Wednesday, August 25, 2010

La Tomatina

Like most days, today I came home from work and began to browse my favorite food blogs. I saw a message board post that reminded that La Tomatina was today! For those of you that don't know, La Tomatina is an annual festival in Bunol (pronounced boon-yol), Spain. It's a giant party, the world's largest food fight, and an amazing cultural experience. How do I know? I was in Bunol up to my waist in tomatoes for La Tomatina 2009!

The roots of the festival, as I understand it, go back to a random food fight that occurred in a market back in the 1940s. Every year, the town had a tomato fight to commemorate the day. When General Franco (evil Spanish dictator) came into power, he banned all festivals and anything fun. Once Franco was removed from power, the town celebrated their freedom by having an even bigger festival.

Now, bus loads and bus loads of tourist (many from Australia and New Zealand) come into the town to celebrate. Participants are advised to dress in old clothes, not to carry anything on their person that they don't want to loose, and wear goggles (they help, a little). Girls are warned- your shirt WILL be ripped off- so wear a sports bra or one piece swimsuit underneath. I had my friends ceremoniously shred my tank-top so it wouldn't be removed by a stranger.

Before the event, locals cover store fronts and homes with tarps, and some set up tables and chairs outside their house to watch all the crazies. The official events begins at 8am, when food fight participants climb a greasy pole to retrieve a ham (if you have spent any time in Spain you know that everything is about the jamon). Once the ham is removed, dump trucks full of tomatoes roll into the streets and tomatoes start flying. The whole town becomes a sea of screaming tomatoey humanity. The tomato throwing goes on for exactly one hour, when a flare goes up and all tomato tossing must stop or you could be arrested (!). You may be wondering how this mess gets cleaned up. The locals all pitch in and hose down the tourists.

The next couple days, I had several showers but still found the occasional tomato bit in my hair. Plus I couldn't get the tomato smell off of me and my eyes were all crusty from the tomato acid. Would I do it again? Well, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to get there again since there are so many other fun adventures I want to have first, but if given the opportunity, I probably would do it again! I highly recommend La Tomatina to any adventurous travelers out there. Let me know if you have any questions about it!

The "before" pic: Amanda (me), Scott, Rosemarie

Beer for breakfast? Why not!

So much fun I want to punch my friend Rosemarie!

Does that look fun? Well, it's WAY more fun than it looks!

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