Peñastonishing and Pandepeñamonium

Tim Pinks is writing a monthly column for the Diario de Noticias on the San Fermin Escalera and this is his third article that he has kindly passed on to me in English. Great job Tim. We are already looking forward to your April. YFM!!

The third of the third…now the rollercoaster ride that is the countdown to Fiesta is truly speeding up I thought I’d give a Sanfersalute to something that keeps the blood flowing and heart pumping in the weariest of fiesta body’s.

To Be A Guiri

Oh to be a guiri on your first ever visit to the Fiesta of San Fermin… and not knowing just about anything. Sabiendo nada. Knowing nothing about Fiesta is impossible now, of course, because this techno-drenched torment, instant info nightmare, twenty four hour a day, non-stop, touch-of-a-button me, me, me me, selfie, selfie, selfie world that we live in now leaves little room for some old fashioned spontaneous and instantaneous ‘let’s have an adventure – now – and go somewhere we know little about.’

Carrying around those little rectangular evil instruments that are slowly sucking out the soul of some people (‘’I’m sorry, I really have to get this…’’ NO YOU REALLY DON’T!) is taking the fun out of discovery. It’s like having a ‘get me out of jail’ card permanently in your pocket. B-O-RRRRRing… Yes, they can be a force for good – so can guns, drugs and patxaran, but when they’re misused…oh my Buddha!

Tim Pinks in Heart of Pamplona

Summer of 1984

But in the summer of 1984 this born and bred in Libya but true blue, pirate blooded Englishman ended up in Pamplona without knowing either the language, the locals, the fiesta or what a glorious, wonderful place he had landed in, (I was honestly like an alien who had landed on an impossibly beautiful unknown planet) and just how marvellous and magical the locals and their San Fermin sorcery would turn out to be.

But I promise you, even barely knowing anything…he knew his life had changed forever and that he’d learn the lingo and come back again for ever and a day. Being in Pamplona for San Fermin – and this is the important bit – with almost no knowledge of anything…no internet footage, no ‘Fb friends’ who had been there before, or friends of any kind with previous fiestas’ under their belts…meant that my knowledge and experience of the place was, compared to the reality, literally painted in black and white.

Northern spain travel & Heart of pamplona

Those First Few Seconds

But those first few seconds walking into the Plaza del Castillo on July 6th opened up a whole new world of colours and sounds that I’d never experienced anywhere. The following days until the end of fiesta took me into an alternative universe of brand new bursting colours never seen before that created 204 hours of a perpetually moving fiesta feast better than any film, accompanied with extraordinary exploding unknown musical notes I’d never heard before that created the most wonderful music that I’d never known before, (or else it was just the effects of a newly discovered medicinal drink called patxaran) and as if all of that wasn’t enough…there were the bulls. And still, the more one stayed…there was even more.

Now, as I said, I knew almost nothing when I arrived – I was in normal clothes, (I didn’t even buy a panuelo) slept in the square with some new found friends – a couple of them lifelong friends now – and just got swept away on the night and day tidal wave of joy and fun, fear and runs, and discovery and hilarity that totally overwhelmed me and submerged me that first ever visit.

And it still does, dear reader, it still does. It gets me every single Fiesta, every single day…

And as if all of THAT wasn’t enough…there were the peñas. Oh, the peñas. On this, the third escalera day, it’s about time I paid my own little homage to Pamplona’s unparalleled and stupendous peñas.

Fiesta’s Beating Heart

I doubt there’s anything new I can add to what has already been said about them – fiesta’s beating heart, the city’s thumping soul, etc, etc, except this: if there is any drug or medicine, dance or music out there that can perform the miracle that the peñas achieve – to lift an already euphoric San Fermin soul to even greater heights, (to cloud nine in seventh heaven, over the moon, to beyond the stars, perhaps, which is my permanent San Fermin address) then I haven’t discovered it.

Along with La Pamplonesa, I honestly believe they can wake the dead with their music. Or at least make them feel a little better…

And for this San Fermin I have a little idea. All I need is a member from each one to put my little plan into action so I can play my peña game. And do you know what? I think I know at least one socio from each club, so let’s see what little mischief I can cook up.

Today is the 3rd of March, and the beating, pulsating heartbeat that emanates from the peñas of Pamplona can be heard here in London as the guiri and pirate Tim Pinks writes this. My surname is Scottish so even if I was writing in Timbuktu, Tim McPinks would feel it, for it reverberates around the world. Hundreds of thousands of us feel it deep inside us.

It’s as soft as a baby’s heartbeat but the reverberations go around the globe.

Tick-tock goes the clock…Happy Escalera Day, Sanfermineros, especially to Pamplona’s Peña Bandas de Hermandad.

Gutxiago falta daa!

Gora San Fermin!