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  • © Maite H. Mateo. En el patio de caballos Etxarte y los del Struendo traen la merienda para el personal. 20 platos y 20 tenedores para todos.

    © Maite H. Mateo. En el patio de caballos Etxarte y los del Struendo traen la merienda para el personal. 20 platos y 20 tenedores para todos.

  • © Maite H. Mateo

    © Maite H. Mateo

Unforgettable at sun

Even if it is not necessary to be a member to sit with them, most of the sunny side of the ring is booked out and it is very difficult to get a place. This whole side of the Bullring is pure spectacle and pandemonium.

Once you have succeeded in getting a ticket remember to arrive in good time to take your seat. You should try to get there by six o`clock. If you are late you may find that someone has occupied your seat and it may be difficult to move them. Arriving at the last moment could mean that you are confronted with a packed crowd that makes it physically impossible for you to reach your seat. You might be left standing at the back with little or no comfort.

The bullfight on this side is usually hot and dirty. Come well prepared. Take a straw hat - the July sun can sometimes fry your scalp. Sunglasses might be a good idea too. The "Peñas" will be wearing their distinctive-coloured smocks so that, should any kind of "flour fights" start, they don´t worry about getting dirtied. Better to wear your oldest clothes, or, if you value your clothes,bring a towel or somesuch thing to protect you from any "flying objects" which may be thrown in good-natured fun, but which will leave a dirty stain should they find their target. You will notice that the locals on this side of the ring will wear any old thing to the fights, sometimes just to be funny, but believe me, they are also thinking of the muck and grime that tends to proliferate there.

A cushion to put under you is not a bad idea either, even if it is only useful for the first minutes. The concrete seating will have already taken a battering from the previous day´s fight and there also tends to be a lot of spilled wine floating around. These can be hired out just inside the stadium for a modicum sum.

So, keep your good gear for the night scene and you won´t have to regret any "accidents" that could take place when the wine, sangría, etc, overspills both inside and outside its owners.

Neither is it a good idea to take cameras, something which visitors tend to do. They could run the risk of getting badly stained by the flowing wine or "kalimotxo" (a mixture of red wine and coke) which are being abundantly consumed to allay the fierce heat of the sun. Anything valuable is best left somewhere in a safe place.

Eating and Drinking at the bullring is one of the most attractive aspects (Some would say the most attractive) of the whole show. The drinking usually commences pretty early on. More likely than not the fierce heat of the afternoon sun will be beating mercilessly down on the sunny side of the ring. Sangria tends to be the most popular drink, which, funnily enough, is hardly ever drunk in Pamplona during the rest of the year. It´s understandable that foreign visitors go away from the Fiesta thinking that it is our national drink, but nothing could be further from the truth. Rigid protocol dictates that, after the third bull has been killed, it is time to open the lunchboxes. Many people meet up with their friends in the passageways under the stadium to share their meal, which means that there is usually more seating space available on the terraces.

The lunchboxes can hold anything from a breadroll sandwich to a full three course meal depending on the taste of each person. Some people even bring coffee and liqueurs to finish off their meal in style. (So you can understand why some people don´t tend to return to their seats to watch the remainder of the bullfight.)

On the way to the stadium you will see all kinds of people proudly bearing all kinds of opulent lunchboxes. (Here is one of moments when a little ostentatiousness is acceptable). For many people this will be their main meal of the day.

So, remember to take some victuals and beverages with you to the bullfight. A sense of wellbeing and camaradie abounds at the bullfight and there is usually an opulent amount of sharing out of food going on with the people round you, be they friends or strangers. Here, you have the chance to taste all sorts of popular food from the Navarra region. The people understand that the foreign visitor is not "up" on the protocol on this type of occassion and they are particularly generous at sharing their food with any foreigners that are sitting near them. This eating and drinking tends to build up to a climax all through the second part of the bullfight and the spirits of the spectactors rise correspondingly. There is no point in taking home leftovers so these leftovers often start getting flung round in all directions as some people seem to feel a need to "practise" their volleyball skills.

Sometimes, some luckless person, (especially the ladies) who looks particularly well-dressed and eye-catching, becomes the unfortunate target for these impromptu throwings. This kind of behaviour can sometimes be tiresome and in any case seems to occur with less frequency than it used to do.

Later, as soon as the bull-fight finishes and the crowd leave, an assorted group of scavangers, made up of all kinds of "underground" types, be they "punkis" or whatever, tend to scour the terraces for the suculent leftovers.

So, if you are an open, tolerant and fun-loving type, you will probably have realized by now that this could be just the kind of thing you would enjoy. If it doesn´t sound much like your kind of fun, then give it a miss. There are plenty of other things going on at the same time in Pamplona that could be more in your line.

When the last bull has been killed and dragged from the ring, the "Peñas" and a large part of the crowd pile down into the ring and gather in disordered groups under the different banners ready to flow out through the main gate behind their raoucous brass bands.

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