Buñol is a small village near Valencia in Spain and every year local Spaniards (and many, many visitors) take to the streets that end up becoming a battleground for their specific weapon of choice – tomatoes!
The La Tomatina festival begins on the last Wednesday in August and is part of a week-long celebration. It begins with the palo jamón that is essentially a greased pole with a piece of ham attached at the top. The crowds sing and dance while waiting for someone to climb and reach the top of the pole and rescue the ham. Once the ham has been retrieved, a water cannon is fired signalling the start of the annual tomato fight. Next, several trucks arrive and dump their loads of ripe tomatoes in the town square: it’s time for the crowd to get busy and that’s exactly what happens.
For one hour tomatoes are squished and thrown at everyone and everything. If this sounds like fun to you and like something you’d like to be involved in, then to help you survive La Tomatina here are some essential vocabulary words and phrases you’ll need to know –
But before we start remember that Spanish-speaking countries are extremely polite societies; so always be courteous, say ‘hello’ and ask ‘how are you’. If you make a mistake, it won’t matter – locals will always try to understand what you’re saying and will do their best to ensure you understand them. Just try your best and be friendly.
ESSENTIAL SPANISH FOR TOURISTS:
- Good Evening: Buenas noches (pronounced bway nahs noh chayss)
- Good Morning: Buenos días (pronounced bway nos dee ahs)
- Good Afternoon: Buenas tardes (pronounced bway nahs tar days)
- How are you?: ¿Cómo está? (pronounced coh moh es tah). Use this one if you don’t know someone, and use ¿Cómo estás? (pronounced coh moh es tahs) if you do know them.
- Hi: Hola (pronounced oh lah)
- Good, thank you: bien, gracias (pronounced bee ayn, grah cee ahs)
- Please: Por favor (pronounced por fah vohr)
- Thank you: Gracias (pronounced grah cee ahs)
- Do you speak English?: ¿Habla inglés? (pronounced ahblah een glays)? While you shouldn’t assume someone speaks English, it’s certainly fine to ask if they do; they’ll love the fact that you asked them in Spanish.
- Nice to meet you: Mucho gusto (pronounced moo choh goos toh) Use this when you’re introduced to someone and they’ll say it back to you.
PHRASES TO SURVIVE LA TOMATINA:
Let the battle begin! ¡Que comience la batalla!
Take cover! ¡Ponerse a cubierto!
Watch out! ¡Cuidado!
Has there been a signal yet? ¿Han dado ya la señal?
Stop! I’ve had enough! ¡Alto! Ya he tenido suficiente!
Behind you! ¡Detrás de usted/de ti!
All I see is red. Todo lo que veo es de color rojo
Where can I wash my clothes? ¿Dónde puedo lavar mi ropa?
I need to rest! ¡Necesito descansar un poco!
LA TOMATINA VOCABULARY:
to hurl lanzar
to squash aplastar
safety glasses gafas de protección
ham stick palo jabón
the hose la manguera
the battle la batalla
to wash lavar
projectile el proyectil
Interested in trying these out for yourself? You can do it! Check out our 2017 La Tomatina tour packages and give your new Spanish a whirl.