plaza present day: La Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla.
Bullfighter of the past: Antonio Ordóñez Araujo. Plaza of the past: La Monumental de Barcelona.

Pamplona 1971, with Eleonore.
Pamplona 1971, with Eleonore.

Tim 8: Favourite bar in Pamplona.
Rolf 8: Bar Fitero, calle Estafeta.

Tim 9: Favourite restaurant:
Rolf 9: In the past: Hartza (Cuesta de Labrit.) Las Pocholas (El Rey Noble) when it was on Paseo Sarasate. Casa Mauleón. Casa Marceliano. Otano. Aralar. Amostegui.
Present day: Europa, Bar Savoy, San Ignacio.

Tim 10: Favourite trip within Spain. (And a ‘Tim’ note: Please, please read Rolf’s full account of this trip in the extra ‘link’ below!).
Rolf 10: El tren Correo, the mail train, Barcelona-Pamplona on July 5th. I am now speaking 1960’s. This was a complete adventure. One could NOT call somewhere and have a ticket reserved, NO, one had to get it in person from the taquilla at the station and not until the very day of departure!

Tim: As mentioned above, folks, please read the full story on the link below. Have you ever had to get out and PUSH the train that was taking you to Pamplona? Rolf has, I kid you not…read on folks here!)

Tim 11: Invent a pintxo and a brand new fiesta cocktail!
Rolf 11: Pintxo: Fresh duck liver, sautéd in water, butter and Oloroso sherry, spiced with black pepper from mill, junipers, sea salt, on toasted white bread. (Superb, Rolf!)
Drink: 10 cl Underberg, a dash of Tabasco, 2 cl Vodka, tomato juice. Shaken, not stirred, served in highball, on the rocks. Kills ANY hangover. The Red Shit of the 22nd century!

(Probably horses, too …)
Tim: Then I’ll try it on a horse first, Rolf…

Tim 12: Spiritual home in Pamplona. (Mine is the grass and gutter opposite Txoko…my first fiesta home!):
Rolf 12: Down by the River Arga, camping with the gitanos.

Tim 13: Favourite building in Pamplona. (Could be that bar/restaurant again)
Rolf 13: La Casa Consistorial.

 

 

I love this shot. A capea, the bull charging out...and loads of people looking very dodgily unsafe (is that a phrase? It is now...) standing up and hanging off some wobbly looking ladders that actually look like antiques. But, keep calm and carry on, spectators, because just out of camera shot is our torero, Rolf, El Niño de la Caseta!
I love this shot. A capea, the bull charging out…and loads of people looking very dodgily unsafe (is that a phrase? It is now…) standing up and hanging off some wobbly looking ladders that actually look like antiques. But, keep calm and carry on, spectators, because just out of camera shot is our torero, Rolf, El Niño de la Caseta!

 

Rolf in 'traje corto,' the clothing used in capeas.
Rolf in ‘traje corto,’ the clothing used in capeas.

Tim 14: Best view in Pamplona:
Rolf 14: From the wall, approximately halfway between the Caballo Blanco and the area where the Lost Peña Vodka Party is held. Tim – Si, tio Rolfo, I’m with you there.)

Tim 15: Favourite open space.
Rolf 15: Plaza de Los Fueros. Tim: When I asked Rolf ‘why’ there, this is what he wrote.)
Rolf: Por las cojonudas actuaciones de los Dantzaris una vez por feria. What they perform are the timeless, ancient, Navarran – AND Basque – almost acrobatic dances! If one looks at the bodies of the guys, one understands that there is a LOT of physical exercise behind their Arte! – Amazingly, although I’ve seen this sort of thing elsewhere of course, I have never popped up to the Pl. de Los Fueros during Fiesta to see them…but rest assured Uncle Rolf…now I shall!)

