We went to see our friend Manuel last night. He had, he said, a present for us.
That, of course, had not been our plan for the evening. Our usual Saturday night out in Yunquera consists of a couple of beers in town, followed by either a takeaway kebab or roast chicken, or tapas at a local restaurant.
But when you are invited to Manuel’s, that is kind of it for the evening. You start off in the bodega, where you have to talk about how much wine he has sold (a lot – it is cheaper than beer or bottled wine, hence really popular in a recession!). Then up to the living room, where the TV is instantly turned on (Spanish almost always have the TV on, whether they are watching it or not). Wine and ham is produced.
We visit with everyone in the family. His youngest son Jose Marie is there with his girlfriend. Jose Marie is working on his house, but cannot go much further until he earns more money. Money is scarce right now (he’s a plumber who generally works on the coast), and construction stoppages have meant he has little work. No mortgage for this young man – he only works on the house when he has earned money, which means a wedding is not on the cards for a couple more years. Newlyweds in Yunquera don’t start out with debt, though, which has to be a Good Thing.
Granddaughter Pilar arrives with Brigitte, Manuel’s wife. We discuss Pilar’s dancing class (she’s 4). We discuss the state of the vineyard (looking good so far) and our respective gardens (full of veg, but our harvest is later than his). Gardens and the state of your veg is a big competition in Yunquera – the bigger the better, they hold no fondness for small vegetables and won’t eat cherry tomatoes!
Then come the gifts – a watermelon, a bag of cucumbers, a crate of yellow plums, several bottles of red wine he doesn’t want, and several bottles of his own wine.
We do actually protest that it is way too much for the two of us, but to no avail. As is usual in this village, if you have too much, you are expected to pass it on. So we will.