Published: September 5th 2009August 26th 2009
It was too early. I got up at 330am in order to catch a bus at 430am. I’m sure you are asking yourself, why would I get up at such an hour? It’s simple really. I was heading to the town of Buñol. There is nothing really remarkable about the town itself. In fact, it’s down right ugly. However, the day was more significant than most. The reason I was getting on the bus was because I was heading t a little festival called La Tomatina.
La Tomatina is essentially the world’s largest tomato fight. I have no idea why they do it, something to do with getting a roasted pig off a long metal pole followed by throwing thousands of kilos of tomatoes around. I’ll chalk it up to a celebration of the harvest and alcohol.
Anyways, I met Amy and Shirley and we headed off to Plaza d’España where we would catch the bus. We met a bunch of other people who had also woken up entirely too early and then got on the bus for the anticipated 4 hour bus ride to Buñol.
The first couple of hours were entirely uneventful because I
slept the whole way. We stopped at a rest station to have a bathroom break, and it was surreal looking at the surroundings as there was mist hovering over the fields. A brief geography lesson before I continue. Madrid is in the centre of the country with no large bodies of water in sight. In any direction, it takes at least 5-5.5 hours of driving to reach a large body of water. Now I shall continue. One of the girls saw the mist and mentioned quite loudly “It’s so beautiful looking at the sea out there. I haven’t seen the sea in a while.” It was apparent that she hadn’t seen the sea in a while as we were in the middle of the frickin’ country!!! I politely informed her that she was incorrect with her assumption, and then we headed on our way. A little bit after we had left the rest stop, the sunrise happened. They are beautiful over the plain, but this one was exquisite. Not only were the colours in the sky beautiful, but one of those large, bull cut0outs that are all over Spain was on a hilltop and the sun rose behind it. It
We arrived in Buñol after another couple of hours and drove past the cement factory and into the town. We walked down a ridiculously long hill, past many beer vendors (methinks I know what fuels this event) and down into the main square. I ran into Chris, who I had met in the hostel in Valencia, and then Shirley, Amy and I were joined by Sean, Sami, Megan, Sarah and Peter (yes, another one). We grabbed some drinks and then headed into the fray.
It was insane. It was like I was at a rock concert. There must have been 20,000 people, mostly under the influence of alcohol, all trying to fit into a space that could really only hold 1000 people comfortable. Locals were dumping water off their balconies to cool people down and everyone was getting wet. The closer it got to 11am, go time, the tighter it got and the more people got pushed around in the crowd. It got so bad that we all moved a little ways down a side street because we could not stand in the main crowd any longer.
At 11am, the dump trucks started rolling through
town, full of tomatoes, and the fruit started flying. It was insane. Tomatoes were flying in all directions and everyone was getting pelted. I managed to catch a few, and throw them back but I had moved around in the crowd so much that I had got separated by some of the people I was with. I ended up getting a bit out of the melee but I could see the people who had been on the front lines and they were covered from head to tow in tomatoes juice, seeds and pieces.
I met Todd, from San Diego, and we wandered around looking for people we knew. In the main square, I literally bumped into Sulav, another guy I had met in the hostel in Valencia. Todd and I then continued up the ridiculously long hill to the top where they were selling t-shirts. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention as I was trying one on and someone took my wallet. Fortunately, all that was in there was my student card, my hostel card and 24 euros so it’s not like I lost much. I then wandered around for a while until I met up with Sean, Amy and
Shirley who had been hosed down, but were still sporting tomato juice and seeds in their hair. We then relaxed for a couple of hours before we got back on to the bus, which had a less than pleasant odour by this point of time, and we bussed back to Madrid.
La Tomatina was fun, but I don’t think I’d do it again.
Things I learned at La Tomatina:
-Over-ripe tomatoes smell terribly
-Over-ripe tomatoes smell terribly
-I can’t stress how foul the smell was