Tim 16: If you could travel through time to Pamplona’s past…what era or year would you travel to?
Rolf 16: The middle of the 1920’s, when Hemingway got to know it!
Tim – Si señor! And I’ve already been there, once-upon-a-time…)

Tim 17: Most interesting or favourite shop?
Rolf 17: The little shop on C/del Pozo Blanco, to the right of Rest. Amostegui, where one can buy all sizes and fashions of txapelas and the original hand made alpargatas and also fajas. Tim – You dedicated follower of fashion, you…)

Tim 18: Favourite Pamplona landmark?
Rolf 18: When arriving by car, on the old two lane road from Donostia, the road goes up hill after the railway station and in a curve you see a bit of the old wall that hasn’t been removed – then you know that after the next curve on top of the hill, you will have arrived – YOU ARE IN PAMPLONA!
Tim – Yes! I’ve actually written about arriving in Pamplona, driving along that road before…and when I cross under, and through, the ‘Portal Nuevo’…that’s it…I’m in!)

San Fermin 1969 with first wife Babz. Okay, that’s all the Q’s for now.
San Fermin 1969 with first wife Babz.

Tim 19: ‘One more thing…’ (Write anything that springs to mind…if anything does!

Tim: 20: ‘Not a lot of people know that!’ (Similar to above, I’m just experimenting with this last bit, to give ‘the guest’ a chance to write something in his/her own voice.)
Rolf – 19 and 20: ‘One More Thing.’ Scenario: THE FISH JACKET. I wake up, having slept on my arms on a café table (THE TRADITIONAL WEE NAP, FOR CHRISSAKE!). It’s bloody hot, the sun shines awkwardly into my eyes and I try remember who I am and what I am doing on a café table. My black jacket is on the floor between my feet, my travelling bag, by my side, there are some people at my table, I can’t see a thing because of the sun and a MAGNIFICENT hangover, when I recoil for some strange, pink object approaching my face and I hear a deep, male, bass voice say: “THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED, BUDDY”, and, finally, I see a hand holding a glass with some pink liquid and ice cubes. I grab, trembling, the glass and taste the contents – aaaaaaaaaaaaah, sweet, cold and good, I empty it in 2-3 gulps and sit up in my chair, ready to take in the new day!
Tim: If you want some more, with a fiesta cocktail of Welles, Hemingway, Gardener, Ordóñez, Carney…and of course…fish!…then read on here.

 

Pamplona Royalty. The Duke and The Duchess, in the city that never sleeps and where the dancing never stops
Pamplona Royalty. The Duke and The Duchess, in the city that never sleeps and where the dancing never stops

Tim 21:‘A secret.’ (Yup, again, similar to the first two…still just experimenting…)
Rolf 21: A secret. A VERY hot afternoon in 1962, my future wife and I are sitting at the terrace of Bar Eslava at the Plaza del Castillo. That summer temperature reached 40° Celsius during 2-3 afternoons. Anyway, back to the Eslava. I saw some other guys taking off their shirts, and so did I. Wonderful relief in the heat!
Tim: There’s more, including how to win a free day’s (and night, the full 24 hours!) accommodation during Fiesta. Just click here.)

Tim 22: Favourite Spanish expression, motto, phrase, words of wisdom…or even what you’d like on your Pamplona Plaque!

Rolf 22: ‘¡Los Años No Perdonan!’
Tim: I had this down as ‘The passing years don’t forgive!’ or, as in ‘getting on a bit’ ‘Time Will Tell!’ But no! Rolf told me it means… GETTING OLD SUCKS!)Rolf: On my tombstone I would like the old family joke (in German):
VON ESSEN GEBOREN,
VON TRINKEN GESTORBEN!
It’s hard to decide who’s better dressed. With the torero El Juli.
It’s hard to decide who’s better dressed. With the torero El Juli.

Tim: And finally, but briefly… A San Ferscene-ario: What would be your perfect 24 Hours of Fiesta, starting any time of the day or night, but ending 24 hours later.
Rolf: My favourite 24 hrs of Fiesta start at 07.00, when I go to the REDIN to have coffee and Patxarán watching the encierro on their TV. At 08.15 to the Txoko for Kaikú y coñac with the ‘guys’. At 09.00 to La Raspa on C/Merced for el almuerzo de los corredores and improvised jotas from whoever appears of the joteros.

