Places I Remember with Lea Lane

Cuba And Pamplona, Spain, In Hemingway's Steps: Forbes Editor's Adventures, Part #2

May 11, 2021 Randall Lane continues telling tales of famous people and fascinating travel experiences. Season 1 Episode 15
Places I Remember with Lea Lane
Cuba And Pamplona, Spain, In Hemingway's Steps: Forbes Editor's Adventures, Part #2
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In Part 1's amazing tales, Episode 14, we found out that Randall Lane likes to live on the edge -- from the jungles of Liberia to the deserts of Nevada.  Besides being chief content officer and editor of Forbes, he's my son, and I found out details on the episode that I never knew about.  His motto is "life is to be experienced," and in both his work and play, he would rather do things than regret the things he didn't do.

-- Here, in Part 2,  Episode 15, Randall gives us even more exciting (sometimes harrowing) tales of his adventurous travels -- with a final tale that's unforgettable.

-- He begins by mentioning a few of the famous people he's met along the way in his far-reaching travels to "70 or 80 countries." He mentions Malala, Jane Goodall, and rock stars like Bono from U2 and Chris Martin from Coldplay.

-- But we talk with appreciation about memorable people we've met in our travels that are not famous -- real people. Lea mentions a rural woman in Guatemala who showed her beautiful poems she had written.

-- Randall tells of going to Cuba and meeting the old man who was a model for the fisherman  in Ernest Hemingway's great novella, The Old Man and the Sea. When Rand meets him in the 1990's, the man is 102 years old, but still strong and with some shady things to say about Hemingway.

--  We then talk of doing risky things like eating blowfish, which could poison you.

-- And in keeping with the Hemingway theme, Randall tells of his experience in his 20s when he took the famed right of passage to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. This detailed description is absolutely fascinating -- it puts us all in the action. And even more, it becomes darkly hilarious. You maybe won't believe what happened to Randall -- but it's true.

That's my boy!
Randall Lane is the chief content officer and editor of Forbes. He is the founder of 30 Over 30 and 50 Over 50 franchises, and appears regularly  on MSNBC. Check out his book,  The Zeroes: My Misadventures In the Decade Wall Street Went Insane.
Podcast host Lea Lane has traveled to over 100 countries, written many travel books, including
Places I Remember, and has contributed to dozens of guidebooks. She's @lealane on Twitter, Travelea on Instagram, and  blogs about travel at  Contact her  on her Facebook page, Places I Remember by Lea Lane, and at her website,
Follow  Places I Remember with Lea Lane wherever you listen to podcasts. New travel episodes every Tuesday. And please review it on Apple

Lea Lane  00:04

Hi, I'm Lea Lane, an award-winning travel writer and author of Places I Remember: Tales, Truths, Delights from 100 Countries. On this podcast we share conversations with travelers about fascinating destinations and memorable experiences around the world. Our guest for the second part of a most exciting conversation is Randall Lane, the Chief Content Officer and editor of Forbes, And he's my son. In Episode 14, he talked about some pretty extreme travels. In this episode, he discusses a few more of them. But most of all, he talks about the fascinating people he's met, including the fishermen from Hemingway's the old man in the sea. And continuing in Hemingway's footsteps. He describes running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, with an unbelievable ending. So welcome again, Rand. I do know, partly because of your job, and partly because of your interests, you have met fascinating people of all kinds, in your travels and so forth. Some of them are my heroes. I mean, you have met for example, and you can tell us if there's a story there, but you've met Malala and you've met Jane Goodall, and both of those women are so exceptional, is there anything we should know there that maybe we wouldn't?


Randall Lane  01:27

They are very exceptional women. You know, Jane carries a little stuffed monkey with her everywhere.


