Naranjas en el campo
A typical Tuesday morning for me starts with my students at the local primary school in Frigiliana with a dialogue that sounds like this:
Me: How was your weekend, class?
Them: Blank stares
Me: Hooooow was youuuur weeeeekend? o fin de semana, clase?
Them: Ooooh! Hands shoot up in the air.
Me: Try to tell me about your weekend in English. Most hands drop.
Brave student: It very good. Went to… el campo… with my familia!
Me: Countryside is the word for el campo, very good!
El campo. The countryside. Everyone in Spain seems to go there nearly every weekend! This seemed like a mysterious place that a tourist aka “guiri” doesn’t get to experience… luckily, for me, this soon changed—I was recently invited to go el campo, specifically to pick oranges.
When referring to el campo, some families have pieces of property with fruit trees, gardens, and/or animals, too, whereas others have a property with a country house, or cortijo, that they spend weekends. The specific property we went to was only fruit trees—oranges, mandarins, lemons, and avocados—YUM. Andalusia is one of the most delicious places on the planet—since I have been here, I have also seen numerous mango farms in addition to wild asparagus, thyme, rosemary, and almond trees on my hikes! You literally cannot go hungry here.
Our Saturday excursion to el campo started off a little rough. Two of my best friends/fellow teachers here, Kerry from England, and Mika from the Philippines, joined me Friday night on a tapas run that snowballed into a gin and tonic kind of night, ending at Cochran’s—the local Irish pub. We packed ourselves and our hangovers into the car and headed out—our Spanish host took us deep in the countryside near La Maroma—the highest mountain in the Malaga province. The roads leading us there—uuuup and dowwwwn and soooo windy—did not sit well with our hangovers. It was a true struggle to get to the property. And let’s just say that Spaniards… well, while they may be gifted in the art of Flamenco, they are NOT gifted when it comes to driving.
Night before at Cochran’s Irish Pub
Hangover struggle to get to the countryside—and Kerry supporting my Portland Trail Blazers!
The property itself is very secluded and beautiful—loads of fruit trees, heavy with fruit nestled between poppies other wild flowers. We began our picking—well, mostly eating and chatting. I am not exaggerating when I say these are the best oranges I have ever tasted in my life. They are SO juicy and flavorful—putting all supermarket oranges to SHAME. We (mostly our host) picked about 5 very large buckets of oranges and attempted to drag them down to the car—some slipping and sliding and falling even occurred along the way…
Guiri group left to right: Kerry, Mika, and me!
OUR EXCURSION IN NUMBERS
1 Patient, campo-owning Spanish host
2 The number of times Mika fell down trying to get the orange buckets to the car
3 Hungover guiri girls pretending to be fruit pickers
4 The number of pit stops made because of hangover car sickness
5 Large buckets of oranges
6 Weeks of freshly squeezed orange juice almost daily—SO WORTH IT!
With so many oranges flooding our house, there was no way to eat them before they went bad… One day, I came home teaching, famished with hunger and thinking about my lunch options, when I opened the fridge door to see this:
Looks like oranges for lunch!
This excursion is still one of my very favorite memories here in Spain! The freshness of getting out in the country and picking your own food is just magical—we live in such a fertile and naturally beautiful part of the world and it’s meant to be seen outdoors and eaten fresh—in el campo.