Dear readers, you may be wondering how one gets into this sort of pickle once in a lifetime… let alone twice in a year and a half. Allow me to explain. The first time it was a little more planned.
I was in the middle of a round-the-world trip and happened to be in Pamplona, Spain, just in time for the yearly San Fermin spectacle – also known as The Running of the Bulls. After one too many Sangrias one evening, a drunken bet ensued and before I knew it, I was woken up at 5 a.m. (on Friday the 13th!) to run with the bulls. It was an exhilarating, unforgettable experience. The sound of hooves thundering around the aptly named ‘Dead Man’s Corner’ is etched in my mind; my heart was beating so fast it was practically trying to escape my chest. I remember running for my life, pushed along by the sensation of adrenaline-pulsing flashes of time. We shoved our way to safety through a sea of red and white as we bolted down the cobblestone streets, watched by enthralled spectators hoping for blood.
Fast forward one year later. I was in the beautiful, quaint town of San Agustin, Colombia. This place is not only filled with welcoming inhabitants, picturesque vistas, and local delicacies, but a delightful lack of tourists makes it refreshingly serene.
So there I was, minding my own business, ambling along a dusty road on the way home to my hostel in the mountains. I may have even been whistling a tune (you know, in case you’re watching in your mind’s eye). I had nary a worry in the world as I reminisced about the lovely day I had and the adventures yet to come. Suddenly, some crazed screaming mingled with the sound of revving engines in the distance snapped me out of my reverie. The noises took shape seconds later as I saw a roaring motorcycle. It sped closer and on it, I saw a Colombian rider’s weathered face twisted in terror. He continued screaming unintelligible expletives as he waved his arms around wildly – all the while trying to keep control of a bike with ever-increasing speed.
I stood there in a state of confusion… until I saw it. It was rearing from behind the motorcycle. Big, black, rippling muscle and sharp horns. My mind was blank, frozen, and utterly useless for what felt like a lifetime. There I stood in the middle of this dusty road, with the bull barreling directly towards me, and I couldn’t even think. Finally, my brain decided to join the party, and I did what I imagine was a spectacular theatrical kamikaze dive onto the side of the road. The bull turned at the last second, its deadly horns only meters from my face. And off it went, forging ahead down the road on its path to bring panic and dread to more unsuspecting travelers.
True story. So I lived to tell the tale of another heart-pounding bull chase. Here’s to hoping there’s no number three!