A German girl we met said it was not a Tomato fight but a Tomato War. She was soooo right. War of the tomatoes! Imagine Mardi Gras, a massive snowball fight, and several tons of tomatoes and you get La Tomatina.Â Literally tons of squishy juicy red tomatoes. Several huge dump trucks full.Â This is something I wanted to do since gradeÂ school.
The Tomatina is one of the main reasons I took Spanish in high school and ultimately in college. In grade school at the tender age of 12 the teachers told me I needed to take a foreign language class to be a good candidate for university. Blah Blah Bah. I had to choose by watching a short educational culture films on the foreign languages of German, Spanish and French. All I remember now is that the Spanish language had a cool Halloween thing call the Day of the Dead or Dias de Muestros and worldâ€™s largest the worldâ€™s largest food fight! It was an easy choice. How could I resist? Germans Pretzels and French wine could not compare.
To do the Tomatina you need to like lots and lots of peopleÂ being pressed up against you. Plus throwing big red squishy tomatoes at innocent strangers with mad glee. The location of the Tomato festival is located in the town of Bunol less than a hour from Valencia by train. The train station was so packed that we had to wait in line for another train by the time we got on it was standing room only. When we arrived the crowds led the way. We left at our hotel at 9am and barely made it for the 11am start. The scene was insane. I shall do my best to describe it.
Imagine in your mind eye a mass of people in this tight one lane paved street in a small town. With locked up tight 3 story tall residential buildings covered in huge sheets of plastic towering on either side making the street an effective river of people. Up high in the windows of the building were locals throwing down buckets of water to the eager hot sweaty crowds on the street below screaming â€œagua aguaâ€. Some of the residents up in the balconies were even pouring beer down in the mouths of tomatiners. Early on I got soaked with beer when someoneâ€™s plastic cup (thankfully) flew out of their hands due to the excitement of the mob. Second-hand drinking? Becky got hit in the eye with a flying sandal and the bell hasnâ€™t even sounded yet. The event is actually only about an hour long when you hear a gun like cannon be fired that means its time to grab the ham.
You donâ€™t know about the ham? Spaniards are famous for their ham or jamon that they hang up and age for years. The tomato fight does not until someone gets the ham. This is my favorite part. The ham is located on top of 21 feet (7 meters) or so telephone like pole that is completely cover greased. You can image how many drunkards slipping down or falling its take to get that Spanish ham. Upon successful retrieval of the ham a canon sounds and dump trunks with their cargo of squishy moist weapons of red gooey terror start rumbling in.
It was a mad mob scene in the small one lane street. Packed full withÂ people. Tons of t-shirts were flying around along with scandals. Those suckers hurt when you get whipped in the face. Friends were ripping off each otherâ€™s t-shirts. We heard stories of girls t-shirts being ripped off but didnâ€™t see it happening. Some breast flashings that I enjoyed. Becky wouldnâ€™t flash. Loss to us all. We were positioned closed to the walls of the buildings instead of the middle of the street for it was less crazy. As the dump trucks drove down the small one lane street it literally plowed throw the crowds and squished them against the walls of the building. I was pressed so hard against a locked door as the first dump truck drove by that I accidentally broke in under the pressure of the people smashed up against me. Later it turned out to be a popular safe haven for Becky and other wayward tomatiners.
I loved the tomato fight. Several other dump trucks drove by with dumping their loads. There were people on the dump truck raining down tomatoes upon on the crowns on either side. After each truck dumped its load the mob would fill in gap grabbing the tomatoes and start throwing them at each other. I took off my shirt and pocket it and join into battle with a Chris like war cry. I was lucky that I had sturdy pair of shades on to help prevent the stinging tomato juice in my eyes, but not completely. The smarter people wore goggles I forgot mine at home. It was fantastic!!! A total natural high. Throwing globs of mostly whole tomatoes at total strangers many whom didnâ€™t even speak English is very therapeutic. I highly recommend it. Not to mention how wonderful tomatoes pulp is for the skin. Becky was bit skidish and threw only a handful of tomatoes from the safely of the doorway in building I accidently broke into.
The worst part was when we tried to leave the tomato fight we got caught in the epicenter of it at a three way intersection and it was scary. People we smashes up against us at all side and the crowd moved as waves of tomato smelling flesh. Becky was very sacred and almost fell when her foot got caught on some t-shirts. If she had fallen she could have been teampled. For about 10 minutes we had no control on which way we wanted to go. The crowd just surged in random directions with chest smashing force. I managed to fight and jab our way to the side and push people off of Becky somewhat for 20 minutes until the crowd slow lessened and we could finally take breaths of fresh air. Yet for those 20 minutes you didnâ€™t know flesh smashing force was going to get any stronger. For many moments I thought the Tomatina would turned into one of those horror stories you hear at those huge international soccer matches where people died from crazed mobs. Later on were heard stories of people helping others to stand up if they fell down.Â
At this place the goo or sludge of tomatoes bits were so thick and it ran down the street like stream. More than 3 inches deep covering the scandals and the tops of our feet. It felt feel gross and well funny. A river of tomato goo. How cool is that? Afterwards we walk back to the train and several locals had hoses out to help people rinse off. Some of them nice and some we just like to feel the ladies up a they wash the hot girls off. While getting rinse off by some old man with a cold water the did feel up Becky. So watch out and hold out for the hose further away from the crowds. Bunol perverts!
In conclusion it was great fun! Several times I ran into the middle of the street to join in the fight and then went back into our haven for a breather. I am now an official tomato warrior. The way of the tomato is tough but fun. I would do it again especially now knowing some of the safer spots. If you hate crowds or under 5â€6 and need to breathe fresh air donâ€™t go. Or just stay away from the main streets and you should be ok.