My flight left seattle on monday morning at 515, Denver, Toronto and finally arriving the next morning in Barcelona at 7 am. The flights were fine, airplane food was meh, but there was free booze 🙂 I could have staying for a bit in Barcelona but I didn’t want to miss any trains to Buñol that may have been sold out the next day. My goal was to get to the Tomato festival asap! When I finally figured out my way to downtown I immediate purchased a ticket and headed south to Valencia. The train was packed with backpackers. People were fighting for seats. I was not sure if it was because everyone wanted to head the same way or just because there are tons of people just traveling.
Anyhow, after mucking around transfers I finally found the local express and eventually made it to Buñol. I had no plans, no reservations, no idea where this event was in the town; I just new i needed to get there. And I made it.
This town is more like a sleepy village nestled on the side of a hill. You can see the whole of it coming in on the train. I believe cute would be a good word. When I got off the train, people were setting up their houses placing large tarps and boarding up windows like a hurricane was coming. I started trekking through the town and immediately crossed a bridge that overlooked a small ravine the city had turned into a park and saw a small cave in the side of the cliff face.
Two backpackers were sitting in there talking so I yelled down and asked if there was room for one more. 3 minutes later I was sitting in the cave chatting it up. I found my accommodations. Turns out they had just gotten there as well and two of their friends had stayed there the night before so we knew it was ok to do. The police had come by and wanted to make sure we didn’t have drugs and left, guess sleeping in caves in parks is ok in Spain.
This cave was perfect. We talked for a bit and took trips through town to get food and our tickets to the event. I have basically had a diet of baguettes and salami and fruit since I have gotten here. So cheap and delicious. They also had Nutella, so we ate that for dessert. I couldn’t ask for a better spot or company, it was close to the train station and a short walk to downtown. The most unique accommodations, covered from the rain and an open view to the park below, I would write a yelp review if I could. The only downside was the bridge above, people yelling and taking pictures of us, and we weren’t allowed build a fire. As more and more people began to arrive they stopped on the bridge and took pictures of us camping in the cave. Man, were they loud. But I guess it wasn’t as bad as the helicopters that started flying in around 530, or maybe the music at 430 I’m glad I was exhausted. I passed out around 8 pm and was able to sleep through the majority of it. Word from the wise, if you go, bring earplugs. You’ll need them.
Making our way to the ham
I woke up, again, around 8 am to people yelling and gawking on the bridge above us. Sometime that morning, tourists had come from all over in troves wearing goggles, souvenir t-shirts, and water shoes they were just about to lose. The streets were packed. We packed up camp and hid our packs in the trees within the ravine and made our way to the ham. Yes, the ham.
A little backstory, from what I gather, the fight started a few decades ago as an annual food fight between friends that eventually got picked up by the city. I have no idea when or how, but somewhere it became tomatoes only. There was a ham also got introduced to the event. It sits on the top of a very greased up 30 foot pole. People fight to get up it or work together, you can’t really tell…When the ham is reached the fighting begins, but no one usually reaches it and they just truck in tomatoes and it starts anyways. The fight lasts from 11am to noon and is marked with a canon blast to start and end the battle.
I squirmed my way close enough to get pictures of people scrambling for the ham. If you manage to pull it down you get to keep it. But i have no idea where you would put it if you did. It would be marinated in tomato 🙂 It started raining about a half hour before the fight so i fought my way back to a decent spot, hid my camera away, climbed up onto a delivery bay and waited for the tomatoes. One hour and three dump trucks later the streets were soup and people were covered from head to toe. Aside from the tomatoes there were fire hoses in front of where I was standing hosing people constantly. I have no idea how my camera made it out alive. In the end I dumped a bunch of water out of my bag. I think we should start one in seattle but with cake. We can call it ‘Let them eat cake’.
People were pushing and shoving to get out. It was more packed than being in the front of a popular concert. I talked to one guy and he said at one point the crowd picked him up off the ground and carried him for a bit becuase it was so packed. Once out on the side street we made our way down to the river to wash off. Some people didn’t know about the river, cause they were standing in lines at locals houses being hosed off. There also was a shower set up at the train station so people didn’t get on too dirty, but the river was perfect. My first shower/bath in three days. Since I didn’t dare bring my camera out I only had pictures of people before and after. I will post pictures when I can.