I took a short break from driving; it was time to stretch my legs, and so I did. I found myself balancing, stretching and reaching out in every direction; I discovered the most interesting yoga poses – not in the gym or fancy sports club, but high up in one of the many olive trees that I’ve been picking together with a great Canadian couple, a girl from Mexico and a guy from Germany. What a great time it was! 10 days of climbing trees, bringing the monkey in me back to life!
Picking olives by hand is an experience of its own. Imagine yourself up there in the tree, watching out over the countryside full of green-greyisch trees, each planted with a 7mtr radius around them; your only tool is a simple comb. You hold a branch full of thick and juicy olives – ripened over time in the Spanish sun – and gently but firmly slide your comb over it. Can you hear that hashing sound of your movement, the ‘rrrrats’ of the olives letting go of the branch, then the ‘pling-plang-plung’ of the fruits bouncing down the ladder, quickly followed by a ‘pluf’ when they reach the ground and fall on the net that we put underneath the tree? It almost sounds like music! Back in the days when they were using wooden ladders it wás music, as the landlord remembers. Never could I have thought this would be such a joy to do!
I found it to be the perfect activity to balance out the pace and excitement of riding the motorbike, exploring boundries and taking on challenges. It was a good way to slow down, to step back and spend some time with other travelers too.
Although there’s really no rocket science involved that makes you stay focussed, I found that picking an olive tree naturally clears your mind. If any thought at all, it would be a vague wondering about the hunderds of years that people have been doing this – in exactly the same way as we are doing now. How many hands picked this tree over the centuries? How many topics were discussed while being out here? What did this tree witness, what did it live through? Drought, rain, thunder storms … how does it deal with the climate changes? The oldest tree on this property would be about 500 years old; the area is supposed to have some species of 2000 years. Can you imagine?!
Enjoying very good food, having a good laugh and playing cards in the evenings surely contributed to a great time at Manna House in eastern Spain. I’ve contributed my part in the collection of almost 900 kg of the green, purple, red and blue ‘bullets of gold’ (good for almost 200 liters of excellent quality oil) – I am now ready to jump back in the saddle again and continue my journey.
One thing is for sure: never will I look at a bottle of olive oil in the same way as I did before!