The Zombie Experience

So, something kinda cool happened in Úbeda. The Zombie Experience. I think this needs a little explaining. Unlike the usual festivities that happen almost every week in Spain, this one has nothing to do with crucifixes, virgins, repentance or religion. Nada. This is pure, unadulterated fun (mixed with a little paranoia and exercise, but that’s beside the point). Again, I’m writing this way too late as it happened weeks ago, but better late than never, right?!

We found out about this ‘zombie game’ taking part in the old town of Úbeda a couple of days before it happened and I was so excited, I convinced my friends to take part. I mean, how often does something really exciting happen in Úbeda? We simply had to do it.  So, we plodded along to the sign-up location where we were given yellow bandanas and we had to do was decide whether we wanted to be survivors or zombies. Tactically, we chose to be survivors because when you get caught you get to turn into a zombie anyway – why not be both?

Reading the instructions, I looked at my friends and saw their mouths’ drop. The game was to start at 11pm and last until around 5am. Unfortunately, there was also a no-drinking policy so we couldn’t use alcohol to help us stay up all night. It slowly dawned on us what we had signed up for. Thinking about it, this was always going to be easy for the Spanish; they stay up all night anyway. But for those of us who like to be in bed by 10pm to get a full 8 hours’ sleep (me), this was going to be difficult. We had to remind ourselves that we had just paid €10 for this stupid game, and we were just going to have suck it up and do it. It was on a Saturday night anyway; we could sleep all day Sunday if we wanted to.

The day of the Zombie Experience arrived. At 9pm I started to flag. The game hadn’t even started yet and I was ready for bed. It was going to be a long night. I decided to have a coffee not long before we left; a tactical coffee I might add, as I am not usually a coffee drinker. The coffee was a good idea, but rendered useless as I soon realised that sprinting away from zombies every five minutes was going to be enough to keep me up all night anyway.

We arrived at the meeting point, the old theatre, where there was a long queue of ‘survivors’ waiting to enter. On entering the theatre, we were each given different coloured slips of paper with a location written on it. After a 15-minute explanation that should have taken 5 (the crowd was being rowdy; probably all hyped on coffee), we headed out. Bearing in mind that the instructions were in Spanish, my friends and I left the theatre quite confused. In any case, we found a group of Spaniards heading in the same direction as us and followed them.

The rules were simple (despite our confusion). Get to the location on the slip of paper without being caught by zombies. This wasn’t difficult, but every now and then we would see people bursting into a sprint because a zombie was around the corner. No word of a lie, it’s the most paranoid or I’ve ever felt in my life. In fact, it was a weird mix of paranoia and exhilaration having to randomly sprint away from a zombie every few minutes and not getting caught.  I have never seen people take a game so seriously. Officials were dressed as army officers, who occasionally checked us to see if we were safe – it was as if we really were in a zombie apocalypse. Once at the first location we were given another location to get to. This process carried on for some time, and we were directed to various locations in the town over the first half an hour or so.

The game got more interesting as special tasks were added. One of these tasks involved getting into groups that included at least one person with an orange bandana. Plot twist – people with orange bandanas are no ordinary survivors, they’re medics! Once in a group, the task was to go to a specific location, enter the room, avoiding zombies while attempting to collect medical equipment at the other end of the room without getting caught…all in two minutes. The task was a great way for us to meet new people and practise our Spanish, as we had find a medic to be able to do the task. Yes, I always bring it back to learning Spanish, what am I like?! Anyway, the task itself turned out to be extremely difficult, and we got caught at around 2am.

The game was shorter than we expected, but I wasn’t too disappointed to be out so early – especially as we got to be zombified now that we had been caught. Annoyingly, the queue for zombie make-up was so long that by the time we got ours done, the game was essentially over. So of course, we went home and took cool selfies before going to bed. Luckily the coffee had worn off by then.

All in all, it was a fun night and I’m glad we took part, especially after my initial wariness. It’s not often that something as exciting as zombies comes to my small town. I guess that’s one thing ticked off the bucket list!

Until the next adventure x