I was rather relieved to return to Spain, although I did like landscape of Morocco and the potential the country has, I really felt the people let the country down from a tourist perspective. I just didn’t feel safe or comfortable traveling there as a woman.
Back in Spain we arrived in Valencia to commence our Fanatics La Tomatina tour (as in, the World’s biggest food fight in Brunol!) We had 3 full days before the event started, so we went to the Valencia Cathedral where the Holy Grail lies, ate some tapas, drank some sangria, and did some running around after Morocco (like buying antibiotics without a script!). In Valencia we met up with around 15 other kids from College, and some of their friends. It is so great being a part of a big group! The fanatics had about 850 people, and we all took over the city, wearing our bright yellow shirts… felt like we were in College again! Most were Aussies.
The day of the event came, and we were all prepared, with our rip-proof clothes, we knew we had to throw away at the end of the day. Along with 20,000 others, we crammed into a boarded up street in Brunol, and waited for the onslaught of tomatoes. The even doesn’t officially start until a ham is knocked off the top of a greased up pole, so this took some time. We were hosed down continuously by giant, freezing water jets. We were in the wrong sport and were blasted more than everyone else. It got so cramped, that at times I was forced to stand on one leg because there was no room for my second foot! It was insane, and incredibly dangerous. We were squished up against complete strangers, and being short didn’t help, as this meant my face was usually smashed into some bare-chested Spaniard. Then the riots broke out. Spanish men crowded in around a girl and would rape her of her clothing, and soak it, then the clothes war began, creating a massive divide in the centre of the street, and clothes missiles were sent back and forth. This meant as the riot got closer and closer, we got more and more squished until there wasnt enough room to inhale and exhale! Several friends were urinated on by the locals. It was disgusting.
The road divided again, to make way for several large garbage trucks, loaded with rotting tomatoes. Men were onboard, throwing them at us, and would occasionally open the back of the truck and let thousands spill into the streets. The tomato fights began. In the eye, hair, mouth… everyone was a target. In the middle of it all, Spanish men continued to surround girls, and tear their clothes off. I was ready to punch any man in the eye that dared to take me on! One friend got surrounded, and she resisted violently, but they persisted, so she went in and grabbed his nipple ring! That put a quick stop to it!
The event only lasts an hour, but before it was even over, we were trying to make our way out. It wasnt fun anymore. But this is where it got messy. The street was now one giant tomato soup, deep enough that I couldn’t even see my shoes! A new lot of fresh Spanish men came marching in to create more problems. I think they see it as the one day of the year they can get away with anything. It attracts the worst of the locals. By the end, now caked in rotting tomatoes and absolutely stinking, we tried to find somewhere to hose off. The entire town was painted red, and grannies stood in their yards hosing off revelers. The rest of us washed ourselves in the river, which was rumoured to be sewerage, but hey, it didn’t stink as much as those tomatoes. Next, the street was filled with 20,000 half-naked people, as their clothes were no longer wearable! The riots continued by the locals, jumping on cars and rocking the occupants inside until they screamed. My like for Spanish men is now down there alongside Moroccan men, while my respect for Aussie men has sky rocketed!
It was definitely an experience I wouldn’t do again, but glad I was there to form an opinion!
I’m now in the more civilised Barcelona, and loving the city. We have had beautiful 36 degree weather here.
I said goodbye to Liss and Leah tonight, as around 15 of us are on our way to Milan tomorrow, then Croatia for sailing. Then, work in London 😦