At 12.00 Paseo de Sarasate for a concert of jotas. 14.00 El vermú at the Fitero. 14.30 el apartado. 15.30-17.30 lunch at the Europa. 17.40 quick drink at the Windsor. 18.00 to the bullring. 18.30-21.00 bullfight. 21.30 Al Capone. 23.00 dinner at the Savoy. 01.00 Windsor. 03.00-06.30 all the bars on C/Jarauta. 06.30 catching up with La Pamplonesa at la Plaza Consistorial. 06.30-07.00 Dancing along the streets with the band to the music of their Dianas. My 24 hours are complete.

Tim: And probably, Rolf, 24 of the most perfect but exhausting hours of fiesta anyone could have. Fantástico!

The King and He. Pamplona Royalty with the King  of Spain. Readers, for the full story on THIS amazing photo, please click on the link here
The King and He. Pamplona Royalty with the King 
of Spain. Readers, for the full story on THIS amazing photo, please click on the link here

Muchas gracias eta mil esker Rolfo, maestro, torero, fiestero y golfo. What I love about this is that I’ve learnt a lot about some books, films, music and just general ‘stuff’ that I never knew about…and hopefully, as I choose more ‘Fiesta Drifters’ I’ll learn a whole fiesta-full more! Plus, I just love hearing other people’s Sanfer-stories… and Rolf has over half a century’s worth of them.

So that, folks, brings a fitting end to this first ever Fiesta Drifter. Again, my humble thanks and huge gratitude have to go to Rolf, who through a fair amount of difficulty and hassle, along with having to deal with my computing numbnuttery, managed to put together a wonderful drift through a life of Fiesta.

As I mentioned, there is so, so much more to read, really this morsel is just one pintxo on a bar top laden with a multi-coloured rainbow platter of them. Please, please dip in and click on the links to read more about some great adventures Rolfo El Golfo had along the way.

Next time, the Fiesta Drifter might well be Joe Distler… though if he reads what I’ve written above, he might just change his mind…

And finally, in place of the occasional video I sometimes use to end these pieces, a photo from Rolf’s collection. For those of us that know, the three figures are fairly ease to name…but where in Pamplona are they? And no, after three guesses I still didn’t get it… Sanfermineros… ¡Ya falta menos!

Cano, Hemingway and Quintana together in Pamplona…but where in that City Without Equal are they?!
Cano, Hemingway and Quintana together in Pamplona…but where in that City Without Equal are they?!
Postales de San Fermín. Encierro.

A postcard from 1955 put the Sanfermin Running of the Bulls on the track of the largest media agency in New York

A family relation of his tells us that the runner with the moustache and jersey racing in front of the bulls is Paco Gómez, a former goalkeeper of both Osasuna F.C. and Real Murcia F.C.

We have found a vintage postcard on sale at ebay at a price of fifteen dollars and this led us to discover a story that went much deeper than it first seemed. At first sight, it just seemed a nice vintage postcard of a bullrunning event but behind it lies a story about the Pamplona Running of the Bulls and the fiesta report that Janet Harper sent to Jay Culver, one of the most important publishers in New York in those years. The front of the postcard shows a clear, good-quality image of the Sanfermin Bullrunning in black and white, showing a compact pack of bulls and various runners leading them towards the bullring. The background shows an image taken almost straight in front of the runners and the picture was most likely taken from the right side of the fencing just at the place where the present-day Paseo de Hemingway joins the corner of Juan de Labrit Street and it is clearly taken from a low angle. We can see the faces of the runners clearly and it also shows some photographers in their suits, some rather heavily dressed runners and just a few neckties worn by some of the people. If any of you recognize any faces, please let us know by writing to info@sanfermin.com. We can also make out in the background the corner where our Kukuxumusu store at 76 Estafeta Street now stands.

However the most interesting thing of all is to be found on the reverse side of the postcard. Here we discover that a certain Janet Harper  sent a short note to Jay Culver in New York, all the way from London, dated the 31st of July. The recipients address is listed as 660, First Avenue, in Manhattan, New York. This led us to a possible clue about the recipient who, it turns out had a business there (Culver Service). Further research revealed that this Jay Culver was a founder of Culver Pictures. Ever since 1926 this firm was creating a huge archive of images of the United States at this address in New York.

