12 countries
12 martial arts
12 months

The Biggest Food fight: Tomatina

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This is the world's biggest food fight: The Tomatina. Sorry I've been gone for a while. I had some issues with the Chinese firewall, balancing time with my new travel job, and general laziness. I'm back on it now!

I want to keep this short... but it won't be. Why? I was robbed in the Tomatina in 2006 and to this date, it is the only major robbery I've experienced in travel. I ended up begging across the country to get to the Canadian Embassy in Madrid. I slept on vents for heat and stole hostel "free food shelf" food to nourish myself. It was a good time and I learnt a lot about life. 

ANYWAYS. This is Round 2 and it went without a hitch. Partially because this year (2013) is the first year that the Tomatina requires registration. This was introduced because it has become too popular now and basically, there were too many people. I for one am very happy with this change. There were less thieves and it felt more organized. Also, tickets only cost 10 euros. 

Here are some Tips:

1) Equipment
I bring as little as possible. Bring photocopies of your passport or ID. Do not bring originals if possible. I bring minimal money. I try not to wear white (although I did this time and I'm sorry Andrew... for ruining your shorts). Some people wear goggles because tomato juice is acidic. I don't wear goggles because I find that most people take them off and have difficulty seeing. I just cry a lot. A few people decide to wear ear plugs because you get a lot of crap in your ears as well. Of course, bring zip-locks for anything valuable and I would avoid flip-flops as well. I see a lot of lost shoes. If you choose to bring a camera, remember, it will get bashed around and wet. Waterproof it!

2) Atmosphere
Imagine a really crowded club. Now picture it with about twice the amount of people crammed in. How make it wet and add hostility (good natured). It's a big mosh pit and one Japanese girl trapped behind me kept screaming "it hurts" in japanese. The level of pain depends on how far you want to go of course. If you want to get really down and dirty, expect some elbows and stomps. I had a lot of point blank shots in the face. Then again, I threw some as well. It looked like fights were going to break out, but people hugged it out in the end, because most people realize we're all there for fun.
The thing to keep in mind is that there are "basically" 5 different characters in this party. 
THE NORMAL TOURIST - They just want to have fun and don't want to get too hurt
THE ASSHOLE - Loves to whip stuff, trick people, break flip-flops, rip off clothes...
THE HERO - this guy loves to save people from THE ASSHOLE but usually ends up making it worse.
THE "WHAT THE HELL DID I GET MYSELF INTO. WHY AM I HERE. THIS HURTS AND SMELLS WEIRD. IT'S IN MY HAIR AND SOMEONE IS TOUCHING ME" - Wants to be there but doesn't want to really experience it. 
THE PARTY ANIMAL - basically a combination of THE ASSHOLE and THE NORMAL TOURIST.

3) The Cost
It ranges depending on what kind of package you want. You can get just tickets to the event for about 10 euros. You can get bus + ticket, which I do not recommend because the local bus or train costs 3-4 euros from Valencia but they charge you about 30 euros for this package. 
If you want convenience go for it though. But you're going to be at the mercy of "departure times" when it's all over, while people like me can just hop on a bus at any time. 
The hotel packages are equally over priced. Just book online. 
One thing that IS cool however, is the "truck" package, where you get to ride the tomato trucks and fling projectiles down into the crowd as they look up to you like you're giving them their reason for being. Smash someone in the face? They say, thank you can I have some more. 
Oh yeah, and there are pre/post after party and food packages too. If you're interested in purchasing, I would go to the official page. Here.
If I were you, I would buy a hotel online, buy buses or have a rail pass to get around Spain, and just get a ticket. 

4) Safety
There are thieves. I saw one guy go for a pocket. To be honest, I have never been in a country with more thieves than Spain (or at least theft attempts). The pickpocket looked REALLY out of place to be honest. He was a lot older, not looking like he was having fun, and he kept looking around at people. The person who got me in 2006 was a child who was weaving in and out between people's legs, cutting bags. Other than that, expect some serious mosh pitting. You will be hit a bit. You will be uncomfortable. But there are cops and it's generally safe. I also saw paramedics on hand. 

5) Timing
Try to get there in the morning if you want to see the "Greased Pole Ham Climb." This is a huge pole with grease on it. This "Palo Jamon" is about 10 meters tall and starts around 10am. People try to climb solo or in a human tower form to get the Ham. If you get it, it's yours. 
At 11am the gun fires and the fight starts. At 12pm, it's finished and there is a second shot. 
Try to get there at least an hour early because you will have to register and work your way into the crowd. If you have a bag to check, show up even earlier. Also, if you didn't read it in the video, the festival is always the last wednesday in august in Buñol, Spain. 

6) Aftermath
People are partying all day long before and after the party. There are showers but expect line ups to be a few hours long. Moreover, the showers are cold and have crappy water pressure. The locals have hoses and buckets of water to help wash you off though. I just dried off, peeled off the big chunks, and showered in the hotel (Valencia). 

That's all I can think about right now. Please stay safe. I remember when I was making a police report... the number of people who were robbed or had their cars broken into were staggering. Also, expect about 40 metric tonnes of tomatoes, but really, you won't get any unless you throw yourself into the middle of the fray.

HAVE FUN! LEVEL UP.  It's good to be back.

BONUS for people who read all of this. A lesser known festival for wine lovers is the WINE FIGHT. Check that one out! The San Vino
Me
Dec 12 2012 00:00:00
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