Un puerta de madera dibujada con el trazo característico de Kukuxumusu con un dintel del piedra y una oared de ladrillos. En la puerta, sobre la ventanuca cerrada, se pueden leer tres sietes.

When the Ministry of Time resurrected Hemingway

The reference in the series El Ministerio del Tiempo to the Sanfermin festivities in 2016 was as curious as it was original. Due to the plot of the series we could see Ernest Hemingway in 1931 , Later, this moment allowed a reference to the series in the animations that Kukuxumusu performs for TVE in Sanfermin . Here’s the full story and in this link you can see all Kukuxumusu animations for the Sanfermin programs on Spanish television.

As explained by TVE in the website of the series “El Ministerio del Tiempo “is a Autonomous and secret governmental institution that depends directly on the Presidency of the Government. Only kings, presidents and an exclusive number of people know about it. The passage to other times is carried out through gates guarded by the Ministry Patrols. Its objective : detect and prevent any intruder from the past from reaching our present -or vice versa- in order to use History for their benefit. For this, the Patrols will have to travel to the past and prevent them from achieving it. They are superheroes, but ordinary people exposed to unusual situations. Julián, a modern-day SAMUR nurse, Amelia Folch, the first female university student in Barcelona in 1880 (an image of modern Spain) and Alonso de Entrerríos, a soldier from the Third of Flanders (example of the value and patriotic sacrifice of our armies). All Spain together for a common goal. His mission: to fight so that the past does not change, which would mean that our present is not what it is. To do this, they will have to fight with merchants and organizations that want to manipulate it for their benefit or that of foreign powers. The Ministry is the last barrier so that, with its greatness and its sorrows, our History is what it is. “

With this excuse they live many adventures and in the chapter “The farewell to Ortigosa”, a group of officials decides to travel to Sanfermin in 1931 for a party. The series picks up the moments in the tunnels after the party and Ernest Hemingway surprisingly slips in a little past laps.

In line with this story, for Sanfermin 2017, Kukuxumusu customized one of the animations for the Sanfermines program of La 1 on RTVE, emulating this turn proposed by the series. In the animation some characters from a different era appear in a confinement by mistake. The door, with the legend 777, guessed the tragedy.


Imagen del chupinazo de san fermin lleno de gente y con los gaiteros saliendo del ayuntamiento


“The essence of pleasure is spontaneity.”  

Germaine Greer.


At the end of the encierro in Pamplona the adrenalin’s edge softens and the sense of relief, satisfaction, fulfilment and even disappointment takes its place.  At the same time, amid the Kaiku y cognacs, coffees and conversation, thoughts turn towards breakfast.

There was a time when groups of runners would take the short stroll down Plaza del Castillo, crossing Estafeta and up to Calle de la Merced where they would find a few spare benches outside La Raspa and sit down.  The crowd would vary day to day but ultimately it would be a relaxed affair where a group of friends could eat a simple breakfast, share a few bottles of tinto with gaseosa and chat away in a mood of contented camaraderie.  The odd jota would meanwhile float over from a nearby table. It was always the perfect way to ease into the day and to transition between the drama of the encierro and the rhythm of fiesta.

Not now.

Now the tables are all reserved: booked up in advance for the “right people” and the impromptu breakfast has been replaced by a stage-managed event.  The very concept of spontaneity has been sacrificed because the breakfast “event” is so popular that everyone wants to join in. Everyone wants a piece of the action and to be seen to be there.  When the essence of a thing vanishes what is left is an artificial facsimile of the original.

We have seen it before in so many ways.  If you have ever dreamed of visiting a famous monument or notoriously beautiful site then you will be aware that the truth does not match the dream.  That amazing view across to Niagra Falls, across the Grand Canyon or up The Mall to Buckingham Palace is not something you can enjoy in the way you imagined.  This is because of the sheer mass of humanity getting in the way of the view. The forest of selfie sticks, or ego poles as someone else has described them, has to be waded through and any photograph has to be captured in that split second when a group of Japanese tourists, British schoolchildren or American coach tour is not right in the optimal place.

