The Chosen One: Stoke’s San Fermin
Editor’s note: over the winter we ran a competition to find the “Chosen One”, a one-of-a-kind, absolutely average, everyday hero who would win our Most Ordinary Extraordinary Job In The World — a summer of back-to-back Stoke Travel trips, where not only would they be expected to have the time of their life, but to also much in and set up tents/serve you heathens your beer. Well, our old mate Ryan is the winner, the Chosen One, and this is his blog about his time with Stoke Travel. Three trips down, who knows how many to go, get ready for the most fun of your life, Ryno.
Outside the city of Pamplona sits a small village named Mendigorría, notorious for noise complaints on the campground below. Legend dictates that in the valley below, thousands of strangers congregate to drink excessively, have promiscuous (and oftentimes unprotected) sex, and to risk their lives running with half-ton animals for their live Facebook stories, Instagram photos, and Snapchats.
Our hero arrives eventually, having lost all track of days at this point in his trip, to the campground, and is greeted with coldish beer and a chorus of greetings from the Stoke staff he previously met at San Vino. Registration is hot, but filled with laughter and new friends, as eventually the crowd dissipates and I am escorted to my lavish dwelling, a two person tent for one. As we walk, my friend Sparkles explains in some detail the commodities of the grounds: the river behind the on-campus bar, the on-campus bar, the guru tent and wheel of misfortune. “This is where the party exists until 12 AM,” he tells me, “after which, we all congregate under a cabana, in front of a DJ booth, and near a second on-campus bar. That party ends around 4 AM, but the second bar is in close proximity to the pool, so the fun need not ever end.” Energetic, curious, and slightly aroused, I consider all the possible options as I drift to the pool, preparing tentative plans for the opening ceremony on the next day.
I dress in what may be considered fresh whites (read: the only entirely white outfit I own at this stage of my life), eat breakfast, and hope onto the bus, traveling with the other festival-goers into Pamplona where we are poised to hear an almost musical speech by the mayor. We are giddy with excitement, sangria in our hands, in our stomachs, and our hearts, and wind through the city’s streets in route to the city center. A giant, stone gazebo looms over the crowd, peering into it from all sides except where a stage is set. A loudspeaker erupts as the speaker tells us something in Spanish. Me, nor any of my friends, pay the slightest attention to the words being said, awaiting only a cannon’s blast; and, without warning, the air shook, the sky turned purple from sangria raining from above, and we danced wit