It’s coming up to that time of year again.
Backpackers and the Spanish know exactly what I’m talking about.
It’s tomato bloodbath time. Otherwise known as La Tomatina.
La Tomatina is one of those mandatory European travel experiences, up there with the running of the bulls, camping out for Wimbledon tickets and partying on the Greek islands.
For the uninitiated, La Tomatina is a festival held in the tiny Spanish town of Buñol, about an hour from Valencia. It started in 1945 as an innocent food fight and grew to the point where the town of 9,000 inhabitants was being overrun by 50,000 crazies on the last Wednesday of August each year to get caught in the cross fire of a bloody food fight.
It got so ridiculously big that the town had to introduce a ticketing system to scale it right back down to a more reasonable 20,000 people.
So you can’t just rock up like I did with my friend Anna many years ago; have the privilege of being crushed against the side of the road as the tomato-laden truck passes by; practically become blinded by the acid in the tomatoes; and lose almost every piece of clothing in the process. Well you can but you have to be selected first.
For anyone that makes the cut, well done you! Here are my ten tips for surviving La Tomatina.
1. Don’t take a camera. At least don’t take a camera you want to be sure you’ll take home in working condition. I’m still glad I did take a camera (yes this was back in the day when people had actual cameras rather than just using smart phones) because it captured these shots that are priceless to me. However the second people saw me with a camera I became an instant target and everyone wanted to take the camera (and me) down.
In retrospect I should have kept it in a plastic bag for protection. By some miracle, the camera survived although I did find random pieces of dried tomato wedged in its crevices for months to come.