Popular sites are popular for a reason – people believe they are worth seeing “in the flesh”.  Their essence is something that is worth enjoying in person. Yet in doing so we end up killing them through popularity.  Pumphrey described it as the “devil’s bargain”, and that experience is greatly diminished not just because it has to be shared with dozens of Antipodean backpackers but because that sense of intimacy, that personal connection, is compromised.

It is very easy to leap up and blame the very modern phenomenon of social media for much of this.  After all the attitude that drives so many of us to share our lives with the rest of the world has found a natural home in the digital age.  Not only that but there is an accompanying theme of the need to prove how amazing our lives are while sharing them with the world. As a result the selfie stick pervades and every visit to a famous monument or site has to be captured as evidence not only that we were there, but that we were having the most amazing time while we were at it.

Yet it wouldn’t be fair to blame this solely on the rise of social media.  As long as humans have been able to travel for leisure and been able to share that experience so the complaints of over-crowding and spoiling have existed.

The famous European Grand Tour was an expected trip for wealthier members of British society, particularly between the 17th and 19th centuries.  Yet even as far back as then there were complaints that the circuit was getting too crowded and too rowdy.  As Professor Kathleen Burke writes; “The undisciplined and sometimes violent behaviour of young Englishmen was often commented upon; certainly, for the staff of British embassies abroad, the activities of English visitors, ‘each vying with the other who should be the wildest and most eccentric’, were a major preoccupation. ‘Even Russians were impressed by the cohorts of wild English youth they found in the cities of western Europe.’”

Hemingway too acknowledged the down side to the popularity of something so beloved.  “Pamplona was rough, as always, overcrowded… I’ve written Pamplona once, and for keeps. It is all there, as it always was, except forty thousand tourists have been added. There were not twenty tourists when I first went there… four decades ago.”

Social media has merely exacerbated this and contributed to it on a global level.  Take a trip to San Sebastián, home of the most wonderful pintxos and tapas, and you will see what popularity has done to this culture.  The principle of tapas, how tapas traditionally works in Spanish towns and cities, has been erased. In its place there is a much more stage-managed, tourist-friendly version where the bars do not want people to pop in for a mini and a single pintxo.  Now they hand you a plate and encourage you to stay long and spend deep in order to keep the cash registers ringing. (This is not to denigrate the gastronomy of San Sebastián, which is outstanding).

This is not how tapas works elsewhere, but San Sebastián has become popular on a mercurial scale.  When this happens a critical mass is reached and something has to give. As Hassan Bougrine points out; “…the essence of the capitalist economy is the need to ‘make money’.”  No wonder that tradition is distorted. Though perhaps some would say that it is actually more positive – an evolution that gives the customers what they want. Given that a high proportion of those present in the Basque city are foreign travellers, that evolution to ‘Tapas Tourism’ is not surprising.

The intense beauty of Cornish fishing villages is such an allure that those with enough income have been buying holiday homes there for many years.  This has had such a negative impact on the communities, effectively destroying the villages outside the holiday seasons, that bans on purchasing second homes now exist in a number of Cornish locations.

The essence of a thing is so fragile, so precious and so difficult to grasp that when we reach for it, it vanishes.  Like grasping a handful of sand on the beach, the tighter we hold on the less we are able to keep a grip on it and the sooner it slips through our fingers and is gone.  We rarely aim to destroy the essence of a thing intentionally, we merely realise that it has happened almost by stealth and the truth of our impact has crept up on us, seemingly out of nowhere.  Yet, destroy the essence of something we most certainly do.

With something fragile and something so desirable the answer, surely, is to handle with care.  We want to reach out and grasp something that shines and yet, like ice crystals, the very touch itself can destroy the thing.  In this case it must be wiser to enjoy a thing in the moment and be prepared to walk away, to change and to sacrifice the very thing we love so as not to destroy it.  This is not easy for, in the moment, we are normally overtaken by the desire to sink ourselves into the experience. Similarly we often destroy one small cut at a time and may not recognise it until it is too late.