Lea Lane  01:34

I think there's a reason to remind people isn't it I read somewhere it reminds people of the


Randall Lane  01:40

It to her meant something to her, but she really does take it everywhere. And it's humbling you know, to see these people who have lived for others for so long. But you know, those are exceptional people once in a while you meet people who are truly who radiate greatness. But most of these people who are quote unquote, famous, the more you hang out with them, and the more you spend time within the room, you know, you really do understand they put their pants on one leg at a time. It's very reinforcing that, you know, people are people. It's very rare you meet a Malala or Jane Goodall type who are truly transcendence. That selfless, very rare.


Lea Lane  02:21

Well, I know you're on the board of A Global Citizen, but I know you meet a lot of people.


Randall Lane  02:24

a global citizen, but I know you meet you meet a lot of people. And again, this and I, you know, I've gotten to spend a lot of time with Bono, Chris Martin. These are people who use their fame for good. You have to admire that because very easy, otherwise get sucked into the ego. And these folks try to realize they have a platform. And, you know, I've been able to go to a lot of interesting places, a lot of interesting people, but you still, it's still not as memorable as the kid in Liberia. I mean, it's that's why travel is great, because you get 


Lea Lane  02:59

Yes, people who are bellhops and servers and that some of


Randall Lane  03:08

the most interesting regular person you've ever met.


Lea Lane  03:11

A young woman who lived in a village outside of Antigua, Guatemala, who was tutoring me in Spanish, and she came by bus and it took her two hours every day back and forth. And it was she was so poor and so lovely. And she brought one day a sheaf of papers. And she said, I just want to show you this. She said, these are my poems. I write these and I read them and they were exquisite. And this was a village, you know, a village girl, and I just, I felt so awful. You know, she said, I make these dreams up. These are my dreams. And they were pretty I showed them to some people. But she was memorable. And those are the people I remember the people like that. You met the old man in the sea. Is that correct? When you were in Cuba?


Randall Lane  04:02

Yeah. That was that it wasn't to go to Cuba. So of course, that's why we want to go. It's technically not illegal to go to Cuba back then. Fully go spend money in Cuba. So we had to bring, we brought so much cash, it was a very there was no embassy to go to that was a little bit behind the scenes that was 25 years ago. And Hemingway's boat captain who is widely accepted, including by his own Hemingway talked about it was the inspiration for Oh man, this he was still alive. He was 102 25 years ago. People can Google that, I might be off by a couple years, but I'm not off by much. So that was a real. And so we'd heard that this was pre internet and there's certainly no in in in Cuba. And we just go when we heard where he lived in the whole village. He asked around that we heard basically the pensioner in Cuba. If we brought a bunch of cookies and he brought food and we brought up we were toothpaste that we bought a bunch of little presidents that were very, very, very, very valued. And so his daughter took care of him brought it let us spend time with him. 


Randall Lane  05:08

And he had, he had pictures of Hemingway and he had a big painting of him and Hemingway together, need all sorts of picture. They showed us a scrapbook. And but the thing I still remember shaking his hand, he was 102. And you shake his hand, and it was like shaking, like the finest hardest leather. You ever. I mean, he still had his hand his advice, and leathery and strong. And this was a guy who was, you know, nearly quadruple my probably almost exactly quadruple and he still had it. He was, you knew he was the real deal. Because even decades after he probably retired, he still had that, that build up tell the stories. He told us to basically Hemingway, the credit for the fishy card, but then he was a good guy. You know, he didn't speak any English. My Spanish is buen malo, asi asi, but it was good enough to have a basic conversation, he took credit for the fish. He was very nice. He, you know, I miss him, you know, but just to touch the history, we took a picture with him. He passed a few years after that. But he's a legend. Because even the legend of touch history of any one degree from Hemingway, which probably is pretty much impossible now.


Lea Lane  06:22

Right. It's really, that's really one of the interesting people I've ever heard anybody say they have met is the old man in his book.


