WOW Word-Of-the-Week #415: Debauchery

July 18, 2012 by  

Debauchery – extreme indulgence in sensual pleasures.

How many times have you seen this word? I always wondered what it meant and this week’s WOW is courtesy of Rick Steves. We like his travel books and this past week we were in Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls.

Steve writes, “For nine days each July, a million visitors pack into Pamplona to watch a gang of reckless, sangria-fueled adventurers thrust themselves into the path of an oncoming herd of furious bulls. Locals call it El Encierro (literally the enclosing, as in taking the beasts to be enclosed in the bull ring.)”

“The festival begins at City Hall at noon on July 6, with various events filling the next nine days and nights. Originally celebrated as the feast of San Fermin – who is still honored by a religious procession through town on July 7 – it has since evolved into a full slate of live music, fireworks, general revelry, and an excuse for debauchery. After dark the town erupts into a rollicking party scene.”

The Running of the Bulls takes place each morning at 8 am. Six Bulls charge down the street with a few steers to keep them together in a group. Their destination is the bull ring where they will be participate in that evenings bull fight.

We chose to go the last day as we were told it was “more authentic.” It’s also 30% cheaper if you go the last 4 days. Pablo is a retired bull fighter from Spain who now lives in San Diego. When he asked if I was going to go to the bull fight, my immediate response was, “No.” He said, “You really should experience it.” And so we did go, but we didn’t stay for the whole event. The matadors were quite graceful and beautiful to watch. The bull really has no chance.

We met a couple from Louisiana who said, “This is Mardi Gras on steroids.” And I have to say the debauchery was very civilized for the most part. In Spain inebriation is acceptable. Obscene gestures or behavior is not. The Spanish people are very cultured, nice and FUN!

Here’s to having more civilized debauchery in our travels!

Reader Responses

“Wow sounds like one for the “Bucket List”. Thank you for sharing your fun times.” – Ralph

“In Yelapa we have a similar day of debauchery on June 1st called Mariners’ Day. The whole town turns out after a week of fund raising door to door to pay for the events. The day starts with a procession of boats full of schoolchildren with giant wreaths and garlands of flowers, which are thrown into the sea at the mouth of the bay while prayers are invoked in memory of all past villagers who died at sea. Meanwhile, a 12 foot greased pole is erected on the playita, with a cross or X of wood at top from which is hung several bottles of fine tequila and a $100 bill. Teams take turns trying to mount the pole till one succeeds at getting to the prizes. A ponga is pulled up on the beach under a shade tent and filled with ice and Coronitas (smaller bottles of Corona beer). A pig is roasted in ground and slabs of juicy meat carved off on request. A sound system blasts out disco and dirty dancing music as everyone has egg and water balloon fights between standing in the bay and on the beach. Occasional “victims’ are carried by groups of friends to the water and tossed in. The young girls form a circle and dirty dance while the young men encircle them and dance from behind. The party last till it gets dark. It’s a hoot! My body is my temple but on weekends and on Mariner’s Day it’s an amusement park…” – Bob

“I think civilized debauchery is an oxymoron. When I have watched video of those guys running with the bulls I always thought that they were nuts to take their lives into their own hands. I can tell you without equivocation that running with the bulls is not on my bucket list. I would prefer to watch. I am not too keen on attending a bull fight, either. But, to each his own. I did my share of debauchery during my salad days, and most of it had to do with drinking. But those days are far behind me, thankfully. I have to say there is a lot to say for being able to remember what I said and did the night before. Great word, Susan. We have all done our share of debauchery at one point or another in our lives. Take care.” – “Warrior” Joe