Surely as soon as we feel a thing we love is at risk of being stage-managed or that its essence has been compromised or killed by popularity we should be prepared to walk away.  Perhaps we should even be prepared to walk away long before then. Take the post-encierro breakfast as an example. If we attend every single day are we expecting too much from it?  Are we forcing the fun to fulfil an expectation or are we merely contributing to the destruction of its essence. Once something becomes routine it is no longer special.

That is not to say that such things should cease and many people find enjoyment in routine.  Some would even claim that they are able to hold onto the essence of something even when it is a routine.

One of the most common complaints is that the encierro has been destroyed through being too popular.  Complainants point to the crowded streets and the high proliferation of non-Spanish runners (estimated to be 45% in 2017) as contributing factors.  Talk to any “old timer” and they will generally yearn for a time when the streets were quieter, when you had space to run and when you could actually see the bulls.  The essence of the encierro has gone, replaced by backpackers, beginners and wishful thinking.

The evidence does not totally support this view.

The encierro has been popular for a very long time and crowding is most certainly not a modern phenomenon.  Old black and white photographs and even film reels show crowded streets, a crowded Plaza de Toros, pile ups and packed barriers going back many decades – all seemingly without killing off the soul of the encierro.

Additionally, the modern crowding is not getting any worse according to figures released by the Ayuntamiento of Pamplona.  An article published on sanfermin.com highlighted the fact that some years, such as 2012, saw over 20 thousand runners take part across the 8 days, while others much less.  2017 was estimated to have had around 16 thousand runners. Volumes also vary dramatically from day-to-day. It would appear that a patient and determined runner can find space on the right day if he bides his time and takes his chances.

So while it is true that we often smoother the thing we love and destroy its essence, sometimes the thing we love is not actually dead and we just need to look at it slightly differently.  Perhaps, as in San Sebastián, we need to experience it differently and re-learn what the essence now is. Ultimately we need to acknowledge that the essence of a thing is fleeting, transient and that we should enjoy what we can of it while it lasts.

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).

Continue reading…

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…

¿Qué haces aquí, Hemingway, sin tunearte de blanco?

Estos días por Pamplona se dejan ver unos cuantos dobles de Hemingway, barbiblancos, con generosas carnes y aspecto de abuelo de Heidi. Hoy hemos pillado a uno de ellos in fraganti, sin tunear, el que sale en la foto. Bueno, a lo mejor es el mismísimo Hemingway, que se ha reencarnado para pasearse de incógnito y revivir su fiesta preferida.

A Hemingway Pamplona le debe mucho: sus escritos y reflexiones sobre la fiesta pusieron esta ciudad en el mapa del mundo. Miles de personas vienen cada año atraídas por lo que se cuenta de los Sanfermines. La mayoría nunca ha leído “Fiesta”, ni lo hará nunca, pero les suena que aquí pasan cosas increíbles, como que todo el mundo se viste de blanco.

Hoy ya estamos en pleno follón festivo. Una parisina de origen navarro ha encendido la mecha del Txupinazo. Su abuelo, Honorino Arteta, logró escapar a Francia, con un balazo en la pierna. El resto de sus 21 amigos y compañeros, todos republicanos, como él, no tuvieron tanta suerte. Era el 23 de agosto de 1936, en plena guerra civil.

Honorino formaba parte de la peña La Veleta, fundada en 1931 por gente de origen humilde y de clase obrera. Ese año Hemingway también vino a los Sanfermines. Los de esta Peña querían distinguirse de alguna forma durante las fiestas, y eligieron vestirse todos igual, con un sencillo atuendo blanco, popular, asequible para todos.

Desde entonces, Pamplona por Sanfermin se viste de blanco y rojo. La mayoría de los visitantes también cumple casi a rajatabla con el ritual. Si llegas a Pamplona en medio de las fiestas, te metes en la parte vieja y no vas tuneado de Sanfermin, cantas mogollón. Te sientes como un marciano. Y no te queda otro remedio que pillar camiseta, pantalón y pañuelo.

