La Tomatina – Thoughts from a Tomato Throwing Tourist

by Adeline –

This one time, in Spain, I threw like a whole bunch of tomatoes… And it was A.W.E.S.O.M.E. If crowds, tomatoes and arm flexing exercises aren’t your thing, I believe your couch called and they want their warm body back! However. If your pitching arm is your strongest feature and you absolutely adore licking pasta sauce off your face, La Tomatina should be the next check off your bucket list.

As a La Tomatina alumni, this story comes to you from the hand of a seasoned tomato thrower (okay, fine – it was just that one time but once is all you need!)

Held every year on the last Wednesday of August in Bunol, a quaint Spanish country town just 30km outside of Valencia, La Tomatina has a colourful history of being – in 1945, a group of young people started throwing tomatoes at each other. End history lesson #truestory.

Fast forward 70 years and this one crazy food fight is still going strong and if you’ve got the stomach for tons of tomatoes, then La Tomatina is the place for you.

Catching the train to Bunol is a competitive sport in and of itself. You snooze, you lose – for serious. If you can’t be out and sitting on the steps of the train station at 5am and on the first train out, you’ll have first class tickets for the worst nightmare ride of your life. Or so I think that’s how it goes because competitive crazies like me get in first #winning.

The official festivities begin at 10am sharp with the Palo Jabón a.k.a the Ham Up a Greasy Pole. Which is literally a leg of ham up a greased-up pole. Brave souls try to scale the almost two-storey height to claim this meaty prize, partly for ultimate bragging rights and partly to also officially start the event. If all attempts fail, the tomato-carrying trucks start rolling in at 11am anyway (and no one goes home a leg of ham richer).

This is when things go bananas (or maybe tomatoes would be more apt in this situation).

Ton after ton of tomatoes are dropped and you start flinging like your life depends on it. All you see is red, literally, as the sky lights up with chunky tomato flakes and the ground runneth red with globs of tomatoes flowing like the Red Sea. If at this point you are not wearing your goggles, then bless your contact lens-filled eyes.

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Here’s what it’s like to be smack bang in the middle of the tomato flinging-frenzy, courtesy of my camera in a make-shift waterproof ziplock-bag protection!

The trucks keep rolling in with more fresh tomatoes every 10-15 minutes or so. And these aren’t your garden variety rotten tomatoes – these are premium, Roma-esque tomatoes that are plump and juicy, perfect for pelting. The supply never runs out and your only worry is who your next target is going to be.

At precisely 12pm, a horn sounds and you are done for the day. Kindly locals will douse you with water up atop their houses (they were laughing on their roofs at all the gullible tourists this whole time) and some might even bring out the big guns – their garden hose. Or you can just unleash your inner cat and lick yourself clean – you’re practically covered in pasta sauce, really!

Have you experienced the craziness of La Tomatina? Share your story with us in the comments below!

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