August 25, 2009
La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain
White Clothes? Check!
Duct Tape? Check!
We were ready for La Tomatina – The World’s Largest Tomato Fight!
Before the tomatoes – the ham must be brought down. Shout of “To The Ham!” drew brave climbers in cow costumes, wedding dresses, Superman capes and giant bananas up the thickly greased pole to try to claim the prize.
Banana "To The Ham"
When “The Ham” came down, the water cannons went off, signaling the start to another year of tossing and squishing tomatoes in Bunol, Spain.
I took the first shot to the chest and stared in horror as the red stain spread down my shirt. It took a second, but I realized I wasn’t shot – La Tomatina had begun! A riot of frenzied tomato tossing, squashing, slipping and sliding ensued as trucks dumped tons of ripe tomatoes at our feet.
After the first truck!
For an hour, the streets of this tiny town become thick with a gazpacho of tomatoes, t-shirts, and flip-flops (those NOT duct taped to the feet). The festival hosts a crowd of 39,000 people, 140 tons of ripe, squishy tomatoes, and locals who cover everything in sight with large sheets of plastic to protect it from the onslaught.
Two years ago we were there! Do it again? Are you crazy??
August 11, 2009
It’s Friday, deep in the Grand Canyon. With the 5am conch shell blow for coffee, our day begins. Today we’re on the water by 7am; tents, cots, and sleeping bags safely tucked away in enormous dry bags. The first wash of 46 degree muddy Colorado River hits us square in the face by 7:10. Okay, we’re awake now!
The rapids line up before us like a natural obstacle course. Names like Hermit, Crystal, and Lava Falls all produce adrenaline jolts as we hear stories of those who’ve come before us and haven’t been so lucky.
We trust in our river guides to get us through and they know this river intimately. This is their home and sanctuary they are so willing to share with us. For our six days on the river, we came to know and thoroughly enjoy the antics and skill of an amazing Western River Expeditions team. Ronnie, Jeff, Grace, Steve, and Elise helping out – not only kept us safe, but enlightened with stories of the river and its history.
There are times when we float along serenely, trying to take in the incredible majesty of this wonder of nature. Then there is the real reason people come to the bottom of the gorge, down to the Great Unknown – to ride the rapids! What a rush! To hit an enormous wall of water, plunging down, down, only to bounce back up and take stock of who might have fallen off in the melee. “Did we lose anyone?” became the mantra after each huge hit. Luckily on our boat, everyone held on tight – with duct tape covering raw knuckles to prove it!
It was six days unplugged from the world. Enjoying mountain vistas, thrilling rides, toga parties, and forming friendships in a way only sharing an outdoor toilet can afford.
All ages were represented –from one celebrating a 60th birthday to another her 13th. Many put a trip like this on their own Bucket List, and with good reason. It’s an adventure, camaraderie, and a chance to see the magnificent Grand Canyon from a unique viewpoint only shared by a few – by boat on the Colorado River. What an awesome ride!!