“We should buy one,” Andy pulls me back as I try to make a quick getaway without having to put my hand in my pocket. “We should buy a raffle ticket. It’s a way of making a tiny donation to the community.”
The community is a small and rural one in the Tenerife hills in El Tanque. She’s right, but I take another look at the the prize; the most god awful religious painting. It seems perverse to enter a raffle where that’s the prize. A game of Russian roulette seems preferable to me. But I shrug and Andy hands over €1.
A few steps farther on and another fedora hat wearing farmer waves a pile of raffle tickets in front of us.
“Yeah, hombre, I’ve already got one,” I wave the lone raffle ticket back.
“This is a different raffle,” he points to the back of a pick-up truck. “This one is to win that pig.”
Sure enough, grunting around in the back of the truck is a huge porker.
But the idea of entering a raffle to win a live pig just seems so bizarre that it really appeals. We hand over another euro.
To seal the deal he thrusts a goatskin bottle in my hand. “Drink; it’s good wine.”
I’m no expert at drinking from a goatskin bottle, but I manage to fill my mouth without dribbling or, even better, choking. He turns to Andy and, clearly being a gentleman, holds the bottle for her as she does a rather impressive fish impression whilst a fountain of wine arcs towards her mouth.
I walk to the rear of the pick-up truck. “I’m just going to take a photo of MY pig.”
The farmer and his friends laugh and wave as we wander off to see what else is going on.
This is why I love little traditional events like Dia de la Trilla. You can never be quite sure what could happen. Last year we came away with a selection of breads; this year it could be a pig.
Dia de la Trilla is a small, agricultural fiesta that celebrates the traditional methods for threshing wheat, including the use of horses and teams of oxen dragging a threshing board. There are a few similar events on Tenerife around this time of year, but the one in El Tanque is probably the best known. However, it attracts few non-Spanish speakers even though it’s not that far from Los Gigantes, Puerto Santiago and Playa de la arena.
Apart from the spectacle of watching horses race and oxen lumber around an era (threshing circle) there are always lots of delicious little moments that give a taster of life in rural Tenerife.
When we arrive we’re completely ignored by the policeman who’s organising the car park. Ignored until we park in the wrong place and he breaks away from his ‘chat’ with a young woman to actually direct us to where we should be. But it’s all done with a smile.
Whilst we’re waiting for the threshing to begin (for some reason it’s taking hours) one of the old guys who’d been piling up the hay in the era suddenly somersaults into the shoulder high golden cushion of straw he just created. He must be well into his sixties.
A few moments later two of his equally mature compadres bizarrely start playing air guitar with their threshing forks in time to the music blaring out from the event’s loudspeakers. It’s like watching Status Quo rural Tenerife style.
When it’s the turn of the oxen to drag the threshing boards around the circle, local children jostle and queue to jump on the boards to be pulled along at a pace that is hardly fast and furious. Siam Park it isn’t, but they lap it up.
These little snippets illustrate the secret of its attraction for me.
It’s simple and unsophisticated. In an age when modern living tends to race along at breakneck speed, life in the hills of Tenerife proceeds along at a pace which matches that of the lumbering oxen in the era. It’s kind of nice to hook into that scene every now and again.
Sometime mid afternoon when the mattress of hay in the era had been more or less completely flat packed we took our leave of the campesinos and made our way back to the coast – sin pig. Just as well; a pig in a poke is one thing, but a pig in a Punto…that’s just ridiculous.