The thought of dried tomato stuck in my ear seemed more appealing then a bull’s horn stuck somewhere else.
This was my method of thinking when I was travelling Spain and had to pick between Running of Bulls and La Tomatina.
La Tomatina is a massive vegetable throwing festival in a small Spanish town of Bunol. The small city quadruples in size as revelers cram into the main street and wait for 125,000kg of tomatoes to be driven in droves.
The day started early, as many who hadn’t been to bed the night before, jammed themselves on to 7am trains from Valencia. No one actually stayed in Bunol; there is a mass entry by 9am and mass exodus by 1pm.
Dressed in virginal white, to best display the tomatoes stains, a mark of a true tomatina warrior, I had to throw out my favorite white shorts, not knowing that even blench doesn’t really take away the pink tinge.
Some were armed with Sangria, me, I was armed with swimming goggles.
The festivities begin with the first event of the day, Palo Jabon, or loosely translated the greasy pole. This is the moment the testosterone is tested, where men compete to climb first to the top of the pole where a piece of pork sits.
The crowd works into a frenzy of yelling but mainly it’s just women rolling their eyes at the blatant chaos of the men working against each other. Once someone is able to drop the pork off the pole, the start signal for the tomato fight is given.
Dump trucks squeeze through the sea of humans packed like sardines.
The first sight of a tomato was the one flying right towards me, smacking me in the forehead.
As the five dump trucks maneuver their way in, all hell brakes lose as the latches went up and a sea of red gushed out on to the street.
The next hour were just orbs of red flying and slush painting the town of Bunol red in a gastronomic war.
Swimming in tomato soup by the end I was tempted to add some vodka and Tabasco sauce. Surely ‘reports have concluded’ that tomato reverses the signs of aging. I could have bottled it up there and then and become a millionaire as I soaked myself in the acidic goodness.
Locals line their balconies and walls with lengths of plastic drop sheets and sit back and watch from the safety of their clean space.
The acidity of the tomato actually does wonders for the cobblestones streets; sitting in dried tomato all the way back to Valencia on the other hand is not so fun.
Herstory is a weekly column on women and travel by Steph Ridhalgh. Steph is a Sydney born; New York based television producer and travel blogger. Not one for being quiet for too long she simply loves talking about travel and lifestyle.
Steph is the founder of STEP(h) ABROAD, a travel and lifestyle resource for those who love to be in the know and know how.