As we emerge from the forest and turn onto the narrow, tarmac lane that runs between allotments we draw level with a group of potato workers in a field. Behind them the red earth is churned up and the wilted tops of plants are piled in a long row beneath the trees on the far side of the field. Dotted between the newly decimated planting rows, white sacks bulge with the outline of freshly picked potatoes.
Alongside the fence that separates us from the workers a wood fire is licking at the sides of two large cooking pots balanced on stones, their irresistible aroma escaping in clouds of steam from beneath the gaping lids.
“Are those the fresh potatoes you’re cooking?” I ask.
“Yes, best quineguas!” comes the grinned reply. “Do you want some wine?”
Never one to cause offence by a refusal, particularly where wine is concerned, I agree and we make our way back along the path and into the field where several of the happy faced workers are using the weed pile as a makeshift settee and are already most of a bottle into their post-picking picnic. Generously filling plastic glasses to the brim with vino del país and impressing us with armfuls of enormous, red skinned papas rojas, our impromptu hosts welcome us into their circle like long lost cousins.
It turns out that, with the exception of a French friend and his two sons who are helping out with the harvest, this field of workers is all one family, the matriarch explaining to me that she has eleven children, and naturally they in turn have numerous children of their own. The morning’s work finished and the harvest of quineguas (pronounced keen-eh-was, the Canario version of their more familiar name of King Edwards) and papas rojas safely gathered, it’s time to celebrate the crop by boiling up a few choice specimens and breaking out the vino.
After several further refills and endless photographs of the family and our little band of hikers holding up oversized potatoes and dwarfing our new-found friends, we finally drag ourselves away, wish them a happy fiesta and continue our walk through the leafy lanes of Aguamansa.
You’ve got to hand it to the Tinerfeños, they know how to party – any time, any place and guests are always welcome, particularly if you tell them what impressive quineguas they’ve got 🙂