Randall Lane  06:30

Again, that was pre Internet where you had to kind of hear about the stuff through the grapevine, or you read it somewhere and some guidebook or something, you know, in a book, and you could see that he and I went to every twice every week, you know, people figured it out and made the pilgrimage, but it wasn't like it was a lot of out the door. It was you know, right. 100 people a year figure it out to go to see this guy, and he figured out a good way to get cookies. So win win.


Lea Lane  06:54

Well, I know you have many stories, and you've done many interesting things. I know you've I'm not going to get into the details. You've survived eating blowfish in New York, which can poison you unless prepared by a certified.


Randall Lane  07:07

Yeah, it was, yeah.


Lea Lane  07:09

I actually in Japan, and I'm here to so we're together on that.


Randall Lane  07:15

I'm trying to know what's so damn good. That I have no God. I did a nice issue. I should be okay. No doubt was fine. I was more curious. Like, you know, I don't know you. I thought it was fine. It was like, a piece of hamachi any day it was.


Lea Lane  07:35

Yeah, I don't get it either. But I think there were only 13 chefs who were allowed to prepare it in Japan. And we had one of them. And I was on a press trip. And I figured, okay, I, I'll try it. But anyway, I think what I would like to just end with is a story you feel is the most interesting. I mean, all of them are interesting, but what would you end with? I like to say, you know, we end with the things we remember most this is places I remember. So what do you remember?


Randall Lane  08:04

There's so many places, you know, and I get that I guess a story. I like that you and I have had fun with me. So maybe that's appropriate for this would be the time I ran with the bowls. That's where we're talking about kind of doing things that are a little bit pushing the envelope. And that was in the same spirit since we brought up anyway. And since we brought up racing cars, you know, that sometimes travels about pushing yourself. And when I was 2425 years old, and I kind of was trying to figure out who I was and my friend Eric, the same guy who did the car race with we were trying to, we were like, Let's go to Pamplona run with the bulls. I think it was pre internet, you couldn't just look up videos, it was kind of this myth. And you read the Hemingway books showed up there. 


Randall Lane  08:48

We showed up the day before we decided we're gonna watch it one day and then right race the next day run the next day. So we show up on an overnight train to get in first thing in the morning. And turns out they run the bowls, like very early in the morning, like about 630 or seven in the morning. And the idea is and I didn't know any of this, that the running of the bulls is you're running the bowls from like kind of a pain area like a mile away into the bowl ring. Because they're that they've bowls to be slaughtered at the bullfights. It's you know, the festival San. For me, it's the bullfighting festival in Spain. So it's that day's kind of athletes are being running in the morning. And what people do is they party all night, watch or run and then they go to sleep all day. And so I did not know that this was not a peak performance thing. This was a you get drunk and then you do it. So we've gotten off an overnight train from Barcelona and went and watch and we saw something very rare called Montano. I think it was called where one ball started running backwards of the course. And if you think it's crazy running with the balls down with them, think about as you're running with them and then a ball is coming at you and so when Freeze. I know, it was a huge banner headline in the newspapers the next day because it only happens once every few years. 


