You know when things seem too good to be true? That's what it felt like. It has always been at the top of my Bucket List, and as much as it is as realistic as any other goal, it always had an unattainable quality to it. But as soon as I got the days off of work, booked my plane tickets and packed my backpack, it started to become real.
For anyone who doesn't know what La Tomatina is (which is a surprising sum of people to be honest) I'll explain it to you. The La Tomatina Festival started a long time ago (I don't remember dates so Google can be your best friend if you want specifics...but it's really not that old in comparison to many other Spanish festivals so I'd say approx. 50-60 years ago) in a tiny town of Buñol, Spain (population approx. 9000). How the festival started exactly remains a mystery but in all speculations the fact that remains the same is that it started with one person throwing a tomato at another person. Then chaos ensued obviously. The festival occurs on the last Wednesday of August each year, starting with the crazed battle of people making a human pyramid to grab the ham at the top of a soapy pole. Promptly at 11am the cannon goes off and the battle begins with truckloads of tomatoes making their way through the narrow 'tomato street'. It's an hour-long battle, but believe me an hour is long enough. Especially when it includes you getting whipped in the face (or in my case, the eye) with over-ripe tomatoes. Now in the 'rules' it states that you are supposed to squish the tomato before you throw it but believe me NO ONE DOES! I even got a black eye to prove it.
This year was the first year they put a restriction on the amount of people who could participate in the event (20,000 ppl total) by adding a 10 Euro city tax and a wristband that gave you access into Buñol. Last year a total of almost 50,000 people attended the festival and picture that many people crammed in a tiny street in a town of a max population of 9000...it was insanity if you can imagine. All the shopkeepers and locals cover their houses and storefronts with sheets to protect them from the fight but even so, fifty thousand people can do serious damage. That's not including the amount of effort and work the locals have to put in cleaning the area after the event is over. Let's just say 10 Euros is a blessing in disguise.
In all seriousness, it is actually an amazing event! You meet so many cool people from all over the world and although you may get a couple of bruises and reek of tomatoes for weeks to come, you won't regret the experience. Plus it's a chance to release your inner child for a day and have a massive food fight! You just can't say no to something like that!