THE rain has literally come in the form of April deluges interspersed, one must say, with sunshine. As far as Mancor del Valle is concerned, thank goodness.

The smaller and greater mountains of earth for our displays, in our most successful “mushroom fair”, were cleared away. What a muddy mess on the roads they left. It has all washed away. Where it goes is a mystery, does it not clog up the drains and waterways? It is relatively recently that the open torrente which ran through the village was covered in. These torrentes which cover Majorca are dry when there is no rain, but carry away rushing water when it pours.

It must be admitted that much rubbish is carried away as well, but no effort is made to collect this water before it reaches the sea.
The island being nothing but limestone, which came up rather late in history from the bottom of the Mediterranean, just absorbs the water when it can and this goes on downwards leaving the surface very dry. There are underground watercourses and these are tapped in the Sa Pobla market gardens (once the central island marshes), at about 200 metres down. It can take up to nine years to get there from the mountains! Going round the island, the covered wells, which used to be essential for growing anything, are seen in many fields. Water was brought up by bucket, but quite early on water wheels, turned by hand (or by donkey), on wooden framed constructions, were common. It has been said before that agriculture in the Balearics was always desperately hard work and people were very poor. The olives are turning or have turned black. So pickling the green ones, generally served with a meal, will have stopped. The black ones are ripe and are picked by gathering in a spread net. A fully grown olive tree can produce about 20'000 olives (40 kilos). To get the many different grades of oil, of which the first pressing “virgen extra” is the most prized, there are several processes. Many old presses survive, and our own village restaurant “Turixant”, a farm manor that is almost intact, has a fine example. A donkey wheels a massive stone around, as a hopper delivers the olives. The noise of the cracking pips is alarming.

This leaves a mush which is shovelled on to round mats made of rushes. A great beam is then lowered on to a stack of about fifteen of these. Out flows the first pressing. Those familiar with “scrumpy” know about this process.

So, there will be oil for Christmas. It is only too obvious that the festive season is upon us. Cribs in the churches, lights in the streets, and poinsettias for sale everywhere. Inca, which had not got around to imitating the craft stalls in the Plaza Major in Palma, has now got stalls selling handmade toys. And, of course Turron, the delicious almond fudge, is pleading to be bought. The original Turron is our favourite, but the number of variations almost drowning the almonds in chocolate, nuts, raisins, etc., is alarming. Perhaps one has to have tastes one has grown up with. Well, the tastes that were used to keep you quiet when you were a child, even if it did mean buying you a size larger in clothes and a new set of teeth.

It is end of term for all sorts of instruction courses. The night courses of Mancor set off in a bus last night for a blow out in Algaida. It speaks a lot for the toughness of the Majorcan constitution that on Friday night the Town Hall decided it would thank the village for the hard work they had put in for the great success of the mushroom extravaganza by having a torrada (barbecue) free.

The whole village turned out and the bars had a very good time. How was it paid for? By the revenue from hiring tables for the stalls. The Mayor at the end of it all was beaming and was clearly very happy. Having worked hard serving out bits of meat for the welcoming fires, and quite a lot of bottles of wine, he was lost for words. And, if you think that the government's classes in Catalan will help you understand a word of Majorquin chatter, you are gravely mistaken. The villagers know, as they cannot understand Catalan either. Thank goodness the locals understand Castilian or we extrangeros would be quite lost.


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