Janet Harper is clearly excited as she relates her experiences to this important media publisher:

Postales de Sanfermin. Jay Culver.

According to an article written by  Joe Mysak in the Columbia Daily Spectator  on the first of December, 1978, Culver Pictures was as equally big as Associated Press or United press in those years. The receiver of this postcard becomes relevant when we realize that this Janet Harper is letting one of the most important publishers in New York know all about the event that she experienced at the Sanfermin fiestas.

columbia_1978-12-01_0001-4

The date year of the postcard?

We have some doubts about the exact year that the snapshot shown on the postcard was taken. It could have been as early as 1933, 1936, or more likely, 1955. The Royal Mail stamp makes it clear that it was posted the same day that it was written, but the lettering does not make it clear whether it is 33, 36 o 55. However, some details might help clarify this point. 1933 is highly unlikely because the stamp of the Air Mail corresponds to UK Inland Airmail Delivery which only came into being in 1934. What is rather misleading is that in the image we sense that there is a second line of fencing on the left side of the image. Other images from 1936 show fencing with many more people on it and not so sparse as can be seen in this postcard image. We do know that the double fencing was first introduced in 1941 after the frightening experience of 1939 when a Sánchez Covaleda bull broke through the fencing in that year, causing great panic and mayhem around the area of the main square. Consequently, it would be best to conclude that the postcard is from 1955 unless some other detail comes to light or our eyes catch some new revealing information.
In 1955, Hemingway had made an appearance in Pamplona for Sanfermin (he returned first in 1953) and many foreigners revived an interest in our fiestas as a result. We know much less about this Janet Harper, but it is clear that she wished to transmit her excitement about the fiestas to this important New York publisher. Harper is a big publishing name in itself as in Harper & Brothers, for example. However, we do not have sufficient knowledge to try to follow up on that line of thought.

The present-day seller of the postcard is a concern called  MMG Vintage, one of the specialists in selling in this kind of product on  EBay. They usually buy up stocks and then sell the items singularly. They do not seem to see any special relevance into this postcard and it seems to be considered as just one more photo of a running of the bulls.

This postcard is number 260 in the AJSA publication. We have checked out the book on postcards compiled by Javier Soria, Miguel Echague and Juan Ramón Corpas (Postales de Pamplona -Ed. Caja Pamplona-) and we failed to find this image, or any reference to the Publisher of this postcard. Nor have we found any reference to the postcard in the Works of Txartoa publications or indeed, any others. But perhaps some people out there could help us out because the figure of 260 postcards means that quite a lot were written and sent off in their time.

What we don’t know is if Mr. Culver recommended the fiestas to other parties or sent out any reporters to cover them or if he managed to acquire more images of Sanfermin for his archives…

Sharing – Mat Dowsett

“You are what you share.”
Charles Leadbeater.

A few years ago I went alone to Navarra in September to photograph the fiestas and to run a few encierros while I was there. Staying on the edge of Pamplona my morning drive daily took me south and west to Peralta, Olite and other typical Navarran towns where the fiestas come later in the summer. It was a colourful but sober week as I took hundreds upon hundreds of photographs. Later I realised that, despite being there, enjoying my time and occasionally meeting friends, I was not truly in fiestas but was on the periphery. I was an outsider looking in, poking my lens towards a familiar world but staying right on the threshold. Even when I put the camera down to have a drink or to run I was conscious of being alone, being on a schedule and being being restricted. I came back from Navarra with some beautiful photographs and some nice memories but with a sense of having been on assignment rather than on holiday.

On one of the mornings in Peralta I had a very scary but ultimately rewarding encierro – full pelt with nowhere to go and the horns of a toro closing in very fast as I timed my exit to perfection and breathed sighs that were both relief and exhilaration. It had been my best run of the week, the summer and probably much longer. In that post-run turmoil of emotions and memories I wanted what most runners want; I wanted to share it. It is a very human thing – we like to break things down and analyse them, to get perspectives, to relive and re-enact. I didn’t want to share to boast about the run, I just wanted to go through the process. But I was alone. So I shared my encierro with a caña and a coffee in a little bar and later, when the adrenalin had worn off and my need to share was gone, I drove off to the next fiesta feeling that, somehow, the experience was missing something. I felt as Charlotte Bront? did when she wrote; “Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness; it has no taste.”

