viernes, 2 de septiembre de 2016

Between battle and fun – the Tomatina, an event like no other

Spanish language students from Valencia participate in the battle with tomatoes which is known all over the world

Valencia. On the last Wednesday of the month August the Valencians celebrated the Tomatina for the 71st time. At said celebration the participants throw tomatoes at each other for one hour. This does not only sound crazy, in reality it is crazy as well: complete strangers crush the overripe fruits on the heads of the others and rub the red juice on body parts and clothes.  People from all over the world come and turn the once local Spanish spectacle to an international one.

It is no surprise that the Spanish language students of a language school in Valencia also found happiness and fun in this event. They had the grand opportunity to be one of the 22.000 participants and experience the event up close.

In the early morning hours they went on their way from Valencia to the community Buñol, where the battle took place for the first time in 1945. There they were welcomed with typical Spanish tapas and Bocadillos, to be full of energy for the battle. In addition drinks from water over soft drinks to slightly alcoholic drinks were offered to loosen up the mood. Quickly the students got to know each other more closely and practiced their Spanish and together they went to the battlefield: the beginning marked a gun shot at 11 A.M., and the vans with the about 160.000 tomatoes rolled in. With slogans concerning the fight against homophobia and abuse they rolled through the streets while volunteers threw the fruits at the people. Armed with swim goggles or sunglasses and cups to collect the juice from the street the language students went in the battle. Here it was not important where you come from or what you were doing, the fun was the most important factor: the joined, once in a lifetime experience was enough to connect the masses.

Also the Valencian locals had their fun. Once in a while the inhabitants of the surrounding houses purred a bucket of water on the people and on the Spanish language students. They experienced it refreshing and used the new energy to throw more tomatoes at strangers. Although it all sounds absurd, for the participants it was normal: Spaniards live “la vida loca”.
As the last van drove by and the closing gun shot rang out the students dropped their weapons and went in groups to a little river close by. Here they could take a little bath to wash off the tomatoes from the skin and hair.

But the celebration did not end here: now they went on a typical Spanish fiesta on the village square. Little huts were established to sell drinks and play Spanish music, which animated the language students to dance.

As they slowly went back to the meeting point, typical Spanish food and more drinks awaited them. This way they slowly brought the afternoon to a close together with the new found friends of the Spanish language school Costa de Valencia. Little groups sat in the shade and shared their experiences with each other until they went back in the bus to drive to Valencia, happy but very exhausted; an exciting day which many will have in mind for a long, long time.    

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