Slowing down by an olive oil press

It’s time of the harvest of olives in Spain. The olive trees are covered with their inedible fruit. The nests are spread on the ground to capture every bit of the goodness growing above them. The sights of a car parked by an olive orchard or passing by me carrying a precious load during a bike ride are more common. Older men in decent shirts and trousers walk through their trees, admiring the yield. At times they look like wise wizards, silently casting a spell over the crowns of the trees.

Some of the coops, las cooperativas agricolas which are dormant most of the year are now buzzing with life. One of them is an oil press, la almazara de aceite in a small pueblo of Castell de Castells, in Alicante province. For a few weeks, there’s a few farmers waiting for their turn every time I pass by. There is a large metal structure outside, in an area called el patio de recepción. Here, the whole olives are handed over to the facility, cleaned and getting ready for further processing inside. I haven’t seen the process that goes on in there. I’d love to.

Most of the year I pass this cooperativa quickly and off the saddle. During the harvest, I slow down, but don’t stop. I soak in the atmosphere and try to notice as many details as the speed of the bicycle allows me. I take a deep breath looking for the hints of the freshly pressed aceite de oliva. They are there. It’s a rare thing to smell during any sport activity. And with that, I speed up.


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