La Tomatina

Last Wednesday and friend and I went to the annual La Tomatina festival in Buñol, near Valencia. Trucks drive through the small town, dumping over one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes into the streets, after which a massive tomato war begins. Ahhh... the Spanish really do have the best festivals!

The advice we read beforehand included: don't wear flip-flops, but shoes; wear clothes that you never want to use again; possibly wear eye-goggles, as tomatoes irritate the eyes; squash the tomatoes before throwing them.


The whole town square is completely packed with people, making it extremely difficult for the numerous trucks to pass. As a result, people are pushed and squeezed into each other. As Brock and I were walking down to the town square we noticed many people who, though were slightly stained with tomatoes, were more noticeable for their extreme look of distess of their faces. We did not realise why this was until we experienced this push. It's no something to joke about - I was squashed so hard between people that I felt crushing pain in my ribs. Women were hyperventilating and crying whilst being so tightly packed they bearly had a means to escape.

I was trying to get to the main square where the tomatoes were being off-loaded, but everytime I got to the top of the street a mob of human momentum would carry me involuntarily back where I came from. A couple of times I was wedged so tightly that I was actually lifted off the ground and was carried a few metres down the road. At that stage I lost interest in my mission to get to the town square and just let the human sea take me to a new beach :)

And that's when I started having a ball. A girl with a large plastic cup started collecting tomato puree from the streets and pouring it all over me, repeatedly saying, "Too clean!". I retaliated by making snowballs of crushed tomatoes and aiming for her head. Yay! No, it didn't take long to get dirty.

As I never made it to the town square I didn't actually manage to see any complete tomatoes. Though the streets were running completely red with tomato puree, so it was easy to find ammunition for this tomato war against everybody.

After the trucks had off-loaded their cargo there was a lot more spare room around - allowing the real tomato war to begin. But because most people lost their clothes, shoes and flip-flops in the initial crush, people were throwing the tomato soaked clothes across the street at each other.

Easy target

Advice: don't fall down. People will form a circle around you and start kicking tomato all over you and into your face. Quite fun if you ask me :)

Let me reiterate: Don't fall!

I walked through the battle zone a few times - of course participating in many of the skirmishes. Afterwards, I found everybody who looked at me started laughing out loud. I didn't know why.

It would seem that chest hair is like velcro for tomato pulp.


[nb. To start finalising the battle royale the police formed a human barricade and walked forward, forcing people towards the river where they can clean themselves up. Some people were playful, yet foolish enough to start throwing saturated clothing at the police. Spanish police - as I have mentioned before in previous posts - don't mess around. They just starting swinging their batons at people who piss them off. Hence, keep the police out of the Tomato war - they have NO sense of humour!]

Trying to wring the tomato juice out of my shoe

Washing up in the river afterwards