Life at Casa Tyr
Friday it started - we arrive at the first orange grove about 8:30 am. One of the Spanish men climbs the trees and picks the high oranges, just dropping them on the ground, for speed. The rest of us hand pick what can be easily picked off the tree, then pick up the oranges on the ground. It is hot work, as the orange groves are on the other side of the village, in the valley, where the temperatures are about 5 degrees hotter than at our house on top of the mountain! Today the dogs come with us. As usual, Max runs around all day, exploring, while Jake sleeps under a nearby tree! What a hard life.
After an hour and a half, we stop for breakfast. Traditionally, Spanish workers have a small coffee and a bit of toast about 8, then have a breakfast break at 10 - 10:30. Breakfast can be a sandwich, some cheese and chorizo, or a slice of homemade tortilla - all provided by Manuel as boss of the crew. As always, I go for the tortilla, homemade by Manuel's wife, and delicious. The others have a beer or a glass of wine, but I stick to water!
Then back to work. We work until 2 pm, when we stop for half an hour to help prepare lunch, then work again until lunch is ready. Manuel does the cooking over an open fire (not easy in this hot weather!!), and eaten outdoors - Manuel says everything cooked outdoors tastes better, and I tend to agree!
There is always a 'joke of the season'. This time, the butt of the joke is Kenton. In one grove, there are several pear trees, and Manuel offers pears around to everyone. Kenton refuses, and makes the comment that he does not like pears - what a mistake! It then goes on and on...Manuel has NEVER met a man who doesn't like pears - how very strange! How can someone NOT like pears! EVERYONE likes pears.
Kenton then says he likes all other fruit, however...ah hah, caught again! I say "do you like plums?" Kenton says yes. Apples? Yes. Cherries? Yes. Bananas (knowing full well he hates bananas)? Ah....NO. Apparently, however, it is NOT unusual to not like bananas, so this causes no comment.
We continue on with our day, picking oranges, loading them into 50 kilo bags. Eventually, we have enough bags to start transporting them. Manuel and Raphael load up the mule, then take the bags to a nearby road, where they will be picked up later. Manuel's brother-in-law ties the bags. Kenton and I....carry on picking and picking and picking.
About 7 pm, we stop for the day, with a large sack of oranges as our pay for the day. I have never ever been so dirty! From head to toe, including my face, I am covered in dust and dirt. Driving through town on our way home, I see the lady from my beauty salon - we stop to chat. She literally takes a step back when she sees me - "Anna, what has happened to you?" Women in Yunquera usually do NOT do this sort of work, and she is horrified that I am seen in public so dirty!
Monday the work carries on. We only work a half day, and are very glad of that! Your shoulders hurt from reaching, your knees hurt from kneeling, and your hands hurt from picking the fruit from the tree! I ask Manuel how much we have picked. About 4500 pounds of oranges picked by 5 people and 2 mules, for which he was paid the grand sum of 400 Euros. When oranges sell in England for 6 for £1.50, you do wonder who is raking in the profit!