Fiestas on Tenerife – Disaster at the Dia de la Trilla in El Tanque

Posted: July 27, 2009 in animals, Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There’s a defining moment which signals that it might be time to call it a day, that the party is almost over.

At the Dia de la Trilla in El Tanque on Saturday the obvious signal may have been when the fire fighting helicopter with the big orange bag full of water passed yards above our heads on its way to tackle a forest fire which was burning on the other side of a hill near the fiesta. It wasn’t.

My defining moment came when I was squeezed shoulder to shoulder with a crowd of hot, sweaty and slightly glazed looking caballeros at the beer kiosk and the barman informed me:

“No hay cervezas.”

By the look of his seriously bloodshot eyes, he’d probably accounted for a good percentage of the drained amber nectar himself.

The lack of beer wouldn’t normally have been a deal breaker, but in 40+ degree heat when your water has run out, downing a cool beer was paramount to drinking the water of life.

Andy pretends that she knows what shes doing

Andy pretends that she knows what she's doing...someone should have told her farmworkers don't usually take their handbags into the field with them

We’d spent a couple of hours at this wonderfully laid back and unique little fiesta up in the hills above El Tanque where local farmers gather to have a drink and watch prancing horses and lumbering oxen turn a waist high circle of wheat into a threadbare carpet. There’s clearly some agricultural purpose to it, but it looked more like an excuse to have a frolic in the hay to us than the most efficient way for threshing wheat.

The first thing Andy did when we arrived was to purchase of a couple of straw cowboy hats. That might sound a bit kitsch, but:

  • Everyone, but everyone wears them at these fiestas.
  • We wouldn’t have lasted 10 minutes without sombreros of some sort and…
  • I thought they made us look really cool.

I felt my voice taking on a Clint Eastwood/Snake Plissken quality on a number of occasions – in reality it sounded more as though I had a sore throat and a lisp, but hey, I had a cowboy hat and a piece of straw between my teeth and was feeling too cool for school.

El Tanques version of a beer tent

El Tanque's version of a beer tent

As many of the older women huddled in the meagre shade under bushes and trees we braved the hairdryer hot breeze and stood at the edge of the era watching the threshing whilst the caballeros drained the beer kiosk of all alcoholic liquids.

In summer at this level, the heat can become not only unbearable, it also turns the countryside into a powder keg and sure enough a fire must have started in the pines on the other side of a hillock from the fiesta. The Island’s fire fighting helicopter flew over and back above our heads dropping huge bag loads of water on the blaze.

This sight was enough to have us wondering whether we should leg it to the car and evacuate the area pronto – but the fact that the locals hardly even acknowledged the copter’s existence was reassurance of sorts and drove home that in summer months the sight of a helicopter dowsing forest fires must happen with monotonous regularity.

They breed ‘em hard up there. The fact that the hot wind could bring a fire racing in their direction in no time was clearly no cause for concern. The idea that the beer tent was about to run out of alcohol on the other hand…

These guys are getting dangerously close...

See More Photos of the Dia de la Trilla here

  1. […] of agricultural biodiversity, and you don’t need much Spanish to understand that, as one blogger put it, “it looked more like an excuse to have a frolic in the hay to us than the most efficient way […]

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