Last night’s post-Super Bowl celebrations in the streets of the French Quarter may have gotten a little wild, but it’s a safe bet they looked downright sedate compared to Spain’s La Tomatina Festival.
Each year on the last Wednesday in August, as many as 40,000 people pack the streets of the tiny town of Bruñol to pelt each other with their share of 45 tons of tomatoes. In other words, the annual event is essentially the world’s biggest food fight.
Well, it turns out my friend Susie Wyshak was right there in the middle of all the action last year. Her website, SuperViva.com, is built around the really cool idea of creating your own “life list” of all those things you’ve always wanted to do. And this tomato-tossing melee had been something she’d wanted to check off her list for years.
If this sounds like fun to you too, read on for Susie’s take on this extraordinary experience:
What in the world made you want to do this?
I saw some videos of La Tomatina on YouTube a couple of years ago and couldn’t believe such an event existed. As a lover of both tomatoes and wild experiences, I knew instantly this had to go on my life list.
Is the whole thing as crazy as it looks?
Pretty much. People are packed into the streets like Spanish sardines, so it’s not an event for the claustrophobic! Even before the trucks drive through dumping the tomatoes, local residents in the apartments above are spraying the crowd with water and people are ripping off their wet shirts and throwing them around. When it comes time for the actual tomato fight, which is only an hour long, it gets even wilder.
What was it like to be there doing something you’d been dreaming of for such a long time?
It was one of the best hours of my life. It was just sheer joy, standing in a sea of juice while crushing these over-ripe tomatoes (to make them slightly less hazardous projectiles) and throwing them with complete abandon. And then, before you know it, they give the signal and everybody just stops.
What was the best part of the experience? And the worst?
The actual fight itself was definitely the high point! The worst part was that the weak U.S. dollar made it kind of an expensive trip.
What advice would you have for someone who wanted to experience La Tomatina?
There are ways to make the trip more affordable, as flights to Spain can be surprisingly cheap and you can couch-surf if you plan ahead. I went with a tour group put together by First Festival Travel, which was nice because I didn’t have to worry about any of the logistics.
Once you’re at the event, you should also make sure you wear some kind of eye protection and then don’t be shy—if you’re going, you might as well get right out there in the middle of the fight!