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September 01, 2005

Throwing Tomatoes at Random People

Hitting strangers in the head with tomatoes when they are least expecting it is something that I can now wholeheartedly recommend. Let me set the scene for you...

The small town on Buņol, Spain has approximately 5,000 residents. Every year, on the last Wednesday of August, approximately 30,000 - 40,000 people descend on the city to participate in the worldīs largest food fight. Literally, truckloads and tons of tomatoes are used.

I returned from the fight late last night. My sister and my friend Dave were with me. Itīs pretty insane, but loads of fun. Everyone is crowded into the streets like sardines, you can barely move. People are spraying the crowd with water, buildings are covered by tarps, there are reporters wearing ponchos and holding cameras that are covered in plastic, people walking through the streets barefoot and drinking. Itīs quite a site to see. Then, just when you think you are about to go insane because of the crowd, the heat and your loss of personal mobility, the fireworks are set off and the fight is about to being. Only problem is that the trucks with the tomatoes in them have to drive down your street. Why is that a problem you ask? Well, imagine thousands of people all over the street and you are packed shoulder to shoulder, where does the truck drive? Every time a truck came through, I felt like I was being crushed by a rolling pin as the crowd surged to the sidewalks. Everyone was holidng their breath and praying that the trucks sped past. As they drive, there are people in the back of it (picture dumptrucks) and these people are just dumping and throwing tomatoes at you. After that, itīs every man, woman and child for themselves. A total free for all. We watched some girls have panic attacks and I got stuck by some complaining about it. Well, dumb-ass, what did you expect? Everyone who went should have known exactly what was going to happen. So, I hit them in the head with a tomato from about 3 feet away. Right in the ear. Haha...

My other highlights from the fight included a contest of just picking people out of the crowd and drilling them. I hit some idiot in a santa hat like 15 times and his friend wearing all yellow about the same. Towards the end, I found a little kid who was probably about 10 looking quite clean...I yell to him "mira (look)" and as he turns around, I drilled him in the chest with a handful of tomatoes. Then, I got his little brother and mother next. For one hour, all you do is throw tomatoes, pick them up off the ground and throw some more. Everyone once and a while, you wipe your face off. Sometimes you have to pick it out of your mouth, eyes and/or ears. The worst was when I was laughing and got hit in the mouth or caught some pieces on a richochet. I donīt think I will be eating tomatoes for a while. My hair smelled like bruschetta when it was all said and done. At lastly, I enjoyed the fact that at midnight last night, I was still cleaning tomato out of my ear and off of my arms and legs.

Some tips for those who want to go:

*Donīt wear flip flops. By the end of the hour, you were standing in about 6 inches of water and tomato sludge. The streets were littered with flip flop casualties. Wear old sneakers and just throw them out.

*Donīt buy goggles. They were selling them for 12€īs a pop at the train station. I didnīt buy them because I was too cheap and also because Iīm unbreakable. As we got closer to the fight we found that the Red Cross was giving them away for free, with ear plugs. But, they do limit your visibility. I didnīt wear them most of the time because they fog up and I felt like a sitting duck. I did get hit in the eye a few times without them on though and it stung a bit.

*Wear board shorts or a bathing suit. Something that will wash off easily. Mine still has a nice tint of red in it. Just toss the t-shirt after.

*Get there early as hell. It starts at 11am, but there is basically a party in the streets all morning before it.

*Learn a few phrases of Spanish. I was actually translating beer orders for people. I mean, for fuckīs sake, I didnīt think there was a person in their 20īs who didnīt know that cerveza is beer. Grande is big. Gracias is thank you. Itīs unbelievable how many people come to this place and not know the basics.

Spanish Fiestas are awesome. After Pamplona and La Tomatina, Iīm not sure what, if anything, can top it...but there is always Carnival and Las Fallas on the calendar. If you ever have a chance to attend a Spanish Fiesta, do so, itīs an amazing experience. Iīm dropping the camera off today to get developed and hopefully got some good shots from the streets, weīll find out soon...

Posted by KDuffy on September 1, 2005 05:25 AM
Category: La Tomatina

that sounded ridiculous -- so happy you got the girls who were complaining - like you said, what did they possibly expect?

Posted by: kerwin on September 7, 2005 09:44 AM
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