The very notion of sharing almost hints at its own reward. Any modest event can be heightened by the multiplication factor of others having gone through the same thing. Mass participation events always seem to generate an incredible vibe or movement that far outstrips the quality contained therein, such to the point that people just want to be able to say that they were there.

Not that there is anything wrong with solitude. Thoreau said; “I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” The truth and purity of an experience holds its integrity far longer if not shared – it is less likely to be tainted by exaggeration, embellishment or downright dishonesty. This is because our experiences are both fragile and fleeting. From their birth they instantly growing, distorting and gradually moving away from us as we try hard to hold onto them, keep them fresh and not lose their value. We share them to try to maintain or even increase their value – ultimately to keep them alive.

In our world of social media, instant data and the associated hunger to expand our personal brand, it is easy to share. Experiences fly around the globe in an instant, shrinking that world and allowing us to share on a phenomenal scale. And my, but we do like to share! We share updates of our every movement, our meals and every “funny” video uploaded to YouTube. We share philosophies, challenges and political viewpoints. We share our love, our hate and our indifference. The world is in a sharing boom, yet trawl through all of that data and what is its value? When you look back at the volume of content you have shared over the last 10 years or so, just how much of it is still alive for you in the same way? How much of it would you share all over again?

“Visibility without Value is Vanity.” Bernard Kelvin Clive.

I have shared a picture on social media a handful of times. It is a picture of me with two other friends on the opening day of fiestas in Tafalla, Navarra. We are wearing the traditional fiestas clothes, clutching drinks and singing our heads off. It is a wonderful image of a wonderful memory of a wonderful moment for me and I have obviously found it worth sharing more than once. Yet, the value is not in the sharing online as those who were not there cannot add to its value and those who were, already appreciate the value. What keeps that moment alive is the memory of the day itself and the warmth of the friendship that exists.

“Even though friends say they are interested in your life, they never really want to talk about you as much as you want them to,” said Charise Mericle Harper, and this hints at the belief that sharing can be a law of diminishing returns – the true intrinsic value is only represented by the picture. Look at the works of the surrealist artist Rene’ Magritte – he challenged us to look at things and to assess what they truly are, what they truly mean, what they truly represent and ultimately if they are worth what we think they are.

Something shared stays alive in its purest form for only a short time and what follows is that desire to keep it alive. Truly we don’t do that online but in our hearts. A couple of years ago our small group was in Buñuel in southern Navarra. We were running a few modest encierros. One of my dearest friends, and one I go back to my first year in Pamplona with, was with me and we were running in a quiet section of the streets. The dice roll fell favourably, the Gods of the encierro smiled on us and we ran up the street almost side by side, the pack of horns closing steadily, but almost benignly and we stepped out of the way calmly and together as the herd shot up towards the church of Santa Ana.

It was a moment we shared. We turned to each other and smiled with the mutual happiness and mutual understanding of a nice run that had gone well. “That’s why we do this,” I said to my friend, “that’s what it’s all about.”

We didn’t need to go over the run in detail. The value was much more philosophical than that. It was a nice run and we had shared it in the moment. No amount of analysis would improve it. Racking up hundreds of “likes” on Facebook would not give it extra value. Holding it in our hearts with a smile would be enough to sustain it.

There have been so many other trivial, short-lived, personal and fleeting moments, whimsical moments even, that I have shared in the 15 years of fiestas of Navarra, Spain and beyond. Imagine a time running down the street with a friend and singing the lyrics of a Rolling Stones song at each other. How do you share such a thing beyond the pair of you without somehow diminishing the true value? How do you explain the laughter gained from a comment in the moment, an atmosphere, a sudden piece of music, an amusing incident? Sharing is voluntarily given but also voluntarily received and while we can dictate the medium in which we launch our content, we cannot dictate how it will be interpreted. As Antonio Porchia said; “I know what I have given you…I do not know what you have received.” Often our good intentions will simply be met with ambivalence or worse, utter contempt. That is often the price of sharing. Sometimes the old ribald comment of “you had to be there,” is absolutely correct, so why try to breathe artificial life into something that has none?