Randall Lane  10:06

And we're like, are we really going to do this for the world? Like, what are the chances that happens twice. And we also timed it to not do it on a weekend because it's very crowded on the weekends, the weekday the credit also been not, you know, so we'd figured out it was a weekend of the man up. So he said, we better just go do it. The problem is we actually couldn't find a hotel room we could afford, the whole place is booked up. So we wound up basically kind of, you know, hanging out that night, we didn't really party because we weren't, you know, you don't want to, we tried to get some sleep, but we didn't have a hotel room. Sleeping in the park. My gosh, it was a guy that we met an Australian guy who had a tent, there's three of us in a tent, just trying to stay warm, because then we get up until the terrabytes sleep, you get up but you dress all in white, you put a red sash across your waist, and a red bandana Crusher neck to give the bull's eye something to aim for. We run. But I will say it is an incredible YUI the things that people who are true heroes, the first responders, the veterans, they know you can the first of all they because they shoot a cannon off when the bowls are out of the pan and we were in the middle we are in the middle of that of the course. Because if you don't start at the middle, if you said the beginning, you don't get to run into the ring with the bowls. If you started the and you're not really running with them, because you went in the past you for full bravery points. And you're told never to the way you die is to actually sit in a door and you're running through the streets. There's there's barricades everywhere. The way to die is to sit in and stay in a door you have to keep moving, you don't want to get stuck. So we're in the middle, we hear the cannon go off the walls are loose, we hear a second cannon which means all the balls are out. You want to hear them close together because it means the bulls are running together, which is safer. And later, we're waiting for about a minute or two for the bulls to come to our spot. And it's kind of surreal because you know the bulls are in the chute and you're in the chute. And why are you in the chute. But you're it's kind of surreal because you don't see anything. And then you can feel it. Like when you say you know people who are veterans say you can feel the fear in the air cutting eristic as a knife. I never really knew what that meant. Even you can feel it literally when it's like dangerous coming, you could feel it and you could feel the human panic. And then you look at here come the people running literally run over there lies literally you know, all these cliches, bear true in these experiences. And I run over their lives. And the other way to get really hurt is to get trampled. Because if you fall, no one's gonna help you up. They're running for their own lives. They're there. After both paths to help you up but you're on your own. You also want to make sure you don't trip and it's a cobblestone street. And so there's a lot of things going through your head. We both this pre cell phone, we both had disposable cameras to take pictures of each other. The second these balls called the deal's off, we're like we made a deal. We're gonna take pictures of each other out of the bowls. We didn't even have to tell each other there was no deal anymore. You know, you're not sitting there. Like, I mean, anyone taking a selfie to renewables is insane. No all you got to be totally locked on just being smart. And we're both carrying rolled up newspapers. Because what you're supposed to do for real bravery point is sweat as a bolt passie as a hit him on the butt. But the newspaper that's and we did and it was an incredible experience the field and we run in and the adrenaline to know you survived it or No, you didn't get hurt to that, you know, every day, the newspaper show how many people got gored the day before, there shouldn't be one or two people get gored, your pictures, the newspapers every day in Pamplona, the people in the hospital with the thumbs up like I did it, you know, to make it through. It's kind of a rite of passage. 


