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Lucha Libre: Down The Line

Friendship on the Eve of Battle

SPAIN | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [169] | Scholarship Entry

I am in Spain to throw tomatoes. Stepping off the train in Valencia, immediately I want more time in this beautiful town. Spaniards are inherently sexy, but the late day sun is backlighting pigeons, giving even them with a glamourous glow. I’m passing through on my way to La Tomatina. In the morn I throw tomatoes and then catch a flight to my next destination, la isla Formentera. I pretty much expect this to be a lonely introspective journey since I am traveling alone and recently divorced. I am fulfilling a long-held, silly desire to participate in the large scale tomato fight known as La Tomatina.
I have a tendency to imagine things cooler than they are. The chocolate museum in Barcelona, nowhere near as zany as Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Recognizing this tendency, I quell the urge to imagine large scale choerographed dance numbers amid fountains spewing tomato pulp 30 feet in the air. This is war. This is a food fight and I am keeping my expectations in check.
As I arrive at the flat of my host Javi, a handsome Valenciano, I am greeted by an international roster of guests. Mike from Malta, Regina from Lithuania and on it goes. Javi’s close proximity to the train stop made him an attractive candidate for us. Being a gracious host, he welcomes us all with paella and wifi. We stay up through the night customizing our Tomatina battalion gear with black markers, absorbing homemade sangria and sharing our favorite youtube clips, our faces lit by laptop light.
Here on the eve of battle, I remember a telltale sign that my marriage was not working. Having nearly enough air miles for 2 round the world tickets, I asked my husband about his top destinations. As I was getting excited imagining a trip to Spain, he said “Look Bri, it’s never going to happen” and turned his attention back to his paperwork. Such a small but illustrative moment. We were living in the same house, but in two completely different places. Our relationship was a slow crumble from there.
Landing here with this group, on this night on what I thought would be a solo trip, made me feel like following through with my seemingly silly desires is almost always totally worth it. I discover I am not the only one who finds spending an afternoon throwing tomatoes completely exhilarating.
The next day on the train platform I say goodbye to my kindred spirits, wishing I had more time with them. When they leave, I feel a little sad to see them go. And I didn’t even know them 24 hours before.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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