Exactly 1 year ago today—7.7.13—we said goodbye to the gray-haired woman I've got my arm around. For the previous 20+ hours, Maite (MAH-tay) had been our Spanish savior. We'd been the dumb Americans who showed up in Spain a few days earlier with no reservations and no plan once we walked into Pamplona for the running of the bulls. My compadres and I—Brother Deke and his boy, my nephew, Josh—just assumed it would all somehow work out. And, what do you know, it DID. Thanks largely to Maite, whose English was even worse than our shitty Spanish. The previous day we'd been put in touch with her thanks to an Irish bloke we met over dinner at a pilgrim boarding house in Roncesvalles during our 1st night on the road during last summer's Camino de Santiago adventure. The day before this photo was taken, Maite took our !50 Euros and gave us a room with a balcony overlooking one of the squares not more than a few blocks from the Pamplona bullfighting ring. A year later, our 1-day stop in Pamplona feels like a dream. We walked into the middle of a raging party, lucked into a room in the middle of the city and somehow got hooked up with a gay local artist who took us into her home, welcomed us with cold beers, showed us around her neighborhood, joined us for dinner before taking in the opening night firework show in the middle of the Pamplona, surrounded by thousands of roaring locals dressed in white, with their red scarves and sangria-stained shirts. Easily one of the most unforgettable days/nights of my life. Followed the next morning by an even bigger jolt of adreneline, when Maite took us jogging through her cobblestone neighborhood, looking for the perfect entrance spot for Brother Deke and Josh to join in with the running of the bulls. After a couple dead ends, she led us running towards the bullfight stadium, where she quickly got us a trio of scalped tickets just in time for use to get a standing room only spot inside when the crazy drunks and the bonafide Spanish bull whisperers came running into the stadium with the bulls. The whole things was a scene burned into my brain forever. From the spectacle. The roar of the crown. The grace and idiocy of the 400 or 500 runners left in the ring with the lone bull. And those moments where I couldn't help but feel sad for the bull and what the torment he was facing. It was a life experience that maybe doesn't happen without Maite's generosity and patience with a trio of Americans whose Spanglish sucked. Muchas gracias, Maite!
Do I know you? One man's attempt at a lifelong head count.
NOTE: If you think I might have a photo of you—most likely at least one great photo of you—don't be afraid to ask me to post it (firstname.lastname@example.org) along with a brief entry about how I know you. And if I've met or known you but don't have any photo evidence, feel free to send along YOUR favorite photo of you. (I'm fascinated by what that slideshow might look like.)