Randall Lane  13:42

But anyway, the the coda here is that they're about 20,000 people in the Bull Ring watching the people running into the ring with the bulls. But really, they want more entertainment. And so what they do afterwards, if anybody wants to stay for more, they bring out little baby bowls, to kind of just play with basically, and Eric and I were feeling so good on this Australian guy's name or forget, we're feeling so good about ourselves. We're high five more it's just it feels like it feels so good. Like you did it you accomplish that you survived you did this classic global rite of passage, you you have a story to tell for the rest of your life. So we said of course will stay for the whole thing will stay for the baby bowls. And that's where the baby will is so crazy. They actually put cork on top of their horns because they're totally wild. And they're smaller though. So you're certainly a day you can almost cry a couple of people grab the bull by the horns. I mean literally all these cliches and so we you know we went up we whack the both of this paper and we're you know we're laying in the bowl comes by you jump on the railing and passes you because the railings about five feet tall. You know you're in like basically like a hockey rink. It's about five feet tall. And so then another set of balls comes out and this one so it's coming right at us and this is kind of fun and exciting. And so we jump up on the rails because the boat is run past us and this ball starts taking the people on the rails and smashing into the knee basically hockey checking them, and people are getting really hurt the ball this this. So the ball is cut it literally is about 510 feet from us. I'm like wow, like, like this. So people start jumping, you have two choices, you either go out up and over, you got to like jump out of the ring, you got to hoist yourself up and out, or you got to run into the ring and you don't really have time to think about and so I just made the choice and I'm going to run out into the ring in this book and go pulverize somebody else on the wall. And something happened the bull caught my eye as I'm running out and he starts running after me and I'm running and a boat running after me. And I'm looking and I you know every second feels like 10 minutes like I still remember every second it's like 10 minutes. And I'm thinking myself How did I get myself in this position where I am in a boring and a bull is running me down because they're fast. They're faster than you can you can't have run them run with a ball means running with them as they pass you and he's running me down and I'm sitting there like wow wow, I'm in a weird spot right here. And I'm looking at him literally like a Bugs Bunny cartoon where I'm my my head is 180 degrees looking backwards. I'm running as fast as I can. My legs are moving like a tornado and I did not know I could run that fast but he's still catching up to be fast. And the next thing you know I hear something I never heard I heard Oh like it was like you're at you know you're watching like LeBron James in a full capacity Stadium Arena. dunk a basketball I heard ah, like a tremendous cheer rise from the 20,000 people in the audience. And I am on the ground instantly. Like it was like, boom, boom. And I don't know what happened and I kind of start figuring out Oh, hold on. And I'm in the bowl is gone. And I don't know what happened in the two people grabbed me is it Come Come can they take me out. I'm like, What the hell happened. And, you know, somebody grabbed my head somebody else grabbed my bandana, somebody else grabbed my new favorite grabbed my stuff just given to me get out of here. And it turned out that as I was running what happened was as I was running from the little baby ball to come the baby rolls down the way to end this mayhem because the bulls will never stop is they send in castrated steers to who give off a some kind of feeling that the bulls then come down so the steer was coming so the entire place was watching as I was looking over my shoulder running full speed head on and they knew they saw coming to the place must have been incredibly excited because they saw everyone in the entire place what was gonna happen he sent me which is I'm running as fast as I can, looking backward and a steer was coming at me coming forward and I ran head on into a steer and was on the ground in a second 10th of a second. 


Randall Lane  17:52

And then when I got to the I realized that my arm was really hurt. It turned out that thank goodness that it hit my my my forearm. Like if I didn't be if I get hit in the ribs by the stair, I am struggling to broke my ribs because I was sure that I broken my forearm because superduper hurt although I was just very happy to be in one piece. So they take me to the medical tent of which the newspaper chronicle 50 people during the run that day had required medical systems every day. They have the stats the way the stock market stats are in New York or something so 50 people require medical attention on my run to people record on my run. And the lay I remember the I didn't I told her she asked me what happened she looked at my body looking for blood. I showed her my arm it's already turned black and blue. And she you know she goes she goes first. I still remember she does push prefer fresh doesn't like get out of here like you got to be kidding me.


Randall Lane  18:51

And basically cuz she actually, she said cuz she she said in the speech can you move your fingers, I move my fingers she goes perfect pressure your get out of here. And I had a black and blue mark literally for months. Which was great. 


Lea Lane  19:04

It was a mark of honor.


Randall Lane  19:07

Courage in the black and blue badge


Lea Lane  19:11

That's something else.


Randall Lane  19:13

You made me.


Lea Lane  19:15

I'm impressed. I'm impressed. I'm happy you're here. I just hope that you stay safe and then one piece and I hope you have many many many more interesting and safe travels and I thank you so much for sharing this. I don't know how many people are going to be inspired to do some things they might not have or not inspired but it was very, very interesting. And I really thank you and I love you.


Randall Lane  19:41

Love you. Great show. I love the first, you know you're on your way. Look out you know, look out podcast we're all gonna do


Lea Lane  19:57

Thanks for sharing travel memories with us. My book, Places I Remember, is available on Amazon and in bookstores, in print, on Kindle, and I read the audio version. Please subscribe to this podcast and consider giving us a review. Until next time, join us wherever in the world we're going.

Meeting famous people in your travels
Rockstars and memorable unknown people
Meeting the fisherman from The Old Man and the Sea
Eating blowfish
Running --and running into -- the bulls at Pamplona, Spain