P l a n e t
P a r t y 

Danger is a stimulant in common use, enjoyed for the pleasurable adrenaline rush that it induces. A multitude of ways have been perfected for facing danger, that range from wrestling grizzly bears to watching horror movies, all of which have the same goal: to tease the body into releasing its most exciting hormone and so provoke that rarissima avis a Natural High. Happy the hedonist who is easily frightened, for they will be bathed in adrenaline if surprised by a mouse. The brave, however need to work a little harder to stimulate their adrenal glands. A hundred and fifty thousand or so of this latter class gather on 6 th July each year in the city of Pamplona, in the north of Spain, in order to excite themselves at its annual festival, which offers its participants the opportunity to live very dangerously indeed. The Fiesta de San Fermin, officially a celebration of the life and works of the patron saint of wine-skins, is best known for its Encierro de los Toros, or running of the bulls. This dawn ritual is performed every day of the week long event, and offers adrenaline-lovers the chance of being chased through narrow, twisting streets by 600 kilo fighting bulls, that have been bred to kill on sight. For those of fainter hearts, who prefer to take their danger by proxy, there are bullfights every evening; and for both the bold and the timid there are fireworks by night, and a non stop round of drinking, singing and dancing through the streets of an attractive and ancient stone built city.

The fighting bulls are not the only form of peril on offer at the festival, for its celebrations are relentless, and frightening examples of the dangers of excess are visible from the instant that it opens until the moment when it shudders to a halt. Indeed, San Fermin is best avoided by those who are fastidious in their attire, who disapprove of animals being killed for entertainment, or who are possessed of an over-acute sense of smell. Danger is a great provoker of sweat, and urine, as is wine, which is laid on for free in horse troughs during the festival. When the copious quantities of these man made liquids that have been spilled onto the streets evaporate, and their vapours mingle in the hot summer air, a distinctive odour results that is reckoned to be a feature of Pamplona en fete. However, for those sound of liver and limb, who are partial to crowds of dancing inebriates, and to risking their lives by running in front of savage beasts, San Fermin offers a foretaste of heaven.