I am with Jose Panate-Aceves and John Hayes with their; “Discover the fulfilment of intimate relationships with flesh-and-blood neighbours and teammates in a concrete place and time, and we escape the pressure of mainstream media to channel intimacy only as a virtual embrace.”

Somewhere in between the loneliness of solitude and the loneliness that drives over-exposure to the world through social media is where the true value of sharing sits. Only we can decide where that actually is, but perhaps the final judge is in reflection. Ultimately there is a beautiful joy in having shared something wonderful, but not over-shared it.

Running of the Bulls Balconies. Sanfermin, Pamplona 2017

We now have your balconies available for Sanfermin 2017

Sanfermin.com and Sanfermin by Locals are once again preparing a range of balcony offers to watch the Sanfermin bullrunnings in maximum comfort in Pamplona from the 7th to the 14th of July, 2017. As well, we have a special exclusive balcony available to watch the opening Txupinazo event, located beside the City Hall of Pamplona to allow you to enjoy an unforgettable and unique experience

The Sanfermin.com offers include a guide and a breakfast and this offer can be further extended to include other activities such as a Tour of the Bullrunning Course or reserving a select viewing spot from which to watch the nightly fireworks display from the roof terrace of the Baluarte Building. Check out our Web Page and learn more about our team as well as our offers and products.

Citroen Cactus y el encierro de Sanfermin

The Citroen Cactus is inspired by the Sanfermin Bullrunning

There is a good chance that you have already seen this TV commercial spot as it has made a reappearance just lately on TV. This video of the Citroen Cactus was first made more than a year ago by the Havas publicity company under the slogan “Efecto Made in Spain”. This TV commercial features a vehicle which is made in Spain and it shows how the different owners of this car model from around the world also acquire certain Spanish cultural values at the same time as they acquire the new car. The video advertisement has been made with great care and creativity and it reaches its maximum feature when the owner of this new car model finds his road blocked by a polar reindeer in the middle of a wooded trail and the car must come to a halt. The driver gets out of the car wearing a red necktie just like the Sanfermin runners and he entices the animal as if he was taking part in the running of the bulls in Pamplona and in this way he gets the reindeer to move off out of the way.

Citroen Cactus y el encierro de Sanfermin

Some cool style is shown by this “runner” in order to get the reindeer to move out of the way so that the car can continue its journey.

On Twitter, Javi Villaverde, wrote us to ask us to comment on this TV commercial spot as he feels it is quite well made and he is surprised that it has not raised more comment in the media outlets. Well, we think he is absolutely right; the fact isthe advert is very well done and its wink to the Sanfermin Running of the bulls is perhaps its very best moment of all. From the comments that we have seen on the video that Citroen produced at the time of the first showings of this commercial, it seems a lot of viewers liked the advert and they particularly praised the “Sanfermin” scene. It has to be said that there were also some negative comments stating that it showed a stereotyped image of Spanish culture with clichédimages like the siesta, the paella and Sanfermin. The creative team obviously intentionally played with these clichéd images of Spain, but within a humorous context, which is also an important characteristic of life in Spain.

Havas aimed to decontextualize typical Spanish customs which are of course, not so typical in Germany (Siesta), Singapore (Paella) or Finland (Bullrunning) and which would provoke surprise and admiration. The agency prepared a good launching campaign and a follow-up which worked very well and which can be followed on Twitter or Facebook at the has tag #efectomadeinspain.

300.000 Citroen vehicles for 60 countries

At present, several models of the Citroen vehicle range are currently manufactured in Madrid or in Vigo –namely the Citroën C4 Cactus, C4 Picasso, Grand C4 Picasso, Berlingo, its Electric Berlingo and the C-Elysée. In 2015, 300.000 vehicles from this trademark were manufactured and they were sold in some 60 countries all over the world.