Durante muchos años, el traje era blanco impoluto. Hasta que un día a tres amigos se les ocurrió una majadería: diseñar una camiseta, hacer una tirada y venderla por las calles durante las fiestas. Así conseguirían pagarse sus kalimotxos. A la gente le gustó… y aquello marcó el comienzo de nuestra marca, Kukuxumusu, el beso de pulga ‘cocido’ entre kalimotxos.

Hoy en Pamplona por Sanfermin conviven los atuendos blanco impecable con una gran variedad de estilos, dibujos, frases, ocurrencias.

Este año cumplimos 26 Sanfermines reinventando la fiesta con los lápices. Y para celebrarlo hemos resumido el recorrido del Encierro en la camiseta del año, con todos los puntos de interés. Para que la gente de Pamplona pueda chulear del Casco Viejo y para que los turistas sepan lo que no deberían perderse. Así cuando se la lleven de aquí podrán contar sus historietas sin tener que poner el dedo sobre un mapa.

Hemingway by Kukuxumusu 60 aniversario del Premio Nobel de Literatutra

60 years since Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature

On this day, exactly 60 years ago, Ernest Hemingway learned, while he was residing at the Finca Vigía (CUBA), that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature by the Swedish Academy. This award ensured his eternal fame and the appreciation of his written work and, in consequence, the image of Sanfermin and the fiestas of Pamplona. We celebrate that date with this drawing from Kukuxumusu.

Ernest Hemingway look- alikes kick off the Running of the Bulls Saturday, July 19, 2014, in Key West, Fla. The whimsical event, a parody of its namesake in Pamplona, Spain, is one of many events during Key West’s Hemingway Days festival that continues through Sunday, July 20. Hemingway lived and wrote in Key West throughout most of the 1930s. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

A Hemingways “Bullrunning” at Sloopy Joe´s in Key West

Photo: Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO

These days they are celebrating in Key West what would have been the birthday of Hemingway (21st of July, 1899). If he were still alive he would probably be just getting over a tough Sanfermin hangover or he would be in this edition number 34 of the Hemingway Days – a party they hold in his honor there every year on these dates.

The Hemingway Days are celebrated each year in the bar Sloppy Joe´s in Key West, which used to be frequented by Ernest Hemingway during the long period that he spent living in Key West. This image comes from the typical collection of “lookalike” Hemingways who dress up in Sanfermin gear and who take part in a “bullrunning” and in a quiz show in a competition to find the person who does the best caricature of Ernest Hemingway. All the finalists earn the right to be called “Papa” at Sloppy Joe’s Bar.

Images from the Tourism Office in Key West.


Hemingways running of the bulls
Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO

The 2014 “Papa” Hemingway is Wally Collins, the man who stands up the “Look – Alike” award.

Wally Collins, 2014 “Papa” Hemingway, “Look- Alike” contest’s winner of Sloppy Joe’s bar sloppyjoes.com/index.php/look-alike/photo-gallery/

Just to show how important this event is in Florida, a lawyer  who was representing a man charged with a plot to commit murder requested an adjournment of the court case so as to be able to participate in the Hemingway Days.

The judge in charge of the court case refused to grant the adjournment because “having the option of going to a murder court case and a lookalike competition , for sure Hemingway would have chosen the court case“. However, he wished the lawyer good luck in the lookalike competition if he entered the competition in the future, and  Frank Louderback, the defence lawyer,  accepted the decision of the judge and pointed out that at least in the way, “he was getting another year in which to get a bit older, a bit fatter and a bit more gray in the head”.


Hemingway writes a new Fiesta and rescues the memories of Orson Welles’s daughter

Hemingway has written “FIESTA”, again – well, almost. This time it is, in fact, John (Hemingway) who, incidentally, was chosen as Kukuxumusu Guiri del Año 2011 (Fiesta Foreigner of the Year)– and he has now written this book with the idea of explaining to all would-be runners from the Anglo-Saxon countries just what the bullrunning entails. In addition, he has the help of a trio of Joe DistlerBill Hillmann and Alexander Fiske-Harrison while photographer Jim Hollander, provides the accompanying images. Perhaps the most curious contributor of all is Beatrice Welles, who provides some unedited memories of when she came to Pamplona for the first time in the company of her father, Orson Welles. (Orson Welles first came to Pamplona back in the 1940s, when he was in Spain filming El Quixote, and he returned again in 1963.)

The book costs six euros and it is being sold by Amazon for Kindle and for smartphones. All four writers are men who have both literary experience as well as experience of running the bulls in Sanfermin. While some have had more experience in running than others, all of them write well about their initiations in the bullrunning and their love for the annual event. And now they have transmitted in well-written narratives their experiences and viewpoints for all those who might find themselves in a similar situation of wishing to take on the experience of running in the bulls.

The book has been published by Mephisto Press just a few days ago and it is published in English under the title “How to Survive the Bulls of Pamplona.” The text is distributed by Kindle and it consists of 217 pages. One of the authors tells us that if anyone shows him the book in their smartphone during these coming Sanfermin fiestas, he will put his signature on the back and invite the person to a glass of wine. However, for the moment, we will not reveal the identity of this particular author.

Una postal de Ernest Hemingway a Gertrude Stein desde Pamplona el 13 de julio de 1924

We have come across yet another proof that Ernest Hemingway was indeed to be found at least once in the Pamplona bullring arena immediately after the Running of the Bulls during fiestas. At Sanfermin.com we have already pinned up two earlier photos; one that we discovered in the archives of the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection from the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston (Here). The second comes from a publication from Harper Magazine and which is contained in the book – The Letters of Ernest Heminway: Volume 2, edited by Sandra Spanier. This current image is a photo/postcard, typical of the period of the 1920’s, which was sent from Pamplona on the 13th of July, 1924 to Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas who were both living together in Paris at that time.

In the postcard missive, Hemingway identifies himself along with some of his colleagues, within the arena of the Pamplona bullring, sporting with the young bulls which were let loose immediately after the Running of the Bulls had finished. EH describes the event as a “Novillada” and gives a brief account of what where his second Sanfermines in Pamplona.

The image comes from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University by way of the Press Department of the University of Cambridge.


Cuando Hemingway salvó a Alexander Fiske-Harrison en el encierro

We recently learned an intriguing story about the Running of the Bulls –one of those little anecdotes that get lost amid the heady days of July and the fiestas but which eventually surface with the passing of time. The fact is, John, the grandson of Ernest Hemingway, helped an English writer get out of a tricky predicament during the 2013 Running of the Bulls. And the anecdote features three characters in all, viz., Ernest Hemingway, John Hemingway (grandson of the famous writer) and Alexander Fiske-Harrison (an English writer and regular participant in the bullrunnings). Alexander Fiske-Harrison just recently published a literary criticism in the The Spectator magazine which dealt with the second volume of Ernest Hemingway’s letters which is edited by Sandra Spanier . In this article, Alexander Fiske-Harrison describes the work of the writer and his opinion of the author – from the point of view of a literary critic – and here he confesses that in one of his runs during the Sanfermin 2013 Bull runnings, Alexander Fiske-Harrison trip up and found himself being stampeded on by the panicky “runners” that lead the way forward well ahead of the pack of bulls approaching at some distance behind.

Alexander Fiske-Harrison describes how he was stepped on by an “overwhelming crowd of 5.000 drunken tourists”. And he goes on to say, “in July this year, while participating in my 19th ‘running of the bulls’ in Pamplona, I was tripped and trampled by a rampaging herd of drunken tourists, 5,000 of whom were crowded into the half-mile that comprise the world’s most famous encierro. After I was dragged to safety before a group of bulls could add their weight to the melée, I discovered that my saviour was none other than John Hemingway, Ernest’s grandson. As we later shared a drink, I half-jokingly remarked: ‘You know it’s you Hemingways’ fault that all of us idiots are here in the first place.’ There are more than a few novelists — Norman Mailer and Elmore Leonard spring immediately to mind — who could say the same thing.”


The book edited by Sandra Spanier is on sale at Amazon and other such sites and the title is: The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 2, 1923-1925 (The Cambridge Edition of the Letters of Ernest Hemingway).

You can read Fiske-Harrison and his article on the running of the bulls and his article on the running of the bulls in a piece he wrote for Sanfermin.com