Feria du Riz and had no idea of what might happen. We set off on our walking tour, accompanied by an excellent American guide. (Oh, the joy of a good guide, and oh, the tedium of a poor one). We were delighted by the garden of the hospital where Van Gogh was taken minus his ear, and by being able to snap the cafe he famously painted at night and see that it was much the same even if the street wasn't. And we loved the way the Roman remains were somehow mingled with buildings still in use, so that the whole effect was somehow casual and random.
We arrived at lunchtime. We'd already seen the huge vats of paella being cooked on ever corner, and the backstreet cafés were tempting, but we had a notion to be close to the action. Having heard the wild roars from the Roman Amphitheatre, we had a taste for the excitement of the promised bull run; we wanted to see what was happening. We sat at a table beside the barricaded road. Bands played, vying with one another. Lines of horsemen - and women - paraded up and down the road with what looked like spears (they weren't). They wore the kind of hats that made them look special, and sat with their legs straight in long stirrups. They were Camargue cowboys, and they looked invincible. We waited for paella and action. A gun went off. There was a distant roar, and then the clattering of hooves on tarmac. By this time I was peering through the barrier, just in time to see a swirl of horses, dust, and - fleetingly - the small, black bulls corralled in the centre of the horses. This was how it worked, then: they had to keep the bulls under control as they all pelted along. Just where I was standing, a bull escaped, turned round, started back the way it had come. Great horsemanship, more swirling, and it was back in the equine corral. Youths dashed after them, trying to catch the tail of a bull. Later - for they did it about 10 times - young boys joined in and with the reduction in speed were able to catch up, wrestle the bull's horns. One of our party, wine-glass in hand, chased after them too. She spilled not a drop. I thought fleetingly of health and safety. I also thought more about how exciting I'd found it - I'd thought I might be crippled by disapproval. I even wrote a poem about it, which you can see, along with a great photo by a friend, here.
And now I feel I've written enough for now. I may have to share what happened with a Carousel, and in a modern art gallery. But I have another trip to prepare for ...