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Spanish Secrets: A Humorous Inclination

Oh, oh Antonio, what a disaster when you moved those roof tiles-o! Craign Briggs collapses in uncontrollable laughter.

Some friends of ours with a holiday home in the area had asked Melanie and I if we could clean out their bodega before they returned later in the year. A bodega literally means wine cellar, but here the word is used as a general term for any type of cellar.

Melanie and I were happy to help out and last week decided to get the job done.

Their house has three bodegas, totalling about 70 square metres. The smallest one had previously been used to house livestock, probably sheep or pigs. The second had been used as a wood store and the third, and by far the largest, contained old roof tiles.

A few years ago the house had been re-roofed and in true Galician style, instead of throwing the old roof tiles away, they had been carefully stacked and stored, just in case they were needed.

Taking this into account, we felt that someone in the village would probably want them. All we had to do was ask around. It didn't take long until Antonio, a retired builder, said he would be delighted to take them off our hands.

Good news indeed as Antonio also had a tractor and trailer. We arranged for him to bring his tractor to the house the next morning.

The following day we arrived at 10.30am and to our surprise Antonio had already been, parking his tractor and trailer in the field opposite the house.

The field is about a metre below the level of the house, which meant that with the aid of a strategically placed plank we could push a wheelbarrow from the ground floor bodega straight onto the trailer. I would simply have to make sure the tiles were well stacked, because the track out of the field is quite a steep slope.

We began work straight away. Into the bodega, load the wheelbarrow with tiles. Push the barrow through the garden, across the lane, balancing along the plank and onto the trailer. Unload the wheelbarrow and carefully re-stack the tiles.

Excluding a coffee break at noon and half an hour for lunch at two o'clock, we continued back and forth all day. At four o'clock we'd not only filled the trailer but were stacking the overflow in the lane in front of the house.

With the bodega almost empty Antonio appeared. It was obvious from his manner and the smell of his breath, that he'd perhaps had a glass of wine too many with his lunch.

I asked if the trailer was stacked correctly, to which he agreed. Whilst he started the tractor I moved my car which had been blocking the exit from the field.

He manoeuvred the tractor around the field with steady precision until it was in perfect alignment to negotiate the sloped exit. Slowly and cautiously the tractor and trailer climbed the slope.

With the tractor halfway up the slope, the huge treaded rear wheels began to lose traction. The faster the wheels turned the slower the tractor moved, until it came to a stop and the engine stalled.

Antonio engaged the brake and the whole load remained firm. He restarted the engine, but still the wheels spun. In order to have a second attempt at the slope he let the tractor, trailer and its load roll backwards down the slope.

To the amazement of both Melanie and I and with the tractor, trailer and its contents at the foot of the slope, Antonio stood on the brakes as if stamping on a beetle. The tractor and trailer came to an abrupt halt, whilst its contents continued on its downward movement, cascading from the trailer like a red-tiled waterfall.

With half the contents now resting in a shattered heap in the middle of the field, Antonio, who was completely oblivious to the preceding events, drove the tractor, with its significantly lighter load, up the slope and out of the field.

It was only after stopping the tractor in the lane and returning that he realised what had happened. A broad smile came across his face which soon turned into rapturous uncontrollable laughter.

Melanie and I stood for a moment in pensive contemplation of the days work and then spontaneously joined Antonio in his hilarity. It seemed preferable to tears.



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