Toma Crazy Tina
Trip Start Aug 02, 2010
15Trip End Dec 06, 2010
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Where I stayed
Partied all night
We picked up the rental car in Madrid, and found ourselves trying to figure out how exactly we would get out of town and head towards Valentia, and ultimately Bunol, and what we would do when we got there. After some collective map reading and a bit of guess work, we somehow magically found ourselves on the highway towards Valentia. Perfect...
It was amazing having a vehicle as we could stop as we liked and checked out whatever we wanted, and felt the freedom of the sunny and cloud free open roads of Spain. After some sightseeing, and some decision making on which direction we wanted to head to, we wound up on the beaches in Valentia, which were some of the nicest we've seen so far this trip. We spent the afternoon catching some sun and catching up on on some sleep due to the worst overnight train ride of my life (avoid riding second class on a 10 hour trip in a four seater with 2 smelly German guys and no A/C).
Once the sun started to set, we started our journey towards Bunol for the Tomatina. When we got to the town, wich was around midnight, there didn't seem like there was much action, so we
figured do some sightseeing, get some sleep, and literally paint the town red in the morning. It seemed like a great idea at the time, until one thing happened... We realized EVERYONE was partying further into town where the tomato fight was to be held!So on a bridge of an old castle which was a few centuries old, Alex, Damian and I shook hands and agreed that we would party the night away and catch a good seat for the fight to get the ham, and prime time spot for the ensuing tomato fight.
We headed back up to where we parked our car, put on our tomato fighting gear, got a free meal of rice and octopus and a glass of wine from our Russian neighbours, added two 50 something UK men to our fighting troop, and set off for the battle of a lifetime. My adrenaline was pumping through the roof!The closer we got the crowd and the music got louder and louder. We reached the streets to see pure mayhem erupting on this small town. People drinking huge beers and others passed out in random spots along the street, windows and walls covered with a protective meshing, and storefronts selling beer like it was water. This could only mean one thing... We reached the holy grail, and the first “must do” crazy thing on our list. And yet again another “holy shit” moment of my life.
We drank and partied like we never had before, and it wasn't long until our third travel partner Damian was out for the count on the street, but Parkes, the two UK guys and I kept going strong. The sun broke, and only the strong survived, the streets were littered with empty beer glasses and cans, cigarette butts and passed out people. City workers came through and swept up the place spotless before the festivities began.
I never planned on fighting for the ham due to the sheer crazyness of it and a rib injury suffered in Lisbon, but after 8 litres of beer and 2 huge glasses of redbul vodka, anything is possible. It's not a battle you want to fight alone, so Parkes agreed to get in close, and a group of Australians that we met up with as well.
The closer we got to the pole, the Australians backed away one by one, until it was just Parkes and I. Armed with a water proof camera, the only thing stopping us from touching the pole was a volunteer, who had to hold the crowd back while they placed wedges in this thirty foot long pole and greased it up with cooking lard. I was looking at the lard covered pole like a hungry dog, I wanted to get on it, to say I did it, but I knew it wouldn't be easy, especially alone.
The ultimate travel moment happened at that point. I turned to Alex and said “You in, or should I give you my camera to take some pictures.” I would never of blamed the guy for backing out because it was already getting pretty heated in the pit with pushing and shoving, and cooking lard being thrown around, which burns like hell when you get it in the eyes. However, like the clutch son of a bitch he's been all trip, he said “I'm with you buddy”.
I was floored! Ready to battle it out with the rest of the bastards down there. After the first failed
attempt which consisted of me surfing the crowd towards the pole only to be dropped to the ground and stepped on, and several kicks to the face, I walked away to catch my breath and refocus on what I needed to do to get up there. I stormed back in, shoved my way back to the
pole, and met up with Parkes. With his help and of another stranger, they pushed my feet up while I leap frogged over the guy in front of me, grabbed the pole, and somehow found myself on the top of Alex's shoulders.
I then climbed the guy who was hugging the pole at that point who was already a man high like myself, and reached the half way point of about 15ft, to a huge cheer from the crowd as I was the highest to make it at that point in time.I wiped away at the lard with my hands and random shirts being thrown at me, until I couldn't fight off the guys pulling at me and the slick post, and slid all the way down to the bottom, where I was stepped on and kicked yet, but didn't care, because I did what I set out to do. I pushed my way out of the crowd and towards the steps where we had been sitting all night long, and watched the rest of the battle from afar, as I was drained and the heat was almost too much to bear.
After a few failed attempts at bringing the ham down, the crowd of people couldn't deliver, and the tomato fight started without a winner. The first truck came down the hill dumping tomatoes onto everyone, and the throwing started. We quickly realized that tomatoes stung when hit with a full one, and braced ourselves for one hell of a battle. Truck after truck descend the hill, dumping more and more tomatoes, until the ground was knee high in just pure mush, with people jumping and throwing it around, a total of 7 or 8 dump trucks passed by, and the fight lasted nearly an hour.
After a few solid hits on unsuspecting people and a near broken nose of someone who was at the mercy of an Alex Parke four seam fastball, and some painful tomatoes to the face and body, the fight was over. We walked up the hill and got hosed down with water by some of the friendly locals, jumped in the car, and drove off to a beach in Valentia to rest our battered bodies under the warm spanish sun with memories of the craziest day of our lives, one that we'll never forget.
***Tips for Tomatina***
- Wear goggles!!! People say you
get hit more if you wear them, it's pure rubbish. There are way too
many people there for just individual people to get targeted.
Everyone else wears them as well.
- Wear shoes. The best advice we
got before the fight. If you wear sandals, you will lose them in
the pool of tomatoes.
- Make sure you there before 8AM, or
you may never see the fight! You can party all night like we did
and do it drunk, but we'll understand if your not as crazy...
- Fight for the ham in groups!
You'll need help from other people climbing up, and the majority of
them down there will pull you down instead of push you up.
- Buy a waterproof camera, don't
bring your good one, you'll be covered head to toe in tomatoes. If
you fight for the ham, expect to lose it like Parkes and I both did.
- Enjoy it! It may get extremely
hot, crowded, and smell like vomit, but you'll most likely never do
anything crazier. I